Before we came up with the concept for Croissant, our team was building a totally different idea: a perks platform for businesses. It was kind of like Groupon, but for the business sector. The way it worked was that you would buy a deal for 30% off of a sushi dinner and your employer would subsidize an extra 20% off, giving you a grand total of 50% off your meal. It was our first foray into the world of creating value for different parties: merchants who were interested in growing their business, employees who wanted to take advantage of great deals, and employers who wanted to motivate employees by offering, well, perks.
That answer was no. The more we thought about it, the more clear it became; people don't care about these types of perks. But wait, aren't perks awesome? I remembered that I always used to get excited when I bought something and it came with something extra—something delightful. Hmm... Maybe that's it! The perk can't be the core offering. A perk must be unexpected, an extra little bonus or the cherry on top. I finally came full circle.
Needless to say, something had to give. We pivoted by deciding to turn our focus to deals that could be used as a group (such as a team dinner). That way the value proposition revolved around team connection instead of around simple perk. We were finally onto something, but we weren't hitting our stride just yet. We hadn’t quite reached our premier idea.
A few weeks later we ended up moving onto a new project entirely, Croissant, and thought we had abandoned the perks concept entirely. What we didn’t realize was that later, after a year-and-a-half of running Croissant—dubbed “the Uber of rentable desk space” by the New York Times—we would figure out that perks were still needed, just in a different way. Our core offering remains the same (access to a variety of inspiring workspaces) but now we provide the opportunity for our members and business owners to offer deals to the other members of Croissant.
As long as you focus on the way you make people feel, and less on the material aspect of what you're delivering, I think you've got a shot.