Dummies guide to starting a business in 48hrs (Launch48.com/Vouchacha.com/IqbalGandham) Part2

Hope you have read Part 1, if not please do its a good read πŸ™‚

So in this segment we move onto Saturday/Sunday, when we all (Team A/Vouchacha) all planned to meet an hour early at EAT restaurant. However although this sounded like a easy task, and most had Iphones with GPS, we still managed to miss each other.

10am arrived, and it was down to work, a quick meeting later we had split the group into two, a bus dev team, and a tech team. We had also decided that we would develop on iphone, java applet, website….I mean why not we had the entire weekend πŸ™‚

The bus dev team scurried away into their little corner of the room, to plan out what we needed to do, i.e we needed a plan, something which showed how we would make money, and who our customers would be.

The format of the day was quite good, we had “status meetings” every two hours or so, which meant climbing six flights of stairs, I think they were designed to help us lose weight than achieve anything more, especially since our status meeting were fairly easy going, we would turn up, say we made progress and go back down again πŸ™‚

So what did the Bus dev team actually do?

0. We got some paper, a few pens, and found the nearest place to have lunch (so far so good, MBA123 all going to plan)

1. We mapped out, howto attack the problem, it was too late in the day to wonder whether the idea was good or not, since we had all agreed that it was, so no time wasted there. Personally I think this is a great way to do things, so much time is wasted by constantly reviewing an idea, and we all know if we think hard enough we can come up with enough excuses to make a good idea into a bad one. I mean look at Twitter, 8 years ago if you were sitting across a table and someone said, you know what, we will do something like SMS on a PC. How many of us would have said thats Crazy!!!!

2. The map was simple, again MBA123, we needed a business plan, we needed a GTM plan (some where we needed to decide who our customers were), some way to support the customers would be good. Of course we went into a little more detail, but that was it….oh and a sausage sandwich.

3. We raced (we actually walked, far too cold to run) back to the office, sat down, and drew a few more pictures, we had our global domination plan (after all this is what all startups do)

4. Now we needed to see if the market was big enough, of course it was, we pulled a few stats from the Internet (thanks Ben), and then argued a little more, and decided it was big enough (its amazing what a finger in the air can achieve).

5. Then the mentors walked in, we were told that its not good looking at the market , we need to work from the ground up, however to me (and it seems only me :-() that its best to start from both places and if we meet in the middle its a sound plan…so we/I ignored what the mentors said, and did it our way. πŸ™‚

6. So we knew the market was big enough, now for the costs

7. The tech team told us server scaling for 10000 users, so we had the direct costs (we assume nothing else)

8. We needed to know salaries, and other overheads, we estimated that first 3 mnths there is no revenue, and also no salaries and no marketing cost, i.e whoever works on it, does it for free and for the love of it (of course this may not be true in all startups)

9. We split the global domination plan into years, and then into quarters, and then into weeks, so we knew where we wanted to go (be bought out :-)), but we needed to build a road map of howto get there.

10. We looked at Q1 in detail, where Q1 starts after Beta. Q1 is where salaries needed to be paid, and we would have some sort of cost of acquisition of a customer. Again the finger in the air method was used, we worked out how many customers we needed to break even. Of course we needed to know how much to charge people in the first instance, to do this we looked at Google Adwords model, since our revenue was based on something similar, and worked out if we charged less on day one, we would be onto a good start πŸ™‚

11. So once Q1 was done…or maybe it was before I cant recall, we needed to define who our customers were. We had two types

a) The retailer who was going to advertise with us (pay)

b) The end user who was going to use the service (free)

12. In addition we needed to see what our value was, we worked out it was the relationship with the advertiser

13. So we knew who our customer was, what we were going to charge, we just needed a GTM for this, how do we get these customers

14. Of course we pulled out the MBA123 again, and decided to advertise across the web, TV, print, you name it…and then we realised that we had no money, and started again πŸ™‚

15. We started to work back from Global domination, and focused just on the UK, and then looked at the segments of consumers who would use this, i.e teenagers, from there we looked to see who would see value in saving money…..students !!!!!

16. So we said “lets focus on universities”, they all have mobiles, adopt new technology, and want to save money.

17. Again we could target them all via NUS, but since we were skint, we decided to focus on one city first, but again that was too much, we drilled down to one university only. UCL

18. Now we had a fixed target for our consumers, we needed our advertisers. We built a list of all restaurants and bars within 1km radius of the university, this is where we needed to go and knock on doors. (Oh before I forget, we went out onto the streets also to do some market research, i.e to ask local retailers what they thought). We listed 105 restaurants as a target.

19. Okay we knew where the consumers were, we knew who the advertisers were, i.e the ones giving the vouchers. We knew howto target the advertisers, but we needed a plan for the consumers.

20. We built a lust of 3900 blogs which cover London, together with local radio stations which target students and also london press, this would be our target to reach out.

21. So we knew what we needed to charge, who our customers were and howto reach them, and we knew all this could be done for free…..except first 3 mnths we would not be charging the advertisers…..so not being ones to give anything away for free, we decided that each advertiser who signed up for us in the first 3mnths would not be charged, BUT would have to put a “Vouchacha Available here” sticker on there window….

22. Of course whilst all this was going on the developers had

a) Built a java app

b) Built a iphone app

c) Built a website

d) Managed to take in vouchers, pull their name/address, find the geocode info, plot them on a map, and segmented the distance in slots from where you were

e) Done alot more stuff under the hood, which I wish I knew what it was, but in short they delivered solid work, whilst we did powerpoints πŸ™‚



1. Target global domination

2. Look at market

3. Decide who your customers are

4. Drill down into 1 year

5. Drill down into quarters

6. Then into a month

7. Then into weeks

Ideally this should all then link up…if it doesn’t start again until it does, what you do today must be able to to scale into tomorrow, otherwise you will keep changing you plan every week, and your developers will get pissed.

There was alot more that was done, but I can’t recall it all, such as web based support created, plan of telephone number, legal T&C’s created, linkedin, facebook, twitter, i.e social networks all live for promotion, someone even made a phone call to Mike Butcher :-)…we also had a plan of action just in case techcrunch did not post, but I wont reveal that just yet πŸ™‚


Dummies guide to starting a business in 48hrs (Launch48.com/Vouchacha.com/IqbalGandham)

So what have I been doing all weekend, gardening..nope, cooking nope, clubbing…wrong again, I’ve actually been working, well if you can call what we were doing actually work. It all started on a damp and dreary Friday evening, when a few lost souls gathered together to start a company in 48 hrs (to be exact I would say actually 24 hrs of work).

We all met in central London, some of us (me) arriving well after the 6.30 pm deadline. At this point individuals were asked to register and put forward there idea. Each one was summoned be messrs Ian and Adil to their fate, to come stand on a podium (okay there was no podium, but it sounds good :-)) and facing a stopwatch which showed 60 secs , they were asked to bare all (not literally..thankgod), but to pitch their idea. Some were good, others were bad, and a few were just down right ugly. Then through a process of due diligence, intense debate, extensive market research, mentor intervention, we chose a few finalists (actually all we did was to vote with our hands :-)).

The finalists were called up once again, to present their idea, this time they had a massive 120 seconds to elaborate on the idea, discuss how we would make money, or not. Once again the technique of crowd sourcing was called upon, and we had 4 finalists, these were

1. Charitypie – The idea was people could donate money into a pot for themselves, and then throughout the year assign a percentage of that pot to various causes.

2. Decisionsdecisions – This was a website where you go if you are a little unsure of what to do, e.g. you have designed an icon, and you are not sure what colours to go with, then ask and use the intelligence of the crowd. I think its a great idea…next time your wife asks you “what shall I wear” tell her to goto decisionsdecisions.com

3. Ilikeucoz – This is a website where you can tell people what you like about them, or say what you like about products.

4. Vouchacha.com – This one is all about location based coupons, i.e getting coupons to people when they want, where they want, for what they need. (this is the one I was involved in)

Please note: most of the website are very raw/rough because there was only 20 hrs in it….and for some reason there is a lack of designers who come to these events πŸ™‚

Okay after the finalists were chosen, the rest of the people were sent to various corners of the room, again by the men with a iron rod, Ian and Adil

These corners were assigned tags like, Marketing, Business development, Techies, I am sure there was a fourth but I cant recall the name πŸ™‚ Each idea was then thrown into the center of the room, and people from various skill sets decided to pick a project they were interested in, the idea being to ensure that we had a good spread of people in each idea….I am sure though all the designers went somewhere…but no one knows where.

From here on in, I can only really talk about voucchacha, since that is what I decided to work on.

Friday night moved to a bar, at which point the idea’s were filtered through a case of beer, several times…ready for Saturday

At this point I can only talk about our team Vouchacha.com, so no idea what went on in other teams, if you know any gossip do let me know πŸ™‚

We were summoned to arrive at 9am, and meet at “EAT” near goodge street station, it became apparent there are two distinct groups of people, those who like mornings, and those (like me) who don’t understand the concept of morning, and of course no matter how many GPS enabled iphones people carry, we still managed to end up at two separate EAT restaurants in the morning…who say google maps is good….part 2 coming later in the day (hands are tired)