64

16

Second Lives Club

January 17 NY TImes front page featured Michelle Obama turning 50.  This is news because it's our First Lady and this is the year that the last of the baby boomers turn that age.  My business, Second Lives Club, will provide online tools and resources to 50+ women wishing to reimagine their lives as they reach this crossroad in time.  This audience will be able to create their own profiles, identify other like-minded women, join topical groups, participate in expert-led webinars and more including forming real partnerships.  The result for them will be a clear direction of what they want to do next, an understanding of the steps and resources they will need to undertake in order to do so and a partner or team to work with on this next venture or adventure.  Think of Second Lives Club as LinkedIn, Meetup and Match.com come together for the 50+ woman.  

These women will pay for varying levels of membership or tiered offerings in this club. They can create a profile for free but if they want to be introduced to other women, take advantage of groups and webinars, they must pay a nominal yearly fee.  Partnering women for a specific activity, such as finding a co-founder to form a business or a fellow volunteer to travel to a third world country to help those less fortunate will require a higher level of membership.  Experts and other relevant professionals who will write some of the content and lead some of the online or live programs will volunteer their time in anticipation of getting leads from their activity.

Current Assets:

- a blog

- 3 years of content

- modest email list 

- modest number of followers

- established brand in the 50+ women blogosphere

Assets to be Acquired:

- full functioning web site with tools as described above

- approved list of consultants and experts

- contributing editors

- marketing and advertising plans

Human Resources:

- Marketing/advertising expertise with some internet/biz dev background (self)

- Editorial/publishing expertise (partner)

- tech expertise (need to hire)

- entrepreneur/startup expertise (could be a third partner or need to hire) 

- social marketing skills (need to hire) 

- search marketing skills (need to hire) 

Customer:

Women aged 50 and above who are at a crossroads in their lives due to an empty nest, loss of spouse and/or parents, company downsizing or just plain boredom .

They will get the easy to use tools and resources to support and help each other redesign their lives by defining what they want to do next and how they will achieve it.  

Hard Part:

- Finding the right third partner who will have the same passion as the current two co-founders

- Getting the funding to build out the web site and pay for the customer acquisition plan

Unique Part:

Over the past year and a half the blogosphere has become crowded with blogs and aggregator sites targeting the 50+ woman.  The topics and comments tend to be repetitious and other than editor or user generated content, advertising and some commerce, there is little offered to these women to help them directly maneuver this new terrain.  They are left on their own and women like to work in teams more than men.  

Second Lives Club is unique from other web sites targeting a similar audience in that women can scan web profiles of other women with similar goals, connect directly with them or through expert-led webinars to form not just special interest groups but also new partnerships and friendships to begin this second life.   Think of this as LinkedIn, Match.com and Meetup.com for the 50+ female. 

How Repeat again and again:

- continue to market and recruit new users

- offer special discounts to current members for referrals

- update and refresh online tools for current members to continue to support them as they live their second lives

Freelancer vs Entrepreneur

I strive to be an entrepreneur but I act like a freelancer.  Or I am too timid to hire someone who is better equipped to get some of the work done and in a more timely fashion than I would be able to if I had the skills to do it at all.  I also want to be sure I am spending my money well as I have made many costly mistakes in the past on a similar project.  I need help with moving my site to Wordpress and help with my social marketing plan and execution for starters.  I have knowledge in these areas but not enough time to work on them and focus on my business model and plan and identify another partner.  I have learned through my peers that it is just as easy to find the right people as it is to find wrong ones who don't deliver what you need in the end. 

Funding

Beta/Demo Web Site:   Womanpower is needed: to build a Wordpress web site with a Buddypress community feature and to create, execute and maintain a marketing plan. I can engage this expertise in one of three ways: 1) bring on a partner that can provide these resources for equity, 2) find people with these skills that will agree and commit to do the work under a royalty deal and/or 3) hire freelancers who will complete the work on a project basis for a reasonable fee. A good accelerator program could also provide most of this expertise as well. We need these upgrades to entice more users to come to our web site and join the community and the dialogue. Offering webinars for a nominal charge will be offered to test how much users are willing to pay for this service. This audience engagement will help to further funding options.

Launch Phase:   After a respectable and convincing audience is engaged, more advanced features on a more robust platform that can accommodate a larger number of users will be the next step. This will require a site transformation in order to move forward and a real jump in audience size. At this stage membership fees and group sessions and partnering costs will be charged. Success is dependent on vastly increasing our club members who will buy these services. Angel funding will be required to complete advancing the site and marketing to a much larger demographic. Crowd funding could also be considered if the user audience is large enough to be tapped for donations.

Revenue/Company Valuation:   The founder is in the process of estimating revenue, profits, timeframes and gross margin. The selling points for funders are 1) there are 38 million women baby boomers living today, 2) their net worth is $19 trillion and 3) they make 85% if all consumer purchases. In addition, numerous studies show that women prefer to work in teams and not solo, a main feature that Second Lives Club provides.

Hiring

The first people I hire – engage with may be a more accurate way to describe it – will be those I can actually partner with. That person would have to have some of the skills I feel I am lacking. Ideally that person would be a serial entrepreneur or startup funder who would have access to some of the better web development people. He/she would also have the right contacts and be instrumental in knowing the business end of getting my company off the ground and making money. This may be more than one person and I am willing to partner with them for equity. I am also willing to pay a consultant with these skills to help in the same way to get things moving in the same way….whichever alternative proved to be the most timely.

In both cases I need someone who has ideally played an integral role in several internet startups and has the right business and tech contacts. I am currently stepping up my networking by attending more association and meetup events that would appeal to people with the above mentioned abilities. I know of a few ideal candidates who have not been able to help me in the past. I plan to prepare an attention-getting pitch and ask them for their help in locating the immediate talent that I need. I will use this same pitch online on web pages that also attract this same kind of experienced person. This partner(s) would have to feel the same passion about reaching the 50+ boomer women audience with the second life story and perhaps even be a member of that demographic.

Next, I will need marketing and tech people, probably one each to start on a project basis. Since there will be no revenue yet, they will have to be brought on under a promised note to be paid at a later date or a kind of royalty deal. This payment may also be agreed to based on the web site’s user stats. I would look to find them via word-of-mouth, LinkedIn and other social networks, the social marketing and tech meetups and professional groups. Their past work should speak for itself. They should also show some excitement and novel approach to the tasks at hand.

Full-time and part-time hiring will continue based on the success rate of my company. The tools these folks will be working with won’t necessarily be new but the way they are applied to the services offered to our users will be unique and perhaps trend setting. Some may want to stay on for a longer term than others and I would be upfront and discuss that with them one-on-one in semi-annual review sessions. This way career pathing can be properly discussed. Project reviews will be given as each project is completed. I will use similar HR skills I acquired while managing large groups of employees at my former corporate jobs.

NAMING

Vital                             Friended                   Partnered                     Ageless

Caring                         Sharing                     Adventurous                Fighters

Challenged                 Passionate                Feminine                      Smart

Experienced               In charge                   Alive                            Reinvention

Reimagine                  Bright                        Together                      Supported

Meaningful                 Relife                         Team                           Transition

Community                Club                           Norm busters               Loving

Helpful                       Contributor

I made my list of 30 words and played around with the naming exercise a bit. But my company is already named and the domain name was purchased a decade ago. I’m not sure Seth would approve. It seems to fall inbetween his approach to selecting a name that has no meaning and a descriptive name.

We picked Second Lives Club after reading a cover story article in Time magazine about boomer women taking the lead in their mid-life and later years. The name wasn’t exactly used in the article but implied. It was around the time that the online virtual world of Second Life was introduced on the web and popular due to its originality. Our name was also a play off the movie title “Second Wives Club” which was a movie about mid-life women, our audience. Mostly we picked the name because we felt it really did describe this period of life where women who had followed the rules and took on more than the previously 

normal amount of responsibility could now have a second chance to do something with their lives entirely by their own design.  The fact is in the end we get tremendously positive reception to our name.  It appears to really resonate with the women who are our target audience.

PARTNERSHIPS

There are two founders of SLC of which I am one. We had been equally dividing the duties of posting once a week each although I took on more of the tech responsibilities. Sometime last summer and fall we reached a point where we knew we had to take a different direction. The intention was never to be just a blog with commenting to begin with but to be more meaningful to women in this stage of their lives. My partner was more in favor of upgrading the editorial content and producing a documentary on the subject matter. I was supportive of that - the video was also my idea – but felt in order to differentiate ourselves more efficiently we needed to introduce some unique features that no one else was offering.

My partner is currently on a break, part of a writing fellowship out of the country. Her intention is to develop a more enlightened content approach. I am managing to keep the blog going while working on developing a business model and a documentary proposal. So it is quite likely that the project under the same brand may take two directions that would complement each other. One could be an online magazine with top level writers and content with some modest advertising and affiliate marketing support. The other would be a model that offers users tools and programs that help them to actualize the steps to their next life more directly. This would be subscription and sponsorship supported. I believe the business model has the higher potential of making money unless a publisher can be found that would fund the magazine effort obviously for some equity. Separate from all this is the documentary production which will be addressed separately.

Both directions will require financial investment of some sort and a full commitment of time. There will also need to be some early bootstrapping. The two founders will need to determine how much time and resources they are willing to commit. At the very least I know I intend to take the lead on the business model and that I will need another partner for that with ideally some resources to offer. As I described in the Hiring section this could be an equity or royalty deal and would have to be agreed to with my current and future partners.

                 

PRICING

The services Second Lives Club provides are primarily online and not unit based.   As a web-based company most of our costs will be for internet, software and marketing charges.  There will be initial startup and then monthly fees to keep the web site working for the current and new users.  These initial fees that will have to be absorbed in the early pricing in order to measure the true revenue.  I’ve listed the overhead and revenue sources below.  The actual estimates are not yet included.  (I will need assistance in completing these.)

The early startup and monthly costs would include:

The income sources and pricing estimates are:

The income sources and pricing model are of course all dependent on volume, number of active users.  User subscriptions for special features wouldn’t be introduced until after a respectful size repeat-audience has been achieved.  But at least this will guarantee payment ahead of service delivery.  The pricing model has to be researched and tested but I would ideally like to keep the rates very reasonable in order to compete with the many other similar but unorganized and limited offerings at other web sites targeting this same audience.  We could offer specials during a year to our subscribers for an additional fee to test whether or not higher rates would be feasible.

POSITIONING

Creating the cost axis was easy but I don’t think I’ve quite got the other axis right yet. There are a lot of web sites, webinars, professional associations that support women and men in identifying their dreams and providing some tools to move forward with them. That forward motion could be a variety of things. I’m saying the end goal is to find a partner or partners in order to fulfill your passion. Women tend to be more comfortable working with another person than alone. I’m trying to show on the vertical axis a range of companies that provide just content and some discussion for free to those who also offer webinars and a yearly conference for a price to those who require a yearly membership fee for a more personal service. What I’m proposing is an online experience that can bring women together directly and because it is efficient and automated, the cost is not as high. SLC members can take advantage of this process for a much lower membership fee. The content and group discussions are still offered for free.

A few groups in parentheses indicate those with both male and female audiences. I thought about making this one of the axis but don’t feel that is a strong enough distinction. In addition there are so many groups that do target 50+ women that I felt this was more relevant in creating this positioning.

Comments

Please sign in or sign up to comment.