We had an interesting chat with Mr. “Michael Feder”, Founder of the Las Vegas – USA based startup “PrayerSpark”
Below is the interview we conducted with him:
1. What is it exactly that you do and what your start-up is all about?
PrayerSpark is the first and only site for interfaith spirituality. We have blessings on demand from world class spiritual leaders. They are alerted to the prayer request, and personally say the prayers. We then have various ways to deliver the text of the prayer- email, postcard, greeting card, flowers (coming), etc.
2. When has your startup been founded? And what stage is your startup currently at?
Founded in 2013. Currently launched MVP, have great management team, and have begun successfully raising seed round. We have 30,000 facebook fans, and are moving our strategy from successful beta testing to our B2B growth plan.
3. What is your startup’s business model and how does it work?
B2B. We unbundle our site, and create white label mobile apps. Example: We have a prayer for addiction recovery, and we are creating an app for a major Rehab facility that will then be given to rehab facilities around the world. Example: API for shopping carts to be able to code in “add a prayer” to check out purchases. Etc.
4. How did your team meet? And who in your team does what?
I am the founder.
Dr. Frank Kaufmann (PhD) is the Head of Spiritual Leaders . I met him through reputation.
Dr. Daniel Sourborn (MD) is the Chief Wellness Officer. We met through social media.
Mr. Mark Genest is the front-end developer. We met through Isaac Tigrett, co-founder Hard Rock, founder House of Blues.
5. What, exactly, makes you different from existing options, what will make your product and/or service stand out in the marketplace? In other words what’s unique about you and what’s new about what you make?
PrayerSpark is the first and only place that folks who are not affiliated with a specific religion can go to find prayer and affirmation. We are creating our apps to bring comfort where there is pain- and also to bring attention to fantastic spiritual practitioners around the world.
6. What is your growth like? And what milestones has your startup achieved so far?
Doubling every month. Huge growth seen in next 10 months as B2B model is coded and deployed.To date, we have identified and successfully recruited world leading Spiritual Practitioners; site coded and deployed in minimum viable product mode- working successfully. New team members added.
7. Who are your competitors? And what is your start-up’s competitive advantage over them?
We do not have competitors. Other prayer apps exist, but are (1) crowdsourced prayer, not from Spiritual Leaders, and (2) are Christian, not interfaith.
8. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
This is a new, new thing. Until Peter Thiel invested in InstaPray, VC’s did not have “permission” to invest in Spirituality. Also, getting Spiritual Leaders to agree to join us, before we even had a site up, was challenging.
9. What are the key things about your field that outsiders don’t understand?
We are not a B2C, creating a cool site, and hoping people come to the site and stay and come again. We have a very specific B2B strategy, with willing customers.
10. Why are you going to succeed?
We all love this business. It is bigger than any of us. We have traction. We are committed. The giant trends in religion are not only the huge numbers of people who self-identify as Spiritual but not religious, but they are religious people who don’t have local church or spiritual affiliations. We provide a new way to access comforting spiritual leaders in faith systems otherwise never encountered.
11. If your startup succeeds, what additional areas might you be able to expand into?
Ecommerce will expand, and we will have a 2 day festival- starting local, and expanding around the world. This festival will feature world music, spiritual leaders people have connected to with PrayerSpark, crafts, etc, built around the Spirituality theme.
12. Why did you choose this idea and concept to build your start-up based on?
I have been in this field for 14 years. I began this work while working for Isaac Tigrett, co-founder Hard Rock, founder House of Blues, on his 3rd great “Bricks and mortar” venture, The Spirit Channel.
13. What have you learned so far from launching your idea?
Doing really new things is hard. Finding great people is hard- before you raise money, while you raise money, and after you’ve raised money. Because great people don’t necessarily reveal themselves immediately, and some very immediately impressive people can turn out to be non-performers. You have to do the best you can at attracting committed talent.
14. Six months from now, what’s going to be your biggest problem?
Hiring. Growth. Cash. We will need to hire a few key people to manage some of the growth of PrayerSpark and PrayerSpark Apps. We will have to plan and scale constantly. We will be watching the budget very closely, to make sure we reach our next key objectives.
15. What’s the benefit for the customer/user?
Knowing that a loving, spiritual person is on your side. Having a unique connection to a spiritual tradition you didn’t know you were, but found on PrayerSpark.
16. How did customers / users find out about you?
We go to businesses they are involved with, and create marketing tools for the businesses. Facebook marketing both organic and paid has helped with beta and MVP users. But the primary growth thrust is to provide private label apps for businesses to connect with THEIR customers- Rehab facilities, Animal Clinics, Hospitals, many others.
17. Who are your current customers / users? Who are your target customers / users?
Anyone who is experiencing psychic pain, or with loved ones in pain, or experiencing a life event, who don’t have a specific affiliation with a Spiritual Leader.
18. Where do new customers / users come from and what makes new customers/users try you?
Example: 22.3 million addicts in the USA, 11,000 Rehab Facilities, 92% relaps rate.
We will get to the needy through Rehab facilities.
Example: 19,000 funeral homes. We will reach people who appreciate a prayer from
someone with our app for funeral homes.
19. What do your customers / users say about your product and/or service?
We have received grateful thank you notes. People have told us that the prayer was deeply meaningful. Soon, we will enable social networking, so people can post the prayer to twitter or facebook…
20. How are you going to scale?
We have a constant stream of Spiritual Practitioners we are vetting. We understand the metrics of how many prayers they can say in a typical day, and we have a strategy for going forward that completely scales with demand.
21. What’s the biggest missing feature? The one thing customers/users keep asking for?
Ability to send many prayers at once. People want to (1) have one Spiritual Leader say more than one prayer (multiple prayer orders/recipients), (2) have multiple Spiritual Leaders say one prayer (typically for a single recipient), and (3) calendar the receipt- so, you can order a prayer, but for a certain delivery window.
And social media posting.
22. Are you going to internationalize? And if yes how are you planning to expand your start-up’s operations accordingly?
Yes. We will translate, and then find partners for ecommerce. We have interest in India and also South Korea and Mexico. We can extend into these zones using our own tech, but have local partners for gifts, cards, and flowers.
23. How big do you think you can get? Why? And how you are planning to achieve your goals?
We are looking at a multi-billion dollar opportunity. This is the largest unserved market in the world. Spiritual people may not be seeking a daily community- indeed, for many, the old-fashioned bricks-and-mortar thing is dead. Like TED Talks have energized lectures, PrayerSpark will energize the Spiritual community.
24. Are you looking to hire a new workforce? And if yes, what job vacancies do you currently offer and where can potential applicants contact you at?
Yes. Will be working with back end coder(s), business development, more. Our immediate needs are tech- talented folks with a passion for the concept should reach out to me directly.
25. Are you looking for partnership opportunities or funding from Venture Capitals (VC) or other funding sources? Or your business is self-sustainable? And if the first option applies where can potential partners / investors contact you at?
While we have a revenue model, and we are generating revenues, we are seeking growth capital at this time. We have a Round Leader, and terms have been set. Contact me at: Michael@PrayerSpark.com
26. What advice do you have for fresh entrepreneurs?
Network constantly. Linkedin is essential, and the price you pay is this- you have to pay it forward. The unfortunately named “FounderDating” is becoming more and more interesting, and may be the one new exception to the “no new social networks” message the web world seems to be sending right now. Whatever you use, use it. Be visible.
27. Finally, do you have any other comments that you would like to add?
We are all passionate about this project. And we welcome others who are interested in any facet of what we are doing to contact us.