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Making progress on Foresight

This is part six in a series detailing updates to our research into makers working contract jobs. To learn more about our research, go here. To catch up on what we did last week, go here

Design team: Sean Redmond, Lauren Sands, Kyle Beck

Overview

After narrowing down to focus on Foresight, we quickly ran into a bunch of hurdles. We have made a list of deliverables we are aiming to accomplish before the end of Q3 which is fast approaching, and tackled a handful of them over the past week. We were able to divvy up tasks and fortunate enough to get a previous alum to grab a coffee and give us some very solid advice.

Blue Sky Progress

Tested our blue sky idea with a prototype – We made a prototype model that personified the main component of deciding what percentage of your invoice you would like to be automatically split between a checking and savings account. We took it across the street to our friendly neighborhood bartenders to see how it would work. It was well received by both bartenders, both of whom do side hustles as carpenters, with an emphasis on putting money away for taxes.

Prototype for blue sky idea. The user spun the wheel to pick the two percentages that equal 100%. The money was then moved into savings on sticky notes, giving them the ability to compartmentalize them into savings goals.
Prototype for blue sky idea. The user spun the wheel to pick the two percentages that equal 100%. The money was then moved into savings on sticky notes, giving them the ability to compartmentalize them into savings goals.

Competitive analysis and feature comparisons – We looked at the landscape of other financial products and charted them on a 2×2 to get a feel for where we stand. We knew there were a lot of others in the space,  but were surprised with the breadth and depth at which they exist. We even found a company that gamified savings by siphoning money off of everyone’s savings and put it into a lottery. This was the same wild idea Sean had in our 200 concepts that we dismissed, but here it is.

We found ourselves in a pretty crowded corner of our 2×2, focusing on products for individuals with an emphasis on money coming in. We used “money coming in” because it was able to capture components of saving money and investing (as opposed to expenses or budget tracking aka money going out) as well as invoicing tools which are essential to make the money come in.

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Noticing we were in a cluster, we wanted to find what separated us from others, so we did a feature breakdown. This was very helpful to compare exactly what features overlapped with our people in our space. As crowded as the corner was, we think we can identify new axis for our graph based on the cluster to find where to best position our company.

Insights on Blue sky – We believe we are in a unique space with our concept because we are focusing on invoicing as a tool to generate savings, which is not an area blended by any other product we found. Our struggle has been to define our unique value proposition quickly and succinctly. It has been unclear if we are specifically helping people save for taxes, or to save for any general goal, or if we are alleviating their administrative headache.

Our meeting with AC4D alum Nicole was very fruitful, and she gave some good advice on how to better view our position in the market. Aside from sharing techniques for better approaching competitive analysis and feature breakdown, she also had ideas for how to think about revenue models where as we could partner with established products with open API’s to quickly increase our user base. While spit-balling our concept, she made a remark that stuck with me as a good jump off for our value proposition – Empower and enable new business owners. 

Next Steps – This coming week, we plan to focus on defining our unique value proposition and understanding the pillars of our brand. We also plan to create an interface prototype and conduct use case interviews to help define what differentiates us.

Minimum Viable Product Progress

Prototyping with a service – Due to our limitations of accessing bank accounts, and the liability of handling other people’s money, our MVP turned into a service. To try and replicate the benefits of Foresight, we launched a website that offers to generate, track, and send professional invoices as well as a follow up service to keep people accountable for their savings goals.

We built a service blueprint to identify the steps needed to provide some value to our users. We also built multiple customer journey maps to compare the current state of our original interviewees to our MVP and blue sky idea.

Journey map comparison of current state vs MVP vs blue sky
Journey map comparison of current state vs MVP vs blue sky. The MVP user follows the path of Responsible Saver after they receive payment.
Steps outlining the process for our MVP service
Steps outlining the process for our MVP service

To date, we have three users who have participated in our service, two of which are test subjects (thank you Dan and Britt) and one genuine user. Our follow up time-frame is 5 days after invoice request so we have yet to see if our process has helped the user put aside money for saving.

Insights on our MVP – One area we have struggled with over the week is trying to sell the value of our MVP, which falls short compared to the automation and peace of mind involved with our blue sky concept. Many of the makers we interviewed use an invoicing service like Square or Freshbooks, so by not being able to process payment we are actually an added step in their journey.

We also conducted two think-aloud tests while people used the service, which led to some insights about how we can rework our website and form. People thought the website was heavily focused on saving and less so on invoices and billing, and also got tripped up properly filling out the form.

We heard things like “I feel like I can learn how much I should save”, “Is this a free service or no?”, “I didn’t know I could hit return on the line items”, and “Does it actually put money in your savings account?”

On a positive note, we also heard “I hate doing invoices.” This is inline with the detest for administrative work we heard in our interviews. Small victories….

Next Steps – Some low-hanging fruit is to adjust the website copy and form to make things more user-friendly. We also want to get a few more user through the process to verify if the predetermined savings % and follow up is effective in getting people to take the step to move money.