Up to Cornell for market validation research…

July 19, 2006

Seth and I decided that last weekend we were going to take a trip up to Cornell to perform some research on the local market. We had discussed our business idea with some store owners over the past couple weeks informally in NYC and had gotten some good feedback. However, we really wanted to do a more detailed survey study of a local market and speak to approximately 20 merchants (mostly bars, restaurants and retailers) in a college setting, since we think that college students might be our ideal target market, especially for bars and restaurants. Given we went to Cornell for 4 years, we knew the area well and thought it made the most sense to conduct our contained study up there. Plus, the weather was great and we figured we would bring our golf clubs and play a round at our favorite cheap course outside of town.

The research went well. We spent Friday and Saturday speaking with approximately 24 local merchants in both college town and down in the Ithaca Commons. We received some really positive feedback on our service. Most merchants said they would try it out, and almost all of them complained how expensive advertising in the local paper and radio was (confirmation of our hypothesis). They gave us some good advice on the pricing of our service. Some felt we should take a smaller percentage of sales, while others thought we should charge a subscription fee. They also told us what they thought was too confusing and needed to be simplified. Seth and I wrote all this down and compiled the notes over a beer at the Chapter House (our favorite college town pub).

There were probably a handful of merchants who even expressed interest in signing up right then and there, and we felt sheepish trying to explain that we were simply conducting research that would enable us to build the service over the next 6-12 months. They seemed disappointed but understood and eagerly took our business cards and marketing materials for later. We left Ithaca Sunday afternoon very optimistic about the venture we were embarking on. It seems people are interested. Now all we need to do is build it…

JT

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