At this week’s roundtable, we had five entrepreneurs pitching. One recurring theme that kept coming up is that entrepreneurs are finding guerilla p.r. and SEO as two of the most effective and affordable customer acquisition strategies. At yesterday’s private roundtable we also had this discussion, so I thought I would mention it in today’s recap.

First up, Raj Sheth from Bangalore, India, presented Recruiterbox, a SaaS recruitment management tool for small businesses, with co-founders Raghu Kancherla and Girish Redekar. Raj presented a 3 million total available market of Google App users as his target audience. My sense is the market is not as broad, and most small businesses do not hire very actively. The fast growth ones do, and one possible filter on this segmentation would be venture funded businesses. Groupon China happens to be a customer of Recruiterbox, and found them through organic search. Guerilla p.r. and an affiliate program would also help with customer acquisition.
Next, Ben Blomerley from Fountainebleu, France, pitched, an online gift ideas service where a guy looking for a gift for his girlfriend could ask her friends for ideas. Nifty idea, but the business model is predicated upon selling merchandise that is curated from affiliate networks like Commission Junction. My question was around the size of the catalog that can be pulled together that will render affiliate commissions and will meet quality standards of this business. So, while I find the concept intriguing, I’d still like to get a feel for the market sizing to gauge how big a company this would become.

Then Danny Wong from Shanghai, China, presented GemKitty, a custom jewelry design site that is having difficulty finding its core customer base. As we peeled the onion, I felt the merchandising strategy is really weak, and the products are relatively undifferentiated. Undifferentiated products are hard to generate excitement and traction around in the highly crowded web, and I suggested they look at DeNovo which sells highly differentiated, limited edition jewelry as a good example of what good merchandising looks like. I believe, they need to do a DeNovo like concept, although, possibly at a lower price-point.

Arun Ravi from San Francisco, California, discussed inCircled, a proposed new social network that would be significantly more selective about only involving ‘inner circle’ friends. The concept is way too broad, and what I would like to see is a massive refining of the product strategy to a more focused, segmented application on top of Facebook or LinkedIn or some other established network, rather than an entirely new network.

Magne Consulting
Last up was Ayesha Hazra from Kolkata, India, discussing Magne Consulting, a retail strategy consulting firm. Ayesha had questions about her scaling challenges, so I asked her what her capacity was in terms of servicing clients. Well, today, she has only booked about 5% of her total capacity in terms of business development, so scaling is a moot question. She needs to worry about business generation, not scaling.

You can select the business you like best of those discussed through a poll on the 1M/1M Facebook page.

The recording of this roundtable can be found here. Recordings of previous online roundtables are all available here. You can register for upcoming roundtables here.

About Sramana Mitra
Sramana Mitra is the founder of the One Million by One Million (1M/1M) initiative, an educational, business development and incubation program that aims to help one million entrepreneurs globally to reach $1 million in revenue and beyond. She is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and strategy consultant, she writes the blog Sramana Mitra On Strategy, and is author of the Entrepreneur Journeys book series and Vision India 2020. From 2008 to 2010, Mitra was a columnist for Forbes. As an entrepreneur CEO, she ran three companies: DAIS, Intarka, and Uuma. She has a master’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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