I’ve Got 99 Problems But a Product Ain’t One

As an entrepreneur trying to solve a need in the marketplace there are probably more than 99 problems I face daily. Some of these problems include fundraising, organizing my team which is currently scattered across the globe and also maintain the exact balance of caffeine in my system to ensure focus. One thing I know for sure is I have a proof of concept in my product, which I have never had before.

My proof of concept is Knecta, a mobile first attempt to change the way people view their professional network. I will go into detail the next few minutes on how I know I have a product fit and throw out a few of my 99 problems to the world.

Knecta is currently available on iTunes and Google Play. It is buggy. As a perfectionist I need to understand that it is a work in progress but one that shows tremendous potential. For example, in the first 3 months we hit 100k registered users and helped set-up over 1,000 in person meetings covering major markets like NYC, LA and The Silicon Valley. The health of the app and the network is strong, and we continue to see usage from our initial burst of users with 39% monthly active.

Here is what really keeps me up at night.

In order to ensure our product success, and subsequently our company, we need to hit a minimum of 1 million users. This is an unwritten benchmark in Silicon Valley to lock in a series A of funding. However, in order to get to one million users we need to either a) spend money to acquire users, or b) line up a partnership with a major distribution channel because they believe in our vision (aka they see the potential to monetize quickly).

Enjoyney was an idea that my two co-founders and I brought to life: first as a business plan then as a seed round of funding that allowed us to start building our flagship product. We created a personalized, on-demand tour guide service for business and leisure travelers.

Six months and thousands of work hours later, we took a hard look at the data, the product and the marketplace. We had built a beautiful app pre-loaded with energetic, passionate local guides. But it became clear that the intersection of consumer demand and minimum viable price point was unsustainable. With the backing of our investors and advisors, we made the strategic pivot to become a professional network.

We went all in, and our initial metrics show it was the right thing to do. From a product perspective, the Enjoyney app provided a solid framework on which to develop an amazing professional networking app. Now, with Knecta live on both iPhone and Android, we find ourselves facing a new challenge (well, 99 really).

To really get that hockey stick growth graph all successful start-ups dream of, I need an investor willing to look at the product as, albeit a work in progress, poised with a strong opportunity to break into the market. This is a market that includes Microsoft buying LinkedIn for billions, dating apps pivoting into (non-amorous) networking, and startups like Enjoyney trying to fill the void and hit it big. Alternately a distribution network that enables us to reach 1 million users quickly for no money, or as I like to think of it winning the lottery, would fuel what we need to enable a strong valuation and continued success.

Rock meet hard place, hard place meet rock. We might be here a while so I hope you packed snacks.