In 2017, I attended Phase 1 of the New Frontiers Programme which is run by Enterprise Ireland. The programme ran two nights a week over six weeks. There was no fee to attend. I would highly recommend this programme to anyone starting a new enterprise, whether your idea is just an idea or is a semi-developed product. What follows is a post which gives an outline of night 5 of the course. When fully published, there will be 11 posts documenting all nights of Phase 1. To see a list of published posts, click here.
For the second session in a row, tonight’s facilitator was Roddy Feely. Roddy started off by explaining what he meant by the term Route To Market (RTM). Essentially, the route to market is how you go about getting your product or service in front of your customer. Much of tonight’s talk centred on the pros and cons of using Agents and Distributors for RTM purposes. As a result, I did not gain a whole lot from tonight’s session as it was not really relevant to a software product or service. That said, Roddy did speak about licencing which may be applicable for other software products but is not for BookingHawk.com.
Some points that were made during the session which I felt were relevant to me included:
- For Route To Market ideas, study what your competitors are doing.
- Route To Market choices is heavily influenced by the customer profiles and market segments which you are chasing.
- The cost of the product should take into consideration the cost of your Route To Market. For example, when using Direct Routes To Market for BookingHawk (ie, travelling to a customer’s site), time, petrol expenses should be considered. In order to determine this, attention should be paid to the cost of new customer acquisition.
- Right now, BookingHawk.com is engaged in two broad categories of RTM, namely Direct Selling (getting in front of a customer in their premises) and Reselling (purchasing SMS units from a 3rd party and selling them on to users of BookingHawk.com).
I thought about potential distribution channels for online software and services. Through these thoughts, discussions with other participants on the night and Googling, here are some options which may work for BookingHawk.com:
- Social Media
- Search Engine Optimisation
- Subscriber Driven E-commerce Marketplaces (eg – Groupon and city deals)
- Trade Shows
- Cold Calling & Cold Emailing
An interesting point was again made by our events facilitator David. It relates to getting a good business case together. “There were men on the moon in 1969 which proves that if you have enough time and money, developing any product is possible.” In other words, unlike NASA, very few startups have unlimited money and a great deal of time to get their project off the ground. Hence why a solid business case is very important.
Again, during broader discussions, the ‘Race To The Bottom’ was mentioned and discouraged. The dangers of trying to be the cheapest product were eluded to and a couple of reasons were given as to why it is a bad idea. Namely that there is less value placed on your product/service and it is very difficult to scale. Ok, now I have moved from ‘thinking about upping my price’ to ‘how much should I increase it by’.
If you know someone that would benefit from an online booking system, please let me know about them. I will send you a two paragraph email for you to forward to your friend so it couldn’t be less hassle for you to help a couple of Irish businesses to grow!