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E38: Building A Digital Product To Provide Your Organization With A Source Of Funding (Revenue)

by Sean Boyce

How can your organization scale impact and create a source of funding at the same time?

On this episode I talk about:
  • How to generate revenue by solving your own problem
  • Performing discovery with future customers
  • Figuring out what to actually build
  • How to iterate quickly and cost effectively
  • Continuing to make the product better from there
If you’d like to learn how to scale impact at your nonprofit by more than double in less than half the time, sign up for my free 5 day email course (https://nxtstep.io/impact/)

Episode Transcript

Hey everyone Sean here and on today’s episode, what I want to walk you through is a real world example of generating revenue by building a product that solves the problem that you or your organization has. 

Now, I’ve talked about this in a previous episode on I want to walk you through as a real world example. So one of my clients they had a need to want to scale impact by first enrolling as many clients as they could into their process, many more than they had before. Probably a multiple, which is usually what I recommend when we’re talking about setting scaling impact level goals. We want to aim for doubling or more as opposed to increasing by something conservatively like 10 or 20%. That helps us think differently, and leverage different resources and strategy to try to reach a much more aggressive goal, which in turn should really help you with scaling impact. 

So in this one example, what we did was we built an enrollment portal to help them move their enrollment process from offline running in person events to online which was much more cost effective, required a lot less time and removed any restrictions, any geographical boundaries that they had in place before. Now they could enroll clients from anywhere as long as they could reach them. Now the results of that were pretty dramatic. What we’re able to do was increase their enrollment by greater than 300% in less than half the time. So their team was over the moon about these results, and I was too that was the objective. That’s what we were trying to do and we did it which was very exciting. 

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Now what I want to talk about is in this instance, now they experienced that dramatic improvement, which is fantastic. But and sometimes when you invest in a project like this or you build a product to solve your own problem, more than likely, other organizations like you have the same problem and can’t find that solution anywhere or are trying to cobble together something to provide a better solution than what they have available today. But it’s still not great. as such. If you’ve built something that solves that problem for them, they’re going to want to have access to it as well too. So as opposed to thinking through building something like this to help you with improving operational efficiency or scaling impact, like I just described, it can do even more than that. And what I mean by that is if you provide this solution to these other organizations like you, they’re more than likely to want to use it and also pay for it because it solves an important problem that they have. And that’s how this turns out to generate revenue. And that’s what we’re doing right now. We’re taking that enrollment portal, my client and we’re moving it from just them using it to making it available for the rest of the world to use as well too. So we are building it so that other organizations like them can have access to it. And they’re ultimately going to be paying for using it because it’s going to be solving an important problem for them. 

Now this opens up another entire world of possibilities, because this product is going to be able to be revenue generating now that what we’re seeing potentially as maybe an operational efficiency improvement and treated somewhat as an expense is now much more so of an investment. Right? It’s helping them scale impact dramatically. And now it’s going to start generating revenue for them as well, which is going to become a funding source that they’re going to have control over which is going to enable them to continue to even scale impacted even greater levels, which is super exciting. So now this will continue to pay dividends over time as this becomes a funding source of in itself. 

So I want to talk about some of the technical things you can do if you find yourself wanting to invest in a project like this or if you have a product and other organizations are asking you questions about whether or not they can get access to it. You want to perform discovery with these organizations as well to to better understand the context and everything around the problems and challenges they have, which are probably related to yours but might have some slight differences. And that might impact what you build into this product when it’s ready for the rest of the world to use as well to you’re gonna figure out which tools you might need to integrate, which workflows that are going to be important to capture and more importantly, where to start so that you can start small and don’t have to build something big and complicated and expensive. That takes a lot of time in order to get it in their hands as quickly as possible, so that you can start generating revenue sooner rather than later. And then after you’ve made it to and through this phase, you can continue to make that product experience better by performing discovery with the users better understanding how well it’s solving the problems currently, and what other problems they can solve next. 

Because remember, the bottleneck doesn’t disappear. It just moves so as you help them alleviate one part of their process. They’re going to want to help with you helping them solve the next part of that process.