Case Study: NewCo Air using Personas to secure funding

Every business needs funding. We know that having a good understanding of our target is important. But would you be surprised to learn that having a good understanding of our target can help you secure funding? I helped a startup with their pitch by helping them define their target buyer persona. Check out this case study.

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The American east coast is home to major cities like New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. Business travelers often need to commute between these cities on a regular basis. The idea is to offer these travelers an option to commute between these cities faster, better, and more comfortably.

Private aviation membership clubs had sprouted in markets across America. Surfair launched in Los Angeles. RISE launched in Dallas. These clubs offer members unlimited flights between select markets on luxurious private jets for a flat monthly membership fee. Such clubs were also gaining popularity in overseas markets.

The business model itself is proven. However, is there a fit with the east coast market? In this market, there are already commercial commuter flight options, and the cities are well-connected by trains.

Aviation is an industry with high startup costs. To secure funding, the founders needed to demonstrate a solid understanding of the east coast market. The founders had strong aviation industry background, but they had little understanding of how to market the idea. I was recruited to help. The first step I took was to launch into an insight gathering exercise.

Given a tested business model, there were clearly identified target customers. Having these target customer profiles offered a starting point that many startups would have envied. Nevertheless, the questions remained how these customers behave on the east coast. What was their willingness to buy, or if they were willing at all?

We answered these questions with minimal costs using in-depth one-on-one interviews and online surveys. The interviews offered the opportunity to qualitatively understand our target customers. They gave us the chance to better understand the why’s. The interviews revealed the target customers’ pain points, as well as the non-negotiables. The interviews also presented a preliminary price range for the membership fee. The online surveys allowed us validate the interview learnings on a bigger scale. The survey helped us quantify the opportunity specific to this market.

These research, despite its preliminary and low-cost nature, revealed significant findings.

First of all, while there is a typical price and demand relationship, the research validated that there was a sizable segment within the east coast flying public that would be attracted to the concept of a private aviation membership club.

Secondly, three distinct segments for such service were identified. I synthesize the research findings into three buyer personas. Developing buyer personas was the perfect approach for this challenge. The founders needed a common understanding of who were the buyers, and what made them tick. Personas gave them a black-and-white template of their target customers, upon which they could build out their product offerings and associated business plans.

NewCo Air used the personas and supporting data as part of the pitch deck to secure seed funding.


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