TL;DR — Tried lots of things, making some money, but not enough, and feeling burned out. Should I quit? Should we bring on a third cofounder?
I have a side project which I've been running on the side since August 2015. The site is called brideworthy.com. It's a wedding marketplace in the Philippines (country where i live).
I have a co-founder who is a full stack developer, while i'm into UI /UX / 360 photography, We've had day jobs ever since. The website is earning around $1,000 per month from 6 clients.
There's nothing new with our website. It's basically a listing website for wedding vendors which ranks well in search engines for venue keywords like "Wedding Venue in [City/Location]." We also have something similar to Thumbtack where we match soon-to-wed couples with vendors.
Progress has been really slow. We started earning maybe a year after launch, thats when it started ranking in google. We made money solely from advertising back then, but it wasn't a lot.
Around the 2nd year, one of the biggest catering company here reached out to partner with us. The thing with Caterers here is they need to be accredited with a venue to do business with them, since we ranked well for venue keywords we had a lot of inquiries that we can send to them since they are technically partners of those venues, we were able to charge $500++ per month to this 1 client. So we thought "aha! we finally found our business model!", just need to get more caterers on board.
Problem was we couldn't get anyone else to sign up. We called all the big caterers, we put them on a 30 day trial, they got tons of leads, but they didn't have the process in place to nurture the leads, so the leads were useless to them, unlike the 1st company we sold to who had a CRM, a room full of telesales agents, and an email marketing process. The closest we got to another caterer signing up is still on-going, we put them on trial back in November 2018 and up to this date we are still negotiating and they are only willing to pay a fraction of what we are charging our #1 client.
Aside from this caterer lead gen we also have another income stream for smaller vendors, which is if you sign up for $40/month we will send you leads. This is the similar to the thumbtack model. We have a few clients who are happy with the service and have confirmed bookings.
Problem with this model is it has a ceiling, for example I cant sign-up 100 photographers because these guys will be competing with each other, so in order to keep my clients happy they need to keep getting bookings from us and to do that we need to keep competition low. Problem with weddings is its low frequency but is high price.
In an ideal world if I can get a commission for each booking that went thru us we'd do great, but we couldn't do that because of the offline aspect that happens with weddings. Here in the Philippines couples usually meet the vendors, before they book them. Weddings has this personal touch to them vs doing maybe a corporate event, since you are only getting married once and you're spending a fortune.
When I run the numbers I just couldn't see how this website can support us both to the point where we can quit our jobs.
Right now I'm not sure what to do with it.
In the past I would get burnt out but will be back after a few days, I know its just a phase, but now I feel different. A part of me feels I should let it go so that I can work on something else. Another part me feels like were almost there but just missing something. I've come to terms with the notion that I'm not the person who can grow a business. I can come up with ideas, build stuff, but not a good businessman.
Maybe a 3rd person can come in and shake things around? I dunno, which is why I'm posting here because I wanted to get an outsiders perspective or maybe learn from others similar experiences.
What do you think I should do? (If you've come this far, thanks for reading.)