Changing business models to match buying patterns of consumers

So in March of this year (2013) I began a new venture with my brother Mike called SlideJar. SlideJar is an offshoot of technology my previous company edCetra Training built, called Anancloud. The technology was initially conceived while working with the Library of Congress and its purpose was to make legacy content readable by machines, so that people can create more valuable web assets from desktop blobs of information. As ‘Anancloud’ the technology was repurposed to provide personal and corporate PowerPoint management with a pretty standard business model of pay per month. That being said, alot of research went into designing Anancloud using a lean start up approach and its resulting format, aka the business model, was meant to match the expressed need of our target consumer.

However a really interesting thing happened. While almost unanimously people expressed to us the need to have a tool to ‘find individual slides’ at run time and that such a tool would be worthy, we learned that the pain it resolves is only palpable at the moment you can’t find a slide. In other words if I spoke to you now while you weren’t having this problem, you would agree that there is a problem and that it needs solving. If I said, give me money now to solve the problem in the future you would delay until the problem was at hand (we know this from our pilots and our analytics). However while experiencing the problem, our tool wont help resolve it since the slides weren’t in our system to begin with. And so, at the moment of pain you still need to resolve the problem and that makes your bandwidth for solving the problem in the future void. In other words you won’t sign up at the moment of pain because your too busy solving the problem.

With SlideJar we used a different approach based on the principles I first heard about through Julie Dirksen called ‘Hyperbolic Discounting‘. The idea is to allow planning for the ‘moment of pain’, ie buying into the product, to be practically obstacle free and that the sum of money you pay is consistent with how big your pain is. So we had to lose monthly plans because fixed costs against an defined scope (the problem) didn’t match the purchasing behaviours of our target audience. We incorporated a virtual currency called ‘beenz‘ into the system to allow for money spent by a consumer to be commensurate with the size of the problem. Users who are managing large volumes of slides need more beenz than those who aren’t. So virtual currency does two things. 1) There is no commitment to the problem on a monthly basis and therefore reduces the anxiety about making a commitment to a problem you may or may not have in the near future. 2) The size of the commitment is negligible and therefore allows the brain to ‘justify’ spending money now since the value justifies ‘waiting’ to actually use it.

The technology between Anancloud and SlideJar is relatively the same. The expressed need by our target consumers is still the same. The real innovation here was changing the business model to match the behaviors of our consumer.

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