Bringing Subscription Commerce to the Teen Set

joe-gormleyThis summer I decided it was time my 13-year-old son could start cutting the grass. 

He had attempted it a few times the previous years but his size just couldn’t handle the mower and I wasn’t comfortable after watching him attempt it. This year, though, his growth spurt gave me that comfort level that he could handle it at 13. But after one cut early this summer, he showed no interest in earning the $20 I wanted to pay for his services. 

At first, I thought it was due to the fact that the mower was old and difficult to start; he didn’t really understand the mechanics and how to regulate the fuel to get it running. Then I thought he might not feel the need for the money because, as parents, we cover most of his out-of-pocket expenses. Finally, I thought it might be because he was a little worried about damage if the mower were improperly used after giving him a serious safety lecture.

But his interest changed between the beginning of the summer and today.  

The other day when I asked him as his birthday approached what he wanted as a gift for his 14th birthday, he blurted out, “A lawn mower!”

I guess I looked at him like he had three heads as I tried to figure out this mystery. He didn’t want to cut the lawn at all this past summer, but now he wanted a new mower? Didn’t make any sense to me.

Among other fears, I worried that he had a little side project going with his friends and that he wanted to disassemble a new mower to take the motor to power up a handmade go-kart they had stashed somewhere. But no, that was not it.

He said he and a couple of friends were starting a landscaping business – Next Generation Landscaping (might as well plug it here while I can).  

More confusion set in as I tried to figure out how earning a couple of bucks to mow a lawn was any different than the $20 I offered to pay in the summer.

Well, he soon gave me the answer.

That afternoon, after my son showed me the new company logo and website that he and his friends had designed, he explained how they would charge for their services. Lo and behold, it wasn’t the simple one-off pricing for cutting, trimming, weeding, raking and snow removal that motivated them.  It was certainly something different for my son and his friends.

He said he and the other guys were eager to use a “subscription model.” 

At ages 13 and 14, they realized the brilliance of this model – one in which they could pull in a steady stream of income over a year (or even years) and more on a recurring basis! Wow! Where did that come from?

Later, I traced this newfound interest in entrepreneurialism to his school’s career day that I had attended with the other parents in his grade a few weeks back. I stood up in front of the class and talked about Aria Systems’ recurring revenue services that can support any recurring revenue model, including a subscription model, in the “Cloud” (What they thought of the “Cloud” is the subject of another blog). 

Anyway, I guess my talk got the kids thinking that day about how to use a similar model to their financial benefit. Who knew that even they would see that this model was a winner for all involved?

Who says kids don’t listen to their parents these days?!

Joe Gormley, Aria Systems

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About the Author

Joe Gormley

The Forrester Wave: Subscription Billing Platforms, Q4 2015

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