Below is the full interview that we have conducted with Mr. Wilson regarding his start-up “ShareMotive.com”;
1. What is it exactly that you do and what “ShareMotive” is all about?
Sharemotive is an e-commerce platform and online marketplace facilitating what I describe as “social incentive e-commerce.” The approach to the e-commerce landscape is one defined by targeting highly active social media users and giving them incentives to share their product purchases and suggestions with their social networks.
Through strategic partnerships and agreements with retail and consumer merchandise firms, the platform is able to harness the power of word of mouth marketing driving both increased sales and exposure for merchants, discounts for consumers and a completely new and exciting buying and selling experience for both sides of the equation.
2. When has “ShareMotive” been founded? And what stage is “ShareMotive” currently at?
Sharemotive was founded on April 1st, 2012. Since its inception the idea behind Sharemotive has gone through a number of transitions and revisions to come to where it is today.
I launched the Sharemotive landing page on June 2, 2012 and currently am looking to expand the team bringing on a full-time web developer and UX designer.
3. What is “ShareMotive” business model and how does it work?
The business model is centered around attracting and building both the consumer base and merchant base. I am lucky to have developed an idea that provides great value for both sides of the equation.
On the consumer side there’s the rewards program. On the merchant side there’s increased exposure and word of mouth marketing from their existing customer base with recommendations coming from an individual’s closest friends and family.
Sharemotive’s revenue model is defined by taking a percentage off the top of all transactions that take place on our platform.
4. How did your team meet? And who in your team does what?
Currently, I am Sharemotive’s sole founder and handle all aspects of the day-to-day operations, strategy, web development, sales and marketing, and all other tasks that arise in the typical tech start-up company.
Now that Sharemotive is live I’m looking to bring aboard 1-2 co-founders who will specifically handle back-end development and UX design.
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?
What sets Sharemotive apart from others who may be testing this new social buying market is how Sharemotive plans to use incentive based sharing strategies to facilitate word of mouth marketing.
In addition the rewards program is designed around how influential an individual is within their social networks. How much reach and influence you have directly determines how you’re rewarded.
For merchants – Sharemotive is able to provide a unique interface to effectively manage their customers sharing habits and to determine the underlying trends taking place within the market.
6. What is your growth like? And what milestones has “ShareMotive” achieved so far?
Sharemotive’s first major milestone was the landing page launch on June 2, 2012. Since Sharemotive has generated a great amount of initial interest from the consumer side of the equation and early adopters looking to be the first to test out this exciting new e-commerce platform.
The increasing number of unique users has defined growth and signs up that occurred shortly after the initial launch. In 24 hours we saw sign ups heading into the triple digits.
7. Who are your competitors? And what is “ShareMotive”’s competitive advantage over them?
Sharemotive’s primary competitors are the major online e-commerce sites including Amazon and EBay amongst others. Although, more specifically competitors include a number of startup companies who are pushing into this social e-commerce market. These include companies like Payvment and Fab.com.
Sharemotive’s competitive advantage is defined by how our platform is able to provide valuable social media ROI for merchants.
8. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
There were countless obstacles that came about leading up to Sharemotive going live. Mainly, finding a unique value proposition for both the consumer side and merchant side of the business. Other obstacles included the fear of not gaining the initial traction to get things off the ground and of course the fear of a complete failure.
9. What are the key things about your field that outsiders don’t understand?
Many do not understand the value that lies within social media influencers. Those individuals who have major reach within their social networks.
They provide authentic and credible suggestions on what they like, where they shop, the media they consume, etc through their unique social media sharing activity. Many companies have not figured out how to harness this facet of social media and it is Sharemotive’s mission to bridge this gap.
10. Why are you going to succeed?
Sharemotive will succeed by effectively using the “Lean Start-up” framework and “Customer Development” techniques introduced by Eric Ries and Steve Blank respectively. The idea has been tested and validated early in the start-up stages.
Furthermore, the idea has a major social network component and integration, which will allow for the company to go viral once it gains traction from the beta.
11. If “ShareMotive” succeeds, what additional areas might you be able to expand into?
When Sharemotive does begin to explore delving into other areas, Sharemotive will likely take to including not just product purchases and suggestions, but including services as well built around the same social incentive concept.
Further down the line Sharemotive sees itself moving into other business lines centered around social media and emerging technology.
12. Why did you choose this idea and concept to build “ShareMotive” based on?
The idea to build Sharemotive was one that was brought upon by the realization that companies still have not effectively realized how to leverage social media to interact with their fans and customers.
Most will put up a fan page, create a twitter account, etc and hope for the best. There is a major problem when companies have loyal customers and fans, but do not take the time to develop a social media strategy that leverages that loyalty.
13. What have you learned so far from launching your idea?
Since launching I’ve learned that targeting customers and effective marketing is so key to gaining any initial traction. Many times start-ups believe that a majority of their time should be spent in the building working on the product and that if the product is good enough the customers will come. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.
You have to take into consideration who your market is, how they receive their information and how to effectively target the early adopters.
14. Six months from now, what’s going to be your biggest problem?
I can’t say exactly what our biggest problem will be six months from now, but if I had to take a guess I’d say transitioning from the start-up phase and getting to the product/market fit that is described in Eric Ries’ “Lean Start-up” framework. Getting to this stage is a major milestone for any company and attaining this will prove to be very challenging.
15. What’s the benefit for the user?
The benefit for the user comes from Sharemotive’s unique rewards program. As users begin to increase their reach and influence within their social networks they begin to see increased rewards from their favorite retailers, content providers etc. They can then use their earned rewards as discounts towards their next Sharemotive online retail purchase.
16. How did customers and/or users find out about you?
The way Sharemotive has been targeting users currently is specifically by means of social media. As mentioned, a social media strategy is an effective way to gain initial traction for any company that is in the start-up phase. In addition, using effective in person networking and reaching out to reputable individuals and websites to ask for help in spreading the word is has also been very effective.
17. Who are your current users? Who are your target users?
Sharemotive’s user base varies. The target market is the age group of 16-25 yrs. but practically anyone who has embraced the social media landscape as a popular means of expression. This is most notably found among the individuals who have grown up using social media and are more keen to sharing who they are, what they like and what they spend their cash on with their friends, family and everyone in between.
18. Where do new users come from and what makes new users try you?
Sharemotive’s user base has primarily come from the Chicago land area, as this is where we intend to scale the operation. Initial feedback from those who have signed up for Sharemotive have expressed that they really enjoy the simplicity of the site and how inviting it is. The idea is interesting and makes sense to them.
19. What do your users say about your product and/or service?
The initial feedback received on the idea behind Sharemotive is mainly in regards to how unique the idea is and how much “it just makes sense.” What better way to get great product suggestions than from your closest friends and family than by means of social media where a link can be provided taking another user back to where the product can be purchased.
20. How are you going to scale?
Sharemotive will scale as soon as it hits the first major operating milestone of product/market fit. The strategy will be to continue building the user base, merchant partnerships, and mobile app. Of course as this takes place the need to bring on additional help will also be on the horizon.
Effectively managing all the factors including personnel, customer service management, accounting, web traffic handling amongst many other factors that take place when a company scales is the key to success.
21. What’s the biggest missing feature? The one thing customers keep asking for?
Currently the biggest missing feature is a mobile app. Smart phones and tablets have become the primary access point to the web for a vast majority of internet users especially those using social media. Sharemotive’s mobile strategy will begin to roll out as we overcome the obstacles still associated with the desktop platform.
22. Are you going to internationalize? And if yes how are you planning to expand your start-up’s operations accordingly?
Going international would be nice, but at this time Sharemotive will remain in the US for the time being. As a small start-up the goal is to validate in smaller markets and expand accordingly at when the time is right. An international strategy is nowhere in sight at this time, but not out of the question as the ultimate goal and exit is an IPO.
23. How big do you think you can get? Why? And how you are planning to achieve your goals?
In all honesty, sky is the limit when in comes to the idea behind Sharemotive. The platform acts as a digital marketplace that facilitates social interactions and a new buying/selling experience for individuals and merchants at all levels. Achieving what I have in store for the company all comes down to setting the proper goals, strategically planning execution.
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, Sharemotive is looking to bring aboard two full-time employees at this time. Positions are available in web development and design. All interested individuals can view the general requirements for the positions on our website here: http://www.sharemotive.com/careers and submit their CV and/or resume to firstname.lastname@example.org
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?
Sharemotive is not actively seeking venture funding at this time, but would be open to entertaining any offers. We are most certainly actively seeking strategic partnerships with any online retailers, digital content providers, publishers, etc who are interested in listing their products on Sharemotive’s platform. E-mail: email@example.com for more info.
26. What advice do you have for fresh entrepreneurs?
Look into Eric Ries’ concepts on the “Lean Start-up” framework. Furthermore, once you’ve identified and validated a viable problem to solve – Launch! Be passionate about the problem and believe in your solution. Set goals, develop strategies and execute. Everyone has ideas, but only entrepreneurs act on them.