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Posted by Ajay Prado on 2015-04-09 02:07:00
Title: Startup Idea
Category: Money

I have a start-up website that I would like to develop. I had a part-time programmer willing to do it for equity, but he has since dropped ship to focus on work. That being said, what should I do? It is a somewhat time-sensitive idea. I have one investor (my parents) but only willing to invest $5000 (at no equity, just repayment if successful). Barely enough for the development of the website, let alone marketing. I am planning on marketing it via FB, and locally on foot to start as well as with a marketing expert. I have not the best credit, and no assets so a loan is out of the question. Should I: A) Pitch the idea to extended family and try to acquire more investment but in turn give up equity. B) Learn the skills to code the website myself, which would delay it by 1-year, and possibly make it a useless idea given the current market (largely untapped market, but still time sensitive, as competitors are honing in on it) C) Pitch the idea to some sort of investment firm to get funding to build, and market the website. D) Other.

Answer:

Sunil Godse
2015-04-09 13:20:00

Ajay, thanks for your post. You are really in a tough position, and from what I read, this idea of yours may not have the right wings to take off. You have to remember one thing about being in business – the idea you have should serve a need or a void in the market with enough customers to turn the idea into a business idea. You also mention that competitors are honing on the idea, which tells me that the untapped market has already been tapped. You have to remember that competitors would have discussed this "project" some time before, and hence would have taken stock of their resources and capabilities, including a budget and will move ahead developing this idea, if there is a viable market.

That being said, pushing ahead takes time, effort, money and resources. You may have the time and don't doubt that you would put in 110% effort, but money is the issue, and you already have a resource who did not stick around despite the seeming upside in the opportunity as an equity stakeholder.

Be VERY cautious with FB marketing as you may sink in $ that will not see a return. FB followers may be engaged, but that does not necessarily mean that they will be buyers of your product or service. A marketing expert can only do so much, but he or she will suggest spending money on not only his/her services but on other forms of marketing with no real ROI promised, which is what you need.

I would first talk to as many people who may be potential customers and ask them if they would be willing to pay you right now for a product, and see how many people will bite. Everyone else is not a customer, just a nice person who may not be as frank with you, or as supportive. No investment firm will give you any time if there is no prototype and initial demand for the product, so that is not an avenue.

Asking for more money from family will kill relationships if this idea turns into a dead end. That alone is not worth any dollar amount.

If you truly had a viable business idea with an outstanding market opportunity, you would have had a number of people coming on board with some equity and possibly some dollars.

My multiple choice answer to your question is D - other. I would walk away from this and move onto the next idea that encompasses the reasons for a business I shared above. I do not want to see you sacrifice money and relationships with an idea that may not be a business idea.

Some frank thoughts, but I dont want you to be included in the statistic where over 9 in 10 Canadian businesses fail! Good luck.

Sunil Godse, President, Radical Solutions Group