Outcome of Mobile Monday: a Small Scale Business Idea — Do You Need One?

Below comes a bootstrappable startup idea for you to take and make it happen.

I visited the Estonian Mobile Monday today. There were couple of interesting presentations, as usual. My favorite was by Veljo Otsason, a founder of Mobi Solutions, talking about how Mobi was bootstrapped from a random student project into a successful mobile services company. By bootstrapping I mean bootstrapping. No angel nor VC money was involved. The only investment that made it rolling was late night hours spent by five students of University of Tartu at some dormitory spaces.

In the end of the today’s MoMo event, there was a workshop, where people were divided into groups, each group got a separate task. The task for our group was to

  1. Come up with a small scale mobile business startup idea,
  2. Discuss and explain, what kind of team, competencies and skills would that startup need, and
  3. What would be the action-plan for the first year

We got 20 minutes of total time for this. Below is the result.

The idea we came up was to create a lightweight SMS-based platform for pubs and saloons to run some fun social games for their visitors. The game could be anything simple that won’t involve software development heavier than 2 man-weeks for a functional prototype. Like for example:

  • Some sort of location-based match-making
  • A beer drawing lottery
  • Some fun social competition, like some beer-related quiz, with loads of free beer as a prize
  • … etc. Go wild, figure out – 2 hours of brainstorming should give you enough material, we had only 20 mins. Any games here would do that would elicit new visitors and more business with them, that pubs/saloons are interested in.

Pubs and saloons should be great environvment for this because there are lots of people with good will to put out money, especially after first 1 or 2 beers.

The business model would be, that the startup gets money from

  1. Bars/saloons, who pay for the startup for the subscription to run those games for their visitors, and
  2. Bar/saloon visitors, who pay for participation by sending SMS-es to a dedicated premium number

The action plan for the year would be following:

  1. MANDATORY: implement the web-based game running maintenance UI functional prototype for bar/saloon staff. Estimate: 2 weeks — don’t spend more time on it. There are enough tools for web development, that anything reasonably simple and ready for first selling reality-check should be doable within this time frame.
  2. MANDATORY: set up the premium SMS service for visitors to participate in games. Estmate: 5 minutes and 2 seconds.
  3. MANDATORY: sell. Estimate: the rest of the year.
  4. OPTIONAL (reality check — do it only if you succeed at step 3): add enhancements and features to what you did at step 1.

The team for that startup would need the following people:

  • A kick-ass programmer, who is able to come up with reasonable stuff in a 2-weeks timeframe.
  • A kick-ass sales-man, who sells the thing to bars and saloons.
  • Somebody to do some minimal bean-counting — some service hosting-related expenses might need some planning and tracking.

That’s basically it. Thinking of Mobi’s case, I think that idea should be possible to bootstrap by couple of students from university dormitories, with free nights and without money for more than some cheap web hosting. Any takers? (I am skipping myself – already busy enough in a startup battle).


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