A lawyer by formal education and training and a first generation entrepreneur by passion. Sachin set up Lawgin Legal Solutions Private Limited (bootstrapped), a legal technology company in his penultimate year of law school. As a sole entrepreneur, he raised an early stage round from senior lawyers in order to scale the SaaS based business and effectively capitalise on an untapped market related to hiring in the legal services sector. Managed the entire lifecycle of the product (online marketplace for legal jobs with algorithm based matching) right from the idea stage to a fully functional POC, subsequent launch, live clients and active fulfillment of requirements of marquee ones such as UBER and others, thereby bringing it to an early revenues stage and fielding another set of investments to scale up.
Firstly, the holiday/vacation travel space, especially the budgeted segments are becoming more sought after, not only by the category of individuals that you've listed out, but they're being sought out by college students, individuals, couples, honeymooners and the like.
You could offer a points system, where they receive a certain number of points, depending on the amount they spend, which can be redeemed after reaching a certain amount (ex. A makes payment for a trip through you worth rupees 30K and they can receive 1000 points) (Again this amount is for your team to finalize and figure out depending on how much you're willing to cut into your margins). Once a customer makes 2000-3000 points, they can redeem the amount on their next trip purchase, the points redeemed will basically be a deduction of a certain amount of the total fee, eg. 2000 points = 500-1000 rupees, so they get a discount of 1000 rupees on their total purchase.
While this is not a bad way to start, without having to burn cash out-of-pocket, it might be a slow way to build your customer base.
The other alternative, and I say this from personal experience, is providing a valuable customer experience, be it priority check-in at hotels, spas or the airport or just the ability to check into a hotel room at any time and not follow the 12-12 (24 hour check out) system. Tying up with hotels and the like will help you establish yourself as a strong player in the market because of the positive reviews your existing customers will give you.
You could also offer un-married couples the ability to check-into hotel rooms without hassle in the lower segment hotels, which would incentivise them to repeatedly choose your services.
You could also offer people a referral reward.
Tying up with alcohol vendors on vacations, so that customers can pick up liquor at a discounted rates, only through your service is again a good idea. Besides, in such a model, you will end up making a certain % of the proceeds on liquor sales through the agreement with the vendor, rather than having out of pocket expenses.
Try closing corporate accounts, school accounts, etc. Today more organizations and schools organize trips for their employees and students respectively, which will defintely help you grow your customer base without having to burn too much money. The only cost involved will be the cold calls, email campagins and the cost of transport to get to the meetings to close the deals..
Apart from this, another solution that comes to mind is tying up with credit card companies to help people purchase the trip and convert the total amount into a no-cost emi. People love to make small payments rather than blowing a chunk of cash in one go and this will further help you incentivise your existing and potential customers.
While all this is easier said than done, implementation is key.
Hope this helps.
Being an entrepreneur is more often than not, exhausting,taxing, time consuming and drains a person physically, mentally and more importantly financially.
The answer to the question "At what point do entrepreneurs involve help, given the fact that there is no revenue yet?", in your case depends on a variety of factors.
Since you're launching a skin care product online, I'm assuming that you're either manufacturing the product yourself or you've already outsourced this function. Now, that being taken care of, there are other more important things you will have to focus on, which are pretty broad, but are things which came to mind;
1.Figuring out which e-commerce sites are the best to sell your product on.
2.Setting up your banking/payments option and getting distribution in place(Tying up with online vendors).
3.Creating your brand(Logo, creatives, product images, sample videos, marketing strategy,etc).
4. In case you're planning to create your own website and push product on that, you'll need to allocate a budget accordingly for the type of website you want and get someone to build it out for you. (WordPress is a good option). (Hiring in-house is a good option as building a WordPress e-commerce site is a fairly simple and fast solution). The other advantage is that you can mange the website yourself by watching quick tutorials on YouTube.
5. You'll need to set up a customer service/support system to take care of instances where customers return the product, dealing with bad customer reviews, you'll need someone to essentially be your PR team.
6. You will need to handle operations on a day-to-day basis and overlook your affairs in totality.
While you're at a nascent stage and you can manage these broad functions, there are essential functions which you need to focus your efforts on 100% and the rest are things which can be outsourced or in-sourced (The categorization of essential and non-essential functions needs to be done by you).
You should ideally outsource or in-source those functions which you can oversee broadly but can't get involved in on a daily basis because it cuts into your vital roles and responsibilities. Personally, it's better to hire in-house and get someone to execute your decisions, rather than outsource entire functions, because again, this becomes more expensive and you will have no control over the function, as most agencies who take outsourced work will have a number of clients and unless you constantly prioritize your work by following up, chances are that things won't get done.
Stuff like building a website, managing social media, handling operations, dealing with customer support, etc can all be done by hiring 1 or 2 competent people in-house. Competent people can be taught what to do and will charge significantly less than those individuals who hold a degree or qualification. If you're worried about burning cash, offer them equity in the business rather than making huge payments to highly qualified individuals(at least at this nascent stage) because you're not yet sure whether you'll succeed or fail w.r.t. your venture. Spend money on things which will help your business grow. Don't follow the approach big conglomerates take because you're just starting out. Your sole objectives should be to firstly survive in the market and then subsequently thrive.
You should focus on ensuring that your product has visibility, creating more channels of sale, figuring out how to get distribution in place for the offline, retail space, making sure cash flow comes in, etc. You are the glue that holds your business together, outsource/in-source any function which you feel is cutting into your time but not necessarily resulting in a productive outcome.
Hope this helps.
There might be a lot of competition but that shouldn't discourage you. The best way to go about selling it would be to follow these steps:
1.Spend a significant amount of time for researching your competition & understanding whether or not the market is big enough and if there's an actual need for your product.
2. You'll need to perform a SWOT analysis on your product and compare it with the other software products in the same domain.
3. If your product does have something of value, try and understand your target market, i.e. whether your potential customers are early stage companies, large corporations, etc.
4. Figure out a price point. Determine whether you want to sell it at a higher price point and have a few firms purchase and use your product or choose a lower price point in order to get customers and make a profit based on economies of scale.
4. Once you've identified a target audience, give the product out for free, in the form of a trial or single use demo. Always use a sign up form in order to collect the details of your potential customers.
5. Create multiple channels of sale. You can sell directly to the companies or have them sign up on your website, or both. You can use social media advertising to drive customers to your website (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter).
6. Find other potential markets based on geographical location where such a product is not available or not as good as the solution you're offering.
In case you have any doubts or queries, feel free to contact me anytime.