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A Winning Business Plan For ‘Second Life’

Posted by SIM on February 19, 2007

By Daniel Terdiman
19 February 2007

The winner of a business plan contest in Second Life is a company that’s likely to help others come up with business plans for Second Life.

The honors, announced Monday, went to Minnesota-based Market Truths, which devised a market research and analysis system to help real-world companies figure out what works and what doesn’t in the burgeoning virtual world.

The contest’s judges rewarded the Market Truths submission because the team has conducted similar market research in the real world for years, and because it appeared to have the best profit potential of the four finalists.

“I was really impressed by the quality of (all) the ideas we received,” said Susan Wu, a contest judge and a venture capitalist from Charles River Ventures. “Each one of these businesses could turn into a viable ongoing enterprise, not only in terms of Second Life, but as a service that stands across multiple virtual worlds.”

The other finalists in the first-ever business plan contest in Second Life submitted proposals for a reputation-based search engine, an in-world music distribution system and a suite of in-world communications and collaboration tools.

Wu said she voted for the Market Truths team–led by its managing director, Mary Ellen Gordon–because of its real-life market research experience and the likelihood that the team would be able to extend that experience into the virtual arena.

“I personally favored Market Truths because they had the best execution,” said Wu. “It seemed most likely that they would be able to execute on their idea (and) the fact that (Gordon) already has experience doing this.”

The contest, which launched in November, sought creative business plans with real profit potential. It was sponsored by The Electric Sheep Company, the largest third-party creator of projects and services in Second Life, and global public relations firm Edelman.

The Market Truths team will receive free access to a private Second Life island for six months, as well as a prize of 350,000 Linden dollars, the in-world currency–about $1,308 in U.S. dollars.

The proposal was for a system in which Market Truths would conduct regular focus groups, as well as surveys and other market research in order to determine the kinds of things that members of the Second Life community like and don’t like about brands, products and services from third-party companies.

The research and surveys will provide analysis based on Second Life users’ real-life gender, in-world gender, real-world age, time in Second Life and other factors. That will give Market Truths clients the opportunity to gauge users’ attitudes based on a number of demographic factors, including the unusual ones that come up in a virtual world where a participant can take on any personality, gender, race, age or size they wish.

Gordon said her team will conduct focus groups inside Second Life and has already been doing so. Market Truths, she said, has been signing up Second Life users to participate in the studies who are being paid a nominal fee–in Linden dollars–and are required to have been in Second Life for at least 30 days in order to ensure that they have some investment in it.

For Market Truths’ customers–potentially large corporations considering whether to set up shop in-world, following in the footsteps of companies including Toyota, General Motors, American Apparel and Starwood Hotels–Gordon said the idea is to provide information about how Second Life users will react to their brands, their products and their services.

Further, Market Truths’ services will allow companies to market-test prototype products and to assess how Second Life users will react to them.

To the judges, the fact that Market Truths can help its clients evaluate how the Second Life community will respond to products, brands and services is an invaluable and potentially lucrative business.

“People will pay them a lot of money, so…it’s a really good business,” said Jon Goldstein, a contest judge and partner at Catamount Ventures, an early investor in Second Life publisher Linden Lab. “Another thing we considered in this contest is the effect on Second Life and its community…What (Market Truths is) going to be doing is working with big companies and helping immerse them in Second Life, and that’s a great for getting more people involved and educated about Second Life.”

Another finalist was the Italian team of architect Laura Cassara and journalist Mario Gerosa.

The two have created a concept for a search engine to allow the virtual world’s users to more easily locate the kinds of places, stores, clubs and other things that interest them.

The idea is based on the reality that the built-in Second Life search functionality is fairly rudimentary and has little or no contextual utility. Instead, it searches purely on keywords.

But Gerosa and Cassara have come up with a system that would allow users to find things based on their preferences and on quality.

That means that as users discover new objects, places and the like in Second Life, they would be able to rate them and in the process create a “quality atlas.”

The result would be something akin to’s recommendation engine, in that as users find things, the engine would suggest other places or objects in Second Life or even, potentially, outside the virtual world.

Wu said she thinks the system would make a potentially profitable business but is not as well-developed or unique as that of Market Truths.

“Unless you’re Linden Lab or you have experience doing search,” Wu said, “you probably don’t have a very defensible strategy if others enter the market.”

And Wu added that it is inevitable that there will be significant competition in the Second Life search market in the near future.

The third finalist was a team of three from Turkey that created a system for distributing music throughout Second Life in something of an iTunes model.

The idea, said team member Ozgur Alaz, a trend scouter and ad planner from Istanbul, is to provide owners of Second Life venues–clubs, stores, theaters and the like–with jukeboxes through which could play digital music that anyone listening could then buy.

The business model for the idea, said Alaz, is to share revenue with the venue hosts as an incentive to place the jukeboxes in their locations. The team said it would try to find partners among the major recording labels in order to gain access to their catalogs of music. Songs would cost roughly the same as a song from the iTunes Music Store.

The last finalist, a team of three from the Seattle area called Metaverse Technologies, has created a suite of communications and collaboration tools intended to give enterprise users a way to use Second Life for business meetings and other important gatherings.

Jacob Sullivan, a Metaverse co-founder and an electrical engineer, said that his team would provide clients with tools along the lines of PowerPoint, interactive whiteboards and other presentation tools that could be used in Second Life.

The team imagines that businesses as well as educators would find the most use from the tools, but individual users might also want to buy pieces of the suite.

For Goldstein, the four teams represented the idea that Second Life can and will be a useful medium for those looking for new ways to build businesses and make money. And as a result, he said, the future of Second Life as an entrepreneurial environment is rosy.

“I think the competition is a great idea,” said Goldstein, “and I think it’s further validation for what’s going on in Second Life, which is a platform to enable creativity and entrepreneurship.”



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A Comprehensive List Of Businesses That Can Be Operated In Second Life

Posted by SIM on December 30, 2006

Besides the businesses that Second Life recommends:

party and wedding planner
pet manufacturer
casino operator
nightclub owner
automotive manufacturer
fashion designer
aerospace engineer
custom avatar designer
jewelry maker
XML coder
freelance scripter
game developer
fine artist
machinima set designer
tour guide
custom animation creator
lottery operator
theme park developer
real estate speculator
vacation resort owner
magazine publisher
private detective
special effects designer
hug maker

Second Life
Business Opportunities Page

There is a vast array of additional businesses that you can set up in-world to supplement your SL & RL
income. Some SimChroniCity suggestions are listed below:

Accounting & Bookkeeping
Advertising Consultant
Antiques Dealer
Appraisal Services
Art Gallery Owner
Asphalt Maintenance
Automotive Products & Services
Barber Shop
Bath and Body Boutique
Boat Services
Body Guard Service
Bridal Services
Building & Remodeling
Business Brokerage Firm
Business Development
Business Equipment
Business Plan Writer
Cabinet Resurfacing & Remodeling
Cake Decorating
Campground Maintenance
Camping Guide
Candle Designer
Car Rental Agency
Car Sales & Leasing
Car Wash
Carpet, Upholstery & Drapery Service
CD Sales
Charm School
Christmas Decorating Service
Classified Ad Consultant
Closet Systems
Commercial & Residential Cleaning Service
Communication Products
Convenience Store
Cosmetics & Perfumes
Courier Service
Custom Furnishings Designer
Dating Service
Day Spa
Desktop Publishing
Discount Store
DJ Music Business
Educational Service
Electronics Store
Employment Agency
Errand Service
Escort Service
Eye-Care Center
Feng Shui Consultant
Financial Planning Service
Fitness Center
Floral Designer (In Customer’s Home)
Flower Shop
Furniture Restoration
Furniture Store
Gift Basket Business
Graphic Design
Hair Salon
Hardware Store
Health and Fitness Products
Home Office Service
Home Repairs
Import and Export Service
Indoor/Outdoor Lighting Consultant
Interior Designer/Decorator
Lawn Care & Gardening Service
Life Coaching
Liquor Store
Massage Parlor
Messenger Service
Modeling School
Moving Service
News Stand
Nutritional Products
Party Supplies Store
Personal Shopper Service
Personal Stylist
Photography Service
Plant Maintenance Service
Postal & Business Center
Printing Service
Professional Organizer
Property Inspection Service
Referral Services
Remodeling Services
Security Systems
Sign Making
Sporting Goods
Sports Equipment & Apparel
Staffing Services
Tanning Salon
Tax Service
Tech Products
Training Business
Travel Agency
Vehicle Detail Shop
Video Store
Videotaping Service
Virtual Assistant
Vitamin Store
Wardrobe Consultant
Web Development for Residents who require a web presence
Weight Loss Center
Wheels & Rims Shop
Window & Floor Coverings
Workshops & Seminars

If you already have a real life business with any of the following companies, perhaps you can advertise or
demonstrate these products in-world, and deliver real products to real life residents:

(Please be sure you contact the corporate headquarters of the following to ensure you aren’t violating their policies)

Home Interiors
Pampered Chef
Signature Homestyles
Southern Living at Home

Any Questions Send An e-Mail To

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