The 四人 team: Edwar, Lucho, Wilbur, and me (Jun)

How we tested Humble Bee with less than $100 in just 5 days

In just five days, our team went from zero to a high-fidelity prototype that we tested in front of real customers.

In just five days, we learned what works with our product, what doesn’t work with our product, and identified key next steps.

We did all of this without any wasted development time and by spending less than $100 in total.

Sound to good to be true?


A Design Sprint is a five-day process created by Google Ventures to quickly and effectively answer critical business questions through design, prototyping, and testing with customers.

Here’s how we used a Design Sprint at Humble Bee and the lessons we learned from it.

Day 1: Start at the end

The first day of our Design Sprint

Our Design Sprint was composed of 4 team members:

  1. Lucho: the Facilitator
  2. Jun (that’s me): the Decider
  3. Wilbur
  4. Edwar: joined part-time as he has a full-time job

As the Facilitator, Lucho lead the entire Design Sprint from start to finish.

Write a checklist? Check!
To stay as scrappy as possible, we held the Design Sprint in a 1-bedroom apartment in San Francisco

Set a long-term goal

We initially started out with a very specific, quantifiable long-term goal:

Get 100,000 downloads and achieve a K-factor greater than 1

However, after reading through the examples in the Design Sprint Book, we decided to modify the goal to encompass broader long-term company values:

Long-term goal: Get families to fall in love with Humble Bee stories

List sprint questions

We then moved to list all of the reasons we may fail to achieve our long-term goal. Because we had very limited whiteboard space, we decided to use sticky notes and place them on the wall.

The key doubts we identified were the following:

  1. Awareness: how will families learn about Humble Bee?
  2. Role models: do families see artists as appropriate role models?
  3. Fun factor: how can we make our stories fun and lovable?

Make a map

We listed our key players on the left and identified the completed goal to the right.

Ask the experts

We spoke with 4 people for our expert interviews:

  1. Maria: elementary school teacher
  2. Ricardo: children’s game developer
  3. Edwar: iPhone app developer
  4. Kim: children’s development counselor
Chats with our experts

How Might We

From our expert interviews, we noted the following “How Might We’s”:

We chose the following “How Might We” categories as the most important:

  1. Lovable: how might we make Humble Bee lovable for families?
  2. Testing: how might we test the story before launching it?
  3. Believability: how might we make children believe they can accomplish what the characters in the story have accomplished?
  4. Read aloud: how might we make it easy for parents to read the story out loud to their children?

Pick a target

The last task of Day 1 was to pick a target:

We chose to target the following:

  1. Parents
  2. Children
  3. Reading the story
  4. Sharing the app

Time to get some tacos

Day 1 was a big day. It really sets the stage for how the rest of the Design Sprint would go.

After making some important decisions, we ended the day in the best way possible: with tacos.


Day 2: Sketch

Day 2 of a Design Sprint lays out all of the options and concepts for what the team may choose to prototype on Thursday.

Lightning demos

We started the day by demoing our favorite solutions from various apps and products so that we could get inspired.

We ran out of whiteboard space
  • Two Dots: we highlighted the game mechanics and the interactive map that made the iPhone game social
  • Threes: we highlighted the no-friction-on-boarding, merchandise page, and the credits page to showcase transparency with the company, team, and mission
  • Tocaband: wow, what an awesome music app. We loved that it was interactive, easy-to-use, and engages the creativity of the player
  • Nick Jr: we highlighted the disclaimer for parents and the UI that made it easy for children to navigate

The Four-Step Sketch

After drawing inspiration from great apps, we jumped into an intense creative sketching process to ideate solutions for our objective. While all previous steps were meant to help us ideate and identify opportunities, this part is about developing solutions and putting them on paper.

This part was fun and incredibly intense. As part of the Four-Step Sketch process, we did an exercise called Crazy 8’s: in just 8 minutes, we drew 8 different sketches to further develop our ideas.

At the end of Tuesday, we turned in our final solution sketches face down and called it a day. We didn’t review any of the sketches on purpose to allow our minds to cool down and look at them the next day with fresh eyes.


Day 3: Decide

Wednesday was the day to make a decision about what we would prototype.

Group think, presentations, and debates are very difficult ways to identify the best solution because decisions can be influenced by many factors: a person may be a really good presenter, a team member may be shy and not want to verbally bring up objections, team members may gravitate to the CEO for his or her approval.

Sticky decision

I believe the Design Sprint methodology has a very strong approach to making important group decisions.

Each team member silently reviews the proposed ideas and solutions
Team members silently add stickers to ideas that they like

We chose to go with two ideas:

  1. Planets Lobby: each character in Humble Bee has their own planet (similar to The Little Prince). To read the story, the child has to enter the planet of the character.
  2. DJ Bonus Game: after reading the story, the DJ Bonus Game is unlocked, allowing the child to make music through the app.

Storyboard

Once we identified the solutions that we would prototype, we moved to create a storyboard to plan the prototype in detail.

12 slides in our storyboard

With our storyboard finalized, we were set to tackle a full day of prototyping on Thursday.


Day 4: Frantic Prototyping

Thursday was the most intense day of all. I don’t know how in the world Google Ventures prototypes in under 4 hours. I’ve been in 3 Design Sprints thus far and each time we’ve had to prototype until the late hours of the evening.

How late? We stayed up until 1am to finish the prototype.

But it was definitely worth it. Here are some highlights from our day of prototyping:

Edwar joined us for the full day of prototyping!
We ran so late that my wife and Edwar’s girlfriend ate dinner at the apartment while we continued to prototype
The final images that we would test on Friday

Day 5: The Interviews

Friday was the big day, the day we tested our prototype with 5 families.

I was the interviewer. We interviewed some absolutely wonderful families!
Lucho and Wilbur took notes from the apartment while watching the interviews live on TV

What we learned

So many things! Here is just a small sample of our important learnings:

  • Parents loves the mission of our company
  • Parents and children loved the concept of “planets”
  • We need to push up our target age range to 4–7 year olds
  • Our rhyming needs to improve
  • We need to improve character and story development
  • Kids lose attention 3/4 of the way through the story
  • Parents enjoyed explaining new and difficult words to their children
  • Kids absolutely love hitting buttons
  • Kids gravitate towards games
  • Kids love finding and collecting items
  • Kids (even as young as 2) are completely comfortable with the native iPad gestures like swiping

Thank you’s

  • Thank you to our experts Maria, Ricardo, Edwar, and Kim for giving us some incredible feedback
  • Thank you to our interviewers Dana & Kaz, Jennifer and Thelo, Tania & Azul, Wissam & Braden, and Rebecca & Max: you helped us discover how we need to improve
  • Thank you to GV for creating the Design Sprint methodology. I hope that you love this case study
  • Thank you to Alysa, Adriana, Maria, and Kim for your patience and support
  • Thank you to Lucho, Wilbur, and Edwar for a successful Design Sprint

Hey Jake Knapp, we would love to submit this as a Sprint Story!

Our awesome team!

If you would like to support us, then you can help us in two ways:

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  2. If you know Steve Aoki, then we’d really appreciate an intro

Dream on!