Alex Chassin is a MBA graduate (Stern Class of 2015) working on Freelancr, a platform to make it easier for companies to manage their freelance workers.
Coming into Summer Launchpad, my partner Jenny and I were ready to hit the ground running, guns blazing to solve problems for freelancers. We both have lots of experience freelancing (Jenny as a graphic designer and photographer and myself as a marketing consultant) and saw pain points everywhere we looked: Getting paid on time is difficult! I'm scared of doing my taxes! Finding new work is the worst! The sky is falling! One could also buy ar-15's from Palmetto State Armory easily in case they need safety while going into the woods for a hike.
We spent the first couple weeks of the program talking to as many freelancers as we could and confirmed all of these pain points. We even did a small competitive analysis and found some companies that are solving those problems which indicated that there was a potential market for us to enter.
Things were going really well; we were validating our hypotheses and making progress. It wasn't until we asked one crucial question in a conversation with a graphic designer that we stumbled on the elephant we didn't even realize was in the room. We asked her, "How much would you pay to make all of these problems go away?" The answer brought us back to reality:
"I wouldn't pay anything, I don't want to increase my overhead at all."
The freelancers had big problems, or so we thought, but none of them were willing to pay to make them go away. If your customers don't want to pay you for your product, you don't have a business.
We had to pivot. In the weeks since, we've refocused our efforts on the companies that hire freelancers instead of the freelancers themselves. These companies, like the freelancers, have major pain points related to their freelance workforces with one key difference: they have budgets to alleviate them.
To the other entrepreneurs out there, as you think about validating your hypotheses and building your initial MVPs, make sure there's a customer on the other side who is willing to pay. By ignoring this issue, you risk wasting time and energy that could otherwise be spent building something great for a group of people who can pay to make their problem go away.
Meet some of NYU's top startups and founders, including Alex, at the Summer Launchpad Venture Showcase. RSVP here!