Peer-To-Peer Call: Market Data

How do you collect market data in regions or industries where it’s not easy to do?

Ian Fisk:
The idea is that everybody on this call has something to teach and something to learn. Quick introduction. Your name, the kind of work you do and relevance to the topic of this conversation, the countries you’ve worked in or the industry that you’re doing market sizing for, because the topic of this is how do you collect market data in places or regions or sometimes even industries where it’s not easy to do, right?

Florence:
So good morning, good afternoon, good evening, everyone, Florence Navarro. I am currently based in Washington, DC. I have worked with Ian many years ago and have been a mentor for years. I have worked with the UN Development Program in East Africa and Southern Africa for many years. So that’s kind of my geographic specification. I’ve worked with entrepreneurship programs for the past ten years plus, and social entrepreneurship, and I currently have my company helping rapidly growing social entrepreneurships hire their teams.

Ned:
Hello, everyone. Ned Zimmerman Bentz based in St. Paul, Minnesota and focused right now on the US, actually focused right now on Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin. We have a small start-up based around adult literacy and workforce development where we are teaching people how to read English while providing assistance in understanding their employer materials work instructions.

Excited to be on this call, one of the reasons why I’m excited is because we want to expand our platform to reach any adult who is seeking to read English. Particularly in the United States there is obviously a significant stigma attached to that, and so one of the questions I hope to get answered is how do we find people who don’t want to be found?

Natalie:
Good morning, I am Natalie. I have a handcraft jewelry business [inaudible 00:03:39]. Want to work with single mothers, and the principal mother with this conversation is to know how to get information of what market is their right market to be under in an international level. Thank you.

Julian:
Hi, everyone. My name is Julian. I am from Europe, several countries in Europe, but I am based in Bangkok and Cambodia. I developed and operate restaurants in the dark entirely operated by the visually impaired, at least front of the house, and more recently I’ve been developing and I launched recently the first coffee shop in the world I believe which is entirely operated by the visually impaired [inaudible 00:04:36] in the dark, but in the light so that people can actually see them work.

I’m joining this call not so much probably as a contributor because I’m facing actually the same problem here. Every time I’m trying to open another restaurant or another coffee shop, everybody at every stage of the development process asks me, “What’s the size of the market? Are you sure you want to do this?”, and so on and so on and so on. And every time I do it sort of, sorry for the pun, blindly. So it’s quite important for me, since I’m really facing that same question right now, to figure out how in markets like Thailand and Cambodia and other sort of frontier markets I can actually find the necessary data to make the right decisions when I grow my businesses.


Mike Malloy:
I am Mike Malloy, the Program Director at the Halcyon Incubator in Washington, DC. We work with a variety of early stage social entrepreneurs from all over the world working in all different industries and all different markets. And believe it or not, I don’t actually understand all those markets, and I don’t really know how to calculate the size of the different markets that these entrepreneurs are working in. So I’m hoping to glean some insights to kind of coach them on how they can do more extensive research and come up with some medium to large size markets that they’re looking to serve.


Von Nkosi:
My name is Von Nkosi. I am an architect based in Atlanta, and do work in New Orleans as well. I keep an office there, and technology is a space that I’m interested in in working. So as far as a marketing issue in terms of what I’d like to get out of this call, and I appreciate being able to listen in. Marketing is always an issue. We’ve got a smartphone platform out there, and I’ve got investors who after eighteen months, two years, a couple of the ones who’ve put the most money in are interested in how we are marketing the platform going forward.


Ian Fisk:
What is the kind of market data that you’re looking for? And what are the comparables that you find yourself using? So if you can’t find out exactly how many people might dine at an upscale restaurant where the front of the house staff is blind, what’s the comparable that you use? Or what is the information that is available, and how do you do the parallels?


Mike Malloy:
One thought would be looking at other companies that are much bigger and what they’ve said their markets are. Or perhaps honestly the first few results on Google when you try to search for a total addressable market or a serviceable addressable market, I don’t have much more of a scientific process than that.

Ian Fisk:
Does anyone?

Julian:
Since you mentioned restaurants in the dark with blind people, I feel concerned here. I try to look at what kind of people are actually dining on my restaurants or supposed to go to my coffee shops. And then I kind of try to cement it in categories. So for example, if they are tourists [inaudible 00:09:00] I try to figure out the data of the total number of tourists that come to Thailand or Bangkok. And then after that I try to segment it by the number of tourists of that specific type. So let’s say they are western tourists with a certain amount of income, I can try to make a few assumptions. These assumptions might be correct or wrong, and the biggest problem for me is to figure out whether these are correct or not.

With respect to coffee shops, these are opened mostly in semi-captive markets, meaning that they’re open in let’s say an office building. So I’m trying to figure out how many people are in that office building, and how many people would go for drinking a coffee. However, that gives me only an information that specific semi kind of captive market rather than the total market available across the city, across all the different office buildings that are there. These kind of larger numbers are very difficult for me to actually find out. It’s basically the sum maybe of all the semi-captive markets out there for all the different office buildings in Bangkok, which I don’t know how to find out or calculate. So those are the kind of bottom up figures I’m trying to tinker and create.

Ian Fisk:
So you’re starting with who are your existing customers, and you’re trying to map that data into the new regions or parts of the city.

Julian:
Yes, but I try to extrapolate that, yes. But again, that’s probably mostly relevant for units like restaurants and coffee shops. It might not be relevant for a business that goes into a complete new market and has a complete different kind of approach to developing their business.

Ian Fisk:
Ned, Natalie, what’s working for you?

Natalie:
As mentioned before, in the enter to new market when you thinks is difficult,

[inaudible 00:11:03]

if the people in that country use the kind of [inaudible 00:11:10] brand name. And looking information about psychologic profile of the consumer, and if is willing to buy the product, and if they have the economic power principal also.

Ned:
One of the things we’ve started to do, and I’m not sure how applicable this would be in other locales, but we’ve actually tapped into pretty much over a million LinkedIn human resources professionals, and have sent out a survey, and we’re actually getting results, still results are trickling in. But that’s one way for us to kind of, we’re using to kind of establish two things. One, the understanding of the problem within the human resources community, and then also the interest in possibly using our product. And that really is just to kind of help us determine what markets to get into because we’re asking for a zip code, US postal codes.

Ned:
One thing I want to circle back to though, Ian, about your question is I’m really intrigued by coffee shops run by the visually impaired. Is the draw, is the question or the problem trying to be solved here is the attractiveness of a coffee shop run by the visually impaired? Or just where to locate coffee shops in general, and it doesn’t matter who’s running it?

Ian Fisk:
The challenge as I understood the original folks who asked for this question, which included you, is you have a thing that you’re selling. So for example, it sounds like you also have a captive market because you’re going after employees, right? So you’re going to their employers in a similar way that Julian is going to a place where there’s a building around it, but the challenge is there are lots of places where you can’t just look the market data up. There are some places where you can.

Ian Fisk:
You’re going after folks who do not self-identify, so even though you’re in the US, there’s not good data on who can’t read because the people we generally have good data on are the people who can read. So how do you identify those numbers in making business decisions when they’re not easily accessible?


Ned:
I would love to know how to find people who, again, don’t want to be found is kind of our thing. But because maybe I haven’t had enough coffee, so I’m fixated on the question of these coffee shops. Is there data, and I’m completely naïve about data that’s not available in the public library in the US. So is there new building construction data that you can get to kind of find out buildings that are going up, what their planned capacity is, what their leasing percentage is, anything like that?

Julian:
It’s an interesting question because … One issue, or not really an issue, one question I’m asking myself regularly is we operate in coffee shops. Now coffee shops are attractive for obviously the semi-captive market. They’re attractive for a variety of reasons including people who drink coffee, people who don’t drink coffee but who want just to sit somewhere and drink tea or consume other products and things like this. Regularly I’m faced with the question which is what’s the coffee market currently in Thailand? And those numbers are available. I can figure out how much the coffee market grows and things like this. But it doesn’t explain to me what the coffee shop market per se is, and especially not in the private segment and price range in which we sell the coffee.

Julian:
So all this information about future coffee market growth in Bangkok or Thailand and things like this don’t seem to me to be of any relevance. So then the other way around, as mentioned before, was then to look at simply okay, where do we want to be? What are exactly, specifically the kind of customers we want to target in where we can actually be located, which are office buildings mostly and eventually universities. And then we simply look at how many would potentially be available for us. So we’re looking at let’s say there is 500 large buildings in Bangkok, which this is the kind of data that’s not readily available, so that’s really trying to guesstimate, and then to consider how many of them would actually have some space downstairs on the lobby, or would be interested in having us hosting a space or giving us a space of a coffee shop, and then trying to develop it from there, and then looking at how many people on average are in these buildings.

Julian:
Now the number of buildings that are going to be built and where and when is not available in Thailand because it’s a very obscure kind of industry. Maybe it’s likely [inaudible 00:16:50], so it’s difficult to find and predict these kind of things. So it’s more kind of we know we want to open 10 coffee shops within next two years, so let’s see whether we can open 10 coffee shops in the next two years and just kind of do it until we can’t find any place anymore. I know it was some sort of non-answer. Sorry about that.

Ned:
That actually … that’s exactly what I was thinking you’d probably have to do if you didn’t have that new construction data and stuff like that. I was also kind of thinking how does … and again, I’m completely naïve, but how does Starbucks or KFC or any other, again be really cognizant that I’m totally American-centric here, but how does any American brand expand into new markets, especially frontier or emerging markets?

Ned:
And then, Natalie, I was also thinking when you’re looking, so you’re looking to expand into different countries? What countries are you looking to sell into?

Natalie:
Principally I’m looking from countries that already [inaudible 00:18:12]. And they want handcraft things that they love. That is why I’m looking in potential market.

Julian:
To quickly, and I promise I’ll stop talking about coffee, it’s evening time here, but I think there’s a difference between the market, the data that’s available and relevant for let’s say a large chain like Starbucks, which nowadays has a shop in every street corner in Bangkok, and a start up or a smaller business like we do have. It’s large significant numbers like three percent or five percent growth in coffee consumption in Thailand is probably relevant for Starbucks for a five-year plan, but they plan to open 200, 500 shops across the country, but it’s not the kind of information that’s relevant for a small shop or a small business like we are where we don’t really have enough power beyond that. I’m not sure.

Julian:
And then to the second part of your question or comment, Starbucks as a matter of fact in Thailand is contacted by any developer before they even start building their building to make sure that they have a prestigious brand without their building. So they have all those places and spots in town before anyone else actually knows that there’s going to be a building built somewhere. So that’s also a little bit different between we’ll say the small businesses and the large ones.

Mike Malloy:
Is there any census data available? Or does the government have some sort of track of the number of people living in different cities or zip codes? Or I was also thinking for the literacy data in the US, perhaps adult literacy rates aren’t available, but are high school literacy rates and the number of students graduating high school who can read? And if there’s areas where teenagers don’t necessarily have a firm grasp of reading that perhaps there’s also a higher population of adults there who would benefit from the service?

Julian:
So specifically for Thailand, and again this is a very specific strange market I suppose, we work with blind people, and we still haven’t figured out how many blind people, visually impaired people actually are in Thailand. So that should be something fairly widely available, or at least it would seem so coming from Europe, but it’s not the case here. So kind of the wide data … some general data is available, but as soon as you go a little bit more specific, it’s not there anymore.

Ian Fisk:
Are there medical records? Would this be something that a hospital or a public health department would know?

Julian:
As much as I know, the records are in paper form located safely in various hospitals. If you want to move hospital or go to another doctor, you have to go physically to a hospital, ask for that file and then walk to the next one.


Ned:
I was going to say, and this gets to the question I think, can’t remember who’s on the phone call, I forget, might be Mike … So again, when Thailand … I’m also wondering if there might be school records that would reflect the general population within a town that would be blind. And yes, you’re correct, there’s wonderful data for the most part about which of the adult literacy rates graduating from high school. In the United States it’s a little obscured because for the past 20 years there’s been this whole push for high school graduation, and unfortunately the drop, people who drop out are sometimes unaccounted for, even in a state that has pretty decent government services like Minnesota.

Ned:
But that would be one way to kind of figure out what markets we want to get into per se, but then to actually get down from the market level into individual community level to find people who are illiterate or really struggle with reading, we’re still finding to be difficult partly because the adult-based education system doesn’t even know how many people they could potentially serve in their areas.

Ned:
So there are education records to get kind of maybe a 10,000 foot view, but to actually connect individually with a customer is proving very difficult to actually find that, whether that using a … We’re just really struggling to find how do we connect with people aside from using community organizations as kind of sales channels? How do we move beyond that to really be able to scale and really connect with greater number of people?

Mike Malloy:
Have you looked at all into the hospitality industry? Or people, hotel staff and kind of back of house cleaning folks? One of the companies that’s come to the Halcyon Incubator is Entrada, where they basically teach English as a Second Language to the housekeeping staff via a little iPod and 30-minute audio lessons. It’s not reading related at all, but I’d be happy to connect you with Erin because she’s kind of gone through similar things on how do I find companies that have people who want to learn English and be more confident and have those skills. There might be some insight she could share with you as well.

Ned:
Yeah, that would be wonderful, and I’m actually a big fan of Entrada ESL. We stumbled across them, I think actually through the review that Ian had put our business plan through. So yeah, I’d love to talk with her, thanks. I’ll throw my email in the chat.


Ian Fisk:
Yeah, yeah. I know you know how the Zoom works anyways. All right. What else do you want to know? Florence, any thoughts? We haven’t heard from you yet.

Florence:
No specific thoughts. I mean, I’m thinking to which extent anybody on the call has been able to access information from comparable non-profits. So non-profits servicing the same kind of populations, such as blind people or people with vision impairment, for example. But by experience I know that non-profits are usually even less, are struggling even more and often have less resources to actually think [inaudible 00:25:49] about market size. But I wonder whether any of you has done that, has gone to non-profits and tried to share information that they have about their population, how to reach population? And whether that was useful at all or not.

Julian:
I’m happy to share experience again because I think … so the coffee shop and restaurants provide a … we’ve been pulling visually impaired people, provide a good example. However, the country where I am in provides a bad example. So I think with respect to data available, even from non-profit organizations, there’s none here. In order to find out how many visually impaired employees potentially we could have in the future and what the need is, we don’t have that.

Julian:
However, with the same logic of breaking down the market and try to segment it until we kind of find the numbers, or to confirm the numbers, the minimum numbers that we’ll need to be able to thrive, we look at how many people go to visually impaired schools in Thailand. How many do actually do so in Bangkok? And then after that we look at how many … when we reach out to them, how many actually do respond positively to let’s say job interview, job offers. And then we extrapolate how many in total would actually be in need or available in the future to be employed. So we sort of deduct our, we deduct our numbers based on assumptions made from some real data that we just gather from experience, so just walking from place to place. But I’m pretty sure that’s not how Starbucks would do it.

Ned:
But it sounds very effective. I’m wondering also from … you have a coffee shop that’s currently operational, correct?

Julian:
Yes, we’re just testing it still, but yes, it’s operational. It’s open every day.

Ned:
I’m wondering actually it might be interesting … if you could almost kind of do a lead gen exercise where you have a video kind of … because I’m trying to imagine in my head what it would be like to be a customer in your shop and see baristas moving around and negotiating the shop and communicating with each other. I wonder if it would be interesting to kind of shoot a one- to two-minute video, and kind of send the video out to building managers and things like that to find, to get a … kind of explain what it is to get their feedback and where they … kind of build a network of building managers to help determine that data.

Ned:
And then, Natalie, I was also thinking, and maybe I’m not truly understanding your problem that you’re trying to solve here, but you’re looking to enter new markets. What about just not even worrying about the potential for market size, but really just focusing in on sales channels, like strategic partnerships that could actually do all that work for you?

Natalie:
Yeah, I think that is interesting the way to look new partnership, but is one of the things that [inaudible 00:29:36]. And the part that is cause me a lot to enter [inaudible 00:29:47] how can I do to grow the business in the sales part I think the most problem.

Ned:
So I guess I’ll throw this out to the group, this notion of … and maybe it’s not a good idea, but the idea of kind of just filming your … developing some kind of visual medium around that kind of describes your concept, and then trying to build the, a data collection or network that can kind of provide you that data about where to locate things.

Julian:
So it’s a great idea. So right now we’re still on the operational kind of testing phase. We’re delayed by months and months and months because the things have become … were a lot more challenging … We knew it was going to be challenging, but it became more challenging than we thought it would be. But now we’re solving all these things, so now we’re finalizing all the operational side of things, and then after that we’ll look more into the say customer experience, branding and kind of shop building. So right now it still looks quite raw, but it’s simply for us to train and test.

Julian:
As soon as we get there we’ll use our first shop as the example from which we’ll use all the promotional material, promotional materials for finding new locations. And now in Thailand everything works with networks. It’s a fairly, an equal society. It all works with networks of powerful people or powerful companies that own a lot of different real estate, office buildings, things like this. So the idea is to go and reach out to them and to present what we do.

Julian:
Finding out exactly where the market data might be a little bit difficult just from that because I’m not quite sure how accurate all the data would be, and how willing they would be to share that. However, the strategy that we think about how to go about this is to let’s say reach out to 10 large companies that own large buildings, office buildings, and to see how many of them are actually interested in hosting our concept. And we would then decide a market data based on the percentage, or extrapolate from the percentage of large companies or large groups or influential groups in Bangkok or in Thailand to figure out how many would be open at the present stage for a company like ours for let’s say until we get much larger branding traction, if we ever get to that point.

Julian:
So we kind of extrapolate it again from there. So yes, the strategy is correct. Where do we find exactly that amount of exact, precise data might be unlikely, but we will at least have a good idea of how many on average buildings will have in the city who might be willing to locate us.

Ian Fisk:
Okay. Natalie, are there any arts groups or non-profits that might be able to do a parallel work for you?

Natalie:
We are looking [inaudible 00:33:34] that will be people from difficult to work in a difficult situation. And we’re are also trying to make a interaction

[inaudible 00:33:47]

. For example, we were one of the six Mexican companies invited to [inaudible 00:33:52] in Toronto, Canada. I try to establish that relationship of how is the current way to be able to make [inaudible 00:34:05] to be able to work with data analysts to make the business, to make more attractive to be able to help the community, but also [inaudible 00:34:17]

Ned:
Sorry, Natalie. Could you repeat that last sentence?

Natalie:
Yes, what recommend about the how to make business that help women, single mothers, that work with companies and also to have a strategy source to be able to serve to international channels.

Ned:
I think it’s actually, I don’t know, but that doesn’t stop me from talking. I think one of the … I just know of a entrepreneur here in the Twin Cities who is kind of doing the similar work that you’re doing, but she’s American, she’s based here, and it would make total sense for me to connect you with her because she’s figuring out the same issues. So if you’d like, just throw your email in the chat, or Ian, you can connect me with Natalie, and I’d be happy to make an introduction that way because I think overall these types of issues are generally … are going to be solved by people who are also trying to figure them out. Great, I see your email there.

Mike Malloy:
That brings up an interesting point too, for the discussion today where as people are trying to figure out these market sizes, it’s often talking to people to say, “Hey, I’m trying to figure out this market size”, and then those people think about people they know who are also trying to serve that size of a market. And then getting people who are looking to better understand a similar market together to talk, and they can kind of compare notes and perhaps have a more educated or informed market after more conversations. Does that make sense to you guys?

Ned:
Yeah, that makes sense to me. I’m also wondering too, what is the … again, this is a really kind of, might not be the most brilliant question here, but what is the purpose of actually understanding the market size? Is the purpose just to find that, determine that you will have a sustainable business? Is it for a kind of … extrapolate what the opportunity could be for potential investors or funders? Why are we … I mean, we know the market size for us. It’s 36 million adults in the US cannot read technical English. Our problem is getting-

Ian Fisk:
That’s not an addressable market. That’s just a large number, right?

Ned:
Well, yeah. We’d like it to be our addressable market, but you’re right, it’s not. Thank you.

Ian Fisk:
You know I just say there’s a million people who might buy our product. We just need to sell the one percent. That’s not a marketing plan.

Ned:
Right. I guess that’s the question, too. What are these numbers going to do for us?

Mike Malloy:
In simplest terms, it goes on a slide and it’s a big number that gets other people excited about it. I think to Ian’s kind of retort there, there is a much deeper process of how do you that have a marketing plan and strategy to identify and get your message and your brand and your product in front of these people, or a small subset of the total addressable market.

Mike Malloy:
I think part of it too, is understanding this is the market, and then talking and doing customer discovery interviews with tens and hopefully hundreds of folks to understand do they actually have a problem or a pain point that you’re solving, versus, oh yeah, that’d be kind of nice to have this thing maybe.

Ned:
Those are good reminders to me. Julian, go ahead. I was worried I was going to kill the conversation here.

Julian:
Me to go ahead? Sorry. Something just called. Could you repeat.

Ned:
No, I was just saying Julian, go ahead, because I thought I was, I had just killed the conversation.

Julian:
Oh no, nothings killed here. I think it just goes back to, at least what a stance is that I took so far. I always have a hard time when I have to prepare slides and presentations, things like this, for competitions and for fundraising, things like this. There’s always a question of what’s the market size and things like that. Also currently we’re trying to design a brand, trying to design exactly the shop interior. Even shop interior decorators and the designers ask us, “What is the market size so that we know where we want to be?”, and things like this. So we don’t know. We don’t have these big numbers, and I don’t think these big numbers would inform on any one much more. So we really go the other way around, which is where can we realistically be within the next three to four years? What do we need to be able to reach out? How many customers do we … how many locations can we be? And how many customers could be in each of these locations? Is there a realistic chance that we could actually be in those locations? And then we count the number of customer and we see how many coffees we can actually sell per day.

Julian:
This is coming from someone who has not been through business school, so it might be completely wrong, but it is the most practical sort of approach that we have found out. It’s really looking at what data and what numbers would be useful for us, and then try to find the most accurate indicators that could confirm this kind of data, or infirm it. So yeah, I’m just repeating what I said before. Sorry.

Florence:
Yeah, I really like the reminder of whoever asked the question why do we even want the market size, because throughout my interactions with entrepreneurs for the past 10, 15 years, I have found that a lot of people get so stuck on the market sizing and then completely forget to really find out whether there’s any customer actually interested, and doing the whole design thinking, customer interview. So I’m really thankful for this reminder.

Florence:
And I myself have gone a little bit the other way around, and I’m so obsessed now with [inaudible 00:41:52] some customers, and what is the current customer experience who could be my customer. And I really like the approach that you’re taking with the classes because it makes a lot of sense. So yes, we do need to try to get approximate market data, especially to show potential investors and others, and to think of it as to where our growth could be, but I still think that really understanding your customer and how do you grow year after year based on the experience of whatever you’re doing right now your customer is kind of more powerful as far as I’m concerned.

Ian Fisk:
I agree as someone who has both attended and taught at business schools that there’s an overemphasis on the pure numbers because business school programs are targeted at very, very large companies that are focused on the large numbers because they don’t have the time to get to know the individual customer and profile. That said, you need to know where these customers are that you want to learn more about, right? And one to one connections stops being efficient after a while, pretty quickly, as it turns out.

Ned:
Completely agree about the one to one connections, having spent a year

[inaudible 00:43:15]

. So Natalie, I was wondering how do you find … it seems like most of us here really have two problems. One is the actual finding the market for our services, but then also finding the market for our mission, in a way, you know? We’re trying to help adults who can’t read beyond the third grade level. And Natalie, you’re trying to work with single mothers who are artisans. And Julian, you’re trying to provide opportunity for people who are visually impaired.

Ned:
So Natalie, how do you find those, your producers, the mothers who are actually making the art that you’re selling?

Natalie:
Literally in the basic way. By searching by internet we use keyword to be able to see if their mission is similar. Also when the members of different

[inaudible 00:44:20]

, for example [inaudible 00:44:24] from developing countries, and try to find out with the different programs if they have the necessity, we want to be able to connect with that kind of people [inaudible 00:44:42] by internet.

Ned:
Okay, thanks. The other thing I’m struck with earlier is I think somebody said, or maybe I’m just transposing this, but the idea of what is a network that I can access to get the data or the connections. And for us, using kind of social service organizations to be our sales channel in way, to reach the adults that we want to help gets us to some degree, but doesn’t get us to scale, to get the numbers that we really want, the thousands that we really want using our platform.

Ned:
So aside from using network, aside from using, I’m sorry, aside from using the internet, what other networks have people been able to tap to kind of get at either customers or people you’re trying to serve?

Mike Malloy:
One that I’ve had success with in the past would be conferences or trade shows, where are groups of people congregating and going there with the purpose of doing business and making connections. And then maybe also thinking about any publications or journals or free or paid membership groups, association of XY and Z. I don’t know exactly what that conference or association would be for your case, but just trying to think through those types of models.

Ned:
The other thought I had too is how did What’s App kind of just go viral almost? How did they grow? I think it was from people, I’m assuming people sharing how awesome it was with other people, and I guess that’s true with any kind of app now that I think about it.

Ned:
I’m wondering if that … That want to a use case to kind of look at, a case study to look at in terms of creating a network to get the data that we need.

Florence:
Did you know which apps are popular among your kind of target population? I mean, I know for example, I was trying to think of how we did that. I used to lead a small organization in [inaudible 00:47:46] area that was providing training for women to start their own businesses, and it was focused on women immigrants and low income, and we were struggling. We were actually struggling to really access our population. And there was a lot of … it was not very

[inaudible 00:48:07]

in our case. But i think in your case, what you’re offering, I agree that if it is successful and really helpful, it can spread by word of mouth basically, by viral use of the app.

Florence:
So I’m curious to know what are the, how knowledgeable you are about the apps that really work and are really being used by, if not your competition because you don’t fully know exactly who would be using, but a subset of your population or broader a part of your population.

Ned:
It is really interesting. So basically there are two buckets of people that we’re working with. One is new Americans, people who have come to this country in the last few years and are new to English. And hands down, it’s What’s App. They use that almost exclusively to connect with back home and with their families and friends.

Ned:
And with the American population, which is … we mostly have had success working with ex-felons, the recently incarcerated, hands down it’s Facebook. And they’re both, it’s interesting, that is the both, for both populations is the communications app that is used to most. So that’s the extent of knowledge that we know. We just haven’t had time to kind of really delve into that research anymore, and that’s something we hope to do at some point. [crosstalk 00:49:51]

Florence:
To finish my thought on that, I wonder where you can find information, if at all, about what services people use to share money because it might be

[inaudible 00:50:08]

or whatever. There’s a bunch of new apps, and sometimes people have ways of sharing money like [inaudible 00:50:16]. So whatever that app, that could be useful information.

Mike Malloy:
I was also going to ask, especially for the immigrants, what are their native languages that they’re reading and writing and very fluent in? And can you yourself write third person marketing messages about what you’re doing so they can easily copy and paste it and tell their friends in Spanish or Portuguese or whatever it is, “Hey, check out this organization that I’m learning how to read English. You can, too. Click here for a referral link.” That sort of making it very easy for them to click a couple button and send a message as opposed to them having to creatively write a few sentences in their native language, or perhaps feel like they should do it in English but be self-conscious because they can’t read it that well or write it that well. That’s one way to basically make it easier for the word-of-mouth marketing of what you’re doing to spread to other people. And if there’s some way to incentivize them or give them a credit or an extra book to read or a bonus for referring people.

Mike Malloy:
And then for the previous incarcerated citizens, I work with a few of them here in DC, and there are different organizations like halfway houses where a lot of people when they get out go there for a few months. That could be a good place, and again giving them some kind of boilerplate language about your organization that they can easily copy and paste or click and share. And I would also optimize all of the sharing for mobile because I would think most people are probably doing it on their phone, just to give it more momentum and reduce some of the friction for them other tell other people they know who would also benefit from your services.

Ned:
Both Florence and Mike, thanks. Those are both really great ideas. It’s almost like the affordable email that I hadn’t thought about before. That’s brilliant, thanks. And yeah, just how do people even kind of maybe even try to strike up a strategic partnership with those, sharing those currency. Then those type applications would be a good idea, or even be able just to study how they spread would be really smart. Thanks.

Ian Fisk:
So we’re approaching the hour. I don’t need to shut this down, but I also want to respect that we put these out as calls of up to an hour. So if folks have stuff they want to keep talking about, that’s great, but I do want to check in, how do people feel about what I should do with the recording of this call?

Ned:
I’m fine with making it available, and always kind of blather on anyway.

Natalie:
I am comfortable.

Julian:
It’s fine for me.

Ian Fisk:
Okay.

Florence:
It’s fine for me.

Ian Fisk:
Okay. And Von Nkosi?

Von Nkosi:
I’m fine. Thanks, Ian.

Ian Fisk:
Yeah, I think I might do a summary because we sort of wandered around the place, so I might sort of write up a summary of it rather than just putting the straight recording out. That makes a certain amount of sense. I’ll send you guys the summary first.

Ian Fisk:
So any other thoughts, questions, comments? What do people feel like they learned in the past hour? Anyone come away with anything actionable?

Ned:
I’ll just jump in. Yeah, I think, Ian, it’s shifting my way of thinking about instead of trying to think about individually reaching people, but tapping into the network that can get to people has really kind of just framed my thinking a little bit more clearly, I think, so that was huge for me. And then also … yeah, I think that was the biggest thing I came away with.

Ian Fisk:
Julian, Natalie, any ideas that came across you might end up using?

Julian:
I’m not sure if there are new ideas that are directly applicable for me. However, it makes me question whether I should go back to, a little bit more to the bigger picture. So far been testing things, and then just trying to extrapolate, which is not exactly answering the question of what the market size is. More figuring out how receptive people are to my products and services. I’m trying to build a model from there, so I think I need to go a little bit back to the drawing table, and also look at it from the other perspective, which is essentially yeah, looking at from a larger slightly more broadside view again, and looking at bigger numbers because if I want to grow a business that should sizeable in the future, I need to look at that.

Julian:
So it’s a little bit the opposite movement from everyone else, I suppose, but me coming from the other extreme it’s quite useful as well. [crosstalk 00:55:57]

Natalie:

[inaudible 00:55:59]

and the information that mention to search about, for example, Thailand for in the [inaudible 00:56:08] Starbucks [inaudible 00:56:10] because Starbucks in Mexico is very different from [inaudible 00:56:15] until the building is developed, they put the Starbucks. And it is interesting to see that in Thailand before the building is made is the Starbucks [inaudible 00:56:34].

Julian:
It’s just that here every … now I want it to be off the record, kidding, it’s just every business is connected with each other. There’s only so many, so they all know what’s going on. So it’s basically playing part of that larger, in this case network I would say, and being a player that through the social mission, through that social recognition, has an advantage for being recognized by the big players and having some, not insider information, some information that is shared in advance so we can plan and find the right opportunities when they happen.

Ian Fisk:
Okay. Tomorrow’s call is same time, same Zoom system. About half of you are signed up for it. And we’re going to be doing calls like these on different topics fairly regularly, although I’m about to leave at the end of the week for a two- to three-week vacation, so there will be a gap in the middle. But any questions from me about process, or comments?

Mike Malloy:
Thanks for organizing this, Ian, this was great. I definitely learned a lot from the conversation and appreciate you getting some smart folks on the phone together. Thanks.

Ian Fisk:
And Mike, if you … we do future ones of these, if you have folks from Halcyon you think would be valuable contributors, feel free to ping me because I’m giving the current cohort, the MCN folks a choice to pick the topics, but then what I can bring in peers from anywhere, right?

Mike Malloy:
Yeah, sounds great.

Ian Fisk:
Okay. All right, thank you all very much for your time and your contributions. I hope you learned something from each other. [crosstalk 00:58:41] That is today’s show. See you all, see some you tomorrow. Or see some of you tomorrow, as it turns out.

Florence:
Thank you, bye.