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  • Evan Ryan

Stories From My First Ten Months

Seconds and Cents, Episode 21. Today we're going to talk about just some of the things that I did when I was just starting out the business. This is probably the first year and a half of the business. And yesterday we talked about experimenting, we talked about kind of how nine out of 10 experiments really fail, they really fail miserably. And so at least in my world, nine out of 10 experiments fail really miserably. And so today, I was just going to kind of tell some stories, some things that happened when I was when I was just getting started. When it was still a one man show. Pretty much everything that I'm going to talk about is when I was a one man show, and yeah, let's have some fun. So this was a tough 18 months, it might have been two years. As a tough two years. I was working probably 100 hours a week. I was making what felt like absolutely no progress. I was always tired. I felt like I was always fixing mistakes that I made when I was tired and this is really

When I was kind of working to establish myself as an entrepreneur and build a business that was, you know, going to be reasonable. So I started out I was actually a, I actually started out as a nonprofit consultant. So I had a Community Foundation approached me my senior year of college, they said, Hey, we'd love to learn more about how you can engage millennials. I knew what I was doing with Buckeye thought at Ohio State where we had gotten four or five 6000 college students to raise 1.5 $1.6 million.

And they said, Well, what did you do in Buckeye THON, and I told him about how my team at the time and I had started working with different psychological concepts in order to increase our average donation. So what happened was, we had an in my first year kind of heading up the financial organization in the business intelligence organization inside a book icon. We had an average donation of about $35. a donation and now is spread out over 30,000

Unique donor, so it's a lot of money, right? But it was a 35,000. There's a $35 average donation, and my team comes to me, I said, my team, we need to figure out how we're gonna, how we're going to do this thing. And let me know what you guys need. My team tells me this. So we have a brilliant idea.

And this was actually this one person who was my director of assessment assessments at the time. She says, I just read about this psychological concept called anchoring. And I would absolutely love to see if we could anchor our our donors and we could increase our average donation. So basically, what that meant was, we were going to ask, instead of asking for $25, or $50, or for $100, for a donation, right, you know, those little like radio buttons where you just select the donation amount, and instead of asking for 25, or 50, or $100, we were going to ask for $250 or 150, or $150 or other. So what we're going to do is we're going to force our donors to select the other

unless they want to donate 200

For hundreds of dollars, and our goal was that we were going to increase our average donation, we didn't think that we were going to get a bunch of 250 or 100 reveal our gifts. But what we thought was, maybe by asking for $25, we're actually limiting ourselves. And so people are kind of taking the extra step to donate more money when in reality, we want them to take the extra step to donate less than one. So we set for 25 $250 and $150. And then other and it turned out that we increased our average donation that year to $70 per donation, we doubled it all because

this group of three college students, not including me these my team had three college students on it. They had done a lot of work into researching anchoring and figuring out how we were going to pull it off. And so it was absolutely unbelievable. We're thrilled that we double doubled our average donation. As far as I'm concerned buck icon is still using those suggested donations because you know, they are just making so much more money, helping so many more people

So this organization approaches me, they say, Hey, we would love to learn about how you engage millennials we had, it was a dance marathon, right? Like, there are lots of different charity bike rides where you fundraise, right? And then you get to participate in event we had a dance marathon. And we had gotten 4000 5000 6000 college students to sign up to fundraise $250 for our organization or to participate in this dance marathon. So I took on the engagement. It was my first consulting engagement. I was still in college at the time. And

I spent about three months basically interviewing the entire community to just understand, well, what is the community because it was a Community Foundation. So you have to understand what the community was I interviewed people all the way in their 80s to people who are quite literally my age. So just hear kind of what was their experience like as a young person, what was what were the more tenured individuals experiences as it relates to young people?

Right. And I made a whole bunch of recommendations for how I thought this community foundation could increase could increase their number of millennial donors. But primarily what it actually related to is it related to well, you have to make a better place in the community. So your primary challenge isn't millennials or isn't getting people here. It's not like Columbus or Cleveland is taking your millennials away from you. It's that it's very difficult for to attract a millennial because there isn't quite as quite a lot of place here. So my suggestions were things like, buy up the cheap real estate, they had a large endowment, I hope they still do have large endowment, they do great work. But buy up all the cheap real estate around your offices and start turning them into apartment buildings, right? And then you can MIT you have a revenue stream based off of the apartments or help subsidize restaurants going into the downtown area so that the restaurant so that the downtown scene can be a little bit more vibrant. I put more streetlights up at night, that way, it's not dark anywhere. Right? And so really, I had a

Like it was kind of a lot of suggestions on not how can you engage more millennials? But how can you make it so that the millennials feel like their community is more built for them?

They took none of my recommendations. The engagement ended actually the engagement ended early. It's like none of my recommendations, they move forward. As far as I know, they still haven't taken into my recommendations.

In the event, that client is listening to this podcast, I hope you're doing well.

I hope that everything is going well, at the foundation. I can't wait to hear how you're doing and catch up. So as that's going on, I make a handshake deal for a line mindfulness, this mobile app that we're going to create and as part of the handshake deal, because I have not built a mobile app before I had self taught. I was a self taught coder, and I was self taught and coding. I spent like 200 bucks. I bought an old iPad off of Amazon because I was in college at the time, right?

expense 200 bucks. And then I downloaded this free game it was made for preschoolers called swift playgrounds. Apple built it, I think quite literally for preschoolers to teach them the fundamentals of logic, the fundamentals of coding. So I taught myself how to code on this old iPad that ran this game for preschoolers. And I made a handshake deal to build a commercial ready app, and which I shouldn't have done looking back in the long run, because you know, that's nuts.

And so it was aligned mindfulness, but I told them, Listen, I will build the first version of the app all the way until the point where it's released. So we'll do all the ideating, we'll do all of the prototyping, we'll do all the initial development absolutely free.

And I'll only charge you an hourly consulting right after that if you like it. And so we actually set out to start in December of my senior year of college, and the first version of the app wasn't released until

September, October of the next year. So it took, it took a long time to build that first version. I was working for free. So I had a little bit of the money from the nonprofit consulting, right that I was kind of funneling into my life. And I was living with my parents, because I moved off from the college campus. And so I'm building this app for free. In the middle of i