Summer Entrepreneurial Experiences

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Tuesday, August 6, 2013 8:22 pm

Now that my summer internship with Flash Purchase LLC has come to a close I have spent some time reflecting back on the things I have learn this summer. During my time working for Flash Purchase, I’ve been exposed to the working world and particularly the entrepreneurial world in ways I never could have engaged with them in the classroom. There is something to be said for actually doing things. Book learning and classroom simulations can only take you so far and the experience I’ve gain from working for Flash Purchase and under the supervision of Mike Sinsheimer the CEO and founder has benefited me in way that I can already discern. I’ve learned valuable customer service and account management skills. I’ve seen the entrepreneurial innovative process from the inside perspective now and I’ve developed marketing and social media skills that I’m sure will benefit me in the years to come. This summer has been extremely valuable to me in a variety of ways, and I am very thankful to have had the opportunity to work with Flash Purchase and Mike Sinsheimer. All in all, it was definitely a summer well spent.

This is Water

Tuesday, July 23, 2013 8:43 pm

As I approach the end of my Internship with Flash Purchase Golf, I thought this would be a good week to share a commencement speech that has been one of my favorites and influenced the way I think about life. You will find the video link at the bottom of this blog post.

The commencement address was given to Kenyon College class of 2005 and was written by David Foster Wallace. In his address, Wallace frames the way we often think about life and the moments that consume our day to day activities and contrasts them with how he believes we should think about our lives. The crux of his argument rests on the choices and way we choose to perceive and interact with the world around us. According to Wallace, we cannot necessarily control the things that happen to us in our life or even our day to day circumstances, but we CAN control how we react to our environment. The key to living a happy and meaningful life is actively choosing to do so.

Keeping in perspective that our lives as college students are almost infinitely easier and more comfortable than the majority of the world, we often complain about minor inconveniences many others would be happy just to have the opportunity to have. For example, this summer I’ve spent countless hours on my way home from work everyday stuck in rush hour traffic, tired from a long day at work. What I often forget is that many people would be happy just to have a job. I’m not exactly roughing it and often I think we forget to keep things like that in perspective. Life is rarely easy regardless of your circumstances, and many peoples’ lives are way tougher than mine has ever been. The important thing to remember is that regardless of your circumstances in day to day life, you CHOOSE how you will handle things. Its the choice that matters. Its that choice that separates this life from being a roller-coaster that you’re trapped on to being one of the best rides of your life. You’re along for the ride anyway. Choose to enjoy it. Choose to be happy. Choose to be thankful for what you have.

http://vimeo.com/66775750

Drop in the Bucket

Wednesday, July 10, 2013 7:52 pm

After a successful launch, we’ve been continuing to push Flash Purchase Golf in effort to create greater awareness, attract sellers, and increase our buyer following. We are beginning to have some small success, but it is still a slow and arduous process. We still are yet to have our first transaction, but we are continually acquiring more vendors who are interested in selling products and services on the site. Now, the task at hand is to build a sufficiently large enough buyer following in order to make transactions on the website a reality. Its difficult as a low budget operation to get the word out, but we are slowly continuing to expand our reach through social media networks primarily.

Since altering our launch strategy several weeks ago, the site has definitely picked up steam, but it will be necessary to continue growth if this venture is going to succeed. If nothing else, this summer internship has given me a much better perspective of just how difficult and time consuming it is to be a successful entrepreneur.

As always, feel free to checkout my most recent blog post on the Flash Purchase Golf Blog: http://fpgolf.tumblr.com/day/2013/07/10

Post Launch

Monday, July 1, 2013 6:31 pm

Flash Purchase Golf officially launched last Tuesday 6/25. Since then my role has changed significantly in terms of my work responsibilities. During the first several weeks we focused on attempting to gain vendor support and supply on the website but found that eliciting such as response was very difficult. After not making much headway, we decided to change strategies and for the past week we have been pursing the demand side of the market in hopes of enticing vendors to bid on the website in a reverse auction format once we have an established buyer group for a particular product. This has also been met with limited success so far, but I am more optimistic of this approach and we are continuing to more forward slowly.

My role in working for Flash Purchase Blog has change from obtaining vendor and merchant supply to more of a marketing and social media intern role. Recently, my days have been filled with commenting on golf forum discussions, golf related LinkedIn groups, advertising a sweepstakes for a golf instructional video prize, and writing blog posts for Flash Purchase Golf’s blog.

It has been really interesting to get such an up close look at two very different approaches and types of jobs and I feel like I’ve already learned a lot from the very different types of task I’ve been asked to perform.

If you’re interested feel free to checkout some of my post on the Flash Purchase Golf blog: http://fpgolf.tumblr.com/

Step #2 Rethink Step #1

Thursday, June 20, 2013 3:15 am

Very few start-ups create a plan for launching their company and then proceed to execute the plan seamlessly. The reality of start-ups is that going in, you aren’t entirely sure what you are doing, or what the best method is to successfully launch your business. Successful entrepreneurship requires constant reevaluation and critical thinking about the why and the how of your chosen tactics. Is your current plan the most effective method? What success have you had? How can you pivot and shift your efforts to improve and achieve your desired results?

When I first began work for Flash Purchase Golf LLC, our initial plan was to convince vendors to post deals on our website with the understanding that we currently had no buyer audience that they would have to be patient and potentially co-market their deals with us once we were ready to launch the site. After four weeks, hundreds of cold calls and email, I was only able to obtain five or six meetings with potential vendors. The reality of the situation is that very few vendors want to take time and effort out of their day to talk to a no name start-up with no current buying audience. Enter the pivot.

In fewer words, our original strategy was to stimulate supply on the website and once we had suppliers we were going to stimulate demand (buyers). Unfortunately we didn’t have enough success stimulating the supply side of our two-sided market so making a change was necessary. The new plan is to stimulate the demand side of our e-commerce website through relentless marketing. Once we have a large enough buyer joining on a particular deal, we will then contact vendors attempting to entice them to bid on the group purchase deal in a reverse auction format (like eBay in reverse).

The website idea itself has not changed. Flash Purchase is still a social E-commerce company based on the idea of group purchasing and the value that it brings to both buyer and sellers, but our method for getting it off the ground is slightly different. I’m optimistic, but not naive to the fact that this plan also will be extremely difficult. Our official launch date is now set for Monday 6/24.

 

Step #1: Building Website Content

Wednesday, June 12, 2013 2:57 am

Planning to officially launch and market the website within the next two weeks, my days are filled with cold calls and searching the internet for golf vendors, distributors, articles, and inventions. Cold calls aren’t exactly fun and they are far from glamorous, but when it comes to start-ups they’re often the most productive and feasible option available. In order to get the site ready for launch, we need as many vendor deals as possible posted on the site, so that when potential buyers check-out the website there will be interesting deals and content for them to engage with and potentially purchase. The fun part of my daily work experience is attempting to convince someone over the phone or through email to take time out of their day to talk with me about the possibility of marketing and selling their product on a unknown website with a non-existent buyer following. Its been hard breaking through, but I have found some small success and got my first official deal posted on the website today. Additionally, I’ve been able to obtain several face to face meetings and conference calls to pitch the site to potential vendors. The success through, has been few and far apart, as is the case with cold calls and unknown solicitation. If nothing else, I’ve learned to be a little nicer to telemarketers–they are just doing their job, and not a very fun job at that. At any rate, I’m starting to see little signs of success which I am optimistic will grow in the future once we finally get the site live and are able to generate some site traffic.

The most important thing that I’ve learned at this point in my internship is that when making a sales call, the best thing you can do is to understand the person’s business who you are soliciting. In order to make gain their interest and hopefully their business in the future, you need to have a firm idea of their business so that you can gear your message toward a value proposition that will be relevant to them. In your typical cold call sales setting, you have approximately 3o seconds to tell them why they should be interested, because after that they’ve already made up their mind that they don’t need whatever you’re offering. It has to be very clear how you can benefit them in order to keep the conversation going and hopefully score a face to face meeting or conference call.

Here’s the condensed version: What is the value add of your product or service to their business? Over that past three weeks I’ve found there are three C words that sum up how best to accomplish this. Be clear, be concise, and be confident. If you can communicate what you’re selling confidently and in a clearly worded and meaningful way then you’re half way there.

Kickstarting a Two-sided Market – No Easy Task

Friday, May 31, 2013 9:10 pm

As the first week of my internship draws to a close, I am beginning to realize just how difficult of a task I have begun. Flash Purchase Golf (http://www.flashpurchasegolf.com/), a social E-commerce site created by Mike Sinsheimer, is a group sales marketing platform where buyers and sellers are able to create deals to their own specification and vary price depending on buyer participation level in a deal. The website itself has a lot of potential to reach a niche market of golfers interested in a variety of golf products and services at a fraction of the normal price. The difficult part for Flash Purchase Golf, and myself, is building supplier participation on the site while also stimulating buyer participation. In order to attract sellers we need buyers and in order to attract buyers we need sellers. The questions then becomes how does one build a marketplace from scratch, simultaneously stimulating both supply and demand?

The simple answer is that it is no easy task, and some even think it is impossible, as noted in this Venture Beat article about launching a two-sided marketplace (http://venturebeat.com/2013/04/14/launching-a-two-sided-marketplace-how-to-kickstart-supply-and-demand/). In the face of this daunting task, Flash Purchase Golf and its founder Mike Sinsheimer, believe that there is an opportunity to create something truly special through this performance-based site. One way that Flash Purchase Golf appeals to vendors is through its low-risk performance-based setup. FP Golf operates as a for profit business through a 10% transaction fee subtracted from the overall price when a vendor makes a sale. In this way, vendors are exposed to essentially no monetary risk as they are never charged a cent unless they make a sale. With no participation fee or charge required to use the site, vendors are encourage to engage and advertise their products and services. While vendors stand a lot to gain from participating in Flash Purchase Golf, buyers also benefit from the site’s unique business model. As a social E-commerce site, buyers are able to reduce the price on golf products and services through group purchasing power. Flash Purchase Golf has created a tier pricing system that allows vendors to vary the price of a product or service based on the level of buyer participation in a deal in order to incentivize greater quantity and numbers of transactions. Buyers and Sellers can also self-market the products through site integrated social media components including Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In, Email, and many other social media outlets.

This summer, as I have already found out this week, is bound to be a valuable learning experience as I attempt to launch Flash Purchase Golf in a two-sided marketplace. Cold calls, sales inquiry emails, and sales presentations fill my time as I attempt to get Flash Purchase Golf off and running. In perspective of this daunting task, I am reminded that things worth doing seldom come easy, and that this struggle epitomizes the life of an entrepreneur.

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