Tuesday, 30 July 2013

That extra mile to do my competitor analysis.

Hi guys,
Today's post is about my dissertation progress. This time I will talk a bit about how I'm doing my competitor analysis. 

Normally people will do a competitor analysis by researching on the Internet, conducting SWOT and/or PEST analysis. I have done those but I also became their customer to get a better view and understanding of their service and product. 

Last week I subscribed to one of my closest competitor and today I've received my first box through the post. I paid £10/ month. The box was small enough to fit through the post box which is quite convenient. 

Simply Cook is a startup that aims to make cooking easier by supplying "hard to find 'taste ingredients' and simple instructions." And to be honest, I actually like this idea lol. 

Inside the box was 4 other boxes that contained 3 'taste ingredients'. 

Each box contains a small pot of oil, stock and herbs/ spice.  

As mentioned earlier, there are 4 recipe cards. 

I haven't tried it out yet as I only got the box this morning, but will definitely try one or two recipes this week. I'm kind of excited to be honest. Lol I've basically just marketed them to you lol. But it's ok, sharing is caring. And every startup should support each other. Hehe 

I hope my effort will get me a distinction for my dissertation! 

How's you're dissertation going on? How are you doing you're competitor analysis? 

Thursday, 25 July 2013

MVP created and testing

Hi guys, 
I am so excited about the MVP (minimum viable product) I made for my business idea/ dissertation. 

Here they are. I'm doing a A/B split test, as you can see I wrote A on one bag and B on the other. I've given it to 4 people so far! This photo was taken when I was in Pizza Express with my friend hence the menus lol. 

I spent about £50 on 9 items. Why so expensive? Well because they are all from planet organic, and you know organic products are always expensive. Why did I buy organic products? Because that's what my business idea is about. It was the chia seed that cost me the most, £14.99 for a big pack. But anyways this is just an MVP, in time I will look for a cheaper way to do it to increase the profit margin. 

When I gave them to my friends, they were all so excited. =D I'm giving them a week to try them out, then I will do a face to face interview with them to get feedback. 

I'm still looking for people to do the test. Anyone interested? :) 

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Goals for next two weeks

Hi everyone, hope you're all enjoying this lovely hot weather. And for those who's also doing their dissertation, how is it going?

I just had a look at the calendar and counted the number of weeks left and OH MY WORLD!! 6 weeks left!!! I have very little time left. I haven't even written ONE word. Lol. But to make myself feel better, our dissertation is different to other dissertations. We have to do a lot of market research and tests before writing. Well that's an excuse really. =p

I was supposed to fill in a progress report on Friday, but totally forgot about it. I just did it though lol

Anyways, my next step is to do a demo of the service (MVP), A/B split test, create a landing page, and starting selling- as Rob Fitzpatrick, one of the mentors, has suggested. I almost forgot... and update my lean canvas!

The next goal is to get feedback from at least 5 people who tried the demo and maybe make £20 in the next 2 weeks? Lol. 

I also need to do some work for literature review, and start writing something! Researching is actually quite tiring. I spent 2 hours in the British Library last week and it wasn't easy. One because there were too much stuff available so you don't know where to start. Two it's just draining. 

That's it for now, thanks for reading. Blog later! 

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Validated Initial Hypotheses

Hello people! Thanks for taking the time read my blog. The weather here in the UK is lovely, but can be a bit too hot to work on my dissertation. I haven't done much since my last post, I've just been sending out the survey and researching about the details of my competitors. I TRIED to do some reading on the customer development, the Steve Blank's book, Startup Manual Guide but didn't really happen. It's just too hot to work, my brain hasn't been working properly. Every time I sit by my desk, I just feel like 'can't be bothered, I'll do it later'. lol. I'm not making excuses. lol.

Anyhow I have managed to validate some of my initial hypotheses though.

Hypothesis #1
Not everyone one knows about all the benefits of the food they eat

Hypothesis #2
Some eat certain healthy food for the sake of eating healthy but are not sure the exact benefits

For hypotheses 1 and 2 I asked people 'Do you know all the benefits of the raw and dry ingredients that you add to your meals?', they had an option of;
- No, but I know they are healthy
- Yes, somewhat
- Yes, I know them very well. 

No one picked the last answer. 7 out of 13 chose the first option and 6 out of 13 chose the second. Thus it shows that my first two hypotheses are true. Only 13 people answered this question because I deleted this question later as some people said the survey was too long. 

Hypothesis #3 
When following a recipe there’s always at least one ingredient they don’t have because it’s uncommon.

Hypothesis #4
They always end up buying the uncommon ingredient and will only use it for that particular recipe or not often.

Prior to the survey, I actually interviewed two people with slightly different questions. Hypothesis 3 and 4 were actually my very first hypotheses. I asked them what problems they have when following a recipe and both said having all the ingredients you need. There are ingredients or equipment you only need for that recipe and won't be using it again. Another thing, both of them loving cooking and baking. But I'm not sure if that will be my customer segment.

Hypothesis #5
find healthy products are more expensive than unhealthy food

Hypothesis #6
 7/10 people would like to have smaller sizes of food products 

In the survey I asked 'What annoys you or frustrates you the most when you're food shopping?', and quite a few people have mentioned healthy food is more expensive than unhealthy food. Yes, bingo! Some people also mentioned about the size being too big if they are cooking for 1 to 2 people. Yes, bingo! So both hypothesis 5 and 6 have also been validated!!

That's 6 out of 14 hypothesis that has been validated, the rest I haven't tested them. That's my next step, I need to test all my initial hypotheses and then create new ones. I also need to define my segment and start building the MVP (minimal viable product). 

That's it for now. Update you later!!

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

My New Dissertation Idea aka Business Idea

Hi guys, in my previous post I mentioned that I've changed my dissertation topic to my own business idea. Why? What was wrong with the startup? Nothing really, I just had a eureka moment. However, it's not entirely original, it's a clone of another business but with different features.

Before changing it, I of course spoke to the head of department, Dave and my supervisor, Itxaso. Dave said its not too late but I probably won't be able to do lots of interviews. Itxaso loved my idea! That was a relief. Lol She told me not to waste my time on the startup and should do my own idea and carry on pursuing it after uni is over. I will as I've always wanted my own business.

You often hear people say turn your passion into a business. So based on my passion on healthy/well being and food I came up with an idea. It's a clone of Nutribox, Graze, Glossy box, Birch box and other product subscriptions business model. I haven't come up with a proper name yet, but our initial idea was 'Good Munch' but for the sake of SEO, my mentor Jack suggested the name should contain at least one key word that will inform people what the business is about in 3 seconds and appear in the top of the list in search engine. Anyway, I'll refer it to Good Munch in my blog posts for now.

So what exactly is it? I won't go into detail yet, hehe. You will know soon.

It's been about 2 weeks since I've changed the topic and so far I've sent out surveys, drawn canvases for Good Munch and the competitors and written out the initial hypotheses. A couple of people have said my survey is a bit too long, I cut some questions out. The reason it's long is because I'm doing it the short cut way, don't have the time to do face to face interviews. So I'm trying to get as much as I can from the surveys.

To encourage people to do the survey, I decided to give out 2 £20 amazon gift voucher. I will pick 2 winners at random on 22nd July. One of the voucher was given to me when I volunteered for TEDxUCL, lol. That's one voucher sorted lol. And guess what? I'm such a donut.  I forgot to add a field box for people to enter their email address or even a name for them to be entered for the prize draw. LOL. So I sent a message out on my Facebook telling them to give me their email address. But I've added it now. Here's one of the gift voucher.

The more research I do the more competition I find lol. But they aren't exactly the same though. I've found out that there a lot of healthy food online subscription businesses. All aim to provide convenience, save money and time. I found most of them through some of my favourite fitness blogs. As well as finding my competitors, I also learnt that each blogger is a channel to bring customers to the business. 

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Changed my dissertation topic

Hi everyone! Just another update on my dissertation progress. I have changed the topic of my dissertation, I am going to work on my own business idea. I will talk about that in the next post. This post will be a highlight of the last few weeks with Glow and probably the last time I will be blogging about them.

In the past few weeks, I've been going to the mentor and supervisor sessions every Wednesday evening as usual. I've been doing a lot of interviews and I've been travelling a lot, well just around London. The furthest I've been is Heathrow airport terminal 5. 

About 3 weeks ago, I decided to change the customer segment, well not change but narrow it down. The decision was based on the feedback from professional working women (most saying they will not use mobile beauticians). So I thought of women with young children and women who lives in the suburb. My assumption is that women with young children would have to go through a lot of hassle and stress when going to the salon because they got to dress the children, put them in the pram, pack bag, push the pram into the salon. When they are in the salon, the children will get restless, cry and scream, etc. You get the gist. Basically no peace and they can't relax. If a mobile beautician was to go to their house, at least the mum don't need to dress the children, etc. Women living in the suburbs probably don't have much options in terms of salons and beauticians. They probably have to travel a distance for certain treatments. So it would be convenient for them if a mobile beautician visited them. 

I asked my mentor's opinion and he thought they are good especially the latter. I told the founders but they weren't too keen on the latter and suggested women who travel a lot around the country. I told my mentor that they weren't too keen in women living in the suburbs, and he said to me "Keep an open and objective mind.  I think your segments are legit. The purpose of customer development is NOT to prove your hypothesis true (many founders do this).  It's to DISCOVER where your product fits in the market the best. "  

I have interviewed one mum and one women who travels a lot but not women who lives in suburb. Haven't got round doing it yet- well I won't be now, as I'm doing my own idea.From their feedback it seems mobile beauticians isn't a popular option at all. The mum said she wouldn't book a mobile beautician because she still wouldn't have peace. Her kids would still be running around. The women who travels a lot said she wouldn't need to book one while she is away because she will be getting her treatments done before her trip.

I've done about 17 interviews with professional working women, 1 mum and 1 women who travels a lot. 14/17 have said they won't book a mobile beautician as they like the salon experience. Therefore, according to the Lean Startup the founders should pivot because the problem is not big enough to be solved.

That's how I felt LOL.
Last week, I went to the supervisor session. I told her about my findings and she told me to tell the founders to abandon the whole idea of booking mobile beautician. (She wants me to tell them that!! See the facial expression on left) They should corporate with salons and get them to  integrate an express make over method in their menu. Glow will then create an app for women to book their appointment. Apparently there's an express make up service in Bank and its always packed at 5pm with professional working women.

On the same night, I emailed the founders and told them exactly what my supervisor said to me. I was a bit hesitant because I'm basically saying their idea sucks. Lol. Well, it's not a bad idea but maybe they haven't found their niche. One of the founders wanted to speak on the phone about it, so we did. She said she won't pivot because she wants some concrete evidence that shows this idea won't work. And they have spent a lot of money and time on the app (they've got mock ups), and it will be a waste if they abandon it now. They will release the app and if it doesn't work then it doesn't. Then they will pivot. The thing is, I thought she said she follows the Lean Startup and that is going against it really. Unless she meant they are going to release an MVP to test it then that makes sense. However, if 14/17 have said they won't book a mobile beautician then the founders are probably building something that customers don't need or want. It probably will end up being one of those apps that just sits in the screen and will be used once every 3 months or less often. Also, my supervisor is an investment analyst, she is good at identifying business opportunities so she may be right...

Nevertheless, I have learnt a lot from working with Glow. The interviews were good experience. I am more comfortable talking to people at different level and from different background- not that I was shy talking to strangers before but I am better at building rapport. I also learnt how to refine my question and prompt them. Also, I want to thank the founders for giving me the opportunity. I want to thank those who filled my survey and those who participated in the interviews. Many many thanks!

That's it for now! Thanks for reading. =)