Summer Entrepreneurial Experiences

Week 5: Changing directions, preparing a new product

Monday, June 25, 2012 8:07 pm

The first couple of days this week reaffirmed my thoughts I explained in my last post. Selling web design to restaurants is a daunting task. The first half of this week we made more visits, more phone calls, and heard more “no’s.” A little disheartening, but it also came as a feeling of relief. We talked to enough people to make some pretty solid conclusions. Websites are sellable to restaurants in Richmond. A lot of owners and managers think our product is a solid product, and maybe down the line they’d be interested in paying for our services. However, and this is a big however, we decided this week to stop placing such a large amount of effort on selling these websites. We did this for the following reasoning:

Selling these websites takes time, which is something we do not have a lot of these days. Our original intent was to sell a few of these websites, and generate some quick revenue for the company to last us to the end of the summer. The reason we’d like to last until the end of the summer is because that is when the official City Swig app will (hopefully) be released, and we will no longer use the current mobile web app that we use now. In addition to the lack of time, we feel even more pressure to find a more efficient way to raise funds because we have yet to hear back from CIT, the folks who Tommy and Nik pitched the company to last Tuesday. Note to self: never rely on investors, even when you have to rely on investors.

We realized we needed to find another way to raise money. We spent a day or two brainstorming, then one day Tommy and Matt came back from a business lunch with a great idea, and it fits perfectly into the bigger idea of The City Swig.

Every week, over 100 people get together to play kickball in Richmond in a league called River City Sports and Social Club (RCSSC). RCSSC isn’t limited to just kickball, either. It includes wiffleball, football, broomball, dodgeball, and volleyball. Here’s the thing about RCSSC: it’s a social club as much as it is a sports league. They really have a refreshing definition of the word “recreational.” After every day of games, the activities do not even come close to being finished. Almost every single person goes out to bars for happy hour after the games. This is where The City Swig comes in.

As of now, there is one guy in charge of letting everybody involved in the kickball league know about what bar has what special on whatever night the game is on. In other words, the guy has one bar designated for each day of the week, and that’s where everybody goes after the game without fail. This guy gets paid by bars to let people know in the kickball league to come to their bar on a specific night.

Here’s the opportunity for us: as of now, the specials this guy provides end at 9pm. For those of you who have been out to bars to enjoy some drinks, you know that 9pm is pretty early on in your night. That being said, once the bar special ends at 9pm, the crowd scatters to other RVA bars to find other specials that extend into the night. There is general unrest about the bars they go to among the people who play kickball, including Matt and his team; they feel like they don’t have as many options for bars and drink specials as they’d like. If only there were a huge database that listed ALL of the drink specials at the best bars in Richmond… Wait, you mean The City Swig already has this database, and the technology to send that information straight to your phone via flash deals? You can see how we got so excited about this opportunity.

Matt and Tommy were the first to get the ball rolling. They got in touch with the woman who organizes the kickball league, and she immediately jumped on board with the idea. We had to then decide what our plan of action was.

When The City Swig was first getting started, Tommy bought the domain name www.swigify.com, with no immediate knowledge of how they would use it. All of a sudden, he looks like a genius for making the purchase. We suddenly had the product we wanted to use for the situation. Here’s how we envisioned it all happening: kickball members go to www.swigify.com, register their phone number (or e-mail), and every week during their kickball game, we send flash deals of the best bars to go to and why straight to their phone. All of a sudden, everybody in the whole league would know exactly where to go and why they were going- and it all happens without any prior planning, in completely real time.

It’s all about having more options. But how do we get people to sign up? Because Tommy and Matt had gotten in touch with the woman who organizes it all, we have access to all of the teams’ emails, so we decided that would be one way to get people to go to swigify.com. We also decided that we needed to show up to one of the games with a physical product to show people, so Tommy put me in charge of designing promotional business cards that we will pass out at the next kickball game. The card’s info reads like this:

Front: WANT MORE OPTIONS AFTER KICKBALL? www.swigify.com. Back: We think you could use more options after kickball. Give us your phone number or email, and we’ll send the best bar specials in RVA straight to your phone. Sign up at www.swigify.com.

Without a doubt, this is an extremely exciting opportunity. We now have the ability to send 100’s of people every week to a bar of our choice, and will be able to generate the revenue for which we’ve been looking. In addition to helping bootstrap the business, this project directly relates to The City Swig’s most basic function: distributing bar specials and alcohol prices to people through their mobile phone, and helping them structure their night around the information they have at their literal finger tips. Not only will this help us raise money, but it will also be a great way to promote The City Swig to Richmonders who already love the RVA bar scene.

The mood is very excited heading into the weekend. Next week we’ll be pushing forward with this project. I look forward to writing about what happens, as it should be a pretty eventful week.

 

-T

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