Spoonrocket – Good Food Fast

Spoonrocket is a food delivery service providing excellent fresh food to its customers fast and in a convenient way.  It is a relatively new start up out of the Bay Area that has just entered into the Seattle market.  At its start, Spoonrocket applied to the Y combinator and launched into the UC Berkeley area.  They started with two food options available each day (one meat and one vegetarian option) for $6 created by their executive chef to a limited area.  They disrupted the food delivery climate by providing healthy meals delivered to the customer.

Spoonrocket recently has expanded and entered into the Seattle food space.  Their initial move was to replicate their methods in UC Berkeley, however they were forced to pivot their business plan quickly upon entering Seattle.  In order to keep overhead low, they starting delivery only during lunch time and instead of focusing purely at the UW college campus they expanded to the SLU and downtown areas.  This pivot was due to customer learnings.  The company found that UW students prefer to spend time together during lunch and use the hour as social time.  The spoonrocket delivery didn’t truly fit what the customer wanted, so they looked to a more professional market in the SLU/downtown area.

While Spoonrocket initially created their own market a few years ago in the Bay Area, the climate in Seattle is a little different.  There are current food delivery services that exist, however they are disrupting the market.  They have identified key partnerships with restaurants that customers desire as opposed to the vertical integration they utilized in Berkeley.  They have created a lean and mean model with efficiently heated delivery vehicles to provide fast lunch options.

With the launch in Seattle, Spoonrocket utilized press releases into local publications to raise awareness.  They rely on Facebook and word of mouth for awareness.  In order to reach their initial customers, they offered promotions.  They targeted local desirable restaurants, such as Paseo’s to gain customers via the restaurant customer base, and advertised via social media having friends share events.  While Spoonrocket is new in the Seattle market, it is gaining traction through word of mouth and delivering food that people are looking for.

Blog #4: Targeted Advertising

I visited a few product websites, including Natural Pet Food on Amazon, Nordstrom, Square and 21drops, and then visited Facebook.  I immediately noticed that specific clothing items that I had clicked on appeared in ads on the side of the screen.  In addition, 21drops’ Facebook page showed as a promoted ad within my newsfeed.  That advertising was a little tricker, because it almost appears as if one of my friends has posted or shared the company.

I think there are two sides to this type of advertising.  First, it serves as a reminder to consumers who are thinking about purchasing an item, but haven’t actually done so.  With the 21 drops, it actually reminded me I wanted to visit their site again.  However, the advertising was more strategically placed.  Second, it could push the consumer away.  For example, the ads displayed below are sponsored ads that appeared on the side of my screen.  I noticed that I’ve become almost immune to the advertising on the side and top in banners, and if I do notice them, it is more of a negative reaction than a positive reaction.

Ads

Defining the Market – Advice from the Experts

We had the pleasure of hosting a panel discussion with guests Jen Kellum Nausin, Kelby Johnson and Chris Carter.  We were able to ask the three of them questions about market analysis, identifying our target customer and how to reach those target customers.

Jen shared the process of narrowing down the target travel enthusiasts for Trover.  It was an organic process focused on the use of social media and interaction of their customers.  Trover worked hard dig deep and understand that creative user audience and their needs and motivations.  At the very beginning, it is really important to identify a few customer personas and drill down to how they interact with the product.  This helps with product development as well as determining the target customer.

Kelby and Chris provided the agency perspective and how they help clients walk through market segmentation and the customization process for the target customer.  Companies often already have client segmentation and will provide customer targeting information, however smaller companies may not have.  Regardless, it is always important to identify the current or new segment and ensure your product aligns with them.  Part of the exercise is identifying the size, value and the right message once the target customer is identified.  As the company and the product(s) develop it is important to review the market.  Re-evaluation should occur at each new iteration or the product/service.  This is to ensure that the new characteristics align with the target customer and does not alienate them.

With start-ups there may be a financial strain, especially in the pre-funding stage.  We asked how to frame and organize marketing efforts with a small budget.  From experience with a start-up, Kelby advised of using grassroots and guerilla tactics.  Pushing out cheap social media ads and flyers will create ambient awareness, however you have to hone in on the tactics that find your core audience.  Chris and Jen both supported testing out all tactics in order to determine what works.  Knowledge of geographic location is really important to reach the core audience, so Jen recommended leaning on relationships with media specialists.

Data is becoming more and more important in supporting marketing efforts, to identify the proper targeting tactics.  However, identifying the right measures to look at is half of the battle.  In addition to measures, such as Advocacy and net promoter score, Jen also suggests measuring influencer relationships.  Number of relationships is important, however quality is just as important to determine not only reach but impact on a community.

As start-ups we should learn from the successes and failures of other start-ups.  Not only identifying target customers, but truly understanding them and what speaks to them is really important to succeed in marketing a product or service.  An example to look to is GoPro.  There was a start-up, Contour, that had a portable camera with more features and better specifications.  Both of them came out around the same time.  However, GoPro did deep research on the consumer and identified the aspirational element of the consumer.  They developed an ingenious marketing plan with aspirational videos and succeeded in the marketplace with an arguably worse product.

Finally, we asked for specific advice on our product, wearable technology for infants.  We were told to focus on the pain point that our product is serving.  Beyond moms and dads, we were guided to consider other caregivers for children and potential interaction points.  An example was doing guerilla marketing in hospitals or maternity wards.  Jen again brought up the power of influencers, especially in this market.  She suggested we start small with local mommy bloggers and getting their feedback via social media.

Sproutling – Grow Happy Families

Sproutling creates technologically savvy family products to assist parents.  Their Baby Monitor takes monitoring babies to the next level by not only monitoring the environment, but health patterns of the baby.  It is a wearable tracker that parents place on their baby to predict habits.  It monitors vitals and sleep patterns.  The wearable connects to a phone app that parents can track and monitor with.  They have not released their baby monitor product but plan to this year.  They raised their first round of capital in August 2013.  They are focusing on

Their positioning in the market is taking wearables to the next level and providing parents with the ability to utilize technology to feel more comfortable and keep their baby safe.  Their value proposition is a smarter baby monitor that senses, learns and predicts behaviors and alerts parents of anything with a smartphone app.

Sproutling has 100% presold their product for release later this year, so it appears communication with their target customer is very good.  Previewing their website and other online social media sites, their posts are very relevant to their target customer.  They also produce “Parentage” an online magazine for parents that address concerns and interests of their target customer.

OneWed – Overview of Company and Market

Weddings are a major life event that many spend countless hours planning and searching the internet for ideas.  OneWed – formerly NearlyWed – provides inspiration to its customers through images and ideas from top wedding bloggers.  Similar to Pintrest, consumers can browse the website posts of content and then save or share content.  The posts also offer click through to the vendor’s website.  The company launched an iPad app and their website.

OneWed’s target demographic is the current generation that looks to create a unique wedding experience.  The consumer’s focus is less on the perfect magazine wedding and more on how to DIY in an inspired way.  Utilizing technology not only in the planning process, but also day of activities is also a preference of OneWed’s target consumer.  In addition, the consumer also may want the ability to share content via social media with friends as well as read online reviews of vendors and services.  While many consumers utilize Pintrest, other wedding planning sites, such as TheKnot.com and Martha Stewart Weddings are OneWed’s main competitors and market leaders.

The financial model is based on featured listings.  While vendors and consumers can post for free alongside the curated blog content, OneWed offers vendors the option of paid placements via “native advertising”.  This allows vendors to use their own images in the product advertisement listing.  The native advertising doesn’t interrupt user interaction, however visibility is increased.  This model allows consumers to interact with vendors and investigate new products and services for free, while vendors can present their products to consumers in a low pressure environment.