Asking for People’s Business

After failing to build something people want, my startup is yet again pivoting. This time instead of trying to guess what people want, I’m…

Asking for People’s Business

After failing to build something people want, my startup is yet again pivoting. This time instead of trying to guess what people want, I’m just going to ask. More specifically, I’m going to try and build custom software for businesses. My proposition is simple, “Does your business need custom software? If so, my startup will build it for free.” I have no idea whether or not this idea will work, but I do know that this approach should at least eliminate the risk of building something no one wants.

To figure out how to get started I decided to reach out to some influential tech entrepreneurs through email and social media, and to my surprise, I actually got a reply from Jason Fried of Basecamp.

What great advice! Want someone’s business? Just ask.

So now begins the process of reaching out to businesses to ask them about their software needs. One of my beliefs is that software’s greatest potential is automation. Therefore, I headed over to the craigslist job board to see if I could find any advertised job postings that could be easily automated. And after a little digging I was able to find one posting that seemed primed and ready for automation:

***ENTRY LEVEL RECRUITER/ASSISTANT***

JOB DESCRIPTION

  • Create a database of qualified candidates
  • Keep track of the availability of each candidate
  • Match the right candidate to the right position
  • Interview candidates & offer job to qualified candidates
  • Motivate & discipline candidates when necessary
  • Assist candidates when they’re filling out applications
  • Create job descriptions and do daily & weekly reports
  • Answer a 6 phone line system & be able to assist customers and
  • candidates in English & Spanish
  • Do background & reference checks
  • Over see safety program and conduct pre-employment orientations
  • Visit Companies once a week or as necessary to check on Safety

Now not all of this could be easily automated, but many of the tasks could. So I decided to reach out to the staffing agency behind the job posting and ask them for their business:

Jessica,
I happened to stumble upon your posting for an entry level recruiter on craigslist today. After reading your job description, it looks like a lot of the tasks required for this position could easily be automated. If I could build you some software to automate much of this work, would that be something that you’d be interested in? I could license the software to you as free open source software, and if it proves to be valuable, then go out sell the software to other recruiters around the country to make a profit for myself. If you think you might be interested in taking me up on the offer, I would love to hear back from you.
Best regards,
Christopher Pedersen
chris@topherpedersen.com
(469) 261–0727

I know that the likelihood of Jessica and her staffing agency taking me up on my offer is low, but someone very successful once told me — “Want someone’s business? Ask for it.” So that’s what I’m doing from here on out.