Co-founder of Niche Video Media, LLC
I thought I would inaugurate our Blog with the story of how we came to be. Future blogs will cover our products and services, and how you might use them, but I think this will help you understand the company’s “personality.”
Back in August of 2011, I was sitting at “Resource based strategy” class in my Executive MBA program at Georgia State University, when the professor was explaining how Coca Cola gets most of the appropriation power by getting into bottling industry. My mind started thinking about what I can do with my specialized Identity Management (IDM) knowledge in the space, and how do I get the most appropriation power when I know the industry is ready to pay a premium for it. I was thinking about sharing my knowledge in a unique way by addressing common industry IDM-related problems with solutions in a video format. I thought of creating a platform to share my knowledge and monetize it. When I was talking to my friends about this idea, I concluded that the market size is too small if I focus only on IDM, so I expanded the thought to create a platform for subject matter experts in niche areas to share their knowledge. I was very excited and thought I would prove out the business model first.
I shared this idea with 2 good friends to begin building a prototype. By the time the site was a getting in decent shape in February 2012, I asked my MBA team member Dom to get on-board as he has good experience working for a streaming media company and he knows lot about video, transcoding, encoding, and closed-captions. Together, after adding a couple of full-time developers in India, we developed the NicheTrainings site with the basic plan of having short video courses, each addressing a single problem and giving a solution for it within 10 minutes while charging $2 to $20. We give back 70% of the fees to the authors of the content.
We felt we have a great idea but did not know what to do next. Revenue is not coming in, felt bit disappointed. By this time, we had completed our EMBA and my partner Dominic reached out to the EMBA team to see if they have any idea how to take this to next level. Then, we got Glen West in Aug 2012 who liked this idea and said he would help us. He helped us to think the business plan in terms of long term strategy with different products based on the same idea, addressing different customer segments. He vetted the product specs in deep and classified each product targeting different customer segments, such as Individuals, Micro Business, Small –Medium Business and event planners. We named the products “Class, Commercial, Channel and Conference”. We had only one product, “Class” live at nichetrainings.com at that time with the existing funding.
We prepared a business plan with usual stuff and submitted it to a GSU competition in Sep 2012. While we had minimal revenue from the Class product, people visited us from 175 countries, and the free videos are viewed by more than 4000 times. However, experts wanted to see if enough subscribers in our site to post his/her videos, and at the same time, subscribers wanted to see if we have enough videos to worth opening up their wallet. We understood that it is going to take a while before we build up sufficient niche content. We were at a “catch 22.”
Then, GSU announced the 4 finalists out of 80 startups in Oct for the final round of presentation to select one winner; we were selected as one of the finalists. This endorsement caused a couple of my friends to invest some funds to help us grow. I was touched that they believed in the idea and trusted in me to make it happen. We got some oxygen to breathe for a while longer.
On Oct 13, Glen, Dom and I were doing the final presentation to win $10,000 at GSU business plan event. We messed up big-time in the final round. We are a video based company and we thought having our presentation in a video format would reiterate our passion for our product, and convince the judges, so we prepared our presentation in a video format for 15 minutes. In the final round, judges are evaluating leadership team’s passion and presentation skills. We totally missed that opportunity by showing the video. The video did convey all the qualities but judges did not show any interest in a video presentation. We answered all their questions but still that was not enough “live” time with the judges. So obviously we did not win.
I had to say I was disappointed and it was a tough pill to swallow but we learned a lot from the presentation, positive things happened that I did not connect right away. The judges liked our business plan and showed us where we need to improve in the business plan. Judges (investors) remembered our name (nichetrainings.com) in the Atlanta startup community. Through Glen’s connections, we presented the updated business plan to a private equity firm partner.
I still remember the day I met Eric McCarthey, very simple and humble human being who understood our business plan right away. He did read our business plan thoroughly and he was spot on with what we are trying to do. In fact, Glen commented “I think he understands our business model better than we do.” We were truly lucky to meet the first investor and we presented our business pitch very well. This time, we felt we nailed it. Eric listened to all our product ideas and brought a customer for our Channel product idea.
At the next meeting, we explained the Channel product features to the customer and explained that we would need funding to make it reality. That’s when we had our “Shark Tank” moment: Eric asked how much money we need to develop Channel product and bring it to the market for that customer. But we were ready for it with development plans and financial forecasts. We knew we had the right ally when he jumped in with both feet for the full amount needed to get the product to market.
We hired more resources and got down to the serious business of delivering a quality product.I need to mention my team’s efforts here. We are working almost 100 hours, firing on all cylinders to make this product live. Mood swings, illnesses and vacation plans disturbed us but we still kept our goals and objectives high and stood by our commitment to deliver this product on Apr 15. I am very proud to have a great team with me to sail this ship.
My good friend, and successful entrepreneur, Girish (CEO of Freshdesk) and I talk on what to do when we get in to any technical challenges on our product. I discuss the management decisions, investor opinions and customer feedback. He always listens well and provides good suggestions. His wisdom has been invaluable and I always appreciate him but never thanked him explicitly. Thanks my friend for all your advice and insights.
We delivered Channel product on time April 15 to our first customer. I know we still have long way to go but everything starts from the first step. We have taken the first step and are still making baby steps. I’ll keep you posted on our progress. The journey has begun …
Anyway, what is Channel product? Sharing your unique content in a secured way with your unique community and collaborating constantly with your community without losing your brand. Browse http://nichevid.com for more information.
How can you help us? If you are part of organization that deals with many different customer types, employees, customers, partners, supplier, distributors and sales. Each team is a community. Think of the pain points related to collaborating with these communities from training, education, feedback, awareness perspectives, business needs constant communications with their community around their unique contents. You can watch the promo video at nichevid.com and send us ideas.
I would like to introduce my management team, employees, and partners. You can visit them at http://nichevid.com/aboutus. They will also post here from time to time, so that you can get to know them individually. Also, if you are an individual interested in sharing knowledge, please visit us at www.nichetrainings.com. Don’t forget to watch the promo video there, too.
Thanks for reading my blog! Next time I’ll keep it shorter.