Jointly weeknotes #3 - four notes for your Monday
Posted on 28th May 2012 by Asi Sharabi -
The Jointly startup project with Carers UK is making good progress. While Nikki and Ian concentrate on building the MVP, I've started to develop the commercial strategy (routes to market, pricing models etc.) Here are some random notes:
1. How to talk about care without talking about care.
We previously noted how all, or most of our respondents, although clearly involved in caring tasks and responsibilities do not identify themselves as carers. This has a myriad reasons. The reluctance to admit to oneself that a loved one needs caring, or the need to maintain a mental distance from formal care workers and maintain one's identity are two of the more obvious reasons. So previously we made a decision to focus on Caring as an activity that someone is involved with, rather then focus on Carers as the people we design for. This presents a few challenges, especially around copy, naming and branding. How to position and market a tool that is designed to make caring a bit easier without overly talking about caring? Who knew that Care is such a loaded word?....This is a work in progress but the aim is to bring the product benefits to life in an intriguing way, generate awareness and create resonance without putting off potential users. The focus, we think, should be on the way it will help the people who share the caring to be better together. So 'better co-ordination' 'stay in the loop', 'better informed', 'collaborative caring' are the themes we explore now for the copy/comms.
2. Involvement of the cared-for
This is a theme we initially overlooked. We are designing a tool to make better collaborative caring, focusing on facilitating better communication between everyone sharing the care. But there is of course a person at the center of the circle of care. Sometimes that person is still more or less independent, physically and mentally, sometimes they are not. Sometimes they are still very much part of the decision making process and participate actively in their care, sometimes they can't so the caregivers will make all the decisions on their behalf. But these things are never black or white. In many cases, even if the individual is still mentally capable, there will always be some private conversations between the people who share the care - it's only natural. Whether over the phone, group email or other means of communication, there are always going to be conversations where the cared for isn't involved ("is it time for mum to move to a home?" "I think dad has been a bit confused recently" etc) So what shall we do? We've decided that in line with our decision to try to tap into natural modes of communication between individuals in a circle of care and to leave that decision for them. We're designing a tool that will allow the cared for to have as little or as much involvement as makes sense for the individuals involved. He or she can be an active participant in this tool or not at all. This is a sensitive area that we will learn more of only when people will start using the tool and give us some feedback.
3. Pricing models and the free economy.
Here at Sidekick we are a firm believers in commercially sustainable digital busineses. We want to create products and services that people fall in love with and are willing to pay for. That's also a major objective for Sidekick School of which this project belongs to - to help charity organisation become more entrepreneurial, to create amazing products and to unlock new revenue streams by adopting the startup model/process. The case with Jointly is going to be an interesting one. There are a few similar tools in the market (not UK based businesses) and while ours is going to be significantly different - simpler, more intuitive, mobile, to name a few - on the pricing front we will have to look at what other tools are charging. An interesting case emerges. Of the three tools we are looking at, one is free, the other gives you 30 days free trial then charges you £10 per month and the third is giving you 1 year(!) free trial, it then charges you $5 per month or $48 for an annual subscription. That's quite a big difference. Again, once we have put the product into people's hands we will get a better idea of when to start charging and how much
4. More than an MVP
While I'm all up for being lean and agile and "ship first, iterate fast" (we, too, like to quote Reid Hoffmann that once said "if you're not embarrased by the first version of your product you've launched too late") I feel that in this context we have to be careful. I'm also a firm believer that in most cases you have one chance to get people to fall in love with a product. Jointly is designed for people who aren't your classic early adopters of techy products. If we look at the more natural, light-end of caring for an elderly parent, we are looking at 45-65 year olds that aren't as tech/apps aware as us. Surely we can find the 5-10 circles who are savvy enough with mobile applications but our plan is to get to 100 users as soon as possible and I want to give them the best possible experience. The solution in this case is to go lean and light on features, but to be as sleek as possible with visual design from alpha stage. The product, even if super simple, has to look and feel amazing. It will.
More updates soon.