For the first time in many years I’ve missed travelling to Frankfurt for the biennial bash known as Light+Building. It’s not that there wasn’t anything interesting there nor that there weren’t loads of people that I’ve met over the years to catch up with. There was just very little there that was more important than focussing on the business project.
It’s would have been very easy to become diverted from the key task by the hubbub and excitement of a polished exhibition, particularly one as large as L+B. However our project is more about business model than lighting technology, so spending a couple of days wandering round the pride of the lighting industry would have been a waste of time, money and focus compared with working over a hot keyboard developing the new company.
Having now spoken with a number of professional investors it’s become clear that while new ways of carrying out business have the potential to be hugely disruptive if supported by great technology (and not a little execution!), the risk of customers not engaging is in many cases more than funders are willing to take on. In our project, while we have sufficient cash flow and funds to develop the products through to launch, we will still need to find the working capital to build the business, so raising the right type of funding will be critically important.
To overcome that reticence we’ve developed a plan that involves a Rewards based Crowdfunding campaign both to raise some funds but mainly to prove that there are people willing to pay for a light bulb service — as that will form a major part of the rewards package. We’ll be aiming to sign up early customers through a high profile campaign, using all our various networks, focussing on the long term value that the beautiful lamps can deliver to customers, not just when new but throughout regeneration cycles.
So our funding plans are in place but we don’t even have a name for the business yet, or clear messaging for customers or investors! That’s been the focus of the past few weeks, in parallel with the product and systems development …..but in spite of all that effort, we still don’t have a name. The team at Agency of Design are used to helping with branding and have guided the process. The trouble is we now have 6–7 people all inputting their ideas and have so far generated over 250. Sometimes I wonder whether it would be better to just pick something and run with it.
However we are moving closer to a company mission, the latest iteration being:
“To create amazing value for customers, team members and investors by providing the best, most beautiful products and regenerate them again and again, eliminating waste.”
It will be interesting to see if that can be improved on over the coming few days.
I’ve been rereading a couple of books over the past few weeks that inspired me some time ago to seek out an opportunity that was truly different and can recommend them both. The first is Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne (Harvard Business Review — www.blueoceanstrategy.com, Blue Ocean Strategy) and the second is Purple Cow by Seth Godin (Portfolio / Michael Joseph — www.sethgodin.com, Seth Godin). The first is unsurprisingly more academic and both a little out of date but well worth the effort.
Next time I hope to be able to announce our new business name (fingers crossed!) and explore how our crowdfunding experience is panning out. Do drop me a line if you have any comments or questions — love to hear from you.