How I Knew We Were Building a Viable Business, Not Just a Cool Startup

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Founding or joining a startup has become super sexy and alluring for thousands of Millenials. Once you get past the working-around-the-clock part, understand that your top programmer could bail at anytime for a better offer, and get comfortable with constantly being scared and stressed and never having enough money or time, I will admit that it is exhilarating.

However, there is a big difference between building a viable business and creating just another cool startup with a cool idea. If you want to succeed, you have to have an idea that 1) fills a need, and 2) can generate money. That might seem obvious, but not every great idea out there can do both. In fact, most do not.

I knew that our company, Spend Consciously, and our apps, like BuyPartisan, fit the criteria when I realized we had become a nation of tribes.

Let me back up a second. Everyone cares about something, and we have learned that we can be more effective by joining a tribe. I heard someone say the other day that, whether it be a curse or blessing, these tribes define us. They are fundamental to our being and unite us in terms of values or a premise.

I also realized that we spend a dollar every day, and I started asking myself: If we spend a dollar every day and we belong to a specific tribe, are we spending that dollar in a way that is true to us? Just one problem: Tribes have never been able to help members live according to their values in an easy way.

At the same time, companies are spending millions – and sometimes billions of dollars – to have an impact, to give back, to know their brand is sticky and to try and convey their footprint – whether it be on diversity or why you should buy their product. But companies have never been able to understand if that double- or triple-bottom line approach helps them make more money or not.

When I looked at the landscape and put all of the above together, I knew Spend Consciously would be a viable company.

We decided to launch the BuyPartisan app first because one of the most important tribes people belong to is political: Are you a Democrat or Republican or something else? The timing was perfect, because we were going into mid-term elections, and there is already a lot of talk about the upcoming open-seat presidential election and the rather free flow of money into political campaigns.

I come from a political world, so I knew that there was not a lot of information on companies’ political spending readily available. Meanwhile, people want to spend according to their (and their tribe’s) values. Originally, I thought the BuyPartisan app was going to be a one-off product, but it has taken off and has shown to be very sticky.

So how does BuyPartisan make money? Well, it starts with finding and suggesting alternatives after you scan a product and find that it doesn’t fit with your values. This feature is something we are actively working on, and it will be the app’s first revenue-generator.

Want your cool startup to grow into a viable business with staying power? Find your tribe, tap into their needs, and figure out a way to monetize your idea.


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