Too many digital goods–apps, ebooks, online subscriptions–have expensive price tags that lock people out. We're building a fairer pricing model, one that everybody can afford.
Our pricing model gives discounts based on people's financial means. People who can afford it pay the full price, while people with less pay only what they can.
Everybody benefits. Nobody has to pay any more, and many get cheaper access to all the great stuff on the internet.
What it does
Digital creators sign up with Press Open.
When a writer or developer signs up with us, we give them a Press Open button they can put on their website. Then when you visit the creator's website, you'll see this Press Open button with the discounted price we've gotten for you.
A pricing exchange runs in the background.
Need-based discounts are computed in a pricing exchange. Rather than filling out a long financial aid form and waiting weeks for a response, you just sign in with your bank account, and then the exchange automatically estimates what price you can afford. The exchange runs on our secure machines, and your data never leaves our protection.
You get cheaper access to all the great stuff on the internet.
If we've done a good job, the price you see is something you can afford. You get access to an article or app that would have been too expensive before, while they get more revenue to continue making great stuff.
How I built it
Right now we just have a simple demo mocked up (this is what I was working on here at TreeHacks!), but we're working on a proper backend that actually dynamically computes these prices. Ultimately users will enter their income, sign in to their bank account with the Plaid API, we'll run some straightforward fraud-detection to check that their income is reasonable given their bank account, and then use some simple pricing models to start giving users modest income-scaled discounts. Much longer term, we'll use more sophisticated models that look at not only income but also past transactions they've done with us.
Challenges I ran into
Reverse-engineering the NYT's frontend for the demo was kind of challenging. They use some fancy frontend framework to do all their styling, so I had to make a horrible frankenstein stylesheet that did all the correct things for the original webpage's elements, plus the layout and styling I wanted to do for the elements I wanted to put on top of the ones that were there before.
What's next for Press Open
Getting indie app developers and ebook publishers on board! We've been doing some outreach this weekend too--fingers crossed that we get some favorable responses.