Change Agents

match-1100912_960_720Who am I doing this for?

This is not the same question as “why am I doing this?”, nor “who is Givahoy for?”. I’ve answered that in other places. This is also not a market analysis question, since, while there is always a need for focus in specific opportunities, the market is everyone.

Instead, I am thinking about those people that I want to benefit from this. Not their causes, but who they are.

People who want change. People who want to enable change. People who want to change.

Relevantly, I fit in each of these groups. And there is, of course, some crossover.

People who want change

Cause-based activity. Many charities, for example, exist to effect change. They are not looking for sustainable and managed processes. They want to resolve an identified problem, and meet the needs of those disadvantaged by it. Givahoy wants to help them get what they need, both financially and in terms of engagement.

People who want to enable change

Helping others. Giving to individuals and groups facilitates their goals and we give because we want the recipient to make this change as they are in a position to do so and we may not be.

People who want to change

Becoming more. There are many people who want to express themselves, creatively or otherwise, but cannot do so owing to many pressures, including the difficulty/costs of payments. One fewer hurdle is a start.

For me, I want to give more freely, I want to empower those who are doing incredible things, for themselves and others, and I want to be in a position to actively engage with them in achieving their goals. Givahoy can do this.

 

The Co-Founder Conundrum

I don’t currently have any co-founders. Clearly I could not have come as far as I have on my own, but as yet no-one has stepped into that further commitment to making this real.

If I had a co-founder, then I might have entered the pitch selection for the Kiwibank Fintech Accelerator, but I had to withdraw without that. Not only was a co-founder a requirement, but also any high-intensity work would be impossible to for one. At least, this one. I believe I need between one and three co-founders. And here’s why.

I bring vision and flexibility, having conceived this and with a technical awareness enabling me to build a bit of everything. I can also add a lot of value to the actual revenue proposition: targeting, analysing and segmenting.

There are clearly holes in my skillset: experience in business-building, design skills for product use, deep technical skills to enable scaling, and customer/market engagement. At any given stage of the business, those skills can be bought, but there needs to be a significant presence from day one to ensure they are not overlooked.

Then there are the attitudinal traits. This is not a ticket-clipping business. Givahoy only works when we add value. We earn trust and we deliver on it. If we oversell, if we mislead, if we bias our outcomes, then we fail. Equally, if we don’t become profitable, then it’s not sustainable. There is a hard edge to the positive results. A co-founder needs to have that focus.

A co-founder must also not “be like me”. Diversity is hard, but essential, and it is proven to constantly develop when it is pursued. Agreement must be through honest truth, not just echoes.

And in return? In theory, Givahoy could make everyone wealthier and more generous. We are massively scalable in both channel and geography. We can make an impact that disproportionately advantages the less well-off, without taking a political position (much as I, personally, might like to). This is a real chance to guide and challenge.

Maybe you, like me, might be thinking that if this is real, then I really need to make this happen. I hope so. Because that’s incredibly exciting.

Where are we?

Here’s a state of the nation.

pirates-ship-1425378010_org

How is Givahoy developing?:

The biggest business decision is to charge nothing for transactions for the immediate future. This means that whatever you are collecting for, you can do so for free. Validation and verification will apply – e.g. if you say you are a business or charity, then this will be confirmed (company ID, charity ID etc). If you are collecting as an individual then there are limits on volumes in and out to be determined. If you *want* to pay for the service, then you can do so. Beacons will carry a cost, but they are not intended to be a significant revenue stream.

The chief revenue will be from data usage. Analysis, reporting, targeting campaigns, segmentation, along with more aggressive data uses, like rewards and recognition, will be paid.

There is a whole world of nuance in there. I’ll do a blog post on each of “Free Transactions” and “Data Uses” at some point, but it’s worth reminding that I am not going to be able to think of everything. When you (yes, *you*) get to using it, you’ll see how it applies in your own life and Givahoy really is listening. Sincerely, Givahoy wants to help you achieve what you want to achieve.

What’s the business like?

Everyone at Givahoy has a day job. This means that all achievements are required to fit around higher priorities. Yes, higher. While Givahoy will, soon, pay the bills, right now there is integrity around the roles that enable us to meet mortgages and assorted other requirements. This means the re-design is still in the ideation phase, that development is a few bug fixes rather than a re-implementation and that the go-to-market strategy is twinkling rather than sparkling.

Between us, we have strengths in a number of areas: Nick is an exceptional designer, especially given the limited briefs he receives, Nikolai has consistently delivered quality code into working prototypes and Jim (me) has an unconventional and effective approach to data, and a vision for the future of Givahoy. Others are involved in a less-formal capacity.

And here are our opportunities:

In analogy, this is our swashbuckling ship:

pirate-ship-vector_zyhl30oo_m

It works. It floats in the shallows. It has the necessary bits to achieve the basic goals. It’s pretty much my MVP. But it isn’t *real*.

The immediate next stage is to build a raft that resembles the above. This is when we discover what works in the real world, in the market.

After that is rolling out to a public group, expected to be Wellington. When that succeeds, the national rollout follows. Tomorrow the world, etc.

timeline

We are working on the gaps indicated above (which ends at the beginning of the “hockey-stick growth” of legend. Really. How to get from MVP to Prototype Launch is socialising and communicating. Basically, finding the group who just say “OK, let’s give it a go!” I’m listening as to the best way to do this, else it’ll be me shouting on street corners. If you can help then I’m in.

Prototype Launch to Region Release is a bigger comms issue. If we need to Kickstarter/Pledgeme a campaign then that’s doable. However, that needs clearly defined goals and “business growth” doesn’t achieve that.

That’s where we are. It’s fun and exciting, and I’m listening and learning. Givahoy is coming. And I can really use your help. Try it. Use it. Let me know what it does, what it doesn’t, and what it needs to do. And let me know what dreams you have that this might, maybe, possibly, *could* help you realise.

Because, with your help, it really, really could.

Trust me, I’m an Entrepreneur

Givahoy is digital street collection for the cashless society, providing free, trusted payments to charities

So why would an entrepreneur want to do something like that?

There are reputable high-growth companies built on the assumption that, because the main part of the target market can pay $x, then the customers must pay $x. Givahoy is doing this, although in a somewhat obtuse manner: because most charities can’t pay more, no customers should be made to pay anything.

There’s also a question of what’s right. If Givahoy is to claim to connect donors with their charities, then there’s no room for a fee. I don’t want exclusivity, I don’t want charities to use Givahoy because there’s no other choice, I don’t want the charity or the donor to be looking for another means of connecting. Simply put, I do want to be trusted.

Why? To be able to add the most value. To be able to analyse accurately the spontaneous giving activity of people, you need as much data as possible. By having this comparative data, Givahoy will be able to support a better understanding for the charities as to how they, and their campaigns, fit into the giving ecosystem.

I’m working on a Mission statement for the business. This is not intended to be some mealy-mouthed homage, but something that, when there’s a choice in behaviour, everyone can point at that and accept the required course of action. And if an action will reduce trust, then it must not be taken.

It’s a long road to trust, with transparency and authenticity paramount, not to mention that a single failure can be a massive setback. But without it, Givahoy won’t be what it can be, and that would be a missed opportunity for everyone.

Givahoy Overview and The Kiwi Landing Pad

I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the Kiwi Landing Pad’s Sales and Marketing Jam today. Very different content and feel to the local entrepreneur meetings. It was more mature, focused on business more than monetising, and more day-to-day than the perpetually disrupting environments that have been held aspirationally. Very practical and pragmatic, less idealistic and, perhaps pure.

One challenge out of the day was to have a Twitter pitch.140 characters describing the business. Can’t be done, of course, for a 2-sided business, but I gave it a go:

Givahoy offers zero-fee, receipted charity donations using proximity and location for safe and effective payments

A lot of the rest was good, solid, common-sense advice, grounded in the US business environment (based around SF, but a strong awareness of the other States). But I kept coming back to this, and how I can succinctly describe Givahoy.

We provide a secure, user-controlled environment for pledging payments, supporting collector-triggered donations.

The user elements are:-

  1. Safe data and secure transactions
  2. The fastest and easiest way of making payments at the user’s discretion
  3. Co-ordinated and controlled payments, enabling effective receipting for tax purposes
  4. Pledging and slow payments put control and flexibility completely in the user’s hands

The customer elements are:-

  1. Zero-fee transactions
  2. A communications channel to otherwise anonymous donors
  3. A source of data, enabling meaningful analytics
  4. A flexible channel to use for future campaigns

The revenue channels are:-

  1. Tiered reporting. e.g.
    1. Free: daily total $ by collection point
    2. $100 per month: Detail on number of donors, spread of donation size, geographic context and performance
    3. $500 per month: Segment analysis – how does this charity compare to other charities with similar goals? Wallet share. Geographic distribution of donors
  2. Data Analytics and Targeted Communications: Enabling customers to tailor messages to the target market
  3. Non-charity activity: marketers wishing to use location or beacon data will be able to leverage the Givahoy user base, so they won’t need to have a new app installed
  4. Non-charity payments: street vendors, buskers, market stallholders will be able to receive payments. These could be charged per withdrawal, for example, making it only as expensive as the customer chooses.

No way that sticks in 140 characters, but I know that isn’t the point.

Walls

It has been an interesting week or so. The day job keeps me busy and life is unquestionably far from empty. now that at least part of the development has been outsourced, I am thinking more and throwing more of the wider issues into play.

For example, I have not yet founded the charity. Obviously I have financial restrictions, and a couple of leads into specialists have led nowhere to date,  and I don’t wish to waste time for no good reason by submitting a half-cooked or misleading application into Charities Services. So I put a couple of questions out into the ether to see what the perceptions on this might be.

An immediate response was the perception that Givahoy’s charity activities could be interpreted as money laundering. This was a surprise to me – I’ve worked in money laundering detection and didn’t look at it this way at all. My interpretation is that if someone wanted to hide their funding of a questionable charity then they could load up payments through Givahoy into the charity, masking their contribution. It wouldn’t work – Givahoy is geared around small transactions; reporting will be transparent, showing all the ins and outs – but validation of charities is, to my mind, the responsibility of government. Which isn’t to say that I wouldn’t disagree with their verdict.

And “what if it isn’t a charitable purpose?” Without that, Givahoy would be a different proposition, it’s fair to say, but would that be the end of it? Well… no. There’s the easy option: just push the donations straight on to the charities and offer no tax receipts. And there’s the hard option: make all the payments and ask the charities nicely to provide receipts.

Another ongoing perception is around Pushpay: “isn’t it just the same?” And my answer remains no. They are a payment method, have fees and are focused on static locations. Givahoy is a payment aggregator, has no fees and supports  flexible locations along with proximity.

Much of which just comes down to my communication. I’m not crystallising the proposition yet. Which means I’m in the position of saying “wait and see.” I know it’s different and I can’t wait to show you.

BNZ Start Up Alley

I was always going to write something about this, but – even though I didn’t get a pen- it was a presentation by the speaker Michael Lopp (http://randsinrepose.com/) that has encouraged me to do this. Get it written.

So I did it. Got up on stage in front of 200 people. That’s a complete guess, based on what I was told of last year’s attendance. StartupAlley

You probably can’t see my comfort zone in this image as it is not very close. It’s probably hidden by the curvature of the earth.

The waiting was stressful, but there was a pretty good camaraderie among the gladiators. That was possibly because the enemy was the judging panel rather than the competitors. Well, for some of us.

Nonetheless it went well. I didn’t swear or mock the judges (pretty much) and actually seem to have improved the understanding of some people about what I’m trying to do. I was awarded a Red Peak flag as a “thanks for coming.” I’m taking in the spirit in which I believe it was meant, in that the judges felt my business wasn’t ready for this competition even if the selectors did. That certainly made waiting for the announcement of the winners a lot less stressful than it might have been.

It was a great learning experience. I know much more viscerally that the message has to be explicit and early for my particular project. This is not a traditional “monetise pain” entrepreneur plan or “find a business idea to match my tech” engineer plan or “leverage a social movement” opportunist plan. The aggregated societal pain from charities struggling for funds in a low tax world is massive, but the individual pain is not.

I learned that, even if I explain what this is, many people will still be incredulous that there might be a reason for not maximising revenue. “If they can pay, then they should.” There’s a big picture behind all this, and I haven’t encapsulated it at all. I see it, and there are those who get facets, but there is a massive variation in perspective based on who and where everyone is. Like this (taken from @katgreenbrook at the SUNZ conference).

Elephant

To quote Elly Arroway from the wonderful Contact movie: they should have sent a poet. I know now to leave the words and images in the hands of more capable people than me. I know them. I just have to (forgive me) show them the elephant. And I have to accept that some people will still look and say “it’s just a horse.”

When someone believes they have been perceptive and insightful, you have to carefully show when it isn’t. I didn’t get that right.

Even the smallest appreciations are wonderful. But that’s because of who I am. Some people don’t need thanks, or a pat on the back. Some actively don’t welcome them. Me, I’ll take them, although I may be too surprised to be gracious. (Sorry about that)

The biggest lesson is that I need to do this a whole lot more. And a whole lot better. This will have to become my comfort zone.

A big part of me is relishing that.

P.S. I’d love a pen if there’s still one going.