Testing the Waters – A New Product Idea

Aug 06, 2018
Jennifer Bennett

So you know how we were trying to “magic” an amazing idea last month? We made lists. We read books. We drew on the white board a lot. We looked at everything from Product Hunt, Beta List, and YCombinator. I even scrolled way back in the @BoredElonMusk Twitter handle (There are some great product ideas in there…that we’re not interested in building).

Well after weeks of being super negative about everything and thinking that we were never going to find anything good, we went on vacation to NYC. Then I went on a walk to lunch – gotta get my Turnip Truck Hot Bar fix – and I had an idea….

We host Nashville Cocoaheads. They have their meetings at our office. Sometimes we buy pizza or beer for them. One of their challenges has been finding sponsors. Mostly because they’re busy with their day jobs, not to mention sourcing the actual speaker part of the events. And this isn’t the only group. We’ve also had emails from friends who needed money for chairs for their usergroup. Like, a lot of chairs. Their event is super successful, hundreds of attendees successful, but we still ended up sitting on the floor one time. (We did give money for chairs the time we were asked and now they have amazing venue sponsors who have their own chairs).

This sucks.

My friends are trying to create wonderful things for their peers and shouldn’t be worrying about these small things. We’re sitting on the floor. Or drinking water instead of beer. Or rushing from the meetup to dinner because the organizer only bought 2 pizzas instead of 6 because they were paying for it out of pocket and now it’s 8pm and I’m super hongry.

Now I know the point of usergroups is not pizza…or chairs. But these things help. You’re tired at the end of the day, and you’re taking that little bit of energy left to go to a thing and learn something new. It would be nice if there was sustenance there, or even better…free tickets to a conference or a free pass to a new software tool. Congratulations on doing something extra – here’s another piece of help.

So, I got to thinking…wouldn’t it be awesome if there was a tool to help my friends find sponsors for their usergroups quickly and easily? They wouldn’t have to cold email. They wouldn’t have to figure out how to make a pdf with their sponsorship packages when what they care about most is being a really good software developer. They wouldn’t have to buy the pizza themselves or email their friends for help (even though we like to help).

But wait….

is this a real problem? Or are my friends just bad at organizing meetups?

So I sent quick emails to friends who are organizers along the lines of “What do you think about a sponsorship tool for usergroups…” I got responses back that were practically epistolary novels about how YES. YES WE WANT THIS. OH GOD. YES. and then 1,000 ideas of what it could look like.

Well then….let’s proceed.

So I wrote some more emails… a ton of emails actually. And I had coffee, and beers, and Slack convos.  And… it seems like a problem a lot of organizers have. Maybe not always on the same dire level but it’s still a task no one likes but everyone needs.

Sidebar: I LOVE OUR LOCAL TECH SCENE and how amazingly patient and helpful all of the Nashville organizers and sponsors are. You guys make me want to build this thing immediately, if only to give back to those who have already given Nashville so much. 

Currently, I’m still in the process of having meetings with the Sponsor side of the equation but I’m looking forward to it.

I think we might have found a winner you guys. We’re passionate about our local tech community (and other ones like it), this is something within our grasp to build (sorry, massive email sentiment analysis idea), and maybe just maybe it can be profitable (sponsorship help for podcasts, for school clubs, for little league teams, for any grassroots organizer of anything).

Next up. More meetings. Competitive Research. TAM and monetization. What does this idea look like in feature form? We’ll keep you posted.