4 May 2007 22:18 UTCFri 4 May 2007 - 10:18 pm UTC
Hello Uclue. In the short time you've been around, I've come to enjoy reading the questions and answers here, and even venturing forth with a few of my own.
For the moment, my question is: What can you tell me about Uclue's business model?
I don't mean that in a formal way, and I'm not expecting elaborate powerpoint slides and such, especially not for ten bucks. But in a short and simple way, what makes you think that a service like Uclue can be financially successful?
I've been surprised at my own willingness to spend some of my own money here (paltry amounts, I know, but I do what I can), The quality of the answers clearly makes it worth it for me, but with funds running low, I'm sometimes tempted to give Yahoo Answers a go.
But my spending habits aside, I can't help noticing that Uclue question volume hasn't quite blossomed, to put it gently, and it's hard to know when, or if, it's likely to increase.
I'm not terribly familiar with the financial history of Google Answers, but I know that it went under after a couple of years.
So, what makes Uclue think it can outlive Google?
I'm not looking for anything secret, terribly deep, or definitive. Just a brief but informed,opinion of one (or more) of the Ucluer's would do very nicely as an answer.
Thanks. And best of luck in building a thriving business.
P.S. The Uclue fan club, of which there seems to be several members at least, is invited to comment as well.
5 May 2007 02:07 UTCSat 5 May 2007 - 2:07 am UTC
Richard/feilong (which should I call you?).
Thanks. I think.
The part of your comments that I understood were very insightful, and I appreciate them.
But you seem to be making reference to a number of other comments, or perhaps to earlier questions, or something. I'm actually rather confused as to what you mean with remarks like "Pink beat me to it".
But whatever it means, I appreciate hearing from you. I was beginning to wonder if anyone was going to respond to this.
I suppose it's true what they say, Money Talks. Ten dollars is just a whisper, I guess.
5 May 2007 15:59 UTCSat 5 May 2007 - 3:59 pm UTC
You've touched on quite a few issues that are "close to our hearts". I'll address some of them here, and I'm sure that some of the other researchers and our dear "peanuts" will have more to add in the comments.
> What can you tell me about Uclue's business model?
The business model can be succinctly expressed using a format that was common during the dot-com bubble :
1. Create a website
2. Sign up a bunch of talented researchers
In the case of Uclue, the missing step is of course:
3. Have lots of customers posting answerable questions
We're in this for the long term, and are not expecting some kind of instant explosive growth - Uclue may not have the right kind of "coolness factor" for that. Nevertheless, it's a sound business model and the business can be grown organically over time. It's not excessively expensive to run in the meantime.
> ... what makes you think that a service like Uclue can be
> financially successful?
The financial basis for the business is straightforward. The income comes from question fees and tips. A few percent are lost due to payment processing costs. Of the remainder, 100% of tips and 75% of question fees goes to the researchers, and 25% of question fees goes to the service where it pays for hosting, software development, software maintenance, administration, marketing, legal expenses, etc.
Apart from software development, the other costs are roughly proportional to question volume. Therefore, in the long term once the software development costs are amortized, the business is financially sustainable at any size - large or small.
> I can't help noticing that Uclue question volume hasn't quite
It would be great to have higher question volume, of course, and it is disappointing for researchers when we have the occasional day without any new questions.
But actually I'm delighted that the question volume is as high as it is, for a business in its early phases. Not only do we have a steady stream of questions from new and returning customers, but we also have a great variety of high-quality, interesting questions. It's a great basis from which to build up to the next level.
Consider that probably under a hundred thousand people have heard of Uclue, from which our current customers are drawn. Now suppose that over time several million people can be exposed to Uclue - there will certainly be plenty of future customers amongst those people.
Now let's look at how things might have been if the beta launch had not gone so well. We might have had zero paid questions, as in the case of WuyaSea Advice, a similar website that also recently launched:
I have great respect and sympathy for WuyaSea's founder, "dorren", who ascribes his site's failure to thrive to just one factor: that it allows users to choose between asking for free and paying for a (better, faster) answer. As he says belatedly, "why would people pay to ask question if you can ask for free?":
"What's the difference between all these answering services?"
Back to Uclue, how is question volume going to grow in the future? Well, we do have an advertising budget. We have experimented with AdWords and YPN advertisements, without spectacular success possibly due to being unable to get approval for the keywords that we wanted to target. We will try other advertising opportunities in the future, and repeat those that work best.
We also depend on guerilla marketing. If you want to see Uclue grow, spread the word! Tell the world about it! We have a graphic that supporters can put on their websites to promote Uclue, and we will soon be adding more promotional material such as a printable poster:
"Spread The Word!"
As more questions are answered at Uclue, our questions and answers will feature more often in organic search engine results. Because Uclue's pages are content rich, they seem to be appearing quite high in search engine results.
Finally, here are a few statistics that may interest you: the site has 566 registered users who have posted 325 questions, of which 252 (78%) have been answered.
 The Gnomes' business plan