The project is over – time to say goodbye!

We had the final meeting with our project partner. Happy (and a bit) sad to say goodbye to this great team!

 

From left Arto, Pauliina, Pasi and Lu. In spirit Sara and Chen.
From left Arto, Pauliina, Pasi and Lu. In spirit Sara and Chen.

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Final pitch

Yes! Time does fly, after couple months of planning and building up the Rin-tin-tinder, we finally came to the final pitching event. In the final pitch, it was only 5 minutes speech and we were not supposed to answer the questions from the jury & feedback groups, it went pretty well and we were happy!

Check out the video:

Pitching: Pauliina, Chenyu
Slides skipping: Pengfei
Filming: Pasi
Supporting: Jussi, Aino
Supporting(moral): Arto, Sara

Our project partner’s view

We asked our project partner to write his comments and view to project:

“The final pitch is almost there and it is a good time to take a look at the Demola project from the partner’s point of view.

Our company was already familiar with the Demola concept before joining the project in the autumn 2015.  I knew that lot of the projects were quite technology oriented. We had something else in our mind and we were hesitating a bit – could Demola bring something for us as well. If yes, what would that be?

Everything started with an idea, which was developed at the office. Our product creation process includes co-creation type of customer involvement, but very soon we realized that in this case it was difficult to get feedback from the customers without a prototype.

We started to look at the Demola as a tool for our job. We made the decision that if we invest our time to this Demola project it has to create some value for us. Aligned with that decision we drafted a set of objectives for the project.

  1. We want to understand better if the original idea really has potential to grown from an idea to an innovation.

  2. We also wanted to know, which are the most valuable features, kind of Minimum Viable Product type of features that will bring value for the users and what the users are willing to pay for.

  3. A bit far fetched, but we also wanted to understand the go to market phase. Why?  How many times have you seen a service or a product to fail as you failed to plan and/or execute the go to market phase – or got to marked wasn’t realistic at all.

So, we looked this as a real investment and wanted to find out justification for this project from a business point of view. I admit that at the same time we have had good experiences working as mentors, coaches or otherwise supporting people in different phases of their working life. Partially this was also our decision to give something back to the community #sharingiscaring.

After discussions with the Demola staff we were convinced that this could be something worth doing.

The start of the journey

I must say I had my doubts when driving to the first Demola project meeting – i was sure that it will be interesting, but would it be beneficial too. Would this really increase our knowledge about the idea and its potential?

The first meeting in Demola showed that we had a solid international basis to build a team. A good combination of knowledge on needed areas. Team building seemed to work fine – people started to engage quickly and roles and working methods were set up promptly. I have build up 100s of teams during my professional journey and I definitely recognized the positive signs.

I was prepared for a pep talk and an empowering speech, but it was clear that that wasn’t necessary. There are of course gaps in the skills like scrum techniques or feature analysis and development i.e. how do you systematically approach the problems, but as a reminder – this is a study project after all. At the point the biggest thing was to encourage the team to reach out to the users, get feedback try to understand the user – not just the project partner.

In the first kind of ”forming” phase things were going to the right direction and moving nicely towards ”norming”.  At this point lot of the things happened within the team and the phase was supported heavily by the Demola staff. For the future, this could be some point where the roles of project team, project sponsor and Demola staff could be discussed a bit more.

However, things were looking good and one of the real valuable deliverables we got from the case was the survey conducted by the team, resulting 206 answers. That is something real, concrete and valuable for different purposes.

Half way through – the mid pitch

We had our regular meetings along the way to go through main topics. The team worked independently – in a positive way, meaning that the partner did not need to worry about controlling the project.

The team had proven earlier that our idea had potential turning from an idea to an innovation. The team had also utilized the information from the survey when building the service roadmap. This shows that the basic understanding of product/service creation were understood, but in the next round I would involve the project partner more closely in the roadmap definition – at the end of the day the product owner would steer the development and a good development team checks the direction from the different stakeholders frequent enough.

Mid pitch was something new. Pitching is a rather new thing for myself as well, but I have really started to see that as an excellent tool in product creation, not just something that is done for investors. Like in many cases the journey i.e. preparation for the pitch was more important than the pitch itself. You can use it to find out the core of your idea and it is a tool also to check if that idea is bought by the test audience – what do they say, what do they ask, what they didn’t ask? All this is valuable for the team.

What we got – several good ideas, a few excellent flashes ”out of the box”. They all may not fit to the original concept, but are still worth thinking of. The actual pitching event didn’t go as planned. I hope that was an excellent learning experience for the team – in a real life that could have been the one possibility to succeed or continue with the project – you do want to perform well. Things like these make the difference between success and failure in business environment.

One thing I wanted to bring up at this phase was that don’t bring me problems, I want to know proposals how to solve them. Once again, small things that differentiates you and your team from the rest of the teams. Also, at this state it was necessary to remind the team about these evergreens:

*Keep the project sponsor/owner/partner aware what is happening.

As a project team you need to recognize what kind of information stakeholders are expecting, how and when. In a successful project the stakeholder never needs to ask what is happening – the information is delivered to him in advance. This has proven very valuable in situations when something does not go as planned – it is good to bring the topics to the table instead building a bigger and bigger surprise.

*The users knows what he or she wants, not the partner

Own professional experience has shown that becoming truly customer oriented organization isn’t that simple. You need to involve the customer and avoid the big mistakes – “this is a superior technology” pitfall and ”Yes, but…” customer understatement. I tried to encourage the team to contact friends, family and potential users to ask their opinion about the features.

Despite the good progress during this phase I noticed that I wasn’t quite satisfied with the results. I could not pinpoint any actual issue and we had got answers to many of our questions, but still – I was a bit disappointed.

Driving back to office from our meeting I realized that even though the team was motivated and capable, maybe the excellent start had created a bit unrealistic to expectations. Like in any project work it is hard for a new team to plan realistically the effort without proper knowledge of the team members skills and personal capabilities. The team also met the challenges like any distributed, part time allocated team, which in a real business environment makes it hard even for a professional team to become a high-performing team.

Preparing for the final pitch

Long holidays broke up the progress and communication a bit. I wasn’t that sure any longer what we would get. This time the team showed its strength again by pulling things together. Making deliverables. Getting ready for closing. Delivering results.

What I’ve seen so far is a final polish for the user interface. Good presentation and demo materials i.e slides, video – I would even say that this material has been the best part of the delivery. The ideas that have been thrown in the air when planning the presentations, nice details, different viewpoints.

We have emphasized through our journey that the service proto is just a tool to test features and get feedback. More important is to be able to streamline the idea, find out the core of the idea – you should be able to explain what the service is all about always when you get a chance for an elevator speech.

Critical summary:  Has this project been worth it? Yes, as a journey I can definitely say that we have succeeded to reach the objectives we set at the beginning. Am I pleased? No! Not that I would be really disappointed for the results, but I can see much much more potential in the team and in this whole Demola concept and this time we did not reach the full potential. What is important – I have learnt something during this journey and hopefully the team as well. Well done team!

Thursday is the big day – it’s showtime. I am excited to see how does the team pull this off!”

 

Give us feedback of our demo!

The final pitch is getting close and so is the end of our project. Our project partner’s initial task for us to 1. plan a social media concept for dog owners 2. to build a demo version.

This we have done. The concept was explained in our short video clip in the previous post.

Now the demo also starts to get ready. Few adjustments still to be done but all the major functionalities at this stage are done. What is our demo all about?

Simply we created a social media network for dog owners in order to get connected to other dog owners.

Our frontpage
Our frontpage

Why yet another social media service? The answer is simple: There is no online community specifically for dog owners in Finland. Our survey clearly showed that there is need for such service.

According to to our competitor analysis our biggest competitors are Facebook and few dog-related Finnish sites.

Facebook has dog-related groups but they are scattered and you can do anything else except post comment there and share pictures. Also, the dog owner we have interviewed stated that they do not want to fill their Facebook profile with their dog-related posts and pictures.

Our Finnish competitors Kuono.fi (dog-related news site), Dogia (site where you can find dog service and a caretaker for your dog) and OneMind Dogs (site for specific dog-training technique) all lack the COMMUNITY!

The community is the key to success on our concept.

In earlier stage of our project we created a personna for our site, Tiina. With this service Tiina can now create a profilestart finding other dog owners and buy courses from the webstore.

Example of Tiina's profile
Example of Tiina’s profile
Webshop
Webshop

How to build a community? With our map feature Mark your territory! There Tiina can mark where she and her dog move and claim the as their territory.  They can look their own history of marking and they can also find other dog owner by searching them.

The map
The map

In second version the idea is to add the gamifying element to the map. So can Tiina can form teams and compete with other team in conquering the territories!

Please check out our demo at http://rintintinder.herokuapp.com/ and give us feedback at http://rintintinder.herokuapp.com/feedback

Thank you! 

Feedback form
Feedback form

Pauliina
Project manager

 

 

New front page!

After two days work, we get a new front page and settle down the style of our site app. We take the advice of our partner Jussi, and fixed some little bugs. And here it is Rin Tin Tinder .

frontpage.PNG

(Please ignore the Chinese tags)

Everyone in the team is happy with it, and it’s a good new start. Any further progress will be post here. 🙂

 

-Lu