What should our startup go for first? Customers or suppliers?
As case studies, we’re going to look at two Startups:
1. Flatfish – a private landlord property management tool
It’s always the case with startups that bringing two parties together is oftentimes difficult. It’s never easy. Sometimes you’ve got to draw up a pros and cons list for each side, sometimes it’s just throwing a dart at a dartboard. Other times you’ve just got to gather them both at the same time.
Option One – Gather a list of validated customers and approach suppliers.
Suppliers want access to people. If you can put a dollar figure on the access that you have, you’re automatically worth a portion of that.
Take PartTimer for example – they gathered a list of validated customers, people who put their hands up and said: “I want to use this”. When they went knocking on suppliers doors (for them it was employers) they could sell access to their customers – and automatically had something of value for their suppliers.
For you, this is a great option if it’s going to take a lot of convincing for the suppliers to jump onboard. Or if you want to be in a stronger negotiating position.
Option Two – Sell suppliers on the dream
Imagine the world where your biggest problem is solved. Startups can ask suppliers these questions, and discover what the biggest problem, biggest waste of money or biggest hassle is for these suppliers. You can then work with these suppliers to solve this big problem. Potentially even being paid in the process.
This is the approach Flatfish took, working with landlords to solve their issues surrounding their rental properties. It meant they had a product that was a great fit for landlords because its build was influenced by landlords!
For you, this would be a good option if
The Wellington-based startup PartTimer, a platform for finding part time jobs, has managed to secure two high profile clients before even launching. McDonalds and Mojo have both come on board, bringing a lot of additional jobs and stability to the fresh-faced company. This solves the chicken and egg problem for a part timer, which many startups face in their early days.
Everyone knows that finding part time jobs can be difficult. Especially in areas like Auckland. As it’s such a massive city, it’s nearly impossible finding a job that suits your availability and location. Searching for jobs that match all of your criteria is lengthy and stressful.
You’ve got to make sure the job fits around your hectic life of classes, study, internships, and a social life, finding one of these jobs is often next to impossible. You can try door knocking to hand out countless resumes, but this is tiring and often ends up with the CVs being thrown in the bin. There are the cold emails that go unopened or sent straight to an employers trash folder, and they’re left with no formal way to categorise or store job-seekers CVs for when the next hiring round is needed.
For many stores, the process is online: want a job at McDonald’s, Countdown, The Warehouse, or any other chain store? To get even the slightest chance, you have to go through each organisations time consuming online application process, full of dozens of mind-numbing questions – frequently answering the same questions for every application you fill out. It’s an incredibly inefficient process that wastes everyone’s time.
Here’s where Part Timer comes in. Having faced these problems herself Rebecca Gidall decided she would try her hand to make this process easier. PartTimer was born. The idea was developed through the Venture Up program at CreativeHQ, an entrepreneurship program for 16 to 24-year-olds.
Gidall and her team wanted to create a platform where high school students could easily detail and showcase their positive attributes and why employers should employ them, a platform which didn’t have a strong focus on experience – many of us have surely been through the frustrating ‘I need experience for this job but can’t get experience without a job’ loop.
“I think that, with a lot of traditional recruitment methods like just giving in a CV, people are held back because they can’t show the other reasons why they’re great and why they should be employed,” Gidall states.
PartTimer, works by having an applicant create a profile by writing a bio and inputting information about what industries they want to work in, and what hours they will be able to work.
Employers view applicants via location, and add them to a shortlist – the idea is that job seekers will be more punctual if they live closer to work and will be less tired from travel. The candidate then receives a notification saying that this employer is interested in them, and if they are also interested in return, can allow for the employer to view their full profile, after which meetings and interviews can be arranged.
“What we’re doing now is giving employers a reason to give them an interview because the applicant is close by or they’re available at the times that they need them. What that does is it actually gives them a reason beyond just experience to give them a shot,” Gidall explained.
They’re not the only Wellington-based team working in the space, The Unicorn Factory is taking a different approach to solving the chicken and egg job experience problem. By giving young people who are involved in startups an opportunity to work in their chosen industry with real paying clients, TUF has found a group of highly motivated employees who want to prove themselves and learn as much as they can while on the job.