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EXECUTION Uber of IT Support

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Bit

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I've been pondering about if I should write a post on my startup and hope no one steals the idea... that fear lasted about 5 seconds... and this happened almost a year ago.

Anyone can steal my idea, but executing on it and maintaining it is a whole other ball game.

Not to make it sound like my idea is outrageous and disruptive, it's already been done in some respects, and probably already exists.

If you haven't already read my Intro post, here's a little background on myself.

I am new to this forum.

Anyways, my idea in a high overview is the Uber of IT (support).

I will start on the overview of the idea.

Overview

The *uber of IT* is just that, using local IT freelancers or IT contractors for businesses that need IT support. We hope to create a platform (web based and eventual app) that is a marketplace of sorts where businesses that need IT support, can submit requests and receive bids on them from IT contractors. (Nothing new or sexy AMIRIGHT?) The businesses choose the IT contractor at a price they are comfortable with to complete the project or support request (Every freelance platform out there?). The IT in return is given a pretty modest payment, while we take a modest percentage. Payment is automated, there is a messaging system and we hope to implement much more. (Pretty standard stuff)

But what makes us different than... oDesk, Fiverr, eLance, Freelancer, Craigslist, Thumbtack?

That's the magic sauce that I can't mention on this forum in public (But I'm open to telling you in a PM if your interested and only then it'll be limited, but I'd like to atleast tell you about it). Especially who we are targeting that sets us apart and why. I'll just make it clear that unlike those mentioned above, who all fight for web development talent and programmer based jobs, we are targeting the IT Support side of the house. Think a mix of Geek Squad and a freelancer platform. I'm pretty stoked about it, and very motivated about the idea and making it work.

Has it been done? I'm sure it has, and we aren't the first or last. But I havent found a company that does exactly what we are trying to accomplish in the same way. Because it'll be web based and app based, it'll give us the ability to scale. Scaling is Automation + Repeatable processes. I feel we are in the right time for something like this, and we can scale to several cities over the next few years (Faster if we get funding or Series A, B, C,). It's IT Support in a new way vs. the old traditional way.

And sorry, it wont be available to home users, because, well, they are cheap and I'd feel bad making an IT Contractor sit in a dirty chair fixing a Windows 98 machine with a grimey yellow keyboard while kids and dogs are running about the house while he figures this out... for $25 IF he can fix it...

Thats it in a nutshell, and hopefully you are still reading.


Here is our traction and small victories so far...

  • Team of 4, including myself. CTO, CMO and COO.
  • Obtained LLC
  • Have a CTO with 25+ years in development
  • Going for Trademark
  • Have a COO who has started a startup before (before it failed due to founder's inability to follow through)
  • Web development and MVP is almost complete (have a crude alpha stage product)
  • Spoke to several investors - all of which had nothing but positive feedback, but still questioned the ability to make it come to fruition and the ability to market itself. Say the idea is solid and has legs.
  • Completed business plan & marketing plan
  • Have a business bank account (I know... we don't have any money yet, but I was told this was important to have -- separating your personal finance from business finance)
  • Probably less than 3 months (Feb 2015(edited, sorry for the typo) - Present) from a launch date.
  • Been turned down by 4 VC's and Accelerators (almost 5 if I applied to Tech Stars)
  • Potential investor (even though we havent even validated or made a dollar)
What I'd like from members here:
  • Your feedback
I am not looking for anything more or less. Obviously, there are some members on here making boat loads of money and living the life. I want to hear from you. I want your brains and honest feedback, damn the feelings! I want people who have created businesses and sold them to comment. I want people who have done it, and done it again to give me feedback and wisdom.

I'm an empty glass looking to get filled up with knowledge and experience..

Looking forward to hearing back from you all.
 

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theag

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How about you just start with one city instead of thinking about your series D?

I mean with 20k invested over nearly 2 years and still no MVP and no real life marketing tests done, I can understand why investors turn you down.

You dont have any traction. Get some first.

Also, a lot of similar business models failed because of one simple problem: What stops your customers from cutting out the middleman once they found a reliable provider through you? Nothing.

Another point: why does everything have to be a fancy app or the "uber of x" startup with series X funding? Why not simply create a great it support service for small businesses, maybe at a monthly flat per workstation or sth like that, where you do most of the work through remote desktop. I'm sure that would be pretty attractive to customers.
 
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Bit

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How about you just start with one city instead of thinking about your series D?

I mean with 20k invested over nearly 2 years and still no MVP and no real life marketing tests done, I can understand why investors turn you down.

You dont have any traction. Get some first.

Also, a lot of similar business models failed because of one simple problem: What stops your customers from cutting out the middleman once they found a reliable provider through you? Nothing.

Another point: why does everything have to be a fancy app or the "uber of x" startup with series X funding? Why not simply create a great it support service for small businesses, maybe at a monthly flat per workstation or sth like that, where you do most of the work through remote desktop. I'm sure that would be pretty attractive to customers.

Good post!

Actually, in our business plan, we plan to do one city at a time. We are starting in Boston. This will be our stomping grounds and testing site so we can test our processes and see if they can be repeatable in other cities. I failed to mention that piece.

I didn't want just their money, I wanted their knowledge and brainpower. Money wasn't the only objective. Their networks, connections and access to additional resources that I look for in an investor. They provided me with valuable feedback that was worth more than what I was looking for in money. I was also just learning, and talking to people. I didnt really expect to secure huge funding, but was interested in seeing if they had any interest at all in an idea like mine. 1000 No's and 1 Yes is still a yes :)

No traction, got it.

We thought about the middleman scenario plenty of times. We do the marketing to get the businesses that need IT support. So it's like we are doing the marketing for the IT Contractors. We also validate or get vetted IT contractors, so we serve the business need of finding quality contractors. Unlike craigslist or freelancing (Without using the platform) where people can get scammed, our payment system is designed to be fair. So payment won't be released unless work is completed and contractors will get paid if they do the work and won't get "You didnt do xyz, etc, so I'm not going to pay you anything". Payment is the key to keeping a middle man. Also, what keeps people going back to fiverr, oDesk and the such? Instead of just paying them directly? Security and dispute resolution.

Your last point, I use the high level overview "Uber of X" because it's easy. I hate using it, but it drives my point of what we are trying to accomplish faster. You have me wrong, and I suck at writing, but our aim is to build a amazing company that serves a real need, not just go for funding, fail the company and live happily ever after with my investors money. Also your point of remote work and MRR or monthly recurring revenue exists already. Those are known as Managed Service Providers, our competition of sorts, but also a customer if we can spin it the right way. :)
 
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Cyriex

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@Bit Something makes me cringe hard whenever I hear "the UBER of...." I doubt UBER was using this kind of language when they were doing their shit. Furthermore, this language spooks people, especially VCs. You have an LLC, so what? I can get that in weeks after filling out a few online text boxes. Team of 4. What are you doing if you have 4 people? Why are you chasing VCs now before the MVP? What do you think you need money for? "invested $20k of my own money. bootstrapped my way to victory" What do you perceive as a victory so far exactly? How exactly is that $20k being used, down to the last dollar? Talk is cheap, especially with investors. A rejection is a rejection, some angels are just softer about it than others and give "Feedback" whether or not they think it can work or you can execute it or not. Business bank account, potential investors, blah blah...These are your training wheels. You're supposed to have these. Get users. Meaningful metrics = Traction. Thinking of Series rounds already where you're at without even a soft market launch....Lol...Sorry, but I have an idea of how you come across to investors. Fix it, quick.
 

Bit

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Noted about the uber thing. I wholeheartedly agree.

Series rounds are future thoughts, not really goals. But noted nonetheless.

Right, MVP is where we have been putting our focus on and getting it to at least a stable beta. Our next step is metrics for sure. :)

"Bootstrapped my way to victory" is just play on words, guess it's misinterpreted as being arrogant.

As for the VC's, I was seeking pre-seed funding. Included it in the list of traction just because.

Fix it? Less bullshit vanity and more hardcore facts and numbers. Gotcha.

Thanks for the feedback.
 

TheSilverSpoon

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We thought about the middleman scenario plenty of times. We do the marketing to get the businesses that need IT support. So it's like we are doing the marketing for the IT Contractors. We also validate or get vetted IT contractors, so we serve the business need of finding quality contractors. Unlike craigslist or freelancing (Without using the platform) where people can get scammed, our payment system is designed to be fair. So payment won't be released unless work is completed and contractors will get paid if they do the work and won't get "You didnt do xyz, etc, so I'm not going to pay you anything". Payment is the key to keeping a middle man. Also, what keeps people going back to fiverr, oDesk and the such? Instead of just paying them directly? Security and dispute resolution.

The problem I see is that successful two-sided marketplaces tend to cater to higher volume, lower value consumers. Fiverr and Uber both average $5-$10 or so per transaction. Typically, the higher the volume and the lower the value of each transaction, the greater the importance of the marketplace.

Uber drivers couldn't do shit if they wanted to drive on their own. How would they get people who want a ride? Yell at everyone they see on the sidewalk? Likewise, Fiverr guys and gals would get slaughtered by PPC costs trying to market their $5 job on Adwords or Facebook.

What makes the marketplaces valuable to the service providers is that they are able to market effectively to a large number of people and acquire customers at or near $0.

If you go and flip this on it's head and try to do a low volume, high value two-sided marketplace things start to break down. Your value add becomes smaller and smaller as the average transaction value goes up. It makes more and more sense for the client and provider to cut you out. If you have one IT guy partnered with one medium sized business who is keeping him busy 40 hours a week, why wouldn't he cut you out and increase his income?

It's a fundamentally different scenario from the person on Fiverr working with dozens of different consumers every week.
 

JasonR

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How about you just start with one city instead of thinking about your series D?

I mean with 20k invested over nearly 2 years and still no MVP and no real life marketing tests done, I can understand why investors turn you down.

You dont have any traction. Get some first.

This times 1000. You NEED to prove the model and get customers.

2 years is a REALLY long time to go without even verifying the business model.

It's time to get customers and prove the model.

Don't get stuck in the "entrepreneurial" loop of being afraid to go out in the real world and validate your idea.
 

Bit

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The problem I see is that successful two-sided marketplaces tend to cater to higher volume, lower value consumers. Fiverr and Uber both average $5-$10 or so per transaction. Typically, the higher the volume and the lower the value of each transaction, the greater the importance of the marketplace.

Uber drivers couldn't do shit if they wanted to drive on their own. How would they get people who want a ride? Yell at everyone they see on the sidewalk? Likewise, Fiverr guys and gals would get slaughtered by PPC costs trying to market their $5 job on Adwords or Facebook.

What makes the marketplaces valuable to the service providers is that they are able to market effectively to a large number of people and acquire customers at or near $0.

If you go and flip this on it's head and try to do a low volume, high value two-sided marketplace things start to break down. Your value add becomes smaller and smaller as the average transaction value goes up. It makes more and more sense for the client and provider to cut you out. If you have one IT guy partnered with one medium sized business who is keeping him busy 40 hours a week, why wouldn't he cut you out and increase his income?

It's a fundamentally different scenario from the person on Fiverr working with dozens of different consumers every week.

Thank you for the insight, hopefully we won't have to go around yelling at everyone :)...

Uber drivers couldn't do shit if they wanted to drive on their own. How would they get people who want a ride? Yell at everyone they see on the sidewalk? Likewise, Fiverr guys and gals would get slaughtered by PPC costs trying to market their $5 job on Adwords or Facebook.

What makes the marketplaces valuable to the service providers is that they are able to market effectively to a large number of people and acquire customers at or near $0.

Good examples, I never thought of it this way.

We will have to find that happy balance of volume to value, that will be done through testing and testing and testing... and testing or changing our service costs or the way projects are submitted.

If he's stuck doing work 40 hours a week, thats pretty much a job. But a valid point, need to figure out how to always remain in the picture as the middleman. I'm sure there's a way for us to bring value to them and the businesses.

Thanks for the feedback.
 

Bit

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This times 1000. You NEED to prove the model and get customers.

2 years is a REALLY long time to go without even verifying the business model.

It's time to get customers and prove the model.

Don't get stuck in the "entrepreneurial" loop of being afraid to go out in the real world and validate your idea.

Ahh, I made a typo, Feb 2015 is when we began web development! I kept wondering where you guys were getting 2 years from.

Either case, you're right. Time to dig in and kick some a$$... as soon as we get this MVP ready for a soft launch.

Our goal is to atleast get 20 IT freelancers signed up and 50 businesses signed up with accounts. That will be our first real milestone once everything is in place, then we can fine tune and tweak as needed from people who send us pissed off emails that things aren't working.

Thanks for the feedback.
 

TooSlow

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What sets you apart from a regular placement agency? Or something like hired.com?

If you're talking about IT support that requires a developer, small chunks of work will be a lot less efficient unless the contractor is already familiar with the system and code base. Plus any onboarding/setup that's needed would make it less appealing to bring on someone new.
 

Bit

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What sets you apart from a regular placement agency? Or something like hired.com?

If you're talking about IT support that requires a developer, small chunks of work will be a lot less efficient unless the contractor is already familiar with the system and code base. Plus any onboarding/setup that's needed would make it less appealing to bring on someone new.

We aren't a placement agency. A small business needs someone for a day or to install or upgrade something, they can use our service to find the candidates who will want to perform the work. If they want ongoing support, I would hope and think they would look for a IT company to manage their stuff. Some shops are so small, or cloud based, the need for ongoing support isn't a requirement.

No, I find that market is flooded for web development and web design / programmer stuff. oDesk, Outsource.com, Freelancer, Elance, etc, etc, etc. We are focused on small biz IT, servers, workstations, networks and the such. We do the 'onboarding' of contractors, we gather all that specific info that if they did something malicious, you know the rest. We also intend to find the right people, not just people who know how to format an operating system. So we are looking to grab a pool of quality contractors / freelancers.

Clear as mud? Clear as water? :)
 

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TooSlow

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We aren't a placement agency. A small business needs someone for a day or to install or upgrade something, they can use our service to find the candidates who will want to perform the work. If they want ongoing support, I would hope and think they would look for a IT company to manage their stuff. Some shops are so small, or cloud based, the need for ongoing support isn't a requirement.

No, I find that market is flooded for web development and web design / programmer stuff. oDesk, Outsource.com, Freelancer, Elance, etc, etc, etc. We are focused on small biz IT, servers, workstations, networks and the such. We do the 'onboarding' of contractors, we gather all that specific info that if they did something malicious, you know the rest. We also intend to find the right people, not just people who know how to format an operating system. So we are looking to grab a pool of quality contractors / freelancers.

Clear as mud? Clear as water? :)

So it's targeted more at businesses that need "a computer guy" for general help. Something between a nephew who's "good with computers" and an "enterprise class" consulting firm. I imagine marketing will be a big key to your success; you want to be the company small business owners think of when they need IT help.
 

Bit

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So it's targeted more at businesses that need "a computer guy" for general help. Something between a nephew who's "good with computers" and an "enterprise class" consulting firm. I imagine marketing will be a big key to your success; you want to be the company small business owners think of when they need IT help.

Ripped the words right out of my mouth :)
 

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