Updated Nov, 29th 2012
I'm moving into a new flat in January. It's fresh and modern but it's stark empty! I decided to start looking for some cool posters to fill the walls and realised a lot of the music I listen to has some great cover art. It can't be tricky getting Bonobo's Lake District triptych printed up, or something from Radiohead? Well, actually, it can.
Merchenary is a concept for a small and unscalable market, integrating print-on-demand services for merchandise for smaller labels and artists that otherwise simply can't provide it for their fans. The printing on demand is already out there, with firms like CafePress or Zazzle, but the APIs aren't integrated in storefronts or on websites. For a revshare or a fee, folks from Merchenary designs and code the integration of those APIs into websites and handle administration for long-tail merchandising.
I've actually invalidated one hypothesis so far, which was that there wasn't access to print-on-demand for these firms. After a bit of talking and Googling, it turned out there definitely was, but the problem situation still remains - fans simply can't get hold of the merchandising they want. I'll throw up a copy of the validation board later this afternoon.
One interesting aspect that came up was, in fact, the definition of the customer and the problem. Are we working for the fans, or for the labels? Obviously the labels aren't the ones with the problem, but I can't foresee a solution that bypasses them. Is it best to work with focus on the labels and what hinders them, or focus on the fans and what is bothering them?
I've put up some of my thoughts on a validation board here. As you'd see, I decided to define the customer as the fans of the label, as that's ultimately the person with the original problem, and there may be solutions or problem hypotheses that skirt the labels themselves. And well, even though we're at the end of week 2, I think I'll keep talking to people about validation on this stage. (These courses are too short for me.)