Role: Co-founder, product designer
This is my first startup that we worked on with my friend and partner Alex. Initial idea was to create a website where people book author’s tours and guides that could manage all tours in one place. I was responsible for design and Alex for development. This is my first experience of creating a startup and I learned a lot. So I want to share with you my process and issues that I faced during this journey.
Guidefoot is a place, where tourists can find experience, emotions and like-minded people. Tourists could search for and book author’s tours. On the other side, guides could add, manage and promote their tours. It's similar to Airbnb Experience but for long-lasting tours from 3–30 days with local guides.
Firstly I started to understand the travel market and if they have money there. Worldwide, the tourism industry has experienced steady growth almost every year. International tourist arrivals increased from 528 million in 2005 to 1.19 billion in 2015. Figures were forecasted to exceed 1.8 billion by 2030.
As we see the travel industry growing every year and it’s more than enough to work there. But the question is what problem we are trying to solve. Let’s ask people how they are currently looking for local guides in a survey.
Questions to ask:
- What is your name?
- Where are you located?
- How often do you travel per year?
- Do you look for local tours or guides while traveling?
- How do you find local tours or guides?
- Where do you usually chat with local guides?
- What problems do you encounter when looking for local tours/guides or in contact with them?
Here are some interesting insights that we’ve found:
- People travel around 1-3 times per year
- 50% are looking for local tours when planning the vacation
- People are looking for local tours in Google and Facebook
- Contact with guides via Facebook and Viber
- There are no clear prices and clear descriptions of tours
Currently, tourists are looking for new experience, emotions, and like-minded people, while most of the travel operators offer “hotel-beach relax”. It’s kinda hard to find unique emotions on a beach. But all over the world, there are a lot of enthusiasts who create their own author’s tours with interesting places and look for people who can share this unique experience with them. We want to connect those enthusiasts and tourists who look up for something real and new.
Questionnaire gave us an understanding of what people want to see in the product and which issues they are faced now. We tried to collect all the issues in the problem statement.
Ok, we understand market size, customer pain points but how to find solutions for them? Here is a good tool called Value Proposition Canvas from Strategyzer. A simple way to understand your customer's needs, and design products and services they want. It works in conjunction with the Business Model Canvas and other strategic management and execution tools and processes. This is how we tried to find value to our customers.
Collecting all pieces together and understanding the whole picture of a product helps me cut unnecessary functionality and focus only on the must-have features of the product.
Knowing your competitors helps you to find the ways how to differ from them and what functionality is already popular on the market. For an early-stage startup, it's a critical part.
This is how we plan to differ from competitors:
- Worldwide focus
- Promoting tours
- Contact with a guide via accessible messengers convenient messengers (Messenger, Viber, Telegram)
- We offer local guides, not agencies
- Contact with a guide in convenient messengers (Messenger, Viber, Telegram)
- Tours by different places, not one
I skipped the wireframing stage and jumped into the visual design because I was time limited. It was important to test the MVP and receive prompt feedback from real users.
What I’ve learned
We were on the development stage and only then ask users to test it. This was a huge mistake and it turned out later, users do not need it especially for local guides. From their perspective, they already used Instagram and were happy with the result. Some of them received 50 leads every day and it was hard to lure away from them. Additionally, we had to invest a lot of money on marketing because we positioned themselves as an aggregator. We tried to apply to the accelerator to get some investments but didn't win😔 So, it was decided to get rid of this idea and save our time and money for now.
Designing for a client is one thing but I always wanted to develop my own startup from idea to MVP. Guidefoot is my first startup but not the last. And it was a great lesson for me to understand how hard is to create products that need people and solve their problems. I think every employee (not only the designer) should try this.