Coomercial Applications on Community Networks
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Richard Bryant, Richard Civille, Eric S. Theise
May 16, 1996
Reported by Denise Blanchette
For self-sustainment/grants do not go on forever, need to find ways to support the community network.
The internet as a micro enterprise.
Rural micro-enterprises used to create a basis of generating revenue.
"The Public Webmarket" designed with narrative of vendors, is a browser used to create an interactive site to learn more about the producers and their products. Provides interactive order information for ease of ordering. Site is much more of a local, community based site. The small vendors need not have a computer or the knowledge of the internet. The non-profit network provides these services.
Site also used by potential visitors to the area for their vacation planning.
Vendors have a much greater exposure- world wide than they ever would with local options.
1.25 return on website hits vs orders.
Community services that community networks offer vs commercial enterprises. There seems to be much more interest by the community networks this year concerning commercial.
What are the conditions to encourage the emergence of a socially responsible markets within community networks, that supports local vendors, keeps local needs in mind?
Communities of Interest:
Get more involved in relationships who have the same ideas as you do, or same interests.
Tax code issues
Market rate - will community networks undercut other commercial sources.?
Also depends on how your network is set-up, is there any conflict with provider?
Web page design support for commercial entities
REASONS FOR GOING COMMERCIAL:
- Grants will be written forever, but normally do not cover all costs associated with running a community network.
- Marketing small artisans in out of the way communities
- Long term sustainability for community networks is critical for survival
- The development of commercial applications to help support the free, nonprofit activities of community networks is becoming increasingly more improtant. In Taos, as a reflex of the community network, new businesses have sprung up.
- Long term sustainability
- Development of commercial applications
- Promote economic development
- Improve working conditions, salaries, and benefits for emplyees
- Virtually all community networks are grant based.
- No community networks doing commerical applications are yet sustainable
- Community networks developing commercial application frequently are assailed by competitive for-profit companies
- Everyone is developing commercial Internet applications--stiff competition.
- Finding people to do the legwork
- selling web pages
Is it worth it to go in this direction? What other approach can we take to support the nonprofit?
HOW DID WE GET HERE?
- For most by accident?
- The need to provide Internet access to communities who would otherwise not have it
- Free public access for those who cannot afford a computer
- Original Needs/Assumption may not be valid
- Commmunity network is the Internet provider
- Internet access will be provided by telcos or cable companies--This is a good thing
- Everyone will welcome the community networks' commercial activities
- Competition with non profits
- Continue to find grant support difficult at best
- Add commercial activities competion IRS regulations (30%) rule
- Spin-off for profit subsidiary - NM Technet, ANS+Core
- Contracts for mission related activities, databases, conferencing
Economic development, education, healthcare.
- By IRS rules, 501(c)3 can only be a mixture of grant funding and unrelated business revenue
- Decide what business activities fit best with your organization -
Web page design, training, consulting, networking, ???
- Create strategic business plan and obtain funding to start "new business" within nonprofit first
- Hire good, knowledgeble sales persons and manager for operation
- Provide excellent service - SERVICE makes the difference
- Evaluate and monitor carefully the project
- Be creative - look for marked niches
Narrowline - open June 1st - classified ad software - as a $ generator
Did consulting work - ran commercial site - on-line publisher (Buzznet) -
However, was not able to sell ads - could not make money. Narrowline now believes that sponsoring sites, would be a way to go. Have corporations sponsor pages/sites for the nonprofit, i.e., on ski page, bed and breakfast has a mention on the page (ad).
Narrowline works with content providers to make sensible media plans.
Sites with high volumne, even with small percentage of purchases, the direct marketing/volumn will pay for itself.