I just started a free online course offered through Stanford University called Technology Entrepreneurship. The first assignment was as follows:
In the text box please:
- Identify the start-up/company (name)
- Describe the business (what it provides or produces) and how it is successful (number of users, market share, revenue)
- List five specific, detailed reasons for its success
I decided to write about Bigger Pockets because I think it is a great business model! Below is my submission. I think that most users will agree with what I wrote but I wanted to share it with other users of Bigger Pockets to see if others agree with what I wrote or to see if other people would like to add to what I wrote.
I have no direct connection to the website biggerpockets.com but I am a member and I listen to their podcasts and participate occasionally in the forums.
Biggerpockets.com is a social networking website that is dedicated to real estate investing. The owner is Joshua Dorkin who lives locally (in Denver, Colorado). According to the website's podcasts, he started the business circa 2004. The site claims to have approximately 200,000 members. The site derives revenue by allowing members to upgrade there membership for $90-290 per year. The upgraded membership allows members to gain access to additional features of the website. The site also has paid sponsorships throughout the website and an occasional promotion on their weekly podcasts.
I do not know any details about the company's revenue. Biggerpockets.com has essentially 100% market share when it comes to real estate investing social networking.
Biggerpockets.com is successful because Mr. Dorkin identified that real estate investing is an area where many people can make a lot of money if they gain the necessary knowledge. Prior to biggerpockets.com, most people relied on "real estate guru's" to be trained in real estate investing. These guru folks often charge high fees. By offering a free/inexpensive way that people interested in real estate investing can connect, share information, and learn from one another; thousands of people are able get involved with real estate investing.
Five specific, detailed reasons for biggerpockets.com's success
1. Low cost compared to alternatives means of gaining real estate investing knowledge
2. Social connections between users which leads to increased profits for users
3. Valuable content not availble elsewhere on the web
4. Created a market that did not exist prior to website's existence
5. Low cost for promotion: biggerpockets.com gains users by word-of-mouth promotion from satisfied users of the site
Bigger pockets is an awesome site that helps people learn and network. I saw several members face to face at a REI meeting this weekend that I already "knew" bc of BP.
@Chad V. - I'm honored that you'd write about us for your assignment . . . I think you got a lot of the basics, but there is much more to the picture. Good luck and thanks for spreading the word about BP!
You are very welcome Josh. It is very cool to hear from the man himself! I personally think what you done with this site is genius! I think that the other people in the class will benefit from seeing your business as a model for other start-ups (web or otherwise).
Update: My post on Bigger Pockets is getting a lot of buzz on the class page. Assignment number 2 consists of evaluating what makes startup businesses successful by comparing companies in different industries and in different parts of the world. I will keep everyone posted on comments, etc. as they come.
Thanks again -- I really appreciate the feedback! Good luck!
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