I am in the process of designing a web application with a colleague. In fact the project is almost complete and we will have a funding interview next month. He is a programmer and I am a specialist in the industry related to the project theme. I wont go into detail about the subject matter but the purpose of this project is to create a web application where specialists in this specific industry (i.e. the registered companies on the site) advertise their services and the end-user sources them, evaluates their competence and if deemed to match the end users criteria, can be selected for a tender process or indeed selected to carry out the end users project.
The problem is however, in order for us to justify charging registered companies an annual subscription fee on the site, which incidentally is not much, they must be confident that the site is being used on a regular basis by those looking for their skills. On the flip-side, in order for us to encourage people to use the site to look for these registered companies, they will have to know that there are sufficient registered companies to choose from so both situations are interdependant. In a way its a catch 22 situation and we are really scratching our heads trying to determine what is the best marketing approach. Launching the site to early tot he public, when only a few companies are registered, could potetially tarnish the name an people may not return again.
Some points to note:
We will sell companies an annual subscription but if after 1-month, we have sold approx 40 subscriptions, this will still no way justify us launching the site to the public as a reputable search tool.
In order for us to justify the site as a legitimate search tool to the end user, I reckon we would need upwards of at least 2000 registered companies - but who is going to register when they know that their subscription clock has started to tick with their payment but we still cant officially launch the product into the public domain until we have built up many such similar registrations over a long period?
We will incur running, development, marketing costs etc from day one and therefore need to generate revenue from subscriptions.
I would be very greatful to hear from someone who has worked on a web application project with a similar premise and how they have managed to overcome or indeed deal with this issue.