An online community marketplace where women in business list and discover B2B services.
INVESTMENT SOUGHT: £74,999
PRODUCT(S) AND/OR SERVICE(S)
Sourceabl aims to make it easy for women running small businesses to find just the right B2B providers to get their enterprise to the next level. Women browse for the skill or product they require, check out what other customers have said, then connect directly. It’s free.
Sourceabl maintains a curated promotional platform for B2B suppliers who ‘get’ the way today’s female entrepreneurs do business.
Sourceabl is a brand developed by Women Outside The Box. Previous crowd-funding has allowed us to build a community of female entrepreneurs and to design and market-test Sourceabl. This new round of funding would be used to fully launch Sourceabl and to grow user numbers and sales.
We plan to bring half a million entrepreneurial women together across the world within the next 6 years.
We want to help build a world where the lives of women, men and their families are more secure. We do this through supporting female entrepreneurship.
We believe that when women are able to easily access the right people to help their business grow they would flourish.
-Working with women
Research shows that women often lack networks of other entrepreneurs they can ask for advice. On average they employ half as much capital to start a business as a man.This suggests they might need more advice from potential suppliers before committing to a purchase. Further, it suggests they might want transparent pricing and the chance to take ‘baby steps’. Some women might prefer flexible ‘out of office hours’ help depending on their family situation. We feel online search is overwhelming and there is no ‘word of mouth’ trust.
Sourceabl’s objective is to tackle all these concerns by getting B2B providers to sign up to the Sourceabl Charter and by having an independent customer review feature.
We are starting with the UK – we know this market best. We intend to grow across Europe and the US and to launch in developing economies within 2 years.
-Building the virtuous circle
Airbnb soon found that many accommodation buyers became sellers too. We anticipate a 50/50 split B2B/B2C between women browsing Sourceabl. And of the half who run a B2B business, we expect 80% of those successfully finding a supplier to return to advertise their own services on Sourceabl.
SUBSTANTIAL ACCOMPLISHMENTS TO DATE
Sourceabl, in its basic format, has just gone live. Women can now discover ideal B2B suppliers to help their business grow as well as showcasing their own services.
Here’s what we’ve achieved in the past year with £39,200 crowd-funding, plus a £24,000 grant from the European Regional Growth Fund:
-Built a community of female entrepreneurs – 12k+ on Twitter, 2k newsletter subscribers, several business clubs, 700 at our festival.
-Talked to our community, tested the idea with 130 advertisers, redefined to concentrate on B2B.
-Started to build the team – 2 full-time, marketing and operations. Plus advisers: Jessi Frey leveraging her Microsoft experience launching digital products and Mike Jackson from WebStart, our mentor during incubation last year.
-Started the marketing and sales – partnered/in talks with several complementary businesses and organisations with significant UK adherents such as FreeAgent, NearDesk and IPSE. 87+ Sourceabl ads placed.
Advertisers pay by subscription
Standard – £10/month, £100/year
Stylish – £15/month, £150/year
Promoted – £20/month, £200/year
Promoted and Stylish – £22.50/month, £225/year.
Stylish would get the text and images of the ad optimised to sell.
Promoted would get the ad onto the first page.
Note to investors in earlier rounds:
Sourceabl is a partial rebrand of Women Outside The Box (WOTB). We have changed our original business model – we no longer charge for WOTB online membership as we want to grow our list faster. Online monetisation now comes via Sourceabl. WOTB continues as our community and networking platform and is now seen as part of our marketing effort with offline income from WOTB events and business club subscriptions set against marketing costs to boost the Sourceabl brand.
USE OF PROCEEDS
Build the team:
-continue to fund our 2 current employees (operations, marketing)
-1 new hire to push the marketing strategy and improve customer experience
-0.5 new hire for site development including planned new features
Note that the CEO has not taken a salary from WOTB or Sourceabl so far. She would take a nominal salary in 2015 based on achieving sales targets.
Sellers: Freelancers and SMEs wanting to sell business products and services to women running small enterprises. International.
Buyers: Women running a small business. International.
CHARACTERISTICS OF TARGET MARKET
Our market is:
Governments across the world are encouraging women into entrepreneurship so we believe our market will grow fast (number of businesses currently run by women: 1.3 million in UK, 8 million in USA and a total of 224 million worldwide.)
We found there are a large quantity of freelancers and micros looking for and providing services, usually locally. Thus an ideal target for an online aggregator.
In our experience small businesses often do not know how to specify their needs and thus reach appropriate business service providers. They tend to rely on other people of a similar size to recommend. Trust matters.
We plan to grow our subscribers via five interconnected strategies:
Working creatively with businesses and organisations who work with a similar demographic to ourselves: organisations of small business owners, professional associations, women’s business groups, online B2B service providers with large and growing subscriber lists.
Building Women Outside The Box through online advice, member benefits, events and a network of City Business Clubs – and driving that audience towards Sourceabl.
Content, values-driven and community engagements to build brand awareness.
Including structured scheme for getting user-reviewers to spread the love.
Mainly retargeting (presenting an ad to people who have browsed but not bought).
As far as we are aware there is no obvious main competitor in this ‘Yellow Pages’ space yet. We found online search and directories are now too undifferentiated for an important purchase such as professional business help.
Sourceabl offers both local and online (everywhere) suppliers. Here’s the competition:
-Sourcing/selling LOCAL skills: There are many sites offering low-level skills with Task Rabbit (raised nearly $40m) being one of the best known, working across 19 cities and now also in London. These sites usually target domestic customers.
-Sourcing ONLINE freelancers for a project: According to our research there are also many sites with major players beginning to emerge. Elance-oDesk is best known globally with 71,000 freelancers listed for the UK and Thumbtack (5 funding rounds totalling $148m) is also known. We found that these sites mainly offer price-based comparisons for well-defined project needs.
We believe the problem is not ‘How do I find a PR person?’ but ‘How do I find the right PR person’ – Defining ‘right’ seems a major issue. If you’ve never used PR how do you know what’s possible and what you should be paying?
To our knowledge nobody is dealing, on a large scale, with this real pain which small and start-up businesses experience. This is why we feel there is no direct competition to Sourceabl yet.
By focussing on women, who may have smaller entrepreneurial networks to ask, we intend to establish trust in the brand from people who may have the greatest pain. Women everywhere face rather similar issues around buying B2B services so ‘gender-gating’ still allows for a big market.
On Sourceabl they would find suppliers who have committed to:
-giving an initial no-obligation free chat
-offering affordable services appropriate for small businesses
-offering flexibility on time and location (eg using Skype or offering evening hours)
Sourceabl aims to stand apart from other crowdsourcing and search sites by offering ‘best fit’ rather than cheapest bid.
- Founder, CEO
- Business adviser
- Marketing adviser