The most recent product I worked on was an on-campus housing recommendation system. While the specifics of the design and technology behind the product might not be relevant to everyone, I’ve put together an outline of the steps we followed during its launch.

Although we’re yet to Market and Reiterate the product to a wider audience, most of the heavy lifting related to the launch was already completed successfully. I’d love to hear your launch stories too. Or if you have questions, feel free to send them my way and I will do my best to address them.

Product Launch

UMDLocalHousing.Com

  1. Discovery

    Study real data to identify the problem.

    • We first faced the trouble selecting a housing complex after moving to campus that meets our requirements. This was the central pain point around which we would design a product.

    • After speaking to more friends and batchmates, it became clear that the issue was ubiquitous with no real solution.

    • We looked at research data (http://reslife.umd.edu/marketstudy/) to understand the demographics on campus. It gave us insights about on and off-campus housing market, unmet demand and scope for growth.

  2. Consumer Survey

    Talk to actual customers to gather the specific needs of the market.

    • The best insights come from actual customers. We gathered inputs from a variety of users so that we could diversify our focus group to the maximum extent.

    • It helped us refine our problem statement, chalk down the exact features they would want from the service and how much would they be willing to pay for it.

    • A lot of students we spoke to were excited to try out the service during its prototype testing.

  3. Market Analysis

    Research the market, identify your competitors and build a strategy to shape your ideas into a business model.

    • To analyze the existing solutions in the market, we used insights from the consumer survey and performed SWOT analysis on those. Most common options available were

      • Facebook groups

      • Independent housing managements

    • These were tedious to work with and yet failed to provide the right housing solution.

    • We identified a market to differentiate ourselves and built a business strategy around it.

    • By targeting Housing Management Offices as the major source of revenue instead of students, we could ensure an early and easy adoption.

  4. Collaborate

    Bring together a team of skilled people who can build the product.

    • The complexity of building a recommender system required us to make sure that we had the right people on team.

    • It was paramount that the recommendations were accurate while the front end user experience was smooth and hassle-free.

    • We decided to collaborate with developers who could build the

      • UI/UX Design

      • Backend logic for recommender system.

    • Between the co-founders, we shared responsibilities of

      • Product design

      • Market research

      • Business strategy

      • User testing.

  5. Communicate

    Prepare a vision and mission statement of the product.

    • First step towards developing the product was to work with the team and come up with a compelling vision and mission statement.

    • We wanted to convey our message in crisp sentences to the investors and consumers alike.

    • It would serve as a unifying theme around the product.

  6. Lifecycle planning

    Create a Project Roadmap and mark down deliverables, milestones and success metrics.

    • Once the vision and strategy was decided, next step was to provide a guiding document to execute this strategy.

    • We wanted to use an effective framework that provides us the flexibility to add changes in quick releases.

    • The roadmap consisted of design sprints of 2 weeks and the release of final prototype in 6 weeks. Our KPIs and success metrics were laid out to meet both financial as well as consumer expectations. Some of these were -

      • User Awareness

      • Conversion Rate

      • Consumer Satisfaction

      • Developer Satisfaction

      • Market Capitalization

      • Daily Visits to website

  7. Development

    Develop the prototype and begin Unit Testing.

    • The team distributed tasks among themselves and worked towards individual goals.

    • Each member was assigned a different role and the product managers were responsible for tracking growth and ensuring that the deadlines were met.

    • We brought together and tested pieces as they were being built and ensured that the MVP met the success criteria written in the documentation.

  8. Release and ship

    Reach out to mentors, influencers and users for feedback.

    • Once the website application was built, we made the site go live

    • We reached out to initial users to test our prototype and give feedback.

    • Once the product was ready to ship, the co-founders pitched it to several events, clubs and meet-ups to gather feedback.

  9. Marketing (in progress)

    Work with the sales team to convert leads.

  10. Reiterate (future)

    Compare success metrics and release updates to fix bugs and handle issues.