Designing for Makers (and More): Week 4 Update

This is part four in a series detailing updates to our research into makers working contract jobs. You can read part one here and part two here, part three here, and you can find information on our research here.

Design Team: Kyle Beck, Sean Redmond, Lauren Sands

Overview

We are in week four of our quarter-long project using our research into the financial behaviors of contract workers in creative industries (i.e., “makers”). Through interviews with potential users of our products, we have narrowed our focus to two of our most exciting and well received ideas. This week we built pitch decks and gathered feedback from individuals who have experience either pitching ideas or investing in businesses.

Primary Goal

This week’s goal was to further test the interest in our products as well as interest in investing in a business built around our product. We did this through meeting with subject matter experts as well as through creating landing pages online and attempting to drive traffic and sign ups for our concepts.

Slider: A swipe-based program that helps you decide what to eat by showing you pictures of food that you can swipe left on (reject) or swipe right on (accept). You can decide whether to use the app to find restaurants or recipes to cook at home. If you’re eating out with friends, you can match with friends to help determine a restaurant that is of interest to everyone. You can create a profile and save favorites and share them with others, helping to build a community and encourage greater use.

Our splash page – Slider – was a great exercise in communicating very concisely what our concept was about. However, to date we have not received any sign-ups.

Foresight: An invoice app for contract workers that allows you to determine what percentage of your invoice to dedicate to checking and savings accounts. It automatically sorts those funds accordingly. Furthermore, you can use the software to create savings goals by category and move funds easily between those subaccounts, without having to create actual separate bank accounts.

Our splash page – Foresight – was also a great exercise in clearly communicating our concept, and drove us to further define our product. However, we also have not received any sign ups. We believe that this may be a reflection of our expertise in driving online advertising and will focus on improving that first, before adjusting our overall product concept.

Methodology

We met with six people to get their feedback on our concept. Interviews lasted roughly 1 hour each. We walked each person through a rough draft of a pitch deck that explained what our product idea was, why it was needed, and what our unique value proposition was in the market.

We asked for questions and feedback throughout our conversations, and also debriefed with each individual afterward to better understand how our overall pitch could be improved.

Insights

Our major take away from this week of conversations was that our products need to be much more clear before we can create a viable or productive pitch deck to be shared with potential investors. Without a well-formed idea it was difficult to even start thinking about pitching to investors. 

Slider:  We got really great feedback from potential users last week, but we still needed to figure out how we would make money from this idea. Would the users looking for a restaurant pay to use the app? Would it be subscription based? Would we eventually have enough eyes on our site to make advertising revenue feasible?

What about the restaurants? Were they potential customers? How could we start to think about addressing a pain point for restaurants while at the same time meeting a proven need of their customers?

We settled on the idea of helping restaurants drive volume during off-peak hours through incentives presented to potential patrons as they were using the app. Restaurants would pay for this service and drive our revenue. 

Foresight: Figuring out how to pitch this idea proved to be a bit more challenging. We were most excited about the idea of allocating funds to a checking or savings account at the point when the invoice was sent, as opposed to when it was received. This meant it would help our users save for future goals or for taxes, while helping to eliminate the urge to spend money when one’s bank account swelled well above its normal amount.

This idea, however, is really just a feature of a larger product. We explored lots of other features and ideas that would benefit our population of makers, but in a week, we weren’t able to get to a cohesive idea of a product that would be a one-stop-shop for financial management while highlighting our “magic sauce” of invoice allocation.

Next Steps

This week, we want to get back to the product itself without worrying too much about how to pitch it. The nuts and bolts of what exactly is this product, how will it work, the mechanics behind the scenes, and what additional problems might we be solving for people as they use the products.