People’s minds are cluttered with marketing information. Where ever you go, you are pushed to think, want, buy now, act now and whatever the marketer has decided you should do.
This makes people wary.
But there are delighting examples of people who can detect sincerity in what companies do. With FinderBase our service offering sounds so amazing that people stop to think about our business model. It is unheard of that a company could be doing something useful for others without trying to benefit.
The basic message is the key.
Reflecting our ideas today, we got quite a valuable piece of advice which applies quite well to almost anything:
Forget the bells and whistles and tell the people the message that they can understand.
If your business idea is new and revolutionary don’t market it as such. Tell the story so that they can relate to.
If you’re the first person to develop an automobile, don’t sell it as a horseless carriage. Sell it as a carriage where the horses are optional. It’s not like people would get rid of their horses overnight, is it?
I have been now writing this blog for 100 days. There have been ups and downs but my project is still standing.
But where is the money?
For some weird reason people keep asking me this. To show where the money is, I’ll quote my favorite professor Pier A. Abetti:
Think of companies like pizzas. Your startup is a whole mini pizza that you own. When you sell a part of it, the pizza becomes bigger. Would you rather own a whole mini pizza or a slice of the bigger pizza?
The lesson here is that the small slice of a bigger company tends to be worth more than the whole smaller company.
So the plan is this:
We have founded a company FinderBase Oyj that owns the FinderBase.com service.
We will arrange an issue of shares for FinderBase Oyj.
We will offer the shares to people who trust us and want to be a part in building a big phenomenon.
This will dilute our own ownership but will grow the company.
Would you be interested in getting our investor brochure?
The world is run by incentives. If you want to understand the behavior of an individual or an organization you should look at their incentives.
Let’s look at the incentives of lost property offices in Finland
If a person loses an item and somehow finds out the office where the object was taken, they are first charged 1,70 €/minute to call to confirm the object is there. If the item is found, you will pay the finder’s fee (10 % of the item’s value, up to 20 €). Other fees like storage fees may still apply (up to another 10 % of the item’s value). It is in the interest of the person to pay these fees probably up to about 75 % of the item’s current value if the other alternative is to buy a new item altogether. So they’re happy to pay. But the office only takes up to 20 % of the items value, so it’s a real bargain.
If no one comes to collect an item that was delivered to the lost property office, they will auction it off. At the auction the office will get 100 % of the item’s current resale value.
What would you do?
Lets assume you are running a business where you have a fivefold incentive in not finding the owner of an item you have in storage. Would you try to find the owner knowing that even if you find him/her, you only lose money.
Can the incentives be changed?
Most people agree that it would be nice if you could get your stuff back without having to pay anything. The problem is that losing something happens so seldom that no one really has any incentive to do anything about it.
The incentives change automatically after enough people can agree that they are wrong. In our case that equals to the number of people who like FinderBase better.
Yesterday was the last day of the AaltoES Boot camp. The teams still did one last 3-minute elevator pitch and we did something a bit extraordinary also this time around.
The teams also posted a document that was supposed to describe their business model for the judges. We posted this FinderBase business model description. Our team has effectively managed to almost entirely detach itself from reality and concentrate on the dream that we’re after with FinderBase.com. Feel free to comment our document.
Not surprisingly, we didn’t win.
But it’s interesting to see who did. The teams chosen by the judges well represent the ideology of the Aalto University as a home for scientific research. The top three were:
All of these ideas had a strong research background. All these teams have patented technology to base their solution on. The two first also have a physical product that they’re trying to build a prototype of.
Today, we’ve spent most of our time convincing different organizations and stakeholders on the greatness of our service. Our model is good because it has very little to object.
We are not actually selling a product or a service, we’re selling a dream of the future.
The funny thing about doing stuff with any organization or individual is that it almost never goes as planned. You always have two ways to react when that happens:
Adapt and change your behavior.
Ignore the feedback and move on like nothing happened.
Both of these alternatives have their sides. The first one is risky because it will cause you to change a strategy you’ve chosen. The second one is risky because following this might cause you to end up ignoring a great majority of your potential customers.
What you should do depends on what you have.
If you have the best solution in the world, you’ll find the second alternative much easier. You don’t want to change your idea but stick with what you know best.
If you have the best team out there, you’ll find the first alternative extremely easy. You can dynamically choose the strategy that you’ll find most lucrative.
That is why you should do exactly the opposite.
I will argue that great start-ups ran into trouble exactly because they follow the path that they find most convenient. Great teams end up doing miscellaneous stuff and great solutions are destroyed because they can’t adapt.
While developing FinderBase.com, we’ve stumbled upon the notion of greater good. This theory comes from the utilitarian philosophy but I’m going to be practical here.
Some people don’t want to understand the greater good.
Our company has taken an approach to try to do its best to benefit the greater good. We believe that we can actually and positively contribute to the solution of a societal problem. We believe we can help the society to help its members unite with their lost belongings.
Now, most people we’ve met have instantly deemed our efforts futile. There are two objections that try to disregard the greater good:
This will never become viable business. True enough, most businesses sell minor goods and some even average sized goods. But who sells a greater good and what would it cost to buy one?
The openness will support criminal activity. This question is really relevant in today’s society. How many are really afraid enough of suicide bombers to limit bringing all liquids on board airplanes? Is the greater good of getting belongings back to their owners big enough compared to the risk of something ending up in the wrong hands?
The core of his message is the model with three levels of message:
Whatever you do, remember why you do it.
This message is undeniable and experience shows it to be true. People who do stuff for the wrong motives are seldom successful. People who know why they do what they do will succeed. This same applies to companies. Everyone working for a company must know why the company exists in the first place. The marketing message should start from the core of “Why” and develop via “How” to the concrete “What”.
We know why.
We want to see a world where everyone knows what to do when they see a lost item lying around. We want them to say “hey, I need to tell the owner I found it”. We will make FinderBase.com the service that first comes to people’s minds when that happens.
I want to attribute a lot of our success in developing FinderBase.com to my background in geocaching. The whole business idea is derived from it. Geocachers have the characteristics to be great finders:
When geocaching, people tend to be more observant. In addition to the caches you’ll end up finding lost items. Even surprising ones.
Geocachers move in places that are not where there isn’t a lot of traffic otherwise.
Geocachers have an interest to objects that are “out-of-place”.
Geocachers tend to be familiar with technology and the Internet.
Geocachers are generally persistent, helpful and honest.
If I should name a group of people who were perfect for helping the whole society in finding back their lost items, I would name geocachers.
Dear geocacher, would you consider making this world a bit better place, one lost item at a time? Would you like to help by listing stuff you find in FinderBase.com?
FinderBase.com-palvelun suunnittelun onnistumisesta suuri kiitos kuuluu geokätköilylle. Oikeastaan koko liikeideamme on geokätköilyn ajatusmaailmasta lähtöisin. Geokätköilijät ovat hyviä löytäjiä ja se on myös meidän palvelumme ytimessä:
Geokätköilijät ovat tarkkaavaisia. Tiedän, että kätköilyreissuilla törmää helposti yllättäviinkin muiden hukkaamiin tavaroihin.
Geokätköilijät liikkuvat omia polkujaan ja näkevät siten sellaista mikä ei muiden silmiin välttämättä satu.
Geokätköilijät kiinnittävät huomiota esineisiin, jotka “eivät kuulu paikalleen”.
Geokätköilijät omaksuvat nopeasti tekniset vempaimet ja nettipalvelut.
Geokätköilijät ovat sisukkaita, auttavaisia ja rehellisiä.
Jos minun pitäisi nimetä paras mahdollinen ihmisryhmä auttamaan muita saamaan löytötavaransa takaisin, nimeäisin geokätköilijät.
Hyvä kätköilijä, haluaisitko osallistua talkoisiin ja tehdä maailmasta vähän paremman paikan yksi löytötavara kerrallaan? Haluaisitko auttaa listaamalla löytämäsi tavarat FinderBase.comiin?