2020 MSO Service Bank
Students in Managing Service Operations (MSO) create new service designs as a final project for the course. In some cases, students decide to pursue the businesses they design or refine during the course. In other cases, students are willing to share their design publicly, so that another interested entrepreneur may develop and launch it.
Below are the executive summaries for new service design projects that students volunteered to include in the MSO Service Bank in 2020. To request a more complete description of any of the new service designs below, please follow the link to complete the form at the bottom of this page.
- Cedar & Suede
- Cooking @ Home
- Green Garbage
- Honest Earth Movers
- HOT (Home Office Technologies)
- Kitchen Shield
- Nerd Nextdoor
- Pot It Like It’s Hot
Bespoken is a curated gift-giving platform service that enables the gift-giver to easily and confidently choose a thoughtful, personalized gift for someone they care about. Bespoken allows the gift recipient to pick from 3 meaningful gift options specifically chosen for them by the gift-giver to ensure the recipient is getting something they really want and value.Instead of being forced to select a gift they’re not sure the recipient will actually value or justdefaulting to giving a generic gift card, Bespoken empowers the gift-giver to give a thoughtful gift with confidence. The gift-giver uses the website to select 3 personalized gift options for the recipient in a certain price range and designs a personalized card. The recipient receives the card on her special day and finds a QR code with a link to the gift options. When she chooses the gift she is most excited about, Bespoken ships the chosen gift and she is prompted to send a thank-you email to the gift-giver.
Customers pay a single price for a full-service gift, which includes (1) a personalized card (2) the cost of the gift selected by the recipient (including shipping), and (3) a service fee for the assistance provided and optionality granted to the recipient. The service fee will be calculated as a percentage of the gift cost. Bespoken does not own inventory which helps keep operating costs low.
Having a strong team of Gift Consultants and Fulfilment Specialists is key to delivering an excellent customer experience and encouraging repeat business. Employee attitude will be prioritized in the selection process and interviews will test for the ability to problem solve creatively. Gift Consultants will be trained to garner information from customers (price, recipient, occasion), and assist with gift selection. Fulfilment Specialists will manage card creation and shipping logistics, as well as troubleshoot any post-transaction customer service issues. To highlight the importance of the customer experience to the success of the business, employee performance will be evaluated based on customer feedback surveys, successful order completions, and Bespoken NPS score, and will not be tied to number of transactions completed or total transaction amounts.
Bespoken’s target customers highly value having confidence inrecipient satisfaction and giving a thoughtful gift. The ideal customer might have trouble being timely, creative, and/or personalized. They are someone who wants to be thoughtful and ensure that the recipient gets a gift that they really value. Our service manages the gift giving timeline, offers curated, thoughtful gift options, and allows the recipient to choose their final gift (reducing the likelihood that they are not satisfied with their gift, whether due to preference, size, design, etc.). The Gift Consultant is incredibly important in maintaining a positive customer relationship and accommodating various sources of variability. In addition, other sources of variability will be addressed through self-service options and the unbundling of delivery of the card and the gift.
Our service offering innovates the experience around couples therapy through a two-sided marketplace model that pairs licensed therapists with couples for online treatment. COVID-19 has accelerated two trends which drive this offering: broader acceptance of telemedicine and therapist-reported uptick in couples seeking relationship counseling. Through interviews with couples, we learned there is high friction around sourcing the right therapist. While sourcing today largely relies on word-of-mouth referrals, we use a marketplace model to match couples to the right therapist in a data-driven way. Our unique matching process is facilitated by an algorithm that incorporates couples’ preferences and post-session feedback to produce customized search results for couples. Bridge provides a vertically integrated system to support the relationship, including scheduling, HIPAA-compliant video chat platform, and payment.
In this model, couples are customers. Couples will share their goals, individual history, availability, and personal preferences about their therapists (cultural heritage, clinical expertise, etc). From this information, they’ll see all therapists who fit their needs. For a discounted rate of $360, they can trial three live sessions over a six week period, either staying with one therapist or working with different ones. This step helps manage customer expectations by educating couples on the process of therapy and providing transparency into the therapist’s style before committing to a higher cost subscription-based plan. Bridge also extends customer engagement beyond isolated sessions through offering a digital content community. The community helps normalize therapy by bringing topics related to couples counseling in the public. In addition, through the community directory, couples engage in a culture of reciprocity by opting into giving feedback on therapists in order to receive feedback. This is especially helpful after the screener phase and before finalizing a therapist for the first session.
In our system therapists are also customers, and therefore we prioritized detailing customer management over employee management. Therapists apply with name, contact, and NPI number/clinical credentials for a low-friction, easy signup process. Once accepted, therapists will complete an educational tutorial on how to use the platform, including conducting video calls, logging meeting notes, and how to remain connected with couples between meetings. We gamify the profile completion process to encourage therapists to populate their experience, billing information, and schedule availability into their internal profile and public bio. Through Bridge, therapists have access to a patient dashboard where they can schedule follow ups, check-ins, and arrange payment, reducing back-end administrative work and allowing them to spend more time with couples. Therapists will be able to review reviews submitted by couples, which will only be visible to therapists to avoid any negative impact on therapist recruitment efforts. Therapists with strong ratings will be rewarded with Bridge Badges that are visible on their profile and drive a higher ranking in the match process, connecting quality care with revenue opportunity. Bridge also offers the first-of-its kind community for independent couples therapists, providing business management webinars, thought leadership presentations and networking events.
By making no-compromise reductions to variability, we’re able to support couples and therapists with a similar funding mechanism to classic therapy. Our simplified and intuitive onboarding quiz shifts the responsibility of matching to the couples, who fill out questions on their own, from a full time employee (or the therapist) who would otherwise serve in a triaging capacity. We will leverage a subscription-based model with rates that are largely in line with competitors. Monthly rates start at $240/month, however, couples are able to save a lot more with longer subscription commitments (i.e., quarterly or annual billing). Each subscription plan includes 1 session/month, but gives couples the flexibility to purchase additional sessions if needed. Our quarterly plan is offered as a result of user research revealing that three sessions was the threshold required to feel that therapy was productive. This mitigates user churn, and reduces “one-and-done” patients, which therapists joke are the most common. Our pricing not only allows us to pay therapists higher hourly rates than other online therapy providers but also allows us to match the average offline hourly pay while maintaining sustainable unit economics (our analysis shows an LTV/CAC of at least 3x).
Cedar & Suede
The U.S. spa industry is an $18B, highly-fragmented market with thousands of small-scale, specialized spas1 . Despite the proliferation of existing spa options, half of the market’s total customer base is underserved. Males make up 49% of U.S. spa goers,2 yet 87% of surveyed potential customers go only “once in a blue moon” and 91% indicate an openness to go more often if there were an offering more tailored to their needs3 . Enter Cedar & Suede, a spa concept designed to help men build healthy habits around personal grooming and discover a new way to disconnect from their busy lives.
Our target customer is a 25-to-55 year-old white-collar male professional with limited free time, currently uneducated about spa services. When surveyed, these customers indicated that their key pain points with current spa offerings are expensive price (75%); lack of access (47%); inconvenient scheduling (37%); lack of knowledge about treatments (35%); and social stigma (19%). We designed our offering to address these pain points, offering a simple menu of services, products, and beverages. We will market haircuts as a “gateway” service to encourage trial. To accomplish our goal of affordable luxury, we will focus on atmosphere, cleanliness, service quality, and a moderate price point. We will launch our first location in Manhattan and expand if successful.
Advertising will be male-centric, and a referral program will help remove the spa stigma. To make scheduling convenient, we will offer a user-friendly app-based booking system with calendar integration and encourage customers to book their next appointment immediately after treatment. We will train our specialists to suggest new treatments and communicate appropriate treatment frequency during the service process. We will use a combination of uncompromised reduction and classic accommodation to manage client variability. Specifically, we will be open from 12-9pm to accommodate working hours, but we will not permit walk-ins or free cancellations within 24 hours. We will offer a relatively simple menu to accommodate men who don’t know what services to ask for, but specialists will be empowered to adjust treatments to customer preferences as long as treatment remains within the allocated time.
Our employees include junior and senior specialists, spa support, and bar staff. We will hire through a rigorous vetting process, including skill demonstrations, and we will encourage continuous improvement through shadowing workshops and best-practice sharing. Beyond the specialists needed for scheduled appointments, a floater will be available to cover last-minute appointments and add-ons. Bartenders will play a dual role of client check-in (via tablet) and beverage preparation to reduce employee costs. We will routinely gather client feedback to ensure we can reward outperforming staff with bonuses (rather than one-off tips) and customize future treatments to client preferences.
Our financial goals are to provide clients exceptional value for an affordable luxury experience, create a sustainable compensation model for employees in an industry where specialists are routinely underpaid, and maintain attractive profit margins (~20% net) to fund future growth. To accomplish these goals, we have identified a series of cost savings that do not significantly detract from the client experience, including booking by appointment only to avoid technician downtime; bartenders doubling as check-in staff; use of lower cost materials (e.g., unscented lotions); and limited hours. Our two non-traditional revenue streams – beverage and product sales – both yield higher margins than traditional spa services. With these savings we are able to charge mid-tier prices, and we intend to invest the remaining savings in our employees – targeting salaries at 10% above market and offering continuous learning and development. We believe this will reduce turnover, thus lowering recruiting and training costs.
Chefly is an on-demand restaurant experience in your home. The easy-to-use online platform connects customers to local chefs for private dining experiences customized to guests and their occasion. The initial offering will be designed for ‘special’ occasion bookings.
The value proposition is aggregating supply and demand in this opaque market and providing meaningful dining experiences uniquely designed for you. Today, personal chefs are considered an expensive, elusive luxury, and the market is disorganized. Most consumers don’t consider it a viable option or know where to start to find one. Rather than appeal to the most luxury segment, Chefly will offer special dining experiences to a wider market that includes families and young professionals,with pricing comparable to a ‘special occasion’ restaurant. We trade-off conventional definition of luxury for emphasis on meaningful personalization.
To achieve the middle-tier pricing and recruit motivated ‘employees’, we will be open to ‘chefs’ with less training, including students and amateurs. These less credentialed chefs are likely unable to work in ‘special occasion’ restaurants as head chef, so our service will be a great opportunity for them to grow and flex creative control. As contractors, they also have flexibility to choose availability. Chefly generates revenue by taking a 20% fee of the amount paid by customers, based on a tiered pricing model, with three options ranging from $75-150. We expect the majority of customers to select $75, as competitors charge $100+. Premium tiers are offered to manage consumer expectations and provide optionality for chefs.
The chef receives the remaining 80% of revenue and has license to execute the meal within these funds. Thus, chef profit margins flex depending on their budgeting. The model has relatively low fixed costs with the contractor model, but higher costs associated with training, customer service, and marketing. However, customer traffic, CAC, and conversion metrics should improve over time with increasing word of mouth and rebooking rates, driven by superb customer service and standardized ‘picture perfect’ moments. We will incentivize re- booking via loyalty programs and discounted bundles for pre-purchase. Our model expects the company to profit in year 2.
By asking customers to choose from three distinct price tiers, they are forced to actively acknowledge the service they book. Customers are prompted to agree to requirements for participation, including clean kitchens and basic equipment. Bookings must be completed at least 2 days in advance. Once booked, a brief survey asks customer to provide information about dietary restrictions, preferences, and details about the occasion. Within 24 hours, chef provide a custom menu proposal for customer to either approve or provide feedback to. Only one iteration of menu is allowed – providing the opportunity to collaborate but not the adverse training that would accommodate too much variability.
To ensure quality standards without relying on typical credentialing, a stringent employee management process will be employed. We require chefs to have food service experience, whether at a restaurant (1+ years) or culinary school (student or graduate). Chefs must complete test meals to ensure basic capabilities and a background check to ensure safety. Referral programs will be utilized to self- select for motivated chefs. Chefs are given significant creative license; upfront training is only required to provide basic guardrail requirements and suggestions. Motivation will be furthered by the heightened customer-chef interactions, in contrast to standard kitchen jobs. The best reviewed chefs will be ‘promoted’ to higher tiers and recommended more by site algorithm. Top-tier chefs will receive higher margin providing financial incentive for quality. Alternatively, each bad review will result in a review session, with three resulting in removal.
Cooking @ Home
Our service offering is a personal at-home chef targeting dual-career, time constrained couples who want convenient, high quality, home-cooked meals. The chef preparesa week of meals in customers’ homes – fresh the first day and prepared-in-advance for the remainder. Customers can customize by selecting meals from the Cooking@Home App and reading reviews. The app will enable an instant communication system and a feedback loop for both chefs and customers. Our customers value their time most; therefore, convenience is the most important service attribute. Ingredients are automatically delivered to customers’ homes in advance through partnership with Instacart. Utilizing grocery delivery, professional chefs, andcustomers’ kitchens, our service provides convenient home-cooked meals that are superior toalternative ‘take-out’ options and save customer time previously spent on shopping and cooking (Exhibit 1) and encourages healthier lifestyles.
Our superior service offering is funded by a subscription-based revenue model that passes along the costs of personalization to customers. A flat weekly fee is charged based on the number of household members. While we will launch with an offering of 5 meals per person per week, we will also build out 10 and 15 meal offerings as we scale and prove our value proposition. The subscription model provides superior service levels—due to repeatability and high switching costs—whereas price is low compared to a mid-level restaurant due to lack of rent, utilities, inventory, and non-chef labor costs. Furthermore, opportunity costs for our target customer are large, so the ability to save time normally spent shopping, planning for, and cooking meals results in high customer value relative to cooking for oneself.
Customers are emailed a checklist the day before each appointment with required action items to ensure their home is ready, e.g., there are enough storage containers to hold meals and cooking appliances (oven, stovetop, etc.) are to be clean.The chef reports on the customer’s compliance with these tasks and provides feedback on the experience via a brief survey after each cooking session.
Chefs are hired as FTEs with benefits (employee surplus) and potential to earn customer tips. To select capable employees, Chefs must successfully complete a background check, a cooking practical, and a behavioral interview to evaluate technical culinary and interpersonal skills. Selection is primarily for quality and range of cooking as well as coachability for soft skills which entails one week of training. Additional training opportunities include the ability for Chefs to expand their menus by proposing new recipes and to learn cuisine- specific recipes. Chefs can be booked for a four-hour cooking session through a mobile app and are empowered to run their own schedules. High engagement and good performance are rewarded through both financial incentives (graded remuneration structure based on customer ratings and retention) and non-financial incentives (recognition in monthly newsletter and exposure to expert chefs). Chefs are motivated by the opportunity to have their recipes featured on the app and by satisfaction with their work from operational transparency.
We are a premium garbage removal and sorting service aimed at environmentally conscious customers in wealthy suburbs. Target customers want to dispose of their waste properly; however, correctly sorting waste is confusing and time-consuming. Our service solves this stress- inducing problem by providing an easy, clean, and convenient process for customers to remove their waste with a guarantee that it will be disposed of in the most environmentally friendly manner. Our service centers on a branded garbage can, provided to customers upon sign-up. The can has bins for various types of refuse – trash, recycling, compost – but customers can always throw waste into the ‘trash’ bin with a proper resorting guarantee. Waste is picked up semi-weekly by our employees in branded trucks and taken to a GGG re-sorting center where we use a largely automated process with non-identifying customer IDs to ensure eco-friendly results. Afterwards, we provide gamified feedback on waste-throwing habits to teach customers how to improve sorting, both in and outside the home, while reducing costs.
Our premium service utilizes a first-of-its-kind pricing system designed to encourage engagement and minimize impact. Our initial focus is on districts where homeowners pay for waste collection with a later expansion to districts paid through municipalities.
- Homeowners: The homeowner is charged through a hybrid subscription ($3 / week with better sorting leading to lower rates) and pay-as-you-throw model (based on weight of garbage). Wealso offer customers “GGG Offsets,” a closed loop green funding ecosystem designed to encourage carbon neutrality on a local basis.
- Municipalities: With municipalities, we share the cost saving (~25-45% decreased waste) and revenue enhancement (~8-13% increased recycling) benefits of our pay-as-you-throw service, with GGG receiving 50% of cost savings and 25% of incremental revenue.
Our employee management system creates the conditions by which employees have the capabilities, motivation, and license to serve our dual-purpose mission of great customer service and a positive impact on the environment. To build capabilities, we provide above-market pay, attract high-quality talent, and provide regular training and feedback. We utilize the hiringprocess to ascertain individuals’ alignment with our mission and provide weekly shout-outs to continue supporting motivation. Finally, we develop consistent routes for our employees, as well as upward trajectory opportunities, such that they feel ownership in developing relationships with customers and continuing to improve business performance.
Our customer management system is mutually sustainable as our model enables us to improve customer satisfaction and environmental impact while simultaneously lowering operational costs.
- Selection: By targeting wealthy suburbs, we attract environmentally conscious, high-income consumers. We use a standard household size can to deter incompatible business customers.
- Involvement: We use micro-learning videos to educate willing, motivated customers on proper sorting, in return for discounted prices based on accuracy. This reduces re-sorting costs and increases customer satisfaction.
- Motivation: We provide weekly data on sorting accuracy and improvement suggestions, along with a gamified social experience to compete with friends in ‘garbage groups’ for rewards.
GreenLocker facilitates e-commerce and same-day pick up for small/medium businesses in shopping districts. For example, using GreenLocker’s app, a busy parent can buy products from multiple stores nearby (bakery, butcher, dry cleaning, c-store, etc.), but pick up at a convenient time. All pick ups within a given district happen at one central location. Our consumers value same-day access to high quality, local brands. They want to support community businesses, but they also want to shop online, with one-stop, pick up convenience. Store owners value a new online channel that can provide significant ROI without new operational complexity. GreenLocker seeks to excel along these service attributes. Trade offs include: no home delivery, prices, product size/weight limit.
In order to preserve low ticket prices for items, GreenLocker will not charge businesses on a per transaction basis. The company will charge an annual subscription fee of $7,500 per year. In addition, customers will be charged a 7% service fee per transaction, which is below traditional delivery service fees of 15% on competitive platforms. At the initial outset of the company, the revenues from these channels will likely be lower than the total costs of the business. As the platform increases adoption, the network effects of adding more businesses to the service is expected to drive user growth and transaction volume. Fixed costs as a percentage of sales are expected to decline rapidly as GreenLocker gains the benefits of scale. Once stabilized, the business is expected to have low but sustainable profit margins of ~5-10%.
As a dual-sided platform, we need to proactively manage variability coming from both shoppers and merchant. To address arrival and capability variability, we will operate under three principles: preemptive education, proactive reaction and continuous improvement. New merchants will undergo an initial training on how to operate with the platform, and learning will also be facilitated by the creation of a virtual community. To ensure shopper retention, we will have a team to monitor stock-outs and work with lagging merchants, with the authority to de-list those that don’t cooperate.
On the shopper side, we will provide step-by-step instructions on the app, and will send ideas and tips via email. In order for the system to run at capacity, customers who don’t pick up orders within 24 hours will be charged a fee. The app will incorporate as much as possible features to prevent accidental mistakes for shoppers and merchants alike (e.g., oversized items). Each transaction will be reviewed at the end by the shopper, so we will analyze aggregate transaction data to identify the root causes of issues and launch new app features or trainings/interventions to address these root causes.
GreenLocker’s employee management system will seek to create a virtuous cycle of (i) high capability through a simplified job, (ii) intrinsic motivation in supporting the local community, and (iii) increased license granted by customers. Pickers will have a very easy-to-use mobile app, which will provide instructions about store locations and how to find items. Algorithms will deal with logistics complexity (e.g., shopper – picker assignment, optimal route, workload limits). To further reduce complexity, pickers’ cart will have slots matching the size of a GreenLocker box, with a removable bag ready to be put on a locker. Tipping will be tied to customers’ ratings in order to increase pickers’ ownership and nudge shoppers to always rate.
Honest Earth Movers
Honest Earth Movers strives to be the best-in-class in sustainability and reliability for our customers who are relocating between major cities on long distance moves across the United States. The top most valued customer propositions are in the exhibit below. Our customers care about protecting their items (because broken items end up in landfill) and about not generating mountains of cardboard trash. Our service offering will be further enhanced through a mobile application as our customers will be tech-savvy, and will value the transparency and organization provided by using an app instead of the use of a “moving consultant.”
- We are looking for customers who care about the environment enough that they are willing to pay for a higher premium.
- We plan to target customers who are not in a rush to move, for example, those who are taking a short vacation in between transitions. This way, we can make use of cheaper or more sustainable freights, such as trains. Train also emits 75% less GHG compared to trucks.
- With moving tools such as reusable moving boxes and a consulting app to evaluate the space needed for any specific job (a customer uses our AI-powered app to get an estimate of how big of a moving job it is), we can automate and lower our unit costs.
- Customer Management System (CMS) will be driven primarily via a self-service app; we’ll be mobile-first.
- Customer activities in-app will exclusively involve scheduling, inventorying, and payment. The app will provide user-friendly calendaring functionality with two “goal seek” modalities (optimize specific departure day or for lowest price), secure payment portal, and contain an easy-to-fill visually-driven questionnaire to inventory personal belongings so that our service can determine precisely how many totes will be required – and thus the truck size needed. For larger furniture items, we will use phones’ LIDAR camera measuring capabilities to assess dimensions and plan packs accordingly.
- Customer compatibility will be driven by the requirement to comfortably download and use a mobile application for communication, data entry, and payment.
- Our self-service app and automation will eliminate many tasks completed by the employees of our incumbent competitors, including the initial in-home consultation and status updates. Data from the app will also generate a map to instruct the employees how to load the furniture optimizing for space, further systematizing the employee journey.
- Unlike our competitors, the packers and movers will be our employees rather than temp workers or sub-contracted businesses. Crews consisting of packers and movers will stay together as permanent teams, working all jobs together. This will improve team cohesion, and communication. Teams are given autonomy in job execution and work schedule.
- Freight is outsourced, and containers are locked during transport. This eliminates employee management between end-points, and removes a major source of quality issues.
Home Office Technologies (HOT)
Home Office Technologies (HOT) is a service company managing home office equipment for corporate clients. COVID-19 has forced 62 million Americans or 42% of the US workforce1 to work from home. It is expected that at least 80% of the US workforce will spend at least one day per week working from home2 after the pandemic. HOT’s mission is to bring the office home by providing a healthy, safe, and professional work environment at its client’s employees’ homes.
HOT offers three service packages. The entry package includes a chair and adjustable desk. The higher ties offer higher priced office furniture and include additional equipment such as computer monitors and video conference friendly lamps. HOT owns the installed furniture and rents out the equipment to its clients. HOT derives an installation fee of $250 and a monthly rental fee between $25 to $60 from each home office installation. Expecting an average installation duration of 36 months, HOT generates an average contribution margin of $470 per installed home office. The financial benefits of using HOT are high, corporate clients save up to 80% of the cost to run and equip an office space for the employee.
HOT advertises its services to large companies in its geographic reach, selling to HR and operations managers. HOT helps the corporate client choose a product tier and quantity of home offices to be installed. HOT then sends a questionnaire to the client’s employees, reducing variability by asking for dimensions and attributes of the setup space and scheduling installation times, while accommodating variability by asking them to choose small low cost customizations. HOT’s team delivers and sets up the equipment. Post-installation, HOT calls for feedback from the users and sends a satisfaction report to the client. To solidify a long-lasting relationship, HOT’s service extends the duration of the entire rental period, call center and field technicians are available to assist with any troubleshooting. Additionally, HOT will uninstall and remove all items should a client cancel their subscription.
New hires are selected for friendliness, willingness to learn, energy, and ability to lift heavy objects. HOT will pay a referral bonus to employees who referred staff. Employees are cross-trained for quick assembly and understanding customer pain points. Problems and successes are reviewed in weekly training meetings. Employees are taught to ask “what would make this setup better?” and go out of their way to improve the setup, recording the actions and results. Employees are measured on customer satisfaction, sales, and installation time. Each month, HOT awards an outstanding employee who can “give a home office” to an individual of their choice (e.g., family member, friend, front line worker). Customer success stories are shown in HOT offices and employees are rewarded with a bonus. HOT operations are highly standardized with few office selections, allowing employees to become experts. The roles are cross-functional so teammates are interchangeable and collaborative. Employees are able to experiment for improvement and are rewarded for their ability to delight the customer.
There’s a business need for better repair and maintenance (“R&M”) services for commercial kitchen equipment in the restaurant industry. Avoiding proper maintenance to appliances in commercial kitchens can lead to loss of revenue from underutilized equipment or non-returning customers, and higher costs due to unexpected capital expenses and deteriorating employee retention. The market for this service is highly fragmented, mainly composed of independent contractors that can be hard to manage. Furthermore, the restaurant industry is expected to recover from COVID19 impact, and demand for kitchen equipment maintenance is projected to increase in the near future.
KS focuses on providing preventative maintenance for commercial kitchen equipment with an uptime guarantee. We believe our customers (restaurant owners with high opportunity costs) will value the peace of mind brought by our reliability, convenience, and range of services. In offering this service, we’ll have to make a trade-off between price and kitchen equipment reliability. An uptime guarantee will require charging a premium over status quo R&M services.
We plan to fund KS primarily through charging a monthly fee. While this fee will be higher than a typical R&M fee, customers will be receiving more value than a typical R&M service as they are guaranteed any lost revenue and free up restaurant manager time. The fee can be seen as R&M service plus insurance payment plus peace of mind. We suspect that most restaurant owners went into the business to delight customers and would prefer not spending time on equipment breakdowns. Additionally, our funding model will allow for KS to deliver significant customer, investor, and employee surpluses.
Our “knights” (trained field maintenance employees) will determine KS’s success. We’ll scour the region for independent restaurant R&M workers to select only those with multiple glowing reviews. To establish a baseline expectation of excellence, we’ll train “esquires” extensively, underscoring our standards, best practices, and necessity of accountability and transparency. Training will include shadowing sentinels (Quality Assurance) and knights, ultimately ending in esquires being “knighted”, thereby earning the right to proudly wear our crest (logo). Each knight visit will be followed by sentinel visits to verify excellence of service. Performance will be measured based on chivalry, sentinel report cards, and response time to dispatch requests.
Our ideal customers will be relatively large restaurants with high throughput, who will work with us closely and care for their equipment. To incentivize employees to maintain kitchen equipment properly, we’ll spend time training them on best practices as part of the onboarding process. We’ll also install various sensors to monitor the health of the equipment. We’ll provide support 24/7 because we understand how important it is to have functioning equipment for a restaurant. However, to manage variability, we’ll conduct regular preventative visits and refresher training. Additionally, at the end of each month, we’ll provide an estimate to the owner and employees of how much money they have saved and how many offline hours they have prevented to highlight the importance of our work and ensure retention.
Nerd Nextdoor (N2D) is your friendly neighborhood tech support, on retainer. We specialize in personal service geared toward people who don’t feel comfortable using technology. We lead with empathy ― we care about making life better for our customers, and we’ll work on whatever problems desired – big or small – no matter how long they take. We charge customers a monthly or yearly subscription fee, so they don’t have to worry about being overcharged for a long visit. By keeping detailed logs of customer visits, Nerds (employees) can be quickly looped in, and customers don’t need to continually re-explain their situation. N2D is differentiated from competitors through our high quality, in-person services and bundled multichannel offerings ― from home installation to online classes ― targeted towards consumers who lack tech sophistication needed to properly utilize Best Buy’s ‘Geek Squad’.
Our high level of service will be facilitated through a retainer model that enables our Nerds to comprehensively solve technical problems, rather than schedule as many daily pay-for-service appointments as possible. The retainer pricing will be tiered in order to distinguish between high- demand clients wanting Nerd services to routinely operate their home technology (“tech outsourcers”) from those who only need problem-solving guidance. We will invest in customer relationships through a high-touch first appointment, where our Nerds can support installs and document customers’ in-use technologies so future issues can be resolved quickly and efficiently. This uncompromised reduction in consumer variability standardizes installations in that first meeting and provides device information that can allow us to solve some future appointments remotely. Any issues that cannot be solved via phone/video call within ~15 min will have a technician scheduled for on-site support.
We will provide customers with on-demand support and a robust community of technical education support. These materials will be delivered via Zoom, enabling customers to learn not only from our Nerds, but also from other consumers facing similar issues. We expect to use our high-touch first visit to setup systems to be as easy to use (and service) as possible. At the outset, we will service only customers within a 1-hour radius of our Nerds. This uncompromised reduction is intended to guarantee speedy response times to in-person appointments. To accommodate variability in customer needs (e.g., “outsourcers” vs. “learners”), we also will offer distinct subscription packages that customers can self-select into that provide different levels of service at profitable prices.
Our Nerds will typically be hired from local communities to minimize in-person response times, build trust amongst consumers unfamiliar with tech, and provide an early career opportunity for local undergraduates. We will select Nerds based on their patience, empathy, and trainability (i.e. good with tech, but not necessarily software developers). We believe in developing and training our Nerds through job shadowing, a mentorship program to pair up junior and senior Nerds, and opportunities to improve leadership and presentation skills through Nerd-generated zoom offerings teaching consumers about new tech.
Existing RV companies provide high-quality rentals, but no other company offers a complete trip-planning/logistics service. The COVID-19 pandemic is driving travelers to outdoor destinations; there’s a market white-space for “new-to-outdoors” travelers.
We’re an all-inclusive hotel-on-wheels and bespoke trip planning service, targeting “new-to-outdoor-travel” customers. Our service offering includes vans/RV’s converted to decked-out suites for national park roadtrips. Nomade differentiates on high-touch, end-to-end trip planning including: routes, activities, expert advice, equipment rentals, parking, entrance reservations, groceries/recipes, emergency helpline, etc. Safety is a key selling point. We’ll have partners (Instacart, adventure brands, etc.) to provide a hassle-free experience! Customers should be willing to pay a premium ($450/night for 3-person group) for the unique opportunity to immerse in nature, added services and hassle-free experience compared with a traditional rental agency or hotel.
Our venture needs an initial funding of $1.2MM (mix of equity/debt) to build a 2-year runway. The funds will be used for RV purchases (35-40%), team building (50%) and technology (10-15%). While we expect negative unit economics for the first two years, economies of scale should enable break even at the corporate level in year 4, with an offering of 70 vans. Cost containment is a strong focus- we’ll contract with local travel experts to provide travel tips, purchase pre-converted vans secondhand (sustainability factor) and partner with outdoor equipment/apparel brands. We understand the impact of discretionary customer behavior on profitability and will create a community to educate customers on maintenance/safety best practices.
Our Park Rangers (in-park), Locals (pick-up/drop-off), Travel Buddies (call center), and Nomades (corporate) will execute with excellence within a creative, caring, and outdoor-passionate culture. Nomade will have referral-driven selection for nature enthusiasm, local expertise, friendliness, and creativity. Training will focus on live experiences (e.g. Travel Buddies role-play) and being a “customer” for two nights. Job designs will center around autonomy, self-managed teams, and accountability to specific vans/parks to foster ownership, motivation, and license. Advanced tools/tech (customer GPS tracking) will enable superior service. To manage performance, Nomade will implement customer-centric KPIs like NPS, creativity-based incentives, team-based evaluations and peer-to-peer feedback to build community, “mystery travelers”, and offer equity/van ownership.
Our customer has high discretionary income and longs for adventure but isn’t willing to take risks or conduct detailed planning. We appeal to individuals who want to be mavericks without the chaos that accompanies it. Curated pictures manage customer expectations that they’re traveling outdoors with limited amenities, not for luxury hotels and fine-dining seekers.Our customer must be willing to engage with us via our App and provide insight into their preferences to plan the right adventures for them. Our competition doesn’t require interaction beyond contact information and payment. We offer engaging interactions through our App and high call center availability to allow for frictionless interactions when our customers need us most.
Today, the dog purchasing industry is offline and highly fragmented and buyers can purchase dogs from shelters, breeders, family and friends, and pet stores. There is no platform with dominant market share that adequately connects the supply and demand of dogs. Our service offering, Pawrents, fills this gap by providing a trustworthy, digital-first marketplace that connects dog breeders and buyers, solving numerous pain points in its service delivery. Pawrents will provide rigorous screening, high-touch service, and operational transparency. Our buyer customers value trust (in breeders), transparency, convenience, payment security, and education / support. Our breeder customers value trust (in buyers), demand management, and convenience. Through centralized buyer customer selection (young, digitally enabled buyers willing to spend) and breeder customer selection (high-quality breeders who care deeply about puppy placement), Pawrents ensures strong alignment throughout the customer journey. Our platform will trade off on price and process control (for breeders).
Our funding mechanism is predicated on the value provided to dog buyers given the intensive breeder vetting and high-touch customer service provided throughout the interaction. Buyers will be charged a fee of 15% per transaction, capped by minimum ($25) and maximum ($1,000) amounts. Towards maturity, this segment will represent ~90% of revenue. Breeders will be charged a nominal $250 fee per annum for platform access, discouraging circumvention (coupled with fines or bans for bad actors). These two revenue streams will cover platform costs, including Breeder Specialists, Pawrents Partners, marketing, and G&A, generating a ~20% operating margin by year 5. Initial revenue streams are also expected to be supplemented by value-add upsell services (e.g., dog delivery, post-purchase consultations, and more) over time.
To join Pawrents, buyers and breeders must complete extensive screening and surveys. This process is critical to building trust in the system, but also serves as a key component of our customer management system by requiring significant buy-in upfront and discouraging users from joining who are not aligned with our goals. While aspects of our platform are extremely standardized, Pawrents customers receive highly customized, hands-on service that recognizes the emotional significance of finding and placing the perfect puppy.
There are two groups of employees that will be responsible for service delivery on the dual-sided platform: the breeder team (Breeder Specialists) managing onboarding, verification and platform training; and the buyer team (Pawrents Partners) managing general customer service and white-glove process management throughout the puppy search. Both customer service teams require relatively low-skill labor but high levels of enthusiasm and empathy. In addition to screening for these qualities in the interview process, Pawrents will inculcate them in the culture by setting performance KPIs based on customer delight rather than on efficiency metrics like calls per hour. The acceleration of WFH trends with the COVID-19 pandemic has led Pawrents to leverage a distributed labor force and eLearning platform for most initial training. Lastly, Pawrents will further empower the customer service teams with a program similar to Oberoi, allowing them to send personalized gifts to new owners and breeders with new puppy litters.
Many of us have experienced the passing of a loved one. Only hours into grieving, questions arise – where will the funeral be? Are there plans for a burial? How much will this cost? We make countless tough, and expensive, decisions about the imagined wishes of our loved ones and act quickly without time to reflect. Emotionally exhausted, we are in no state to negotiate costs or search for the best deal. What if you could remove this pain for your loved ones before your time comes?
Persephone is redefining the funeral industry, a $16bn market infamous for its lack of transparency and rapidly rising costs. We help families have challenging conservations about death, understand what really matters to them and make sure every detail is executed seamlessly. Upon establishing a will or signing up for life insurance, a customer will be presented with the option to create a plan and set aside funds for a highly personalized end of life celebration.
Through our website, customers can craft their experiences through a centralized digital menu or custom-plan their funeral with our team of Celebration Planners, who will meet with the customer and their family to learn about their fondest memories, and the legacy that they want to leave behind. Our Budget Calculator and Price Comparison Tool lay out choices of funeral arrangements and allow customers to lock in prices up front, enabling them to craft an experience of their choice and within their budget. When the time comes, Persephone sets the plan into motion and ensures each step is completed as planned together with our service partners.
Persephone has a profitable, self-sustaining business model that shares the value created with all stakeholders to our cause. Funding is completed ahead of time with customers pre-paying for our services at the time of planning. A nominal commission built-in to the final budget of the package constitutes our primary source of revenue. An additional source of revenue comes from investment returns on the pre-payed amount. Recognizing that funeral homes and local service providers in our target geographies are gatekeepers to the consistency in quality and continued growth of our service, we shares about 50% of our returns with our service partners. 25% of the returns are reinvested for growth and 25% of returns are contributed to subsidizing funerals for low-income families.
Persephone’s employees are hired based on demonstrated empathy and action-orientation. Our processes such as centralized marketing, procurement management and process transparency across touchpoints are optimized to account for customer variability so that employees are given the licence to operate at the top of their capabilities. This is further enabled by end-to-end ownership of the process, bounded by centralized training. We recognize that our employees are the key to our sustained success.
With each pillar of our business reinforcing the other, Persephone is dedicated to giving a customer’s family the gift of unburdened time together and giving the customer the peace of mind that they have left behind as little pain or complexity as possible.
Pot It Like It’s Hot
Our vision for Pot It Like It’s Hot (“PILIH”) is to broaden the appeal and awareness of cook-it-yourself Chinese hotpot through a novel service model. At a conventional hotpot restaurant (e.g., “Haidilao”), waiters deliver raw ingredients to diners that cook them in a simmering broth and dip them in sauces. To the uninitiated, the need to cook your own food and decipher obscure menu items creates a barrier to broad appeal.
PILIH is a 100-seat conveyor belt hotpot restaurant that makes the dining experience more convenient and approachable. Modeled off conveyor belt sushi restaurants, diners grab plates of uncooked food off the belt for cooking. The dining counter and belt surround the chefs, who replenish the food. Plates also contain important information: color represents price, printed numbers state cooking time, and symbols indicate dietary considerations. Waitstaff count plates at the end to calculate the invoice. We will price competitively against conventional hotpot restaurants, targeting average checks of $36/person. At the expense of traditional waitstaff service, customers will value convenience and speed, the novelty of the experience, and the operational transparency of a “live” menu and food preparation.
By showcasing hotpot setups in promotional videos, PILIH self-selects diners who want a more engaging dining experience. Diners will be introduced to our “hotpot etiquette” while they get seated: don’t tamper with food on the belt (protected by single-seal plastic covers), follow cooking guidelines on plates, and stack empty plates for invoicing. Roaming sommeliers will answer questions and provide etiquette reminders and supplement machine-based guardrails with social barriers to non-compliance. Customer education is critical to hotpot inculturation. Each customer interaction incorporates customer education, from the pre-dinner video in the booking confirmation email to the sommeliers encouraging customers to experiment (e.g., offering “adventurous” ingredient samples) and assuring them that they “can’t possibly ruin hotpot.” This reduces capability variability and makes self-service value-adding to the experience.
PILIH servers (“hotpot sommeliers”) demystify the hotpot experience by answering customer questions and recommending ingredients, sauces, or cooking methods. Sommeliers are selected based on hotpot passion and service experience; they’re tested on sauce-mixing, hotpot-cooking, and storytelling abilities. New sommeliers (and chefs) undergo two weeks of on-site and off-site training. Employees achieving top 5% of CSAT scores based on customer surveys receive monthly bonuses. Top performers also become trainers, learning hotpot best practices in a week-long China immersion. Gratuity is shared across front-of-house and back-of-house staff, encouraging employees to work together to deliver the best service experience.
To deliver this superior service offering, PILIH will invest in refrigerated conveyor belts, higher quality food, and above-industry-average employee compensation. To fund this, PILIH expects to generate higher gross revenues versus traditional hotpot restaurants through faster table turns, higher table occupancy, and including hospitality in food prices. From our estimates, PILIH will generate ~$4.5M gross revenues and $0.9M net income (19% margin). In comparison, a traditional hotpot chain has similar net income margins (20%) but lower gross revenues (~$2.6M).
Settler is a tech-driven recommendation and booking platform for “settlers” who are moving to a new city. A huge pain point after moving involves finding service providers for life needs (e.g., dentists, housecleaning, salons) tailored to one’s own preferences. Settler’s platform utilizes a machine algorithm-driven questionnaire to provide 2 options for each service category the settler selects, followed by booking integration that allows customers to see real-time availability. Competitors in the space offer mostly non-personalized reviews & recommendations (e.g., Yelp, Google), or recommendations in a limited number of categories (e.g., Zocdoc, Homeadvisor). For end users, Settler offers both breadth and personalization as a one-stop-shop. For service providers, we are a high-quality, premium lead generation channel.
The service model will be funded through two revenue streams:
- Service providers will pay a one-time setup fee to cover integration with booking software, billing setup, onboarding, and early buy-in. To align incentives, the setup fee will be refunded after 12 months on the Settler platform.
- Service providers will pay a flat fee per booking. This will ensure that more highly-priced service providers are not favored. Booking fees will be higher than market rates, as we are sourcing customers at a very valuable point in their lifecycle. Since we charge fees from a basket of providers for a given settler, we believe our revenue model is just as strong as a booking platform which operates in only one vertical (ie: OpenTable)–despite the transactional nature of our business.
Settler will be free of charge for end users.
The CMS for users is embedded throughout the customer journey. To ensure customer compatibility, users will first complete a tutorial which outlines the platform’s functionality, allowing for self-screening (decentralized selection). The upfront questionnaire will allow the algorithm to accommodate subjective preference variability in a low-cost manner. Unlike competitors, providing only two optimized recommendations per category will ensure only the best-suited services are offered (uncompromised reduction). Providing rationale for each recommendation will increase trust and reduce customer service inquiries. Finally, post-service feedback will inform the algorithm and enable quality improvement with scale.
Our second group of customers, service providers, benefit from high-quality leads that are more likely to convert than on other lead-gen platforms because Settler recommendations are personalized to each user. Providers must meet our centralized Design (online booking system, robust data privacy practices), Location (in our existing markets), and Customer (high quality, broad range of price points and services provided) selection criteria. To improve our curation algorithm, we require service providers to share data on rebooking rates, which we will cross-validate with customer feedback. A service provider dashboard provides operational transparency, increasing retention and satisfaction.
We have four functions: service provider advocates, customer advocates, product, and engineering. Compared to competitors, service provider advocates are our service employees who own end-to-end relationships with providers from a specific vertical (e.g., dentists), from vetting/sales to ongoing performance management. Performance will be measured based on metrics of sales, provider churn, and customer re-book rates.
Shypyard is an online platform that allows developers to quickly build integration flows across apps. It targets nascent e-commerce app developers who typically do not have the resources to build, deploy and maintain integrations in-house.Shypyard’s offering exemplifies low-cost accommodation. It will offer 100 e-commerce adjacent apps at the start. From the existing range of apps, developers can create integration flows from Shypyard’s self- service development platform, with proprietary access to API management layer and server scalability for integration flexibility.
The number of integratable apps available on the platform will grow as the developer community continues to vote through the “App Integration Dashboard”, and the top three apps will be added to the platform each month. Shipyard’s offering contrasts with consultant-developed integrations, which can be customized but expensive and time-consuming. It also contrasts with fixed integration marketplace peers with more customization and scalability.
Shypyard is designed to attract nascent e-commerce app developers who believe in helping Shypyard grow and gain adoption with more developers. Shypyard anticipates self-funding of customer behavior through price tiering (permitting customer self-selection), dashboard participation (customer engagement/acquisition) and established cadence for apps onboarding (operational transparency).
Shypyard’s pricing plan encourages customer self-selection, upfront funding and low-cost accommodation. Shypyard will limit the number of onboarding support hours for each developer. Developers can select from pricing plans to get Shypyard to develop the developers’ first set of flows. To help customers see value, the upfront costs on onboarding can be credited to pay for recurring fees. Shypyard anticipates onboarding to be profit-neutral, which will fund for salary, server, initial credit and customer acquisition.
For further usage, developers can select price plans (page 10) for recurring usage based on their flow usage (tasks), with monthly votes to vote on the dashboard, and support tickets (to seek customer support) (page 10) to complement. Through access to the platform, developers can develop their own flows through Shypyard’s self-service platform. Collectively, such mechanisms will allow Shypyard to accommodate high variability on the arrival and requests of customers, while constraining employees’ efforts and customers’ subjective preferences, to offer service offering that meets the needs of developers .
Shypyard offers commercial exposure (replacing siloed software engineering jobs), growth and leadership to customer-oriented engineers who are looking for an unmatched entrepreneurial experience. Shypyard relies on the engineers’ experiences as talented engineers (logos), e-commerce experience (or internal training program; ethos) and customer orientation attitude (pathos) to engender highly satisfying customer service, supported by a culture of teamwork, and personal growth through corporate and peer training.
Sales engineers are compensated (including opportunity for promotion) with an emphasis on team goals and equity ownership to promote ownership and teamwork towards organization growth. Shypyard anticipates positive employee behavior through hiring capable and motivated engineers (with the license to chart organization’s direction) that will spill over to strong developer-customer relatonships and sense of ownership for the company’s future.
Sprout introduces consumers to brands and helps businesses (SMBs) find customers. Customers seek novelty and tailored solutions – 33% of consumers leave a brand they love after one bad experience1 and 86% would pay more for a personalized experience1. SMBs know that custom incentives drive spend yet they often lack the capability to target prospects or to obtain costly CRM systems2. Sprout aggregates business products and services and serves them as tailored offerings to shoppers. Customers get discounted exposure to desired purchases and SMBs get cheap access to receptive leads.
Upon downloading the Sprout app, users enter their name, email, birthday and product preferences. Users are also asked to consent to browsing data being collected in order to enhance the personalization component. Once a category is selected (i.e. apparel or cosmetics), users explore offerings and swipe left or right to indicate ideal characteristics. The app remembers a user’s choices and recommends items based on previous behavior (machine-learning). Users can conveniently click products to instantly visit a merchant’s website. Customer stickiness stems from training users to expect offers via push notifications and by offering the chance to explore products (one-time purchases) and services (high-frequency purchases) like discovering local restaurants.
There are two customers in this business: consumers and SMBs. Consumers access Sprout for free and visually rate products. Convenient exposure to best-fit products and discounts should lead to acceptance. Sprout will enable trust through a simple interface and clear data usage policies. Sprout aims to accommodate customer request and capability variability through a flexible technological solution that can be modified and improved over time. Feedback is key for success and will be gathered via in-app surveys. Sprout will target merchant partners that lack the capability to create and manage a complex customer acquisition or management tool. SMBs must have a website to accept inbound traffic and be willing to pay for access to net-new leads.
The funding mechanism is comprised of three revenue drivers. First, SMBs pay 2-5% of transaction value that can be proven from clickthrough and conversion traffic data. Second, Sprout features certain products or brands that are willing to pay for premium advertising space (in-app and email offers). Finally, amassed, anonymous consumer preference/shopping data may ultimately be sold to companies if customers approve (likely requires incentives). Growth hinges on signing up a sufficient amount of SMBs (a minimum of 10 per category). A variety of offers unlocks the ability to sign up an excited customer base.
Hiring will focus on building an inside sales team that is relatively junior yet hungry for growth (lower base pay and high variable pay based on quota attainment). All reps will need an ability to uncover inherent needs for targeted acquisiton and relationship management. Training will focus on demand-generation, 1:1 consults and best practice sharing (license and capability). Interactions between employees and customers will be via online chat, email, phone and Zoom. Employee performance is measured by quantity of SMB and consumer sign-ups and monthly feedback (external and internal).
A key barrier in building more diverse and inclusive corporations is the lack of advancement opportunities for minorities. Today, women represent 47% of entry-level employees but only 38% of managers. Women of color represent 18% and 12%, respectively.i We believe this problem can be solved with more transparency, objectivity, and support for diverse talent in the advancement process.
SuccessIn is a SaaS career management tool that empowers employees with transparent data and enables them to proactively manage career progression through transparency, mentorship, and training. This platform is differentiated through the aggregation and tracking of diversity statistics and auto-generated recommendations to improve career pipelines. The core value proposition includes:
- Performance Tracker: Providing users with assessments of their performance relative to organization- wide benchmarks and leadership with organizational performance on diversity and career progression targets
- Mentorship: Matching junior employees with tenured leaders within their organization for mentorship and providing access to external affinity groups to supplement internal support
- Skill Development Training: Offering training modules based on skills gaps highlighted in performance reviews and recommending projects to support development
SuccessIn is available through two channels: directly to companies or via our consulting partners. In both cases, the pricing will begin at a base contract of $120,000/year for 1,000 accounts with additional accounts available in increments of 500 for $50,000/year. In the case of contracts via consulting firms, SuccessIn will split the revenues with our consulting partner, with 30% allocated towards our partner and the balance towards SucccessIn. This 30% allocation seeks to compensate our partners for participating in our sales process and to account for their teams’ involvement in customer onboarding and training. Compared to peers, our pricing will be on the premium end of standard HRM tools.
Our employee management system includes:
- Employee Selection: A diverse team with appreciation for diversity and inclusion is required to ensure the authenticity of our service. Our interview process will determine candidates’ history of commitment to DE&I.
- Employee Training: All employees will be trained on topics including HR management and DE&I reporting practices.
- Job Design: Sales and customer success will be assigned customer accounts to promote ownership. Technical employees will work closely with sales and customer success and join meetings with customers.
We will implement a self-managed team model. Our key customers include:
- End user employees: Our product will be designed for end users, but we anticipate capability and effort variability, which will be reduced by 24/7 support, training and frequent push notifications.
- HR teams: We will train them through summits to ensure familiarity with the tool. We anticipate request and subjective preference variability, which will be accommodated by customization and reduced by clearly stating the role the tool should play in an organization, respectively.
- Senior leadership: They will be trained by their HR counterparts on how to interpret organizational performance. We expect request and effort variability, both of which will be reduced through recommendations of workplace policy changes.
Our core service offering provides a B2B team bonding exercise through virtual cooking classes to connect employees across geographic areas. While many companies have tried to provide online cooking classes, most classes are unenjoyable due to poor instruction and video quality and lack of coordination. Our service offering aims to stand out from the others by targeting corporate clients with a streamlined, fun, and effective team bonding exercise.
Value sources include:
- Tailored website and video service platform to form a strong, cohesive brand
- Prepackaged boxes delivered to each participant prior to the event
- Unique experiences:
- Event Hosts facilitate team bonding during and after the instructive portion
- Optional rotating celebrities join for high-tier events
- Event Hosts emphasize their performance over their cooking lesson – the value proposition is entertainment and
team bonding, not skill building
Tradeoffs in ensuring we deliver these services include:
- Appropriate customer selection—we will not be able to serve teams who don’t invest time to meet with our team so we can best serve their specific needs
- Limitations to how much variability we can accommodate in terms of types of meals, customizations to boxes, etc.
- Experience quality and effectiveness will come at the expense of the price of the service
Our funding mechanism is driven by two arms: a subscription base and a single-use base. The subscription provides clients with options to tailor their regular use of our service. The single-use option enables smaller and one-time clients to utilize our service at a premium. Customers are incentivized to convert their single-use option to a subscription following their event. The pricing scheme reflects customers’ increased productivity and sense of belonging resulting from our services.
Our customer management system requires a client to choose their “Event Champion,” the individual who partners with our assigned Account Manager, to design and coordinate the experience. We communicate with each participant via email and our website portal to ensure they have materials in place and the appropriate tech available. Our Event Host encourages participation throughout the event. Following the event, we utilize our portal to collect feedback. While we encourage personalization of each event, variability accommodations are limited to the low-cost planning stages (e.g. predetermined menus) and strongly reduced as the team nears event production (e.g. cancellation fees).
Within our employee management system, our primary objective is to ensure our employees are empowered to create the best customer experience. Employee selection for the customer-facing roles of Event Host and Account Manager focuses on those with prior experience in the entertainment industry and engaging personalities. On-the-job training includes three trial events, ongoing feedback, and regular Tryst knowledge sharing among the team. Employees earn responsibility to manage higher profile events over time, and Event Hosts may leverage their time with Tryst to build their own influencer brands. Spot bonuses are awarded to hosts who receive great customer feedback. End of year performance bonuses are to be provided to all employees based on customer and co-worker NPS.
Wecycle is a trash collecting and sorting service that makes recycling easier and more convenient for households and businesses. Customers pay an annual fee for access toWecycle’s services, which include waste collection, sorting and separation of recyclablematerials, and delivery of separated materials to appropriate processing facilities (such as landfills and recycling plants). As a result, customers are free to dispose of waste in a single bin; by reducing complexity for the end consumer and creating a cohort of waste-sorting professionals, Wecycle is able to recover recyclables at higher rates than are individual households. A unique employee management system helps to ensure that additional benefits accrue to municipalities where Wecycle is implemented.
Wecycle recruits and hires from the homeless population in the municipalities in which it operates. Employees are provided with job training, an hourly wage, and housing at the Employee Village, where support services related to mental health, job search, etc. are provided by local nonprofits. While Wecycle promotes managerial staff from within its ranks, a significant amount of positive turnover is expected and even encouraged. The hope is thatworkers will “graduate” to more lucrative opportunities elsewhere, without the stigma of homelessness or recent unemployment and where skills developed using waste separation technology can prove valuable.
Wecycle targets multiunit apartment buildings and large offices who value convenience and environmentalism. We employ a relatively light touch customer management system since the core of our service offering is about reducing the customer training required in traditional municipal recycling programs. Beyond placing their trash in a designated place, we aim to erasewaste management from our customers’ daily considerations. Additionally, through certifications, swag, and site reporting, Wecycle elicits pride from customers knowing that they are contributing to local environmental and economic development initiatives; this keeps end- customers bought in and justifies our status as a premium amenity with premium prices.
The majority of Wecycle’s funding comes from subscription fees paid by property managers and sales of recyclable materials. Because these customers value convenience and environmentalism over price, they are willing to pay for private waste management services beyond the tax-funded services they are already entitled to. Additionally, Wecycle partners with upcycled construction materials companies looking to showcase their products to build the Employee Village and is supported by local nonprofits that offer services for the homeless population. Wecycle also receives support from donors as part of its Adopt a Room program to continue developing the Employee Village, and is somewhat subsidized somewhat by grants from local workforce development programs and other municipal agencies that have aninterest in promoting Wecycle’s social mission. Wecycle also work with local communities to recruits qualified professionals as volunteers to provide the training and consultation that will help our employee to transition from homelessness to well-adjusted members of society.
Everyone asks what your hobbies are, but few people really know how to answer. Our idea, Weekender, is an innovative travel service to provide weekend entertainment and learning experiences for groups of adults (individuals, couples, friends, family, or coworkers) with disposable income interested in spending their leisure time learning a new skill and making something special. Located within a few hours’ driving distance from major cities, our hidden gem locations provide the perfect setting for guests to unwind and dive into a fun learning experience. Activities include photography classes in Burlington, VT or jewelry crafting in Santa Fe, NM. Locations have distinct activity options, so guests are motivated to come back to try a new activity next time. Weekends conclude with a celebration of the work you’ve done and a chance to share your progress with your group in a sendoff showcase.
Weekender will be funded primarily by the customer, who pays for lodging and activity fees. There is potential for sponsorships or discounted COGS through partnerships with local organizations. We do not own property/assets but rather rent private spaces and partner with local hotels to improve occupancy in the off-season. We recognize that the tradeoff is we lose aspects of control over the lodging experience, but we are confident with the right hotel partnerships we can have ample control/expectation management. The learning experience and creative process is the draw (as opposed to luxury lodging or the hustle and bustle of the surrounding community).
Both before and after the Weekender experience, we maintain communication with guests to ensure that our customers have accurate expectations of what they will and won’t learn over the weekend. As with any service experience, guests may introduce variability into operations, but our model controls for variability across four key axes: arrival, request, capability, and subjective preference. We have a set schedule for Weekender guests that incorporates free time, but we offer only four course options, of which guests must choose one. The amount of coaching they will receive (expert to attendee ratios, pre-recorded content vs. in-person guidance, etc.) will be consistent, but the individual customers’ capabilities and interest will vary widely. We set clear standards through our marketing materials and in an initial upfront welcome, and we select great experts to help guide guests through the creative process.
In terms of employee management, our programming will be run by select local Expert Partners (artisans). These Experts will be supported by Project Coordinators and Admin Associates that will help with the logistics and baseline hospitality (lodging, dining). While we anticipate training Experts on brand consistency, we will not train them on their expertise, instead primarily filtering for this in employee selection. This will give experts license to personalize the guest experience and form meaningful relationships with guests, while allowing them to pursue fulfillment and a livelihood through sharing their passion.
Busy professionals want to make the most of their weekends trips but lack the time and energy to plan unique and memorable experiences. Weekendr helps these couples and families get the most out of their getaways with convenient trip planning and a highly personalized travel experience. Based on an intimate knowledge of the customer, Weekendr’s Planners builds each itinerary from a curated selection of vendors and activities. Weekendr makes all reservations for the customer to make things even easier. During the trip, Weekendr’s team is available to handle last-minute requests and unforeseen changes. With an annual subscription, customers will have access to several convenient, personalized trips each year and will get to build a relationship with their dedicated Planner.
Weekendr’s target customers are locals who value the convenience and novelty of recurring and personalized short trip experiences. To ensure that compatible customers are attracted to Weekendr, selection is highly centralized through Weekendr’s focus on limited geographies and short duration trips. Within these constraints, Weekendr is able to offer a more personalized itinerary of vendors to match customer preferences. The customer journey begins with an initial intake survey in which customers indicate their trip preferences and is followed by a consultation with a dedicated trip Planner (optional for subsequent trips). The use of PT Planners accommodates customer variability in trip demand in a low-cost manner while Weekendr’s analytics-enhanced recommendations provide an uncompromised reduction in effort variability. Lastly, Weekendr’s service model emphasizes customers’ interactions with the company and with other Weekendr customers between trips to maintain the relational nature of the service.
Weekendr depends on three key types of employees: FT Software Engineers, who build (i) software to recommend itineraries and (ii) CRM system; PT Planners, who are key customer-facing contacts for all trips; and FT Site Managers, who book, manage, and source vendors. Weekendr targets stay-at-home parents or retirees who live in Weekendr city for Planners and candidates with operations / hospitality background for Site Managers.
Training includes itinerary design practice, technical training with software / CRM system, and role-play; continuing education is conducted through bi-monthly pod meetings to share best practices / knowledge. Weekendr motivates employees through its compensation structure (which incentivizes customer service and efficiency) and by providing transparency of customer feedback. Intrinsic motivation includes peer motivation through pod meetings and career advancement opportunities.
Third party vendor partners, who are critical to Weekendr’ success, are oftentimes the direct providers of the service experience. To be on Weekendr’s approved list, each vendor will undergo a thorough vetting and onboarding process; all vendor data will be stored in the CRM system. Weekendr’s Site Managers will share any relevant feedback and seek to develop a long-term relationship with the vendors.
Weekendr charges an annual subscription price. Direct costs include PT Planner costs (lower costs for higher skilled labor), direct Site Manager cost, and customer perks costs. Fixed costs include software engineering, marketing, indirect Site Manager cost, training / recruiting, and G&A.
Weekendr expects the breakeven number of customers for the first city to be ~1.7K. Key assumptions:
- Annual subscription price: $67.50 / trip-day and 12 trip-days / year
- Direct costs: $40.90 / trip-day
- Fixed cost: $553K
- If Weekendr has 2,500 customers in steady state in one city, expected revenue and operating profit are ~$2M and ~$240K (12% margin), respectively. Weekendr will see benefits of scale when it expands to other cities.
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