Every day, we’re privileged to work with exciting companies and startups all over the world.
Their passion to build amazing, consumer-focused products energizes us, and we couldn’t be prouder of the work we do to help passionate entrepreneurs create value for their target markets.
In 2020, we’re going to feature some of these clients on the PeopleFish blog. We love learning more about what they are doing, and how PeopleFish helped them validate their business concept.
First up is Mark Waleryskiak, Jr. — Founder & CEO at Giverrang. We had a few questions for him about his life, his work, and his goals for 2020.
First, a bit about you. What’s your background? Your skills and experience? How have you spent the last few years?
I started out working in in the media, first with ESPN, then ABC News Radio in New York. But something felt like it was missing. Such a great big company, but yet such a structured role where I just felt I was not able to provide the perspective I wanted to the world. So I moved back home to Connecticut and reset, this time looking for something marketing oriented where I could flex those storytelling chops.
It was there I landed with a project in my hometown focused on “crowdsourced placemaking” the downtown area. It was quite innovative at the time as crowdsourcing and crowdfunding were virtually unknown terms. This experience marked the beginning of my interest in the intersection of building communities and positive systems around technology.
Because I tend to be more on the vision-oriented side, I eventually felt it was time to start pursuing my own goals and dreams, one of which has evolved into my startup.
Now about your startup. What’s it called? What does it do? Who is your target market?
Ah, yes, the fun stuff!
My startup is called Giverrang. We are the first discount trading network on the market. We allow members to trade discounts on their products in exchange for Points. Points can then be traded to other members to get discounts on stuff you want using less money.
It’s our novel twist on a cashless exchange system, which provides great flexibility, and an opportunity to make some money too. When you register, you are granted a Points Line (say 1,000), which sort of acts as a “credit line” that users can dip into to get discounts. Then they have to pay-it-forward at a later date. So reciprocity is also a major focus of the system.
The primary target market is small businesses, NGOs, solo people like consultants or people with a side gig or hustle. Anyone who might have a good or service to offer the world, or cash strapped operations.
When and how did you come up with this idea?
I give my father credit.
We talked some years ago about various systems he had read about around the world. It’s funny, as we’re pretty different people, but when it comes to core values and innovative ideas that better the world, we just vibe. Our conversation just evolved over time to, “Hey, I think this thing can actually have much wider appeal, let’s see if we can make a product of it.”
We love the name and brand! How (and why) did you come up with this?
When you give, you get—just like when you throw a boomerang and it comes right back. The crux of our system is when you give a discount on an item, whether it is a 5% discount, or 100%, that value returns to you in the form of Points.
With that core principle in mind, we wanted some symbol that demonstrated the act of doing one thing, and it returning to you. A boomerang painted that picture perfectly.
You reached out to PeopleFish a few months ago. What did you learn from your PeopleFish survey about your target market?
We learned that we guessed our target market correctly: Most people got what we wanted to do. Around 60-65% appreciated the concept. Roughly 20-25% or so were on the fence, and the remaining 10-15% said it was just not something they would use as they never traded or gave discounts.
In total, we felt very good about the majority not only understanding our product, but saying they would give us a try and also be an advocate. So a potential market opportunity of roughly 80-90% of the millions of SMB’s in the country. What’s not to like?
One thing that surprised me too is that a number of businesses that were higher revenue earners than we were thinking to target, responded positively. So that was an interesting nugget that has us thinking a little broader.
Aside from your PeopleFish survey, how else did you validate your concept before (or after) going to market?
Before PeopleFish, it was a lot of conversations. The people I spoke to were encouraging and said I should take it as far as I can to see what I have here.
But PeopleFish gave us the nod of approval that we weren’t just hearing from people already close to us. It was legit concept validation from those we had no previous connection to, which was great.
As for now, we are entering the market validation state. We feel the concept has been legitimized, but are people going to actually take to the product? Will they want to build a community around this concept and the positive fundamentals involved? Those are big questions.
We are just at the beginning stages. We are reaching out through social media channels and select interest forums, we’re doing cold emailing, and we will be starting up cold calling and dropping into businesses shortly.
What are some of your business goals for 2020?
Number one goal is to validate the product in the marketplace.
If we can start generating traction in 2020, then I will start exploring options at how we can pour gas on the fire — that includes building out a team, seeking investment, among other avenues.
We know you’re still an early-stage startup, but what advice do you have for people who want to start a business in 2020? Especially to people who have an idea, but are afraid to take the plunge?
Just do it. Start. Stop thinking about it and start doing.
Stop paying attention to those unicorn stories, and do what you can control.
Draw up a structure. Dedicate some amount of time to it, even an hour or two a day, as if it was your job. Once you pour time into it, a funny thing happens. Either you’ll be so excited each day to get back to it, or you’ll despise it and not want to do it. You won’t know until you try. Give it a solid few weeks.
Your dreams are just on the other side of starting.
Great! Now some fun questions to close us out.
As you know, we’re all about surveys here at PeopleFish. We can survey almost any kind of consumer imaginable. But one population we don’t often survey is startup founders. So to help us learn more about people like you, we have a few questions. Pick an answer, or pick something else.
Mac or Windows?
iPhone or Android?
Earbuds or headphones?
Headphones (never tried Earbuds tho)
Background music or work in silence?
9-5 or flexible schedule?
6-6 and flex
Morning person or night owl?
Morning now. Night earlier in life.
Coffee or tea?
Water. If forced, tea.
Do you have a startup idea? Leave your email below to connect with one of our Research Directors.