Finally we have reached the last part of the value chain – we are ready to think about selling products! We know that *we* would buy what we were selling, but we knew we needed a realistic assessment of how many of the general public would feel the same. Though we have considered selling our products globally through a fair-trade organization or our own e-commerce platform, we have determined that during the startup phase we’ll sell locally – simpler and cheaper.
So we set our sights on the 5,000,000 tourists that visit Buenos Aires every year as a target market – or at least a few dozen we could convince to talk to us under the blazing sun at San Telmo street market.
So we headed out – Eric with his video camera, Caroline with her official-looking notepad, Erica wired up with a microphone and a few prototype wallets in hand – in search of people who would talk to us. Timid at first, then we got going – hedging our bets between languages as we went. “Pardon me, sir, would you answer a few questions? Eh, pardon senor, quieres contestar algunos preguntitos para nuestro proyecto?”
We got 25 respondents in total over about 3 hours. Thirteen from the US, six from Argentina, two from Brazil and one each from Czech Republic, Germany, Peru, and Spain. Of the 25 people we talked to, 22 said they would buy the wallet. One even took out his money and agreed to buy it for 20 pesos! Very sweet even though we couldn’t sell our prototype wallet.
The women seemed to prefer the colourful wallet with the texture of the cloth inside it, while the men liked the darker, larger version that was made from pure plastic. Everyone agreed that the best thing about the products was the story behind them, and that we needed to find a way to make that story come alive for any potential customers.
And, in the way that seems to be happening a lot lately, we ran into some people who might be able to help us through an area of the project in which we don’t have the expertise: MBA students from Tulane University in New Orleans. They were kind enough to chat with us for a while about the key points of sales and marketing as they pertain so social entrepreneurs. So this afternoon not only did we gain some insight into the local tourist market, we also learned more about how to appropriate and repurpose the tools of business to support our process and goals. One of them took this pic with his iphone and mailed it to us! Thanks, Kurt – we will be in touch!