It’s not often that you can read about an idea in the concept stage and then see it implemented.  Even less often will you read about the idea being posted on Under30CEO and then see it implemented later.  You’re in luck because this post is about exactly such an idea!

Almost a year ago, I wrote about how we as entrepreneurs need to be constantly getting feedback and being bold in making pitches.  The idea was to teach people how to cook.  This is how the idea has evolved over time to the point where it’s ready to launch.

Focusing In On Niche And Demographic

The first thing we did was to focus in on both the idea and the demographic.  Whenever I had a chance to, I asked my friends if they would pay for cooking lessons.  Note how I had already started to position the product against cooking lessons instead of cooking videos.  People pay a lot more for in-person cooking lessons.  “Cooking videos” are free and all over YouTube.

Did I even have a product?  At first, I thought about selling DVD’s which would ship to the customer’s house.  I did some research on the cost of DVD’s and realized it was not at all worth it.  The cost would just eat into the margins.

I went back to thinking about what exactly my product would be.  I listed 12 of my “best”  recipes that I can teach other guys.  Because my dishes were impressive, I would focus the niche on guys who want to cook to impress a date.  Take that even one step further.  If I’m teaching them how to impress a date through cooking, why don’t I provide dating tips as well?

Now… I had a good idea.

Building A Team

I would have nothing if I did not have a team.  The one that I started looking for right away was a video editor.  But I knew I could not pay them upfront.  I looked at how Silicon Valley startups were offering equity to attract top talent.  So I thought, “Why can’t I?”  That’s exactly what I did.  I put up a job post on Craiglist stating that I am hiring a video editor in exchange for a percent of revenue.

I got many inquires.  I also got a very nasty response.  My initial thought were a few words that I can’t post here.  But I realize there will always be haters.  In the end, I looked through some 20 resumes, interviewed 5 in person and hired one.  They all really loved the idea and I had just sold them on working for sweat equity.

Entrepreneur who can sell an idea.  Check.

I also needed someone to offer dating tips.  That wasn’t going to be me.  Also, I realized that I was targeting guys and no guy was going to watch some dude cook for 20 minutes.  So we needed an attractive female co-host who would ask questions and provide the dating tips.

Could I repeat the process to hire someone via Craigslist?  Absolutely.  A friend of mine produced a 2-hour movie on all volunteer actors so I knew it could be done.  I posted on Craigslist again and other casting websites.  And yes, I got another hater email but this time, I was just cracking up because I knew I was doing something right.

Overall, I looked through 50-some resumes, headshots and auditioned about 8 girls.  I finally selected to work with one who had improv experience.

Marketing, Marketing, Marketing

Now, there was the marketing that was still left to do.  Would single guys buy a monthly membership of around $10/month?  I surveyed 20 of my guy friends.  Then I emailed 10 of those that said they would pay around $15-25 for a cooking lesson.  I asked them to prepay for a video-cooking lesson that we would put together.  They would be the super early adopters and they would get a super discount off their membership for life.

Would anyone bite?

Yes!  I had 5 that brought.  I just asked them to pay my Paypal account and I only charged $5.  I knew what we sent them would not be the final product so that’s the rationale for the lower price.  The important thing I wanted to see was if anyone was even willing to pay $1.

The difference between something people expect for free and $1 is very significant.

And as promised, on a certain date, we delivered a rough cut of the first episode to the super early adopters.  And the response was very good.

Market tested.

Now, let’s go launch.

So know any single guys?  If so, send them my way.

Jack Liu is the founder of Jack’s Best, a membership site that teaches single guys how to make a plate to impress a date.  Jack’s Best offers video cooking instruction on impressive recipes while providing dating tips from the female perspective.