Founder's Note 09

Founder's Notes

Apr 26, 2024

The biggest lie I've ever heard in the startup world is  “build it and they will come.” When we started, I was under the impression that if we could create a product that worked properly and looked dope, we would win. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I have no doubt in my mind that the growing disconnect between brands and their customers post-purchase is a real problem - the resale market is growing at 4x the primary, customer loyalty dropped by 14% last year, and 77% of brands are saying that customers are demanding more personalized digital interactions. I also firmly believe that the business who solves this problem will create a lot of value. This all means nothing if you don’t have a product that customers want to use. The only way to ensure that the product you build is the right solution for this problem, remain nimble and test alongside the customer you are looking to sell to.

For One of None, the launch of our beta marketplace offered a perfect opportunity to truly find out what our customers need. After working with  over 30+ creators to launch 20 collections, there are a few key learnings that will help us build the right product.

First, when testing the marketplace, we focused on the creator economy as it was easy to leverage our network to work with individual creators and small teams to fill up our product queue. One of the initial hurdles we encountered when trying to scale up and sell to larger brands was their reluctance to drop products on a third-party platform, especially when it came to limited edition offerings. These brands often have well-defined strategies for exclusivity and brand image control. While the idea of reaching new audiences appealed to these brands, the fear of diluting brand equity was definitely a deterrent. This taught us the importance of building trust and establishing partnerships based on mutual benefit and a shared vision.

Next, Integrating emerging technologies like blockchain into our marketplace presented both promise and complexity. While blockchain offers unparalleled transparency and security, its adoption requires significant education and onboarding efforts for both brands and collectors. As a small startup team, managing and educating a blockchain-powered platform for both the supply and demand proved to be a formidable challenge. We learned the importance of making a sophisticated platform seem easy.

Lastly, and perhaps the biggest lesson we learned,  was the inherent cash flow negativity of our marketplace business model. Limited edition products, by their very nature, entail upfront investments in production and marketing with uncertain returns. Additionally, the costs associated with educating and onboarding both brands and collectors further strained our financial resources. This cash flow imbalance made revenue prediction challenging and raised concerns about the sustainability of our model in the long term.

Despite these challenges, our experience with the limited edition marketplace provided invaluable insights that helped shape our future roadmap exactly as needed. Our ability to stay nimble and curious allows us to apply feedback. As a conclusion, great businesses solve big problems in a way that is innovative, empathetic, and sustainable, ultimately creating lasting value for their customers. You can’t create lasting value for a customer if you don’t know what they want.