Elevate Talks: Lauren Braun
Lauren Braun is the Product Owner at Naked Labs a startup that has produced the world’s first 3D body scanner for the home. Lauren and her team are responsible for UX across the customer ecosystem — hardware, app, website, brand, packaging — down to the free T-shirts. Together they focus on building simple, friendly, and consistent experiences so that users can focus on their fitness goals. Prior to Naked, Lauren helped companies bring new products to market as an innovation consultant. She’s a designer by training, but has done stints as a writer, strategist and camp counselor.
To begin with, could you please introduce yourself?
My name is Lauren Braun. I’m a designer and strategist by training, and a product person by happenstance. I run the Product & Marketing team at Naked Labs.
Can you tell us a bit about Naked?
Naked is the world’s first 3D body scanner designed for the home. Using super-detailed 3D body scans, Naked helps you track your fitness journey over time. We show people useful health metrics like body fat percentage, lean mass, fat mass and 9 different circumference measurements, to give them a full picture of how their body is changing through diet at exercise.
Naked Labs is the company that makes Naked — it was founded in 2015. We’re about 50 people split between Silicon Valley and Graz, Austria. The team includes a lot of engineers — mechanical, electrical, software, cloud, mobile and computer vision — as well as folks in operations, product, design, research, logistics and customer service. We’ve grown really rapidly, when I joined in 2016 I was employee number 6.
How’s your team made up?
I like to say the my team does everything that touches the customer in any way. Luke and Jaime, are our two designers. They work on the mobile app UI/UX, website, social media, marketing collateral and any other branded touchpoint. They collaborate closely with the mobile developers to execute the iOS and Android apps to pixel perfection.
The team also has two dedicated researchers: Sam who has a PhD is Cognitive Neuroscience and leads Naked’a scientific research, and Michael, who is a UX and ethnographic researcher. Between the two of them, we ensure that our metrics and recommendations are scientifically valid and that people can easily use (and love) our hardware and software.
Additionally, the team has two marketers, Alli and Audrey, and two customer service reps, Tommy and Hana. The four of them make sure that we understand customers, communicate the value prop, generate sales and support a fantastic experience for potential, new and existing customers. They are truly the front-lines of the company.
Lastly, there’s me. I function as the Product Owner — shaping the company strategy, managing the feature roadmap, defining requirements, and tracking how people are using features we’ve made so that we can improve the product.
What’s your Product Design Process like?
It starts with user input — always. This can take the form of deliberate contextual inquiry, anecdotal customer feedback, survey to our Facebook insiders group, usability research, etc. The team (in fact, the company) is highly user-centered, so learning what customers want, love and hate is important before we invest in a feature.
User input informs product requirements, which then get “groomed” with Engineering so that we can anticipate any technology hurdles and make trade-offs together. After that the designers start working on concepts and get feedback from colleagues and customers. They then start to push higher-fidelity design which again get “groomed” with Engineering to identify any issues before the design is locked down.
Once a new feature gets into a mobile development sprint, myself and the designers stay involved to answer questions and make on-the-fly decisions throughout implementation and QA.
Can you tell us about Naked’s business model?
Naked is currently a direct-to-consumer hardware sales model. The selling price is $1,395 (about $8k less than our next competitor). We’re also planning to incorporate a subscription model to allow more individuals to use a single scanner, as well as to start offering Naked to gyms, fitness studios, physical therapists and any other business that helps people change their body.
You’ve recently raised a $14 million Series A, what does this mean for your roadmap?
Well, it meant that we could start shipping product in August 2018. It was a huge milestone for us and the product has been really well-received. We’re using the capital to manufacture scanners, scale the team, build new features on our roadmap, and, of course, make sure that people who might want Naked know that it exists.
How does Lateral View add value to the product creation process?
Lateral View (or LV as we call them), are basically just an extension of our team. We don’t think of them as contractors, but instead as team members in Argentina and Spain. As honorary Naked team members, they speak up when they hear or see something concerning — flagging potential issues and helping us make good architectural decisions before we invest in one way of doing something. This is so important for a small startup with limited resources like us.
They are also great at suggesting better tools and methodologies. For example, the way we write user stories in Jira or put designs into Zeplin for handoff. Our product development process has gotten more efficient and effective with LV’s input.
The body recognition technology is amazing, are you planning on other uses for it in the future?
So true — the challenge has not been what to pursue, but what not to! There are so many possible applications of Naked’s body data — health and fitness, obviously, but also athletic performance, disease management, population, custom clothes, retail, gaming, AR/VR, ergonomics and industrial design — the list goes on. Right now we’re focusing 90% of our energy on health, fitness, and body change while doing some lightweight experiments in clothing and a few other areas.
Bonus track: Could you recommend any other product you admire from the tech scene?
It’s not super sexy or new, but I am pretty in love with Apple CarPlay. Especially with the iOS 12 update that allows me to use GoogleMaps. It plays really well with the physical controllers in my Audi A3 and makes my 45–60 min commute so much more enjoyable and productive. I think that’s a hallmark of great design — taking the experience of a widespread, everyday problem and making it much, much better.