How Research Killed an Uber Cool Startup Idea Part-1

18 January 2017 by Ambar Bhusari 1 comment
User Research

The Honest Confession

I must confess, it wasn’t the smartest thing to do, when the bossman comes to you flashing a million dollar smile, with what he believed was a million dollar startup idea.Sticking your neck out, putting your job on the line and suggesting we do some user research before we get into execution, much less the app development.

Well as it turned out, we took the punt with the backing of the UX head and my manager. The idea was to launch an on-demand hyper local concierge, an app based service that could pick up and deliver almost everything under the sun that the consumer needs, well almost.

The Business Model

It was supposed to be a consumer centric service akin to Uber for deliveries. Users will request riders to pick up their stuff and get it delivered to them. Riders will have a choice of selecting their deliveries. All we needed was a set of riders who were willing to ferry stuff and an uber cool app and voila we had a great startup idea!

But the idea begs the question, is there a consumer need or the market for such an app in an already overcrowded space of delivery based startups. The boss however was completely sold on the potential of his idea, after all he uses these services several times a week for various errands. So are we talking to an audience of 1? He had a strong belief in the product, well not quite a product yet but the idea. He was of the firm opinion that consumers need a way to quickly get something delivered instead of doing it themselves. Right from groceries to that late night ice-cream craving to getting the laundry from the dry-cleaners.

And the way it works is for every transaction a certain percentage is charged as convenience fees. A part of it goes toward the rider fees, who work independently just as Uber drivers do. They are free to take up the request or turn it down, but the focus remains firmly on the customer experience. After all if customers are satisfied they generate more business in the form of referrals that are critical for a startup to flourish, while keeping the User Acquisition Costs (UAC) low.

Research & Discovery

Coming back to the research, we set out on our path to discovery to uncover some consumer insights and needs, much to the chagrin of the bossman. And what we unearthed during the journey were fascinating latent insights into the consumer’s mind in the changing digital landscape. We started our user research in the small but buzzing city of Pune. If we can crack the Pune market then we could scale up the model to a bigger metropolis like Mumbai. We spoke to housewives, professionals and almost every possible demographic that would fit into the target audience.

The results took us by surprise, to say the least. From outright bizarre reactions to very nonchalant ones we had got all kinds of responses. At the end of the day we had to analyse and read between the lines to decipher the insights.

Stay tuned for more on the fascinating discoveries and insights which will published in the second part of this blog, next week. It’s worth the wait!


Ambar Bhusari

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1 thought on “How Research Killed an Uber Cool Startup Idea Part-1”

  1. Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an incredibly long comment but after
    I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear. Grrrr… well I’m not writing
    all that over again. Anyhow, just wanted to say wonderful blog!

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