Jack Hall - Contributor

Validation, that vital step!

19/11/2012 @ 6:16AM

Truth be told, OnwardPacks started as a senior thesis. With a team of 4, we created the business model from scratch, along with our backpack designs and giving model. It was an academic lesson, but when I launched in June, I found that I done so much research that the transition from academic to reality wasn’t a hard one. Let me break down the business model for you:

 

I sell backpacks that give to kids in the US. My business model isn’t complicated, but it is multifaceted with quite a lot of depth.

 

  • A customer purchases a pack, which they then receive
  • They are given a choice between 3 different categories: Sports, the Arts, or Books
  • We buy tangible school supplies in the category they choose with proceeds from the pack purchase
  • We then give these school supplies to our Onward elementary schools

 

It’s called a for-profit social enterprise and it’s a growing trend in business. We were inspired by the trend of giving, and we wanted to give to education (something that we strongly felt needed the support). Backpacks made sense as the symbol of the social issue we wanted to help improve, and the name fell into place as a fluke. Onward, Mississippi was our Entrepreneurship class team name. Thus, OnwardPacks were born.

 

After creating the OnwardPacks business model and studying our market for very near to a year, the one thing I can say with confidence is that it is vitally important to first validate your business model before taking that huge step into launching.

 

I’m not saying you need to take a year to study your market and your plan to be sure that it will work, but I am saying that you must absolutely research before launching. Talk to your customer base that you have decided to target and see what they think about your idea. Ask them if there are aspects that you’d like to see change. Our business model morphed over the first few months, and I am so much happier with it now after talking to our target market. After all, I’m trying to sell packs to college kids. Who better to ask than the kids themselves?

 

Once you’ve gotten the support of your market, ask a professional in the industry. I can guarantee that there are people in the field that you’re working in that will speak to you, and it’s worth it to ask for 30 minutes of a professional’s time to see if they see holes in your plan.

 

Once you’ve done that, take on the challenge of an acid or beta test. After all, you’re about to stake funds and your time on this idea! Why not be sure it’s dead on?! We sold buttons instead of packs for our beta test, but what we found was that kids cared about education and elementary kids here in the US. It was inexpensive and offered us some invaluable advice. We found that customers wanted the choice of how we give. It wasn’t enough that we gave to kids in elementary schools. Customers wanted say in the types of things that the kids received. We’d never thought of that, and now our model has so much more depth than it did before. This is one example, but there were many more. It was worth the time and research to find out. If you’d like to see how it turned out, check out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PNuegxmgblg&feature=plcp

 

The one trap that is so easy to fall into as an entrepreneur is that of overconfidence. You’re idea can be revolutionary, but until you validate it in some way, I wouldn’t invest. Take some time. Do some research. See if your target market doesn’t have a great idea to add to your model. I guarantee it’s worth the time.

 

 

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Jack Hall

Contributor ,  CEO - Onward Packs

"Sellin' packs, giving back!"

U of A grad

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  • CEO : Onward Packs
  • Member Since: Oct. 23, 2012, 6:07 a.m.