– An early GKE meme
…So I scaled it down. A website is much less expensive to build than a native mobile marketplace app, so I started again but changed ‘mobile app’ to ‘website’. As long as the quality and functions were still there, it made sense. As I keep saying, it turns out… A fuck load of people want to build websites for you, I made the same enquires but decided i’d go closer to home to make sure I could monitor the quality in real life rather than Skype and dodgy bank transfers. I went for a number of meetings with website developers and for a fully functioning but still limited MVP (I had no idea what an MVP was until just before the coach journey so without insulting anybodies intelligence it’s a ‘Minimum Viable Product’ which keeps cost down and gives a 1st generation of said concept). Estimates ranged from £5,000 – £15,000. Now this was more my price range, still a massive stretch however but I could probably save up or get a bank loan to get it developed. But this was still a significant sum of money for a concept that could only really be tested if it actually existed. I knew kit was being traded via traditional FB groups, which cemented the fact that there was actually a place for this and seen as though nothing, quite, like this existed then I saw it as a natural progression of that concept.
Super legit GKE business cards –
Now the next bit is a little mixed up but i’ll try and stick to the main points. I spoke with some mates about how I was going to raise the start up capital required and a good mukka, Teddy, suggested I could try and crowdfund the money to get it where it needed to be and a hell of a lot quicker. Enter ‘Kickstarter’. I’d only heard about Kickstarter once or twice but it’s a huge website that enables anyone to create a campaign complete with a home page where all the funding takes place. Unfortunately they take 5% of the total goal as their fee, which is an amazing business model, as literally millions of pounds are raised each year. 5% of millions of pounds, is a lot of fucking money for a bit of software. So that’s where I was at, I spent the next few days working with Ted to create the campaign and dedicated myself in becoming a crowdfunding ‘expert’, or as much as I possibly could. After many hours of deliberation I’d decided that £8,000 plus personal contributions of £2000 was going to bring a good quality MVP to market. Another thought I had was that if I was going to use the great community around the project then I had to give back any way that I could, I wanted GKE to have close links to military charities as that just made sense to me. It doesn’t quite yet, the only reason being i’m limited to what I can do with the site but in future versions and as it develops there will be a lot more work that’s related to giving back and helping out, however, there is a link to the Lance Corporal Nicky Mason Memorial Fund. The campaign went live and within a few days had raised over £300 which was amazing. However as usual, a spanner in the works. Only this time it was a good one.
As the majority of us are well aware selling MOD issued stores is very illegal and can bring some serious penalties on anyone that wants to try. From the outset I made sure people were well aware that GKE would not be used as an envoy to sell kit from the Q man. However, there will always be chancers that try and ruin it for everyone. I needed some legal advice and a set of professional terms and conditions for the site. Now how the fuck do you get that? Turns out it’s quite simple, I stumbled across a solicitors firm, Mincoffs, in Newcastle and rang them up. They offered a free, one hour, consulting meeting to ascertain exactly what is needed of them. Mega, I really didn’t want to pay a lawyer an hours wage to tell me they couldn’t square me away so this was perfect. I headed on down and had a really helpful meeting with Antony Hall, Head of Commercial and Partner. During this meeting he gave me endless numbers of, hopefully, useful contacts that could sort me out in various ways of grants and advice. He also decided that he could sort out the T’s&C’s and register GKE as a pukka gen business for a decent price for a skint squaddie, and I’ll always be grateful for that. As it turns out there is absolutely fuck all grants available for people in my situation as I was still serving and wasn’t trading yet. He did however point me in the direction of an ‘accelerator’ programme ran by Ignite.
I’d never heard of an accelerator before but it’s ‘Europe’s #1 network of angel-led accelerators’. This is the tagline on their website: ‘We’re Ignite and we’re here to help entrepreneurs grow, make a difference and build businesses people love.’ I’m not going to lie, I didn’t really know what that meant but luckily for me there was a cool feature where I could book a 15 minute sit down with Tristan to see if it was for me. Here’s that saying again… Turns out, he’s the fucking CEO and kind of a big deal if you want to get on an accelerator programme, which I found out afterwards. We both decided there and then that GKE wasn’t ready for one of the programmes just yet, but in definitely wasn’t a waste of time. He raised some great points as I tried to look like I knew what the fuck was going on. I’ll add at this point that I do realise that I might sound completely naive and
literally clueless but be assured, countless hours were spent doing research and familiarising myself with terms and opportunities I knew very little about, and after all i’d never started a business before and all the reading in the world can’t give you the experience that can be gained from doing things that you’re probably not ready to do yet can bring. Back to the point. Tristan suggested I create a simpler strategy such as a reviewing feature or similar and left me with these wise words ‘If you’re paying more than £10 for a bit of software for a marketplace, then it’s too much.’ That one sentence put the cogs into motion and got me thinking. Surely there MUST be some software that enables me to create a marketplace that’s already available? Well fuck, turns out there was. I found out there were a few different ways of using business’ that only goal was to give you a marketplace that’s easy to use and not going to break the bank. These were going to be more than £10 a month but I thought that without creating another boring ‘Military Kit Buy and Sell’ group on FB then this was my option. Why hadn’t I come across this sooner? I’ve no idea, I’d done hours upon hours upon hours of research and hadn’t found these but now I had, so I began to decide which was best to use.
This is so fucking true by the way –
After much deliberation, a site called ‘Sharetribe’ came tops in all of the different categories so that’s what I went with. It’s pricing plan is based on a tier system that focuses on how many users will be on the site, this can be up or downscaled accordingly which is great. Anyone can make a marketplace on Sharetribe and if you spend a bit of time researching and gaining knowledge on how best to use it, it can be a Godsend for anyone wishing to create a marketplace. Lucky me, I was that ‘anyone’, but the Kickstarter’s goal was still at £8,000, I no longer need this amount so the only option was to cancel that campaign and start a new one. A definite hurdle but not one that would be the end for GKE. As all of this was happening I was still furthering my knowledge into crowdfunding and what made campaigns successful and what didn’t. Here we go again… Turns out, that the name has a lot to do with it. I can’t remember the exact article I read but It was regarding the name of the campaign. It said that it needed two parts; the name, and a value proposition. What the fuck was this guy on about? He was basically saying that titles with a value proposition add to the ‘average’ crowdfunded demo graph and form a large chunk of whether or not they decide to ‘pledge’ to a project. So instead of ‘Gen Military Kit Exchange – Mobile website application’ which was the first title and had no real value proposition, I changed the new one to ‘Gen Kit Exchange – the first military kit exchange!’. This was fitting into my new knowledge and one of the other major bits of information that I took away was that over 80% of successful campaigns had a video to accompany it, and I was going to do everything possible to try and make this a successful one. Shit, I didn’t have a video. I didn’t have the money or contacts to use proper equipment or camera crews but I did have a shiny iPhone 7 and some willing volunteers…
The GenBomb Flag –
Stay tuned for the next instalment of the GKE story! Share, like, comment and as always, stay frosty – Alex
This Kit Pest Review article was written by Alex Miller. Hopefully you enjoyed it and if you have any thoughts or comments related to this article then leave a comment!
If you’d like to visit Cooper’s Kit Corner, you can find it here.
If you’d like to visit Gen Kit Exchange, you can find it here.