Our relaunch as Parity Network
Over the past year our team has been on a journey. Our starting point was a belief that the Sardex project in Sardinia, Italy was exciting and should be replicated here in the West Midlands. I had studied it at length as part of my research at the University of Birmingham, and between us we believed we had the skills and knowledge to develop a similar network here in our region. Although we registered our company last year, it has mainly been a fact-finding and market analysis process. We have spoken to over 200 businesses across the West Midlands, ranging from one person consultants turning over £35,000 a year, through to companies with 40 staff, turning over £2million per year.
What did we find?
Firstly, we believed that the name Credex was too financial. We have found that the average small business isn’t interested in credit and borrowing, and largely have negative opinions about financial companies. Although our model offers 0% interest credit, businesses were not engaging with us for that reason. If they can help it, many businesses avoid borrowing, and those who do want to borrow, often have negative experiences with the banks. We therefore believe that pitching the model solely on its financial credential was a hindrance.
Secondly, we think launching Credex at West Midlands level was too much of a large area. There wasn’t really anything connecting the businesses who joined us, other than we had encouraged them to join. We think we made the mistake of attempting to replicate Sardex as it is now, at regional level. When really we should have trying to replicate Sardex ten years ago, when it was an embryonic network in Serramanna, Sardinia.
Thirdly, we think we are pretty clued up about the model, and have some great technology, but we just didn’t know how to sell to small businesses. We naively thought we would turn on our website, post a couple blogs, and have lots of people trying to sign up to the model. We also thought that attending networking events would allow us to find customers. We now realise neither of these routes are very effective at generating the types of leads we need.
Finally, we believe we have been struggling with the same issue many projects like us have struggled with; explaining the model. The average business owner isn’t interested in talking about money and credit, or considering alternatives to the banking system. They also struggle to believe that the credit is 0% without there being a catch. They just want enough of a grasp to work out how it could benefit their business.
In September 2019 after two months of hard work, we have pivoted our business to take into account what we have found in our market analysis. Firstly, we have officially changed the name to Parity Network Ltd. We think the word parity reflects both what is happening with the transactions, but also the word means equality. The businesses we spoke to liked working locally with other small businesses, we like to think they can work in parity with one another. We also think the main focus of the network should be about increasing the sales and marketing opportunities of its users. Many of the businesses saw us as an additional sales channel. Secondly, we are now focusing just on the Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham where we now have our office. This is a great location, there are hundreds of small independent businesses within a mile of us and business owners are proud to be based here. Thirdly, we have been receiving lots of advice and support on developing our sales strategy. We now understand prospecting, sales funnels and other key buzzwords, we have also developed an outbound strategy. Finally, we have decided to explain our credit system through calling it a local currency. We think this is easier to explain and allows users to understand that the credit is 0% interest, but only within the currency.
We think the most important thing is that we are learning. We believe that as the model is innovative, we should adapt to what the market is telling us. So over the next couple of weeks we intend to relaunch in the Jewellery Quarter and see what the response is. So finally, what are we?
“Parity is a network for independent businesses in the Jewellery Quarter with its own local currency. With our digital platform, you can promote your business, connect with new local customers and increase your revenue. Our local currency provides an innovative cash flow solution to support the growth of your business. All this for only £35 per month. Join today and connect in Parity.”
We also created a short video that explains in more detail. You can view it here.
Thanks for reading.