There is something about deadlines that tests a startup’s ability to thrive under pressure and make ground-breaking progress. It can also do the opposite and shatters dreams. Either way, you find out much faster what direction you are going and in the end, that’s a very good thing. Tangoo is faced with a major deadline on April 12th as my team flies to Toronto to pitch on Dragons’ Den and we have a lot of exciting challenges to overcome.
Timing couldn’t be more delicate as we also just launched the early alpha version of our new pocket concierge platform to go alongside with pitch preparations. What makes it tricky is that we still have a lot of discovering to do before we find out what people most use it for. This basically means that knowing exactly what to pitch could come together as late as when we get to Toronto – it adds a bit of a tricky angle doesn’t it? To add another layer of complications, if they air us, it would be six months later so we need to do some major crystal balling now on where we see our product in half a year!
As we do our best to get rapid feedback on alpha, we validate who our best target market is and their main reason they want to use it. This opens the door for better defining our key messaging and marketing strategy which we need to obtain our biggest goal: Grow users to gain leverage.
Leverage allows us to address another major challenge we’ll need to overcome; proving the valuation of our new platform. Leverage for us comes in a few ways:
We need to prove that customers are interested in using us often and that we are solving a real pain for them. We also need to ensure someone is willing to pay for this platform; at this point it’s restaurant owners.
We need to show them the money. Either it’s customers already paying, seed investment, or some sort of intellectual property or partnership that shows we are well on our way to becoming a billion dollar company.
To become a billion dollar company one needs a proper pitch, vision and a rock solid business model. We need to show how easy it is to replicate this is across multiple cities in a fast and cost-effective manner. Our revenue forecasts need to make sense and the market has to be big enough. We also need to properly differentiate from competitors and prove how they’d have a tough time squashing us.
How we plan to address these challenges and gain leverage:
We have had countless amounts of people verbally validate that they love the new platform. Unfortunately that has very little weight at the end of the day – we need to prove people want it. Proof is people signing up to make an account and actively using it often or everyday. The second step is showing people are willing to pay for it. We have a handful of top restaurants and bars willing to pay for it, which is a great sign. Now the key is proving that they will pay a sizeable portion often enough to keep my team operating and give a return to the Dragons.
Our strategy is utilizing our deep networks of media and partners alongside our strong brand to get the word out for early sign ups. We filmed an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign last weekend and will release it next week. The goal here is to spread our message and to gain early signups and some funds for taking care of urgent expenses for our Toronto trip and to gain more leverage to prove that people want our product and are willing to pay for it.
In regards to proving cash flow and proprietary assets, this is an area that still has room to grow. Through the next four weeks of marketing and sales we hope to increase these numbers and more importantly demonstrate how they are easy numbers to replicate once we have the proper funding behind us.
We should mention that although we are launching a very new concept to what we started with, the mission of connecting people through perfect outings to create meaningful memories remains the same. We have a portfolio of over 100 restaurants that believe in our mission and have worked alongside us. We ran 50 events last year and made enough money to grow the team. We gained valuable customers along the way and some fantastic partners. People know and trust the Tangoo brand and although proving it is something that’s hard to illustrate, it’s something we keep in mind and hope will encourage people to try the new platform.
As we’re clear on our vision, how we get there in sequential steps is the hard part. We have a clear idea of where we want to see Tangoo in three years but getting there needs to be focused and strategic. Facebook started with students and now has wealthy baby boomers; they started somewhere and built on top of it. We see Tangoo being useful for everyone who enjoys memorable outings with people they care about. This can be anywhere from students to wealthy baby boomers and can range across breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late night on just about any kind of occasion: date night, birthdays, girls night, business lunches…you name it. We need to find out what our first market is and what parts of the product are best suited to them. The only way to do this successfully is to test a customer segment with a certain value proposition and product to back it up, then you see how much they like it. We need to do this very quickly so again, it boils down to getting it into the hands of many people who can give feedback and start to use the product in a way that adds value to them.
We’re bracing ourselves for easily the scariest and exciting month of our lives where things couldn’t be more uncertain. However, that’s exactly what makes it so exhilarating.