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    What is The Value of Clicks 2 Bricks?

    • 6 min read

     

    Clicks 2 Bricks effectively offers qualifying Startups and Entrepreneurs an approximate net savings of:

    • Up to $50,000
    • 150+ production hours
    • 20-40 hours of agency/freelance planning & negotiation
    • 6-12 months of less than optimal revenue
    • Hundreds, potentially thousands of lost customers

    We Can Do Better

    While Santa Cruz County has an excellent track record of support for the small business community, we are also missing one critical component: A hands-on, practical, one-on-one crash course in the Lean Startup and MVP methodologies-- one supported by academia but wholly driven by non-academic industry professionals at the top of their influence. By offering just this, we are able to provide cohort participants with immediate, real-world outcomes and low capital risk (with high reward)-- as opposed to purely theoretical, top-down guidance. Basically, we need to get down into the trenches with our Entrepreneurs. On average, we expect C2B participants to bypass existing barriers-to-entry and realize extraordinary savings via the following:

    1. We can eliminate the need to attempt DIY eCommerce while lacking critical, nuanced experience and the appropriate capital resources. We estimate that an Entrepreneur in California can waste up to $6,500 in capital expenditure and 6-12 months of critical time (though passive) by creating their own website. Additionally, an unknown but significant amount of revenue can be lost and brand credibility can be compromised throughout this 6-12 month period. Lastly, the DIY approach greatly increases the likelihood of a startup folding within the first 12 months (approximately 67% currently fail during the first year).
    2. We can eliminate the need for an agency. Currently in Santa Cruz County, an Entrepreneur wanting to give life to their business online basically has three options: DIY, Agency/Freelancer, Friends and Family, or GetVirtual (a program of UC Santa Cruz mentioned above which leverages students in creating business websites). The average cost associated with engaging each of these options is as follows:
      • Web/eCommerce Design & Development Agency: $15,000-$50,000
      • Freelance Web Designer/Developer: $5,000-$15,000
      • Offshore Freelance Web Designer/Developer: $3,000-$5,000
      • Friends and Family (Entrepreneur has personal connection): $0-$3,000*Note: Invisible costs (of both time and capital) occur when digital assets don't produce substantive results (ie, the Entrepreneur has to undo what someone lacking either time or experience has done) and either redesign their website or mitigate damage done to the brand through a process lacking the appropriate long-term vision, planning, processes, and oversight. 

    What's Really The Value of Clicks 2 Bricks?

    Therefore, Clicks 2 Bricks effectively offers qualifying Startups and Entrepreneurs an approximate net savings of:

    • Up to $50,000
    • 150+ production hours
    • 20-40 hours of agency/freelancer planning & negotiation
    • 6-12 months of less than optimal revenue
    • Hundreds, potentially thousands of lost customers

    If not addressed by Clicks 2 Bricks, significant numbers like these can (and do) sink a great majority of would-be Entrepreneurs financially and through loss of motivation before gaining enough traction to sustain the endeavor. Imagine all that could be accomplished by limiting these expenses (both real and implied). We do exactly that and therefore, our impact can be significant --possibly even mission-critical-- to economic development in the digital era.

    Beyond the nuts-and-bolts nature of the Clicks 2 Bricks offering, we also take our students and mentees through critical business design, branding, product development, category consideration, and operational processes as evidenced by the broad outline of our 11 week curriculum: 

    But Clicks 2 Bricks doesn't stop there. We're also very aware of the challenges that Entrepreneurs will face upon completion of the C2B program. For this reason we support our students long after completion of the program via the following:

    • A strong roadmap which will help the student navigate common and inevitable challenges
    • Social learning by facilitating ongoing participation and peer feedback/collaboration through our LinkedIn Group, a pool of public resources provided via our website, less formal community events, and our blog.
    • On-demand support by the Clicks 2 Bricks team of SBDC Advisors and Speakers
    • Priority support via our relationships with software providers such as ShopifyHubSpotShipstationAvalara, and many other program partners.
    • Access to capital resources such as OneValleySanta Cruz Accelerates, and warm introductions to top-tier national programs such as TechStars and Y Combinator for any students who see an opportunity to truly innovate beyond the standard eCommerce model.
    • Migration of a more growth-capable business to the NorCal SBDC workflow for continuing traditional business consulting (accounting, HR, etc.) and a focus on procuring affordable physical space for C2B Graduates in Santa Cruz County whether that be retail or warehouse and industrial (for manufacturing or inventory storage and fulfillment). 

    This is how we support our local Entrepreneurs throughout the journey from clicks to bricks.

    Guided by Research, Not Composite or Personal Bias

    Because of the C2B team's expertise and desire to produce tangible, data-derived outcomes for our local economy, we will be further educating ourselves (and by proxy our students) by looking deep into thecurrent eCommerce landscape-- one that has been catalyzed, and therefore recently transformed, by COVID and is lacking original research that hasn’t been contaminated by the echo chamber of the internet and personal biases. It's for this reason that we have identified a research partner to help answer such critical questions. We have a holistic, alternative research firm that can surface key drivers in the locally conscious, alternative, and indy economies. Drivers which hold the key to disrupting the popular user journey of consumers identifying a purchase need and immediately opening the Amazon app on a mobile device (either to initiate product research or to initiate a purchase) over 89% of the time. Let that sink in:89% of the time, that is the typical eCommerce journey. That means that our local businesses are not just competing with one another, but with a company with a trillion dollar market cap and a demonstrated history for selling product at a loss in favor of market share. 

    Ultimately (and ever more true with each passing quarter) the outlook for independent businesses in the US becomes more bleak at the hands of a single, monopolistic competitor. The research we have commissioned will not only help Clicks 2 Bricks be more effective in its primary mission, but also help us develop a meaningful plan in order to open the conversation with local, state, regional, and national regulators about what can be done to allow Main Street to once again compete with a massive, global competitor who is widely known to leverage Wall Street dynamics to push small competitors out of the marketplace. This includes the Amazon Web Services hosting environment which may grant access to the data of small competitors who host their webstores and/or apps on AWS. We currently have ideas about how the playing field with Amazon may be leveled, but we need quality, current, holistic information to validate our initial assumptions before ever considering a move that may churn the waters of politics, big banks, and Wall Street as it relates to Amazon— and they are deeply intertwined.

    Assumptions Clicks 2 Bricks is Working To Validate

    The consumer side:

    1. Online purchasing habits of regional consumers in the context of Amazon
    2. Sentiment toward smaller, local, eCommerce merchants (in other words, do people care about buying locally online and if not, why not)
    3. Regional expectations of price as compared to Big Box discounts

    The merchant side:

    1. What challenges are smaller, locally-focused eCommerce merchants facing?
    2. Where have established local merchants seen success? What are those strategies/tactics exactly?
    3. What kind of revenue are smaller merchants in the area experiencing at the following stages:
      • Month of launch
      • 3, 6, 9, & 12 months
      • Year 2 & 3

    Guidance to Leverage (Non-Amazon) Marketplaces-- Locally & Beyond

    The general approach to eCommerce strategy that Clicks 2 Bricks abides is that much like a brick and mortar business, eCommerce merchants who want to leverage the global marketplace need to start with their own neighborhood. By first making customers and evangelists of our close friends and neighbors, only then can new merchants begin to think about regional, state, national, and global marketplaces aided by network effects from their initial efforts (and learnings) locally. And while this may sound like abstract jargon, we have a roadmap to transition Entrepreneurs and attain measured growth through a network of marketplaces with built-in audiences at various levels including:

    Local

    Region & State

    National

    When combined with a strong merchant-owned website, these marketplaces can offer a reliable source of low-margin but steady revenue until brand awareness, strategy, product, and user experience are strong enough to compete on the global stage without the crutch of ancillary, third-party channels.

    - Jake Nelson, eCommerce Advisor

    Clicks2Bricks (C2B) is an eCommerce Incubator and a project of the Santa Cruz SBDC. C2B offers multiple cohorts each year. The program lasts for 3 months and aims to offer the participant an opportunity to build a viable local eCommerce business with lasting support, not only from SBDC Advisors, but also through collaboration with their peers in cohort. Successful participants, when ready, will then be guided through the process of acquiring or occupying their first physical location in Santa Cruz County. Whether that means high-traffic retail in Downtown Santa Cruz, or simply warehouse space to continue growing a digital-only business. C2B is here to help.