Classifying Problems at Scale
Establishing feedback loops are vital in enabling us to scale our product and user-base.
At MySense we’re looking to scale our product and scale our user base. From a product development standpoint we’ve achieved a product-solution fit and are trying to gain product-market fit.
Our vision at MySense is to make every home the new care environment by providing personalised and preventative health insights to people so that they can continue to lead independent lives. Our product has physical and digital components — we provide a set of passive sensors which streams data into our platform. Our platform takes this data, establishes an individual’s baseline wellbeing and can alert a nominated circle of loved ones and carers to any significant changes in the individual’s wellbeing.
What’s the best way to go about scaling? How do we classify which problems to solve? What’s the most important thing to ship which would provide value to customers?
The important thing when doing any sort of product development is to establish feedback loops. Feedback loops are needed to understand whether your product is having an impact or not. In order to ensure that we are scaling in the best way possible, at MySense our approach is to review the length of the feedback loop, review the effort needed to complete the feedback loop, and incorporate feedback into our scaling strategy.
Length of the feedback loop
We’re in an interesting position, as our product has a physical aspect and a digital one. With digital-only products, there are several ways to gain feedback quickly. Timescales for getting feedback are usually days, if not a few hours. However, when it comes to physical products, the length of the feedback loop is significantly longer — it’s more like weeks or months. To give a recent example, we’re redesigning the box the MySense hardware comes in. The design needs to be updated so that it can accommodate different plug types for different countries and the time to assemble the MySense system and package up the box is less than x minutes. It will take weeks to design the box and create the tooling needed to manufacture and print it, and we won’t truly know if we’ve achieved our desired outcome until customers start receiving the new box in earnest. Sounds scary, right?
While we can be paralysed from analysing all the possibilities of what we could do with our packaging, we’re using the length of this long feedback loop as a helpful constraint in breaking down this product problem. First, we’re using the feedback we’ve received on previous box design iterations and incorporating it into prototypes of our next iteration. Second, we’re finding the sweet spot for print runs–we want to print enough to be able to fulfil the next batch of orders, and we also want to have a good breakpoint in case we want to iterate the packaging further. We’re currently working on print runs of 5,000 boxes to be able to control the length of this feedback loop and trade-off on the cost of iteration and changing up our packaging tooling.
Effort of the feedback loop
MySense currently operates in a B2B space. One of the decisions we need to make is whether we should establish our product in a new market in the B2B space first, then go after a new customer segment in our existing markets, or vice versa. The key to product development and scaling is to accelerate learning and to validate our approach. We’re reviewing how we can minimise the effort of establishing feedback loops to determine whether we should scale in a new market or a new customer segment. A new market means we can utilise our current sales funnel and customer support workflows, but will need to establish new technical infrastructure and obtain regional certifications. A new customer segment means we can use existing technical infrastructure and regional certifications, but will need to modify our sales funnel, customer support workflows, and some of our user experience. While we can carry out different experiments to understand which approach would be more viable, we are also evaluating the effort needed to establish feedback loops to help us decide in which direction we should scale.
Incorporate feedback into our scaling strategy
Optimising feedback loops won’t be of any help unless you take that feedback and incorporate it into your scaling strategy. At MySense, we know that in order to fulfil our company vision, we need to increase the number of individuals on our platform to make our data models and machine learning even better. The question we ask ourselves at the end of each feedback loop is whether this helps us achieve our vision. If it doesn’t, then we adapt our strategy based on what we’ve learned.
What makes scaling and product-market fit an interesting challenge is that it isn’t a straightforward decision of ‘value vs. effort’ (or other prioritisation frameworks). When establishing feedback loops, the length and effort is just as important as getting the feedback.
Written by Lyzbelle Strahan, Head of Product at MySense.