Light Bulb To Launch In A Weekend

by Andy Brudtkuhl on February 23, 2011

Those of you that work with me know I’m obsessed with internet business models. I love the scalability, the science of a conversion, and meticulously tracking funnel metrics. That being said I’m always looking for the perfect niche. Tim Ferris often speaks of “engineering a muse“. This idea of a muse is “a low-maintenance business that generates significant income”. In his case it is funding his lifestyle and in my case it will help fund (and create time for) other startup ideas.

Light Bulb
Just over one month ago my wife was throwing a baby shower for a friend. I was home working and she asked if I could print some things out for her while I was sitting at the computer. She had paid ~$15 for printable baby shower games. Within 30 seconds I had worked out the idea in my head.

I was going to create an online store selling printable baby shower games

Why? It fits as a good muse because it is
  1. scalable 
  2. systematizeable (I can automate myself out of the business)
  3. timeless (baby showers aren’t ceasing any time soon)
  4. a digital product (profit margin will grow to near 100% as it scales)
Back to the computer for some due diligence and market research.

Market Research
This section is going to be an entire post in the future on validating a market or product with a couple hours of research. Gone are the days of focus groups and product development by committee. Within 2 hours I had vetted my new idea. How?

Does a market exist? 
I’m often leery of ideas (especially of this nature) that have not been executed online. If someone hasn’t tried something throughout the short life of E-Commerce technology then it is likely a bad idea. My validation? My wife spent $15 on similar products. 

Need more validation? Search Google for your product. If there are advertisers there is a market for your product or idea.

What’s the competition look like? Can I do better?
After visiting some of the top ranking baby shower games stores and clicking through on some of the ads I knew I had a chance. Many of the site are poorly optimized and were running generic ads. Most of them did not focus solely on games but other baby shower wares. With a strategic SEO and content plan I knew I could outrank the competition organically. And to get things started I could definitely outdo them with a carefully constructed AdWords campaign.

And I knew we could create better designed games than were on the market.

Testing the market
I simply jumped on one of the best looking keywords, created a highly targeted AdWords campaign and dropped a landing page for free baby shower games. Let’s see what this market has to offer. Plenty, it turns out. All signs point to GO.

Implementation
Once the market was validated the next step was “How do I get this thing running as soon as possible?”. Luckily I run a WordPress consulting company and can build an E-Commerce site on short order. I also run a WordPress hosting service so I had the site up and configured within 4 hours with my prototype product. 

Next I found a designer to start on the initial mockups on game ideas. 

All this in one weekend!

One month later we have 8 games in the store, we have generated revenue, and we’ve acquired a few dozen email subscribers. At the current rate of growth we should be profitable by our 3rd month in business. All from a light bulb idea and a few days worth of work…

I look forward to sharing my experience and techniques in building this business. Next up …
  • startup costs
  • how it took 1 week to realize I was a bottle neck in the business
  • how I use market research to create products
  • how I optimized the hell out of my store
  • getting my first customer
  • initial roadblocks and how to get over them
  • how I used social from the start
  • how I am tracking everything 
  • much much more.
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