If we build it, will they come?
You could have the coolest, sleekest app in the world, but if it doesn’t solve a problem, people are probably not gonna use it. But if you have a duct-taped MVP of a solution and it solves the problem, you start to become relevant. Package it into a business model that is accessible, affordable, and sustainable? You might have the start to something beautiful on your hands here.
Here at Reset, we like to make things challenging for ourselves, so my co-founder and I and are solving TWO problems simultaneously — 1) the high rate of independent restaurant closures and 2) the lack of quiet, productive, and affordable spaces for people to work in when they don’t have a traditional office. We’ve done countless interviews with both parties and a lot of research to confirm that yes these are real problems, and yes there are no solutions yet that hit on all the pain points. Reset is an innovative solution to both of these problems, but if we build it, will people come?
I thought it would be helpful to share what we’re doing to help increase our probability of success as we work through the anxiety of starting a new business –
Understanding the buyer will help us become better sellers
My co-founder and I both experienced the joys and struggles of working from home in the last year, first-hand. I initially relished the new-found autonomy I had with my life after having a 100% travel job for several years. With a roommate that traveled for a living, I soon found myself with days that the only living being I talked to all day was my kitten (although a delightful companion, the language barrier was tough to overcome), and I realized I needed to be around people in a space that wasn’t my home to be productive. My co-founder had similar struggles, and we knew our personal experiences with this problem would provide great fuel to our idea, but we both agreed that we needed to validate this with a larger group of people.
We interviewed 50 people who work at least semi-regularly from home, learning more about their joys, struggles, and work-arounds during their day to be the most productive. This provided a tremendous amount of insight into customer needs and evaluation criteria for our solution. We did the same with restaurant owners and managers and learned quickly that their costs are outpacing their sales, giving us food for thought (pardon the pun) on how we could structure the business to make this a win-win for everyone.
Only sell things you’d want to buy for yourself
Like I mentioned earlier, my co-founder and I both work from home semi-regularly and still struggle with productivity. Part of the reason we want to launch Reset is so that we have a place to work, to take meetings, to break up our week, to not go crazy. We want our favorite independent restaurants to stay open so we can continue savoring those Buttermilk Panna Cottas at Nightcap and those gorgeous sunsets at the Tillery. When we think about our offering, the amenities, the booking process, we’re thinking about it with a heavy lens of customer obsession, our obsession, driven partially by our own self-interest.
People are happy to pay for things they love
We were in Europe a few weeks ago and I fell into my all-too-familiar rant about having to pay for water at a restaurant. A purchase of $3 irritated me beyond reason (even WOW airlines didn’t bug me as much). I needed it, so I had to pay for it, but I didn’t feel good about it because to me, the cost was higher than my perceived value. It’s a similar feeling when I’m working at a coffee shop, when I’m feeling obligated to keep paying to for the right to squat in the corner with subpar wi-fi and noisy surroundings. I feel annoyed, but it’s the best balance of affordability, convenience, and productivity that I can find in today’s market, so I have to. As we craft our business model, we’re focused on the value people place on having a quiet, productive, and affordable space to work and making sure we’re pricing in relation to that. We’re taking a page out of Sputnik’s Joe Merrill’s advice to businesses on building a customer surplus, the difference between the customer’s value of a service and what they actually pay for it. We want to make something that customers are going to feel good about paying for.