Hello, and hopefully you had a great week!
Again, this week’s blog is divided into two parts. First, the coding team introduces their progress, and then the validation team theirs.
The technical part was finished last Friday well and nicely. It was a little humbler than originally planned as we ended up having not enough time, but it looks and works quite well. Basically it is a service to allow users to compare different opinions for traveling “far” in Finland, far more or less meaning outside the Kehä 3. After start and end cities have been decided, day to travel chosen and sorting option specified, it will show what trains and buses and maybe even planes can take you there that day. It will also show the travel time and price and a button to buy the ticket. As a bonus feature we show a map from Google Maps on how the routes go in Finland.
From the visual perspective the result was quite good, especially considering that we were advised to focus more on validation than technical and graphical advancements. It has a light atmosphere, information is well presented and the color scheme is consistent. Also having suitable background images instead of a solid color makes the page much more lively.
Of course this application is only a prototype so the starting location is always set to Helsinki and we have only four end locations. Also there is a limited amount of schedules saved to our database and thus there is also a limited amount of options shown for each destination city. If the development would continue, some kind of API to get information from external web site and a search box instead of drop-down box for city options would be needed. We would also add possibility to see CO2-emissions, services that are available in trains or buses. Visually the search bar components would be similar in appearance to the “Osta” -button. Lastly speaking of buttons, you obviously can’t buy a ticket currently in our service.
This week we had a meeting about validating our business case, as we had got feedback about the importance of validation. As a result, we decided that we should start quickly collecting validation data from different viewpoints. Thus, we will collect data from professionals (transport providers), end users and Facebook marketing with which we will validate our business case. Professionals are interviewed to find how they could be tempted to join our platform because we would eventually need them to provide one source of revenue, as we explained in our business model canvas blog post a couple of weeks ago. We have already received two good responses from different transport providers considering their view of joining our platform. Furthermore, we started our Facebook marketing last weekend (see picture below) and it will run for a week – keep an eye on your Facebook ads! This experiment will provide us valuable data for estimating the costs and benefits of marketing, for instance, whether it is an efficient way to gain a critical mass of customers, and thereby, to compete with our competitors.
What we will do next? We are going to interview random potential end users tomorrow (Tuesday) at Helsinki city centre to find out the most wanted features that our product should include. We will provide them with a prototype of our product so that they can try it out and give us actual hands-on feedback! Additionally, we will wait for the Facebook marketing campaign to finish and give us some results to our question about the importance and possibilities of marketing. Combined with data collected from professionals, we will use all these data to validate our business case during the coming week.