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A Word About Iteration: RE Bar Camp Edition

July 22, 2008

During one of the sessions here at RE Bar Camp, an interesting point came up.

There was a company here presenting named Zipvo — they do real estate video for agents.  Their technology seems good; they seem like bright guys.  The issue was, as I saw it, their incredibly flawed business model.

They want advertisers to fund the site — they don’t want the agents to pay anything to upload videos, to market listings, etc.  They’ll get advertisers to pay for all that.  BUT, they’re only allowing banner ads at the bottom of the page.

I pointed out that as an advertiser (something I have a bit of experience with), that was just about the least compelling value proposition possible.  It’s a video site — but no interstitials?  No sponsorship opportunities?  How about in-video product placement?

The obvious advertisers are giant real estate companies, like Realogy or one of its brands.  But the agents who actually generate all the content will absolutely not countenance something like that.  Imagine you’re a Keller-Williams agent who spent all this time making a video, but before it runs, there’s a 30-second Coldwell Banker ad.

The non-real estate advertisers are consumer-oriented companies who have spent $10m creating their last TV ad.  But they can’t place that in the video ads?

Anyhow, in the discussion, one of the participants raised the point that what’s important is to start something, then iterate.  It’s better to have something “out there” than nothing.

That’s true to a degree.  A bad plan executed swiftly is preferable to a good plan executed with lethargy.

Having said that… there are some things you really don’t want to iterate as you go.  The basic business model — how you actually make money — is one of those things.  That kind of thing pisses off your customer (i.e., the advertiser) and your content producers (i.e., the agents) when you were doing things one way, then completely change the fundamental assumptions.

I wish the Zipvo guys a lot of luck — they seemed like great fellas.  But it’s in the spirit of helping them that I have to tell them… don’t iterate your fundamental business model.  Get that figured out first, then iterate the other stuff as you go.


3 Comments leave one →
  1. September 3, 2008 12:40 pm

    Hello Rob,
    It’s Greg from we met @RE Bar Camp in San Francisco. I wanted to get back to you about our “incredibly flawed business model”. We are revealing after MANY months of production. We have kept ZIPVO Platinum a secret and because of this we were NOT able to comment on business models at that time. Unfortunately, that whole ads in video and ads in places on the site was a smoke screen to avoid the subject. (sorry about that) We feel that we have a revolutionary product that will change the way Real Estate is found, viewed, shared, and marketed on-line.

    Please let me know if you have any questions or have any comments….
    I appreciate your time, Thanks and Take Care, Greg


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