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May 31, 2014

 

CT Post

Try your luck: listing-service "club" adds cash rewards as incentive

by Olivia Just on March 14, 2014

My Luck Club CEO and Founder Phyllis Pierce gets a kiss from Blackjack, one of her two affectionate toy poodles, in her home office in Trumbull, Conn. on Wednesday, March 12, 2014.

With St. Patrick's Day just around the corner, anyone in Fairfield or Westchester counties who's looking to rent an apartment, sell a car or even find a lost pet might be looking for a little extra luck.

My Luck Club is a Craiglist-type of service that aims to help both "Luck Seekers" -- those who are looking for a service -- and "Luck Makers" who can provide it. The exchange process is incentivized by the reward, which "Luck Seekers" post along with their ad on the site. "Luck Makers," who might have a solution, respond to the ad and, if the resolution is completely satisfactory, will receive the monetary reward.

It all started with CEO and founder Phyllis Pierce's own search for a rental a few years ago. Looking for a home in a specific area and coming up short online, the Trumbull resident put up signs around the neighborhood offering a $500 reward to anyone who could assist her in finding a home to rent that met her criteria. It worked; Pierce found precisely the home she wanted and an idea sparked in her mind.

"People were really motivated by the money, although I do like to think that they're also motivated by helping people," Pierce said. "The good news is that people like the fact that it's not like Craigslist where you have to wait and hope someone answers."

The price of the reward depends on the discretion of the poster, Pierce said, though she advocates using common sense to judge what a suitable award might be. One poster looking for employment set a $500 reward for headhunters to respond with job leads and has reported getting more interviews after posting on My Luck Club, Pierce said. The price can also be indicative of the value the "Luck Seeker" places in getting what they want. In another case, a Hartford woman has offered $2,500 for the return of two dogs who were stolen or lost from her home.

The name My Luck Club came from Pierce's personal philosophy and a quote from Thomas Jefferson: "I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it."

The website, which launched live in September, received its initial funding -- and a bit of luck -- from Connecticut Innovations, which offered $25,000 to new businesses. The process of pitching an idea is "very competitive," Pierce said.

"We continue to try to find ways to support the startups and entrepreneurs in our state," saidLauren Carmody, executive in residence at Connecticut Innovations. "Many times, the most difficult problem we find is that entrepreneurs don't know or understand the programs, funding and coaching that is available to them. CTNext is a great first stop for many aspiring and current startups and entrepreneurs. "

Pierce is a serial entrepreneur and My Luck Club is the third business she's started on her own, following forays into TV production and gourmet baking in Los Angeles. Eventually, she plans to deduct a percentage of the posted rewards when a transaction goes through, although the site, still in its early stages, is currently free to use. Pierce has set up a `Support My Luck Club' section of the site and likens the fundraising to what the band Radiohead did in 2007, when they released an album through a "pay-what-you-want" system.

"When you launch a site, you want to get user adoption," Pierce said.

ojust@scni.com; 203-964-2291

 

Daily Voice

Larchmont Native Hopes To Get Lucky With New E-Commerce Website

by Nathan Bruttell on March 12, 2014

Larchmont native Phyllis Pierce has founded a new e-commerce website based around the idea of making one's own luck. Photo Credit: Contributed

LARCHMONT, N.Y. -- Larchmont native Phyllis Pierce has founded a new e-commerce website based around the idea of making one's own luck.

MyLuckClub.com "combines the thrill of shopping on eBay, Craigslist and Amazon" while allowing those who sign up to "monetize their knowledge and connections," according to a release. The website serves as a search platform for "Luck Seekers" and "Luck Makers."

"Luck Seekers" are people looking for housing, jobs, cars, services, things, even love, said Pierce. "Luck Makers," Pierce notes, are people who have what the Luck Seeker wants or knows someone else who does.

“In these challenging economic times, My Luck Club is a way for people to help one another and make money at the same time,” Pierce said. “We think it’s great if you can help someone and also be rewarded financially for the time and energy you’ve spent. In the near future, Luck Makers will have the choice of keeping their reward or donating all, or a portion, of it to My Luck Club partnered charities."

Pierce, a Trumbull, Conn. resident, founded MyLuckClub.com, which was selected in 2013 by the Connecticut Technology Council as a “Tech Company to Watch”. She was also named a “2013 Women of Innovation” finalist in recognition for her “outstanding leadership as an innovator, mentor and role model.”

 

Inc. Magazine

10 Crazy Bootstrapping Stories

by Christina Desmarais

What these entrepreneurs lacked in funds, they made up for in gumption. Read on for inspiring tales of daring, dedication, and desperation.

Barter Brownies: My Luck Club

Before founding My Luck Club, a platform that connects people who need things done with others who want to help, Phyllis Pierce owned a Los Angeles pie company. "I was able to bake amazing cookies, bars, cupcakes, etc. So when I started My Luck Club on a ramen-noodle budget, I would barter my baked goods and my baking services to get help and services that normally would cost me hundreds of dollars," she says.

Become a Key Influencer

Twitter and Klout are good platforms for scoring free stuff says Nickolaus Trevino, social marketing strategist for the iOS opinion app Votopin. "We have gotten everything from free tickets to this year's Social Media Week NYC, a free Driscoll berry drop-off package, to even some free cocktails delivered to us," he says about Twitter. "Klout.com has been a great tool and has perks for its key influencers. In our case, our team has a high Klout score so every so often we get free promotions to go to tech happy hours and conferences. It's awesome."

 

Stamford Advocate

Try your luck: listing-service "club" adds cash rewards as incentive

by Olivia Just on March 14, 2014

My Luck Club CEO and Founder Phyllis Pierce gets a kiss from Blackjack, one of her two affectionate toy poodles, in her home office in Trumbull, Conn. on Wednesday, March 12, 2014.

With St. Patrick's Day just around the corner, anyone in Fairfield or Westchester counties who's looking to rent an apartment, sell a car or even find a lost pet might be looking for a little extra luck.

My Luck Club is a Craiglist-type of service that aims to help both "Luck Seekers" -- those who are looking for a service -- and "Luck Makers" who can provide it. The exchange process is incentivized by the reward, which "Luck Seekers" post along with their ad on the site. "Luck Makers," who might have a solution, respond to the ad and, if the resolution is completely satisfactory, will receive the monetary reward.

It all started with CEO and founder Phyllis Pierce's own search for a rental a few years ago. Looking for a home in a specific area and coming up short online, the Trumbull resident put up signs around the neighborhood offering a $500 reward to anyone who could assist her in finding a home to rent that met her criteria. It worked; Pierce found precisely the home she wanted and an idea sparked in her mind.

"People were really motivated by the money, although I do like to think that they're also motivated by helping people," Pierce said. "The good news is that people like the fact that it's not like Craigslist where you have to wait and hope someone answers."

The price of the reward depends on the discretion of the poster, Pierce said, though she advocates using common sense to judge what a suitable award might be. One poster looking for employment set a $500 reward for headhunters to respond with job leads and has reported getting more interviews after posting on My Luck Club, Pierce said. The price can also be indicative of the value the "Luck Seeker" places in getting what they want. In another case, a Hartford woman has offered $2,500 for the return of two dogs who were stolen or lost from her home.

The name My Luck Club came from Pierce's personal philosophy and a quote from Thomas Jefferson: "I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it."

The website, which launched live in September, received its initial funding -- and a bit of luck -- from Connecticut Innovations, which offered $25,000 to new businesses. The process of pitching an idea is "very competitive," Pierce said.

"We continue to try to find ways to support the startups and entrepreneurs in our state," saidLauren Carmody, executive in residence at Connecticut Innovations. "Many times, the most difficult problem we find is that entrepreneurs don't know or understand the programs, funding and coaching that is available to them. CTNext is a great first stop for many aspiring and current startups and entrepreneurs. "

Pierce is a serial entrepreneur and My Luck Club is the third business she's started on her own, following forays into TV production and gourmet baking in Los Angeles. Eventually, she plans to deduct a percentage of the posted rewards when a transaction goes through, although the site, still in its early stages, is currently free to use. Pierce has set up a `Support My Luck Club' section of the site and likens the fundraising to what the band Radiohead did in 2007, when they released an album through a "pay-what-you-want" system.

"When you launch a site, you want to get user adoption," Pierce said.

ojust@scni.com; 203-964-2291

 

The Whiteboard


My Luck Club, a Connecticut-based e-commerce startup founded by Phyllis Pierce (pictured), recently went from private beta to live. The launch marks the company’s entry into a classified ad and exchange marketplace that is massive, growing, and ripe for innovation.

The website provides a monetary incentive for people to help each other find what they want, including jobs, homes, services, collectibles, even love. Currently free to use, My Luck Clubhas been steadily attracting “Luck Seekers” and “Luck Makers” since its launch, according to the company, with rewards ranging from $50 for an apartment to $100 for lost prescription sunglasses to $500 for a job in IT.

Luck Seekers post a reward for what they are looking for. Luck Makers earn the reward if and when they find it.

Early Success

Phyllis, a serial entrepreneur based in Trumbull, CT, began garnering attention with her concept and private-beta site well before My Luck Club’s official launch, winning several awards.

Her company was one of only nine selected by Connecticut Innovations to receive $25,000 in initial funding in 2012. In 2013, it was selected as a Company to Watch at the Connecticut Technology Council’s Innovation & Entrepreneurship Summit. Recently, Phyllis was honored as a Woman of Innovation for her “outstanding leadership as an innovator, role model, and mentor.”

Phyllis told The Whiteboard that the latter award was particularly significant. According to a 2012 report by the Kauffman Foundation, women form only 3 percent of US-based tech startups, and according to a Stanford University study, just 4.2 percent of venture funding goes to women-led businesses. Phyllis notes the irony of these numbers, pointing to another study, from Carnegie Mellon, that concludes that “women-led high-tech start-ups generate higher revenue per dollar of invested capital and have lower failure rates than those led by men.”

From Luck Seeker to Company Maker

The idea for My Luck Club came to Phyllis while she was running her first startup, a television production company. She had been looking for a house to rent but couldn’t find exactly what she wanted for the right price. Realtors told her “it didn’t exist,” and she had no luck on Craigslist or Realtor.com. Undeterred, Phyllis went to her desired neighborhood and posted signs saying, “$500 cash reward for information leading to [exactly what she wanted].”

“Everyone said I wouldn’t find it,” she told The Whiteboard, “but the minute I offered a reward, I did.”

She realized there was an untapped marketplace of people who can’t find what they want on Craigslist, eBay, or anywhere else, as well as people who are eager to help and make money.

This realization led Phyllis to the underlying philosophy of My Luck Club.

“People are helpful out of kindness,” she says, “but I’m a firm believer that money is a great motivator. A monetary reward encourages people to go the extra mile. It’s also a way of saying thank you for the time and effort you’ve spent helping me. In the end, we can take matters into our own hands and make our own luck.”

Based on this idea, Phyllis founded My Luck Club, providing the initial capital with money she had saved for a down-payment on a house.

An above-the-fold screenshot of the My Luck Club home page

Her Own Drum

Since then, one of Phyllis’s biggest challenges, she says, has been standing her ground.

She told us that, early on, she disagreed with self-proclaimed experts who insisted that she launch a minimal viable product as quickly as possible. “It made no sense to me to launch with an MVP of My Luck Club that users would have difficulty using or understanding, or that couldn’t handle a lot of traffic,” she explains.

“Just look at HealthCare.gov. It was supposed to handle tens of thousands of simultaneous users, yet just a few hundred users flatlined the site. Even the president admitted his team would not have launched the site had it known how badly it would perform. I think I made the right decision.”

 

Instead of rushing an MVP to market, Phyllis decided to keep the website in its closed beta version, giving her developer more time to perfect it. The result, she says, is a product that is much easier for both Luck Makers and Luck Seekers to use, with clearer calls to action.

Building a Customer Base

Phyllis also decided to contradict a dominant school of thought regarding early-stage revenue, she says, opting not to charge users at first, but to focus instead on establishing a large, loyal user base.

“A few angels in the CT startup community scolded me, saying, ‘The day you launch, you have to collect revenue.’ I said, ‘No, the day I launch, I want to attract users.’ Many successful sites have launched for free initially, and I’m following that model.” She points specifically to Craigslist, which started in 1995 as a free service and didn’t incorporate as a private, for-profit company until four years later.

My Luck Club has several revenue models, she says. Once the user base has reached a critical mass, it will charge a commission on each reward, to be paid by the Luck Seekers. In the meantime, Phyllis is implementing a strategy modeled after the band Radiohead, which asked fans to pay what they wanted for a digital album. Similarly, My Luck Club users are asked to make a contribution via a “Support Us” button on the site.

Advice for Entrepreneurs

“When someone says I can’t do something,” Phyllis says, “it angers me and provides even more motivation to succeed – not that I need it.”

Students from Fordham University in New York support My Luck Club.

It’s essential to maintain an entrepreneurial attitude, she says, which means not only embracing risk but adjusting to the difficult reality of the moment. A favorite quote of hers, from Alexander Graham Bell, articulates this point: “When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”

“I’ve been guilty of that,” she says, “but being an entrepreneur often means making the most out of how things work out.”

Phyllis’s goals for 2014 include acquiring additional funding for My Luck Club, forming synergistic relationships with other companies, and adding to her team and advisory board. She may be contacted at ppierce [at] myluckclub [dot] com.

 

Trumbull Times

Inspiration can come in strange places. Just ask tech entrepreneur and Trumbull resident Phyllis Pierce, who recently launched MyLuckClub.com, an e-commerce site with a unique twist.

Tech entrepreneur and Trumbull resident, Phyllis Pierce.

Pierce was shopping one day in a huge sporting goods store when she realized she had left her keys somewhere in the store. Staff helped her search the rows of merchandise for her lost keys but came up empty-handed — until she offered a $20 reward to he person who found it.

“In minutes the same people that couldn’t find the keys found them,” Pierce said. “Money is a great motivator.”

This wasn’t the first time Pierce had used this kind of thinking to reach a goal. When once searching for a house to rent, she put up signs, offering a $500 cash reward to anyone who helped her find the perfect rental.

These experiences helped inspire My Luck Club — an e-commerce website that offers the thrill of shopping on eBay, Craigslist and Amazon while also allowing people to “monetize their connections,” Pierce said.

At MyLuckClub.com, people are either Luck Seekers or Luck Makers. A Luck Seeker puts up a request, offering a reward for help with a number of issues. Some are looking for business referrals, others are looking for rentals or a lost dog, or even to sell or buy a used item. A Luck Maker responds to the advertisement, using his or her connections to help make it happen. The site is free to use.

“Yesterday I put an ad up for a $100 reward to a person who found me an arrangement where I can barter my cooking skills for tennis lessons,” she said recently. “As a start-up entrepreneur, I can’t afford tennis lessons.”

A woman in Danbury who played college tennis and can’t cook responded to the advertisement and also walked away with the $100 reward. But often there is a middleman, Pierce said, someone who knows someone who can help a Luck Seeker.

Rewards in advertisements currently posted range from $5 to $2,500 — a few people even post a “feel good” reward, rather than a monetary one.

Before going live with the site last fall, Pierce made sure the market research was done, and the site had to be able to handle lot of traffic.

“It is available to anyone, anywhere,” Pierce said of the website. “Even though we are trying to focus our marketing in Connecticut and New York.”

For some of the advertisements posted, like needing a gardener or selling a car, people need to be geographically close to one another.

She credits the help of the Fairfield County chapter of SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives), an organization of volunteer businesspeople and retired CEOs who help small business owners.

“They gave me amazing free advice,” Pierce said. “I can’t afford to pay a business adviser and you have this great resource of brilliant executives who will help you for free.”

Only 3% of tech start-ups in the United States are founded by women, so Pierce is in an elite group. The Trumbull resident has had two prior successful companies, and My Luck Club was one of only nine start-ups in Connecticut to receive $25,000 funding and participate in the state’s Innovation’s Tech Start Pilot Program. In 2013, the Connecticut Technology Council selected Myluckclub.com as a “Tech Company to Watch.” In addition, Pierce was named a “2013 Women of Innovation” finalist in recognition for her “outstanding leadership as an innovator, mentor and role model.”

“In these challenging economic times, My Luck Club is a way for people to help one another and make money at the same time,” Pierce said. “We think it’s great if you can help someone and also be rewarded financially for the time and energy you’ve spent. In the near future, Luck Makers will have the choice of keeping their reward or donating all, or a portion, of it to My Luck Club partnered charities.”

To learn more, visit Myluckclub.com. To learn more about the Fairfield County chapter of SCORE, visit ScoreNorwalk.org.