After reading the article about the founder of ooShirts.com Richard Laye and his business
, published on Habré on September 9, I was very happy: finally, ultra-light start-ups that feel great in the “Western Internet” started talking in Russian.
However, comments to the post of optimism diminished, and at the same time they made us think: why is the domestic “Internet activist” looking for dozens of reasons explaining the unreality of repeating Lei’s success in Runet (by repetition I mean not copying the idea, but reproducing an ultra-light startup model , and the product or service can be anything)
, instead of using the opportunities that already exist ... or creating a new business model, but on the basis of existing services?
In my opinion, nine out of ten successful ministaps succeed by peculiar “budding” on the trunk of a large and successful project. It's really easier this way - you can focus on the minimum set of operations that make your project relevant, and give the whole routine, whether attracting visitors or logistics, to a “big brother”.
But how exactly to budge depends on the specifics of the business. Lay's company relies on printing and sending orders to a third-party manufacturer; developers of applications in social networks address their multi-million audience of VKontakte or Facebook; short link services have gained popularity thanks to Twitter and other microblogs, etc.
But if everything is so simple - what makes certain mini-stars the stars that newspapers and blogs write about? Why is Richard Ley in the photo, and those who shout loudly that “this is impossible with us” is only in the comments? I will try, without pretending to the truth in the last resort, to present my version of the answer to this question, especially since I received it thanks to another
publication on Habré ... well, first things first.
In order for the idea to be clear, I will briefly tell you about my company: ProstoPrint.com
, service of goods on demand. We support partner stores of T-shirts and paraphernalia for websites, communities and blogs, we are engaged in customer support, receiving payments, manufacturing and delivery of goods presented in the stores of partners. If we draw analogies with the publication about Richard Lay, we are the very contractor to whom ooShirts.com delegates all the dirty work.So, some time ago, the following idea arose: if we at ProstoPrint.com cannot fully master our own technological capabilities, then why not do it in partnership with other people and companies - and in a completely open format, free for mutual creativity?
Let me explain the previous paragraph in more detail: over the seven years of the company’s operation, we “saved up and bought” a rather impressive fleet of equipment, ranging from digital printing houses and silk screen carousels to various devices for printing on T-shirts, cups, flash drives, etc. Let us add to this the experience of operational support of a large project in the field of “real” (commodity) e-commerce: JustPrint processes tens of thousands of orders per month — these are hundreds of answered calls and tickets, received payments, packaged and sent packages every day.
But with the effective development of all our industrial wealth problems arose. And it's not that our success in relations with developers is not so great (although this is true), we can’t start a new service, which was announced six months ago (and this is true), since all the efforts of the developers are eaten by the monster name JustPrint. The potential of our workshops and machines is still greater than the capabilities of a single development team - in any case, if the company owner himself is not a super-duper programmer, and unfortunately I am not.
On the basis of ProstoPrint.com's power, you can make a design contest like threadless.com
, a custom business card printing service (like moo.com
), printing and delivery of photo books, personalized calendars, badges, notebooks ... the list goes on and on. At the same time, unlike the “nearest printing house”, we not only print, but also accept payments, package and deliver - and most importantly, we understand the specifics of working with small and single editions ... In addition, we should not be frightened by outlandish abbreviations like API, XML and SMM.
In general, as they say in the official documentation, “based on the above,” in one of my recent publications on Habré
, this postscript appeared:“PS Let's finish the cooperation proposal: our company has all the necessary technological (its silk-screen production, its own import of B & C basic products, Continental Clothing, etc.), operating rooms (delivery department, payment processing service, client call center) , marketing (almost 15 thousand partners) opportunities for the development and maintenance of design competition. But, unfortunately, there is not enough time, money and other resources to draw, write, run this contest. If you are a developer, and you (might be) interested in taking part in creating such a project on a partnership basis - write to me. “
“Tired, but pleased”, I rubbed my hands: now they will write me ingenious megamozg from the outback full of creative ideas, and we will show all this shit and treadless ...
Developers responded as many as four. I quote dialogues with three of them with strong cuts, but without loss of meaning:Developer 1:
Hello! We want to do a joint project with you. We have a project manager, designer, programmer ...Me:
Hello, very happy to cooperate. State your ideas.Developer 1:
On cooperation.Developer 1:
We don’t have any ideas. But we want to do the project. You give us the TK, and we all can.I:
Hello! I wanted to know how we will share the money?Me:
What money?Developer 2:
Well, from a joint project.I:
Wait, from what project?Developer 2:
Do you need partners? Are needed. Here we are - your future partners. But now the first thing you need to decide who has what share.I:
Lord, share in what ??? What project do you propose to do: the essence of the service, the business model, the target audience, the separation of functions?Developer 2:
We do not know ... Yes, we, in principle, do not care what to do. But less than 35% of the profits, we do not agree.I:
Good afternoon! We are ready to write you a complete analogue of Tredless. It will cost 10 thousand dollars + 25% participation in the project.I:
Hello! First, I personally do not need the full analogue of Tredless. If I need it, I will order it for 5 thousand in a company that I fully trust - why should I overpay? Secondly, we are ready to consider the launch of the project, which we will take to operational management - but there can be no talk about payment for the fact of development.Developer 3:
No, we will not work for free. What about our salaries?Me:
Do you want guaranteed payment during the development of the service?Developer 3:
And a share in the company?Developer 3:
And what are you willing to risk in exchange for this?Developer 3:
In the sense of - what? We don’t want to risk anything ...I:
The ultralight start-up success formula from Richard Lei is simple: we come up with a viable and preferably original idea (minus developer 1), we are interested in a company that can take on the applied troubles (minus developer 2), with faith in the success of the company, we take on our share of business risks whether it is an Indian programmer's pay or an investment of his own knowledge, let it begin in the evenings and on weekends (minus developer 3). This formula does not guarantee unconditional success - but it is akin to a lottery ticket: without its presence in the lottery, you ABSOLUTELY EXACTLY won’t.
And if someone is not ready for the first, second and third - his place among skeptical commentators, and not as the hero of the article, is natural. You just don’t have to complain about “bureaucracy”, “buyer mentality”, “chaos at all levels of production”, etc. - the cause of failure lies in a different plane.
PS I mentioned only three developers. We met with the fourth the next morning at Maconalds, he told me about his idea and honestly admitted that he regarded ProstoPrint.com as a strong competitor. I replied that I was not interested in working independently in its segment, but I can be a “hidden contractor” - and I will be happy to. Next week we meet again, already with some mutual developments.
PPS By the way, the quoted offer of cooperation is still in force.