Freemium

I am trying to blog more this year but I also said that last year as well. What can I say – I try.

I read this on SplatF and mostly agree about not wanting to waste time on social but write more – even if in smaller chunks.

I love twitter though cause it kicks of nice conversations that spurn me to write something. Yesterday was no exception.

Thanks to Chris and Dave for the inspiration.

Here is the string of tweets :: https://twitter.com/myeggnoodles/status/420423888342749186

I think Chris is making a great point and one I have always subscribed to when I considered joining or building a startup. The business goals of such startup should be to generate revenue. Within this framework though I think freemium is an accepted model. Because some startups, Spuul for example, are building in an area where piracy is rampant and the user population in places like India or Pakistan is not accustomed to having to pay. Or maybe they want to or would pay but the payment methods are not there.

I think other business models also run into the same hurdles so offering a free to use product that strives to convert the free user into some sort of paid user is an acceptable model. In our case we are also putting an ad business around the free model so it will also generate revenue.

All that being said. This is hard stuff. A lot of what we launched with has changed. We offer more subscription tiers than originally expected. We had to learn how to upsell. Had to decide over time on which features to make free and which features to make available only to paid users. We had to learn how to not try and attract only free users but users who wanted to kick the tires for purposes of deciding for themselves if they would eventually upgrade. Meaning there is a big difference in marketing to get a free user and marketing to get a user who starts as free but has the propensity to pay.

Lots of work to sort all these flows out and to build a business around freemium but I think in emerging markets and for some business verticals – freemium can work.

The other school of thought says only build something people want to pay for. This for some business verticals might also be doable but it may not always work. Either way I think it takes time to do either of these well and at scale. Generally startups are rushed to sort this out and don’t have the time to experiment to see what sticks.

After all an early stage startup really is just an experiment.

happy building!

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