Unlocked is a startup that aims to solve the problem of hiring venues such as museums, churches, conference rooms, and more. We have researched and prepared additional product features and prototyped a UI to upgrade the existing marketplace.
Our client had a strong need to push this product forward and that's what he came to us for. We were very excited about it, so we started market research right away. We found out that there was already strong and well-known competition in the market, allowing users to book venues in many cities in the UK. So if we developed a product like we originally intended, our client would have to raise and spend a lot of money on marketing to break through. Instead, we took a completely different approach.
Together with the client, we decided to conduct in-depth interviews with potential users of the product to find out their real needs and, based on those needs, determine what the product would be.
Discovering user needs
We offered our client one of our core services for startup founders, which is a Product Discovery Workshop. We divided it into two stages. The first was to talk to the client and explore their needs, goals, and plans for Unlocked. The second - is interviews with potential users. Thanks to the client, we had contact access with the people who manage the venues. Among them were:
- Owner of a venue well suited to a wide range of cultural events such as fashion shows, photography shoots & filming, product launches, and parties
- Event Manager at a charity that empowers young people through the arts
- Museum worker.
As you see, we have three different people who manage three different venues. Are their needs also different? We asked our contacts nine general questions:
- What is your venue and what is your role there?
- What are your key responsibilities? What’s a typical day look like for you?
- What would you say is the hardest part about your job?
- How big is your team? What does the reservation process for your venue look like? (What sort of software/tools do you use for that?)
- What kind of challenges do you see with that process? How do you look for new tools, services, etc?
- What’s your online activity like?
With each question, we asked follow-up questions to gain answers that showed the person's situation in detail. Each interview took about an hour and a half, but it was definitely worth it!
Collecting useful insights
After completing a series of interviews, we wrote down some useful insights. For example, two survey participants said that they only rent the venue after having shown it to the renter. In addition, because of the specific location and other factors, not all events are allowed there (for example, music events).
Another participant told us that he has a few regular customers who host an event with him every year around the same time that lasts several days.
These customers are the most important and the most profitable. So imagine that someone else books the venue online for one day on the date that the annual event is usually held. This could cause the regular customers, who bring in the most revenue, to move to another location. That's why many venue owners can't agree on the automatic reservation of dates.
Another important voice was that people looking to hire a venue have very different requirements and ask a lot of questions. Dozens of emails need to be exchanged before a rental happens. So there is a need to simplify all this.
All of the above cases led us to believe that our client's initial idea to develop a booking system turned out not to meet the users' needs. We presented these observations to the client (Unlocked), who fully agreed with us. We had to figure out what would actually solve the users' problems.
During our next meeting with the client, we proposed a new product idea. We thought that the solution to the users' problems would be something like an online generator of forms or briefs tailored to the needs of a given venue.
Thanks to this tool, the owner of the property will be able to easily, from ready-made elements, generate a form to be filled by the renters and implement it on his website. The form will have the option to show different visuals of the property rooms, various room layouts, and more. In turn, the user who wants to make a rental will be able to choose or even design their own layout in the future. This proposal was well received by our client, so we quickly went into action.
Product Design and fundraising
We knew that before Unlocked proceeded with fundraising, it would be a good idea to prototype the tool. That's why on one hand we prepared information architecture and prototyped the user interface to manage the brief (from the owner's or venue manager's side) and on the other hand, we prepared a visualization of what the ready brief could look like on the venue's website.