Venture Dorm Week 2

Venture Dorm Week 2 focussed on the business model canvas and customer development. Sam handled the pitching and did a very good job of it! We got a lot of information out of this week’s session. We asked a few key questions, and got some great answers. 

Should we pursue a not for profit model or a profit model?

– Define how you will monetise the model to scale. The idea is simple & great. Onboarding not for profits might not work, might not scale. How am I going to get money to fund building it to answer this question. How can I build something simple/elegant but pervasive but cheaper/faster/quicker and then decide how can ramp it through word of mouth. 

– Revenue model is going to be a challenge but determining which way you go will have an impact on the revenue model. Idea sounds good – niche, could do better and a need is out there. Monetizing it may be hard – if working with lots of not for profits then being NFP might be best. Pretty important decision. Identified two sided market – difficult equation – doesn’t sound as hard as some other businesses, sounds reasonably attractive for both sides. The fact you’ve got some traction already indicates it’s possible. Need to do some work exploring revenue models and seeing how it’ll pay and how it can scale, and employ people.

 – In the long run, may start with a simple matching concept, may become self learning, but to take it to the next level, got to look at multiple business models around training around how to do work in Cambodia, how to handle mature workers doing sabbatical etc. Different cost model, much more intensive. That will be part of the challenge. How does it scale to be a bigger thing? Take it one step at a time. 

– Obviously up to your group, no one can decide that except you. But if you go NFP route – can do dogfooding, can test internally. Invaluable way to work out how other people will use the product if you can use it yourself. Have an unfair advantage over our customers with our database. If you’ve got that NFP angle then you have the social justice juice going around.

– Keeping away from the social side of it, you don’t want to associate yourself with the problems of the volunteers. Want to have a linkage with certain groups of people. Maybe not payment for the people, maybe payment for advertising people because otherwise you get the responsibility of bad people. 

– Is it a transient or a long relationship that we’re staying in?

How do we find the right person to talk to at a company?

– Go into LinkedIn, see if you know anyone in that company and see if they can do an introduction for you.

– Ask for help. Just ring them up and ask for help. People love to be asked for help.

– The bigger companies will have a website and it’ll say on there what their roles are. 

– Someone might talk about their volunteering in the media and you can do some research about who promotes this, and then get in touch with them.

– You can set up a landing page on LinkedIn and make an ad targeting to the right department. Doing an ad with their face with a clickbait ad. Either they’ll see it or their colleague will see it. 

– LinkedIn is really good – you can work out how you know someone and investigate their kind of role. Just got to find the right traction in the right way.

– Be persistent!


How do we deal with scaling too early?

– What are we trying to do and how are we trying to do it? Try and stay focussed. It’s great getting attention but if you can’t deliver there’s no point. 

General feedback

– “Voluntourism” is detrimental generally. As a NFP you still want to get access to those resources. If you guys are bringing them in and running them through a basic Volunteering 101 so they’re at a basic level. Also filling in key positions – volunteering + a stipend, people wouldn’t necessarily stick to it, they’d be challenged being in the local environment. We had some money to allocate to them (not a lot). For most NGOs filling those important positions that’s where we were most desperate to fill those. Impact investment type – social capital investment stuff

– I think wrapping it with a service that helps, my experience with giving, to overseas people – you don’t want to just give to say, Cambodia, you want to give to something you’re connected with, you’re passionate about. So providing the service forms a part of the cycle. Instead of reinventing the wheel you can provide the capability to keep the wheel going.

– With the overseas stuff, you have a lot of competition. There’s a few we used to use. I think locally it might be a bit differently but overseas there’s a hell of a lot that goes on already that you can access, but I think locally you might have a lot more of an opportunity to pair things up easily.

– Customer demographic – focussing on the younger side demographic. I think you’d find a lot more customers in the older demographic. They’re older, retired, they have the time to invest in volunteering so it might be a good consideration to not only look in your demographic.

– We (Monarto Zoo) get a lot of call for work experience. Whether that can be linked into volunteering and mentoring and all that stuff. There’s a lot of people that might have a school experience or even do it just regardless of that. It’d be nice to be able to link those in somehow. 

 Absolutely great feedback, and the team is excited for week 3!


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