FundEDU Weekly Update

Kim, Kay, and I have been piloting FundEDU for a little over a week now, and so far the pilot student’s campaign page has received only 9 unique visitors. One of the assumptions we are testing is whether or not students will be willing to share their campaign with their network. However, sharing a crowdfunding campaign is more than just blasting out a URL over social media; it’s giving people a glimpse into a personal struggle. This requires a great amount of humility and vulnerability.  We will be conducting a follow-up meeting with our pilot student to learn about his experience with the product and how he felt sharing the campaign with his network.

Our goal is to create a place for those who need to bridge a financial gap in pursuit of their education. Crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe are crowded with campaigns born of some great tragedy in the campaigner’s life. It’s not rare for people to look to their community in times of crisis, but how might we help those in the absence of tragedy? This is where we believe FundEDU sets itself apart in the market.

FundEDU will function much like competitor crowdfunding sites: make a campaign, share it with your network, manage your donations. But FundEDU will simultaneously seek bulk donations from businesses and distribute the funds equitably among those students whose networks are unable to provide the level financial backing needed. We are currently working on a system for the way business donations will be allocated.

We believe everybody is worthy of the level of education they seek. We invite all readers to come to the AC4D Final Presentation next Saturday (April 27th) to see our FundEDU pitch.

Thanks!

FundEDU Newsletter

FundEDU

We exist to create a world where financial pressures no longer force working students to prioritize work over school, allowing them to achieve their long-term goals.

Overview:

  • Key metric: Engagement (measured by sign-ups to our pilot)
  • What’s going on: Website creation and social media marketing
  • Support area: Looking for more students

Over the last week, we made a simple website for the FundEDU pilot and advertised the site on FaceBook.

Screen Shot 2019-04-12 at 4.57.46 PM

So far the FaceBook ad has received 437 impression and 3 clicks. We have also had one student reach out to us about the pilot.

Our next big question is: “will a campaign reach its funding goal without help from the campaigner’s immediate network?”

Next steps:

  • Continue advertising and reaching out to local businesses regarding campaign sponsorship and support
  • Find more students looking to raise funds for small (between $0 and $500) education expenses (books, utensils, lab fees, etc…)
  • Focus efforts on increasing campaign visibility with potential donors

How you can help:

If you are a working student, know a working student struggling to fund his/her education expenses, or are interested in supporting a working student through a small (but meaningful) donation, please let anyone on our team know.

Me – aaron.steinman@ac4d.com

Kim – kim.nguyen@ac4d.com

Kay – kay.wyman@ac4d.com

 

 

The Limits to Our Imagination

Is there a limit to what we can imagine? We’ve been tackling this issue in our Advanced Theory class recently and it’s been a particularly interesting topic to address.

QuantumTheory

It seems a strange question to ask, “what are the limits to imagination?” After all, the imagination is seemingly free to wander where it may. However, there are many invisible blinders that we either cannot see or comprehend that impose limits to the imagination’s freedom.

Communication

Our imagination is limited by the words we use to both speak and think. When I took Spanish in high school, I distinctly remember having a dream where everyone was speaking in Spanish. At the time I was elated about the dream. It felt like a rite of passage and it gave me the feeling that I was actually learning. But looking back, I have to ask — was the dream actually in Spanish? I know the nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc. were Spanish for sure but was the syntax correct? Or was the language spoken in the dream Spanish jibberish?

One of my favorite quotes comes from George Bernard Shaw:

“The sinlge biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

We imagine that the vision in our brain which we communicate with words, gestures, and symbols perfectly translates to another person. This, of course, is a fallacy of our device. It’s comfortable to believe we are understood perfectly but anyone who’s played a game of Telephone knows this is never the case.

Steve Rathje writes about how metaphors are more pervasive in our culture than we generally acknowledge. We not only use metaphors to relate to external phenomena but think in metaphors as well which affects the output of our thoughts. In his remarks at the dedication of the Aerospace Medical Health Center in San Antonio, JFK famously said:

“America has tossed its cap of the wall of space.”

To think of space as a wall is absurd, especially since that wall is assumed to be low enough to toss something over. The metaphor he evoked allowed his audience to view space not as the vast expanse in which we exist, but a hurdle to a new era of science and exploration.

The way we communicate also has an effect on the way we view topics closer to home. Hugh Dubberly writes about how new doctors are limited by the language in the health care field.

“The way we usually think about health today is bound up in the language of our health care system.”

Interestingly enough there is a metaphor in the quote above: our thoughts are bound in language. Health care is a field with huge amounts of asymmetric information. Because of this, patients tend to believe the doctor is always right. Dubberly proposes that the doctor-patient relationship should be a two-way learning experience instead of the current, traditional paradigm where doctors wield all the control.

“The System”

Systems that exist, that we are born into and inherit from our predecessors, place limits on what we can imagine. It’s human nature to follow the herd. This is not true for all, but certainly it is for some portion of the population.

The health care field provides examples of this type of limitation as well. April Starr and Byron Good write about the medical field and the doctor-patient relationship. Byron Good shares a story about a medical student who was chastised by a superior for “telling the wrong story” about a patient. The superior was frustrated that the student didn’t ‘get to the point’ fast enough, only looking for a very short synopsis of the patient’s status. Here the system is limiting the way that this particular student thinks about people. More specifically, the student is being trained to view patients as an object rather than a social/emotional being.

Another example of a system limiting our imagination is the human body itself. Ray Kurzweil tells us that the brain has a limit to the number of computations it can complete per unit of time. He believes that one day we will merge with technology in a Singularity that will forever change the course of humankind. Reading Kurzweil’s writing evoked images of Captain Pickard when he was assimilated by the Borg (a reference for fellow Star Trek nerds).

TheBorg

Experience

We are limited by our past experiences. As humans, we are products of our past experiences and use that knowledge for the everyday life decisions we face.

For designers, I believe it is particularly important to embrace methods that allow for the defamiliarization of things we usually take for granted. This is the point of Genevieve Bell’s essay, “Making by Making Strange: Defamiliarization and the Design of Domestic Technologies.” She states:

“The challenge for researchers and designers is to see beyond the naturalizing of devices and experiences to their cultural roots.”

Part of the reason this is so difficult is due to the nature of culture. When culture changes, it is often so subtle that we don’t realize it. We generally don’t view culture as something that changes quickly, especially in comparison to the speed at which technology has evolved in our lifetime. This is a subject that Tom Vanderbilt addresses. We can see concrete examples of innovation and technological leaps and therefore extrapolate what form future innovation may take. However, when we do this type of forecasting, we often insert our current culture into that scenario and ignore how that innovation will affect our society.

Predicting who we will be is harder than predicting what we will be able to do.”

My Thoughts

I agree with many scholars that there are limits to our imagination, especially as it pertains to what we can design. One limit that stands out to me is our economic system. Viability is king. If a project doesn’t have a positive ROI, there’s almost no chance it will be undertaken. This is potentially problematic for systems that have had round after round of technological bandaids appended to “fix” problems within that system. A full redesign may be the best course of action in the long-run, but businesses tend to focus on short-term gains.

Many of the things limiting our imagination are unknown. When we identify a limit, we could begin finding a way to exceed it. An example of this from above is Genevieve Bell’s call to defamiliarize ourselves with everyday objects and experiences. We acknowledge that limit, and we find ways to break it. Therefore, living life with a focus on reflection and the experiences of others is the best way to recognize limitations and free our imaginations from their bounds.

Feature Briefing

This week we created feature briefs for our banking app. A feature brief is a document used by product managers to communicate their vision to internal stakeholders. The brief includes points from user research, the product’s value proposition, the product’s roadmap, and, the product’s capabilities.

Since our previous assignments provided the bulk of the brief’s features, most of the heavy lifting was already complete. However, creating a document that is appropriate for such a wide audience is no small task. With the audience in mind (as is always a good starting point when putting together documents meant for communication), I focused on the higher-level details that I believed would be relevant for teams other than design.

I started by editing and making higher fidelity digital artifacts. Once all the digital files were complete, I compiled everything using Keynote.

    1. Value Proposition –
  • We will provide a seamless mobile banking experience so that our customers don’t have to worry about accessing their financial accounts and can focus on living their life.

2. Insights –

  • Customers expect accuracy and convenience when they open their banking app.

  • Features that don’t add value to the customers’ banking experience hurt the bank’s relationship with those customers.

3. Roadmap –

RoadMap

The roadmap above was made in Adobe Illustrator. With the help of feedback from a mentor, I decided to present the information in 2 ways — as a Gant chart, and a stylized roadmap that shows individual elements to be completed by each of the 2 developers we have for this product.

4. Capabilities –

2 Credit Card Home Color

Above is an example of a higher-fidelity wireframe for the Credit Card Homescreen. From here, a customer can pay off their credit balance, set up recurring payments, view his/her transactions, open the budget tracker function, and access a help & support menu.

Ultimately, I want the audience to get the feeling that this product is well thought out and deserving of the resources needed to make it a reality.

 

Power and Responsibility in Design

I’d like to start this post with a riddle from one of my favorite authors, George R. R. Martin.

In a room sit three great men, a king, a priest, and a rich man with his gold. Between them stands a sellsword, a little man of common birth and no great mind. Each of the great ones bids him slay the other two. ‘Do it,’ says the king, ‘for I am your lawful ruler.’ ‘Do it,’ says the priest, ‘for I command you in the names of the gods.’ ‘Do it,’ says the rich man, ‘and all this gold shall be yours.’ So tell me – who lives and who dies?

Power RIddle

If your answer is, “it depends on the man with the sword,” you’d be right and wrong. Who has the power to command the swordsman? One could even argue that it is the swordsman himself that holds the power because ultimately the choice is his to make.

What I believe to be most revealing about this riddle is that power is a social construct, and it exists where we believe it to be. Power is not intrinsically good or evil; it’s a tool, like a hammer. A hammer by design is neither good nor evil, it simply exists. It can be used to build houses for people in need of shelter; however, it can also be used as a weapon to assault another person. All this is to say that power, like a hammer, can be used for good and evil — what matters is the moral compass of the person wielding it. Therefore, as a society, we need to teach ethics concurrently with skills and disciplines.

INFLUENCE

Influence is derived from power. In our modern world, we are under constant bombardment from influential people and companies to take some form of action (or in some cases, avoid a certain action the influencer doesn’t want us to take). In Using Attachment Anxiety in Emotional Design & Marketing, Dr. Brian Cugelman talks about how companies use “dark patterns” to influence their customers:

Negative emotions are … used to create emotional barriers, to stop users from doing something you don’t want them to do…

Coined by Henry Brignull, a dark pattern is a carefully crafted user interface that draws on what we know about the human psyche and is designed to influence the user to take (or not take) a certain action. They are used to manipulate people through anxiety, and internet-based companies are getting really good at it. Here is an example of how Facebook attempts to use our emotions to prevent people from leaving:

Screen Shot 2019-03-28 at 5.32.36 PM

This is realization is echoed by Nicolas Carr in his piece Anxiety and Surveillance: pillars of the new economy.

Rewards now flow to the competitor that is best able to maximize consumer anxiety in a way that spurs more compulsive behavior…

This example demonstrates the need for ethical practices in design.

COLLECTIVE ENERGY

Power is fluid; it ebbs and flows as our society evolves. I’ve spoken to the way influence can manifest from power, but power also comes from collective energy and clarity of vision. Said another way, there is strength in numbers.

Think about Martin Luther King Jr. Would his campaign have been successful if he had been unable to rally people to his cause, or if he didn’t have a clear vision of the future he sought to create? Similarly, what about Adolf Hitler’s campaign? Though these two men had perfectly opposite ideologies, they both harnessed power from the collective energy of the people. Pierce Gordon, in his piece Radicalizing Innovation: Are Activists the Invisible Designers?, talks about the power that originates from collective energy.

…[those with] a shared vision can do much more than sole innovators working by themselves.

Another example of how a community can unite to exercise power is trade unions. In Designing for Democracy at Work, Pelle Ehn writes about how workers, the owners of labor, can come together to combat power asymmetries in a working environment.

The degree of strength in the workers’ collective comes from the ‘we-feeling’ created by shared experiences.

REFLECTION

The relationship between power and responsibility, as it pertains to the field of design, is full of irony. Designers may identify and attempt to disrupt asymmetries of power even though it was someone (or some group) with a higher power that hired the designer in the first place. It would seem that designing a system that changes the power dynamic in this scenario would be against the designer’s own interests. After all, designers are people who need to put food on the table and care for their families.

However, I believe that TRUE power is the ability to empower others — to relinquish control and let others take the reins. I believe this to be especially true in the social sphere, where co-design is often praised as the best method to effectively design with marginalized communities. We as designers should take the idea of ‘designing-with’ one step further. Not only should we involve communities in the design process, but we should also teach design and the ethics of design to those communities to empower them to assume leadership moving forward.

Product Roadmapping the Banking App

A product roadmap is a high-level timeline that product managers use to allocate working resources to a product’s development. This allows the product manager to track his/her product’s progress and direction over time.

Product managers also use roadmaps to communicate their vision and progress to their product’s stakeholders. This allows everyone to be on the same page and have something concrete to refer to if there is ever any question about where a team is in the course of the product’s development.

Creating the Thin-Slice Version:

Part of my job as the product manager was to create a ‘thin-slice’ version of the banking application. This means trimming some of the app’s functionality to create a minimally viable product that could be launched early and developed/iterated upon while the product is live.

Screen Shot 2019-03-27 at 6.19.19 PM

The objective of thin-slicing is to work within time constraints while maximizing the app’s utility to the user in version 1.0. I started by grouping my wireframe flows into broad categories and listing those categories in order of importance. It is important to note that this ordering is subjectively based, and has not been tested with users (yet).

Here is the order and a few thoughts to show my line of reasoning:

  1. Log in – without logging in, no other function is available.
  2. Depositing checks and Paying credit card balances – You may notice there are two items tied for second. I consider money-in and money-out to be equally important. For this app to be successful, the user needs to be able to view their balance, add funds, and pay bills via their mobile device.
  3. Setting up alerts/notifications – I want the user to feel secure and in control of his/her finances. Allowing the user to opt-in to different levels of communication with the bank is a good way to achieve this.
  4. Spending accrued rewards points – Points are a great way for a bank to build a relationship with its customers. It’s not a critical function, but it provides a benefit to using a credit card on expenses. If you are going to spend the money anyway, you might as well get points for it.
  5. Budget Tracking – I ranked this the lowest because there are already many great options for tracking a budget that integrate information from many financial institutions (e.g. Mint). This feature would be nice to have, but it is not vital in the current market environment.

With the estimates from my developer, I deemed the first three categories to be crucial for this product offering. With two developers working full-time, It will take 14 days (about 3 weeks) to create a thin-slice product that is ready to go to market. Adding the remaining features (categories 4-5) will take an additional 15 days for a total of 29 days, or a month and a half.

Next, I disaggregated the categories back into their component flows and used time estimates from my workdays estimate spreadsheet, that the developer and I collaborated on, to allot tasks between the two developers at my disposal. Below is the product roadmap (it can also be viewed by clicking the link to the estimate spreadsheet and navigating to the second tab):

Screen Shot 2019-03-27 at 4.44.11 PM

Reflection:

Some of the feedback I received on my wireframes was to review and adhere to developer and human interface guidelines (HIG). I recently made some changes to reflect that suggestion with the goal of reducing the time it would take to build-out the app. For example, my developer mentioned that the user profile menu would be much ‘cheaper’ if I were to use a standard menu option instead of a custom-built menu. Following this advice, I changed the user profile menu to a ‘drawer,’ which is a slide-out menu where the main screen slides to the left or right to reveal a menu underneath.

l

I learned that prioritizing functions is incredibly valuable in software development because it allows a company to release a functioning (and fulfilling!) product before the ultimate vision for the product is achieved. This allows the company to take a product to market early, iterate on and further develop the product, and get feedback on how the user interacts with the product. I also learned that developing a product requires cross-disciplinary efforts involving many people, especially in large organizations. Having a document such as a product roadmap provides a resource to stakeholders facilitating action and open communication.

Defining Our Vision

We exist to create a world where working students have the option to prioritize school over work because working full-time demands time and focus at the expense of academic success.

This is the vision for our Capstone group (Kay, Kim, and myself) and we aim to realize our vision through FundEDU. As a reminder, FundEDU is a crowdfunding platform that helps students leverage their support network to lessen the financial burden of school, allowing them to work fewer hours while undertaking their academic journey.

Over the last week, our team spoke at length about what value we are trying to provide and how we can achieve it. We iterated on our service blueprint — a design artifact similar to a timeline coupling a customer’s journey and the actions our business must take to support that journey — to create a visual representation of a user’s flow through FundEDU. Next week we will be increasing its fidelity to include in our pitch deck.

Screen Shot 2019-03-22 at 8.13.06 PM

One of the greatest values that sites like IndieGoGo, Kickstarter, and GoFundMe provide is the ability to give funding campaigns visibility beyond a person’s immediate network. For example, GoFundMe has a ‘trending’ section for each category a donee can choose for their campaign (pictured below) which gives those seeking financial help a better chance of meeting their goal by advertising the campaign to a wider audience. This is something that we’d to emulate with FundEDU. 

Screen Shot 2019-03-22 at 11.38.21 AM

Our next step is to continue refining a minimally viable product we can test with real people. The main challenge we face is deciding which parts of the product should be included in the pilot and deciding how we will define success. Once a consensus is reached, we will move forward with implementation. We look forward to gauging how the market responds to FundEDU.

Taking Wireframes into Reality

Creating a vision and a visual representation of a screen is a substantially different skill set than the ability to code it into a working prototype. Working with a team is an efficient way to take an app to market; however, teamwork comes with unique challenges. Therefore, designers who are able to communicate with others in their ‘language’ have a distinct advantage in a project management role.

I started the process of product sizing by polishing my wireframes and making the flows more linear. Last quarter I spent a lot of time making my wires feel like a working prototype. However, this made it more difficult to show end-to-end flows. Once I was happy with the architecture of the flows, I began “Redlining” (annotating in red) the flows to better communicate my vision. This, I learned, is what takes the most time. And this makes sense because the more accurately you can communicate your vision (especially when shipping wires off to a developer in a different location, or even abroad), the closer the final product will be to what you want. With the wireframes annotated, I was ready to meet with my developer.

 

FEATURES & CONTROLS

Log In Redline

Set Up Alerts Redline

Pay Now Redline

Auto Pay Redline

Rewards - Gift Card Redline

Rewards - Flight Redline

Deposit Redline

Budget Overview Redline

Scenarios Redline

Flagged Transaction Redline

 

BREAKDOWNS

Log In Breakdown

Set Up Alerts Breakdown

Pay Now Breakdown

Auto Pay Breakdown

Rewards - Gift Card Breakdown

Rewards - Flight Breakdown

Deposit Breakdown

Budget Overview Breakdown

Scenarios Breakdown

Flagged Transaction Breakdown

 

SUMMARY

I met with Eric Webb, who will be developing my banking app, twice last week. He had loads of great insights especially around navigation, custom- versus stock-features, and estimates for how long it will take to complete the app. Below are my preliminary estimates.

Workdays Summary_AS

One thing I learned was how long coding takes. The estimates above are for front-end only (visual elements that the user sees, which excludes any of the behind-the-scenes code that makes the app function).

I also learned that designing for smaller screens is something developers like. Eric told me that you can always scale up, but getting smaller can cause some weird problems.

Reflecting on my developer meeting, I wish I would have pushed harder to get estimates for the back-end code which would have given me a more comprehensive idea for how long this app would take to complete.

The responsibility is on me as the designer to make my needs understood and in this case, I could have done better. To be honest, I was a little intimidated. Eric’s time is valuable and I didn’t want to take too much of it unnecessarily. This led me to not asking all of the questions I had and to not press-in when I didn’t understand something. Moving forward, I will be more cognizant of whether or not I’m communicating effectively.

Link to full estimate spreadsheet.

The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions

The first time I heard this phrase was when I was a young adult. I overheard my mother and aunt (her sister) arguing about how I was raised. For background, I am the first born and the two sides of my family had competing ideas as to how I should be brought-up (religiously). My mother said something to the effect of: “we just thought it would be better to not pick a religion for him, and let him decide when he can make a conscious decision.” To which my aunt replied, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

Reflecting on that conversation, I realize now that my aunt was judging my parents’ intentions, rather than the results. I’ve grown up to be the curious, empathetic, semi-normal (because who wants to be completely normal?) human that I am today. In no way do I think my aunt is ashamed or disappointed about the person I’ve become, but on some level, she clearly feels that my parents did me a disservice by not making that decision for me.

This phrase parallels much of what we’ve learned in the first two weeks of our Advanced Theory class at AC4D. Many designers (or anyone for that matter) approach problems with great intentions, but their ideas ultimately end up doing more harm than good.

An example of a well-intentioned idea that has gone awry is the PRODUCT (RED) campaign. Started by Bobby Shriver and Bono, lead singer of U2, in 2006 PRODUCT (RED) seemed like a win-win-win scenario for addressing the AIDS epidemic in Africa: business partners can demonstrate they care about social issues (without sacrificing profits), consumers can donate through purchases they would make anyway, and The Global Fund (non-profit partner) gets the funding they need to make a difference in the world.

red+products+isometric-original

While I don’t fault the creators of PRODUCT (RED) for the idea. I have a major issue with how it has evolved — which is not at all — despite criticism it, and a few of its partners, has received over the years. With little to no iteration on the concept, (RED) perpetuates the idea that by buying stuff, one is fixing the world.

… consumers will also gain self-satisfaction with their purchases because they will be a part of the “help” to Africa.

-Cindy N. Phu

This is particularly dangerous because it allows the consumer, thousands of miles away, to believe that they’ve done their part.

MichaelScottHero

There is a cultural desire for a magic bullet or magic pill that will solve everything. Of course, this is not possible due to the nature of wicked problems but it’s a lot easier to self-serve ourselves nonsense than face cold, hard truth — there is no one-size-fits-all solution to societal problems.

Some believe technology is the answer. But they are mistaken or fooling themselves as well. Technology has the propensity to make things easier, more efficient, faster, etc… but technology is a tool. It is a tool in which we see our own reflection, for better and worse.

Take the internet, for example. The creators believed that the internet would connect us all, break down barriers, enable people a world away to communicate openly and freely. Indeed it has done those things, but it has also allowed for the proliferation of hate and racism, for the polarization of ideologies, and distribution of misleading news. Worst, it allows us to binge on the information that fits our view of the world. Believe your race or religion is superior to all others? There are plenty of sources you can find online to affirm that view.

All this is to say that intentions are not the criteria that should be used to judge policies or programs. Instead, we should objectively view results, form opinions on outcomes, and iterate on what works. The creators of powerful movements, such as PRODUCT (RED), have a responsibility to understand the problems they mean to address, embrace the good they intend to achieve without ignoring the bad, and learn from our collective mistakes.

Down-selection, Focus, Reflection

This was a pivotal week for Kim Nguyen, Kay Wyman, and me. We made the executive decision to focus our Capstone efforts on just one idea moving forward. That idea is Me Mentor, a system for creating, tracking, and reflecting on personal goals.

The Problem

Based on our research with post-traditional students (specifically, students that must hold a job to pay for both school and life expenses), we learned that the incredible stress of balancing immediate needs with future professional goals leaves students with little time to reflect on the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of successes and failures. Working a full-time job while attending school part- or full-time is like living two lives with the time that’s allocated to one. Many tools exist that help people keep track of their aspirations, but these tools often focus solely on the goal itself and whether it was achieved.

Reflection is subjective. It requires a person to look at their experiences retrospectively, and hindsight isn’t always 20-20 between people who observe the same stimulus. Every experience is unique to the individual, due to the cumulative nature of experiences — new experiences are shaped by context and past experiences. To quote John Dewey,

“we live from birth to death in a world of persons and things which in large measure is what it is because of what has been done and transmitted from previous human activities.”

Our Solution as a Service

To illustrate our current vision of how the service will work, we created a service blueprint. A service blueprint is a diagram that visualizes the relationships between different service components — people, props (physical or digital evidence), and processes — that are directly tied to touchpoints in a specific customer journey. Shown below is the first iteration of a customer journey for Me Mentor, which involves a method for setting and reflecting on goals and personalized coaching on how to use the insights from reflection.

Lo-fi Service Blueprint

Pitching Our Idea

Over the past week, we have also been working diligently to create two cohesive narratives: one that appeals to potential investors and one to attract our target audience (individuals who are strapped for time, leaving little room to reflect on their goals if they even had the time to create them in the first place).

The most difficult element of our pitch deck to investors has been to figure out how to be profitable with the model that seems to bring the most impact to our target audience. We envision a coaching element, but a personalized touch makes scaling up a tricky task, especially in our increasingly digital world. Some of the assumptions we’ve made govern:

  • Initial customers
  • Customer growth rate
  • Subscription price
  • Website build and hosting
  • Labor costs
  • The rate at which we would need to hire help
  • Marketing/advertising

Under our current assumptions, we would need to charge a price that would potentially alienate our customer base, especially those in school living paycheck to paycheck.

We continue to test our prototype with two users.

Letter

One user has needed a lot of attention which worries us for a couple of reasons. First, it could possibly reflect the amount of coaching a client needs/expects. The more time an individual requires is inversely proportional to the number of clients we can manage without hiring help. Secondly, it could parallel the level of attention for a wider audience. If customers don’t see the value of our product (or simply get bored with it), we will have trouble with client retention.

Next week we plan to:

  • reach out to more people in our target audience to test the prototype,
  • continue to test our hypothesis that people find reflecting on successes and failures beneficial and will pay for a service that coaches them through a process of creating goals and chopping those goals into smaller, more manageable milestones,
  • refine our business plan to maintain the level impact we would like our product to have while increasing profitability, and
  • begin planning a pilot to test over the next eight weeks.