I have an app idea that I'm working on to help school kids with bullying. I discussed this with a local vice principal and he liked the idea. I'm a developer and am learning to develop mobile apps, enough to at least get a prototype going. He's going to introduce me to people who work for the larger school district who most likely controls the way things proceed. I should be able to get a basic prototype going myself.
So the question is how to go about pitching and developing the project - do I charge them from day one or do a free pilot project? I don't know what type of budgets the schools would have for this. Do it for free for them and then sell the idea to other school districts? I have so many other questions but let's leave it at this for now :)
Okay, here is just an idea for your consideration :
Instead of focusing on building and developing your own sales channel into schools -- which is extraordinarily crowded and would be expensive to maintain with a product that will have a low price point and small margins -- why not leverage someone else existing platform.
I see three options (and I am sure others can identify more):
Existing catalog The first is to go to an existing company that sells product to Schools that could add your product to their catalog. this is a B2B pitch -- on why including your product in their portfolio will make sense. Since "bullying" is a hot topic all of these companies will have a section in their catalog covering it --
Non-profit advocacy organization There a numerous local, regional and national organizations addressing bully in schools. All of these organizations have connections into schools. All of them are pitching resources. If one of them adopts your resource to be in their toolbox you will have a distribution channel. One of them might even purchase i from you so that they can brand it. Or, perhaps they will have a corporate sponsor who will purchase a significant number of them in order to connect their brand to the resource.
Speaker/Advocate There are some fantastic speakers on the market today activly selling to schools to speak about why not to bully others. All of them are looking for revenue opportunities. You can provide them a platform to monitize all of the visits a little bit more.
Bottomline: Build the traction by Leveraging other peoples existing sales channels. Leverage the application to build a primary relationship with the users. Sell subsequent versions and upgrades direct.
Have you heard of the Lean Startup Method? It was invented by Eric Ries, and it talks a lot about customer development and rapid prototyping.
So perhaps the best way is to first ask possible customers (school principals/teachers) if it's something they want, or even need, or rather, ask if there is something they wish they had. This way you can validate your idea before putting in a ton of effort, only to find no one wants/needs your product.
After talking, move towards a minimum viable product (mvp), this is a barebones version of the app/software so that they can get an initial feel and provide early feedback.
Essentially you keep seeking feedback and further developing the prototype until its a product you can start charging for.
This is a really, really, short summary of the Lean Startup methodology, but if you think it sounds interesting you should read Eric's book, "The Lean Startup".
Also you can check out Ash Maurya's "Running Lean", which builds on Eric's ideas.
Regarding pricing, etc, you can actually book a one-on-one session with Ash and he'll talk to you about your idea, both of them discuss pricing in their books though.
Hope this helps!
Schools are usually larger organizations, by that, I mean that they occasionally have a 'parent' company, and so widespread changes in terms of operations/infrastructure usually are quite difficult.
You'd probably be better off giving a pitch to smaller schools first, and offering them a 2 month free trial or something of the sort, then charge a (low) fee after. If the product is liked by the smaller schools, there's no reason why bigger schools couldn't use it :)
For your 'sort of' question about budgets, schools usually have low budgets, they try to keep things cheap, or free - hence the widespread usage of Google Apps for Education, they charge something like $20USD/mo for virtually 'everything' a school could need. Then again, they're Google!