Founders Series: Part Four - A New Year

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👋 Hey, Helium Family! As we all are well aware, 2020 could have been better. Yet, through it all, there you were, supporting our efforts and our mission. You are and forever will be the reason we do what we do.


With that said, you deserve to know where we are headed in 2021—a year of big change, big growth, and big impact. But first, how about a little recap of what we accomplished together in 2020...


💸 We donated $165 to local causes

📚 We delivered 299 books

🔖 We launched The Helium Book Club

💲 We made our first dollar through a local partnership!


...Not to mention, as a result of the pandemic and widespread social unrest, we took it upon ourselves to ensure the safety of our service and the promotion of values such as equality and justice.


Now, with 2020 in the rear view, we shift our focus to a future filled with opportunity. Here are the key tenets of our strategy for the upcoming year:


💻 NEW WEBSITE

In what has been a long time coming, we will be launching a brand new, feature-filled, cleanly designed website in the first few months of 2021. This launch will be accompanied by a minor rebrand (nothing major!) that fits the aesthetic and messaging we've homed in on as a company. We're so excited for you to experience everything we've been working on for the past several months and to hear your feedback, which will be crucial!


So, what exactly will be changing? Good question. As you may have noticed with our current website, sometimes things just—for lack of a better term—don't work right. We've ran into issues in the past with poor functionality affecting your user experience, which is of the utmost importance to us. These issues will be eliminated with a new, more robust site. We want everything to be as easy and frictionless as possible for you, the reader. That means making the ordering (and returning/renewing) process as seamless and fast as possible and having a dedicated space where you can view the books you've read and those you have outstanding and their due dates.


While that's all fine and dandy, we know you expect such ease nowadays. On top of everything, we want to make sure you're having fun reading and using our service. So, we want to implement a fully interactive profile page, in which you can track the books you've read, easily view the amount of money you've saved and dollars you're responsible for donating by way of using our service, and even rate and write reviews on the books you've read for others to see! While this all won't be rolled out immediately, we're excited to make our site your reading "home base," so to speak.


++ Share your thoughts on our current website and let us know what you'd like to see in version 2 here!


💰 CROWDFUNDING CAMPAIGN

As you know, we've been a free service since our inception in September of 2019. On top of that, we've been donating $1 per order to local causes that align with the Helium mission. Yet, businesses require money to operate, of course. Up to this point, that money has come from our founders. However, eventually all wells run dry.


So, we are calling on the Helium Family for support in our efforts to (1) not only continue providing our service, but (2) fuel our growth and help us elevate our impact!


For those unfamiliar, crowdfunding campaigns are fundraising events that occur online for a period of time, typically 30 days. Companies, such as ours, set up a campaign and a fundraising goal that would allow them to do x and y over the next months/years. Funders have the option to contribute any dollar amount they'd like. The fun part about it is that, as a funder (or "backer"), the companies hosting these campaigns set up "perks"—which are free prizes you earn based on how much you contribute—to make your experience all the more rewarding.


Please keep an eye out across our social media, via email, etc. for more information regarding our upcoming crowdfunding campaign. We plan to launch it sometime in March and every bit of support goes a long way.


💳 PRICING MODEL

Like I said above, all businesses need money to exist and grow. Fundraising is one part. Revenue is the other. Unfortunate as it is, we can't be a free service forever :(


We've known this reality was coming since before we even launched. We had our reasons for starting off as a free service, but 2021 marks the time at which we ascribe a monetary value to what we provide. We hope, and it was our goal, that by making ourselves free to use for an extended period of time we would make it clear to you, the reader, that our system of on-demand, expedient book delivery was simply the best way to get your books—a system so preferred to other options that you'd be willing to pay for such convenience and ease.


Now, let it be known that, through our research and planning, the price you will pay to receive books via Helium will be low. To us, that is essential, because we know it is essential to you. And, quite truthfully, prices should be comparatively low given the fact you are renting books, not buying. And here's a quick tip: Based on our dynamic pricing algorithm, the price you will pay for a given book will go down if your rental orders include more books! You should be rewarded for reading more, right?!


What's more? We plan on launching a subscription model alongside this "one-off" pricing model, where you can opt to pay a flat monthly fee to use our services as much as you'd like!


You can expect these pricing structures to be implemented roughly a month or so following the launch of our new website. Worry not, we'll be sure to inform you of important changes and dates as they grow near.


🎁 SUBSCRIPTION BOX

We know that the majority of our current customers, if Helium weren't available, would be getting their books via another service. In other words, they are readers through and through. But, what about those individuals (maybe you reading this) that have ambitions of reading more, but simply don't know where or how to start?


Choosing what book you want to read can be hard. How do you know what you'll like—what's worth spending your money on? How do you know if a certain book you're interested in is any good? These questions are enough to dismantle any motivation aspiring readers may have to kickstart this new hobby. We want to help readers rise above this murky reality and into a space where reading is simpler and as it should be...


So, we thought why not take the guess work (and hard work) out of it? Why don't we, the experts (if we do say so ourselves) determine what books you're likely to enjoy and deliver them right to your door, every month? Come summer 2021, that's exactly what we're going to do. For a low monthly fee, we will source 2-3 books that, based on your stated interests and reading tendencies, you're sure to enjoy, and deliver them to your door.


What better way to turn reading aspirations into reading reality? All you have to do is read, we'll handle the rest.



Now. All that said, 2021 is nothing without you. We will need your continued support. We will need your feedback. You've come alongside us on our journey to new heights for reasons unique to you—perhaps you stand behind our mission, perhaps you enjoy our free service, perhaps you know the founders, perhaps all of the above. Whatever it may be, thank you. Whatever it may be, we need you.


Keep doing what you're doing—spreading the word, renting books, supporting our initiatives. Like I said at the top, you are the reason we do what we do, and I genuinely mean that. Together, and only together, we can build something pretty special. When I'm back here in 2022, we can all reflect on the great strides we made as one cohesive, engaged, active Helium Family.


🥂 Here's to an elevated year...Happy 2021!


++ If you have any comments, questions, concerns, suggestions regarding the above, feel free to email me at ian@heliumbooks.com or leave your remarks in the comments below! I appreciate any and all thoughts!

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