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Like Tumblers in a Combination Lock

This week, I’m talking to my 2010 Dream Year class about tweaking and adjusting their business models until they thrive. Not every idea succeeds at first, but it doesn’t mean we should give up.

In 1997, Andrew Mason started a website called The Point, which intended to mobilize groups of people behind specific charitable causes. It required a certain people to commit their time or money to a cause before the project was green-lit.

If the cause didn’t attract enough resources, the project was scrapped. If it reached its goal, the project was “tipped,” and the cause was undertaken.

The trouble is tips rarely happened. Not enough people were getting behind the causes to actually mobilize them.

“It was a big abstract idea that wasn’t getting any traction,” Andrew said. “So we tried to focus on one specific way that people were using the site. Group buying seemed to be the most promising.”

So Andrew launched a new site in November 2008 that offered group-based discounts on products. For example, one deal offered two pizzas for half price if 15 people committed up front. Another deal sold time in a sensory deprivation chamber.

Andrew’s second concept took off immediately, and the service has since expanded to 236 cities in 29 countries. You know this website as Groupon – the fastest growing business in global history with nearly a billion dollars in sales in just two years.


Finding a successful model for your idea is like turning the tumblers in a combination lock. It could be one factor; it could be a series of factors; but you have to tweak and adjust it until you find just the right combination that works.


The best rate for the Dream Year seminar in Nashville ends in one week. Applications for the Dream Year process are due in two weeks.