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HABHA

Academic project

2020

The goal of this final academic project was to curate a start-up using Silicon Valley approach and the industry I chose to tackle was nutrition because it is a topic close to home. The overall methodology was iterative: find a problem, research it swiftly, design a solution, create an MVP (minimum viable product), launch it and redesign the solution until a great market response is found and then develop a functional prototype. For my project, I added up a research step before every redesign

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Cycle 1

Research and problem statement 

To get started I created a research plan chart based on 4 simple questions:

¿What do I want to know? ¿About whom? ¿Which tools/resources do I need? ¿when do I need this data?. At the beginning I had 7 topics I wanted to know about and added 4 more along with the research. 

During cycle 1 research wasn't a priority, the goal was to develop and test an MVP as soon as possible. Thus I focused on the topics that were vital to design and could be answered through secondary research and light primary research which were: diseases caused by poor food habits, their treatment and consequences , then-available programs /methods/services for food habits change and potential users' experience when trying to change their food habits.

Through secondary research I found that 60% of the Colombian adult population had bad food habits because they don't know what food to choose and they´re unaware of nutritional properties on their everyday meals (La Republica, 2020). And these poor habits are main risk factors to develop chronic diseases like diabetes, obesity and hypertension which represent huge expenses on the Colombian health system every year and deaths caused by these diseases are likely to increase by 17% by 2030. On the other hand, with 3 interviews with potential users I found that main barriers perceived by them when it comes to food habits change were: culture of restrictive diet, “healthy” food and dietarians' high costs, food anxiety due to restriction and dehumanized nutrition services.

With this data I wrote down that the problem was: people in their 30´s with health conditions caused by poor food habits felt restricted about what to eat because they had to change their food habits but lacked knowledge and first-hand experience on this topic.

Design and prototyping

To design the initial solution I took into account the following insights from benchmark research:

  • Interdisciplinary programs had greater impact on users but represented higher costs.

  • Food habits change was linked straight up to fat loss by the user

  • Hiring health and nutrition coaches was on the rise after the pandemic

Based on the information gathered I designed the initial solution which was a web platform divided into levels and each level contained a group of modules with detailed information, activities and one-on-one meetings with experts. To test this solution ,I created as the first MVP a landing page where likely users could watch a short video explaining what HABHA is and how it worked ,and if they were interested they could sign up by giving their email address and phone number as you can see in the next video.

Launch

With this MVP I carried out 3 launches:

 

  • Family & friends launch where I shared the web page link besides a short text through Whatsapp groups and with people close to me. I asked them to share it with their friends and family.

  • Silent launch where I texted to the people who signed up on the web page to answer their questions about Habha 

  • Social media launch were I created a Facebook page, posted the promotional video and shared it with my Facebook Friends

My goal with those launches was to determine how many people could be interested in the program and if they could understand how it worked. I sorted all feedback from the launches into 3 categories: product, price and promotion. The main insights from launches were:

  • Other people testimonies is crucial to encourage them to make a purchase decision (product)

  • The age range had to be increased from 30´s to 40´s because that group age showed greater interest (product)

  • Is more effective to give additional information to likely users through short videos than with plain text (promotion)

  • The second approach with likely users must be a direct call to action (promotion)

  •  The brand visual elements had to be simplify and more clean (promotion)

  • To give an approximate purchase price is crucial and I didn´t have enough information to set it (Price)

Cycle 2

After I updated the user's age rage, I set 3 goals for this cycle:

1. To nderstand my main user and secondary users (dietitians and health coaches)

2. To learn about intuitive eating, habit change techniques and competitors on the international market

3. To pitch the project to likely users (primary and secondary) outside my social circle

Research

For the first one, I focused on gathering information about the users through primary research. To do that I conducted 3 in-depth interviews with adults between 40 and 50 years old who had tried to improve their food habits and had dietarians advisory. In the interviews we revisit in detail their daily routine on a normal day versus their routine when they decided to eat better. I summarized the insights on a Value proposition canvas. Check below the main pains (obstacles) and gains (benefits they're seeking) I discovered.

Due to time constraints, I was only able to do a co-creation exercise with 2 users after the interview. It was called “love letter and hater letter” and they had to write a love letter and a hate letter to food as if it was a person. That allowed me to better understand their feelings around this topic. A few outstanding verbatims from this exercise were:

“...because I spend longer sacrificing myself than the few pleasureful minutes I enjoy you”

“your flavors take me back to great moments of my life”

On the other hand, I conducted 2 in-depth interviews with dietarians to understand their methodology during one-on-one sessions with clients. 

For the second goal, I focused on secondary research through books, blogs , web pages and social media. and summarized that information on a Miro board. The main insights from this research were:

  • It was important to use anti-perfectionism language on the platform and on one-on-one sessions

  • It was crucial to add interventions from experts on body image and food relationship

  • The program needed special modules for users with comorbidities (diabetes, hypertension and dyslipidemia)

  • To make awareness of the deepest reasons behind a desired physical change is a more wholesome approach towards weight loss

  • dietarians invested a lot of time during sessions educating their clients in nutrition and by educating them beforehand their sessions could be shorter, therefore ,cheaper and more effective.

Redesign and launch

I redesigned the initial platform workflow using those insights and was able to establish a subscription price of 50000 COP/ monthly.

To launch the project in this cycle I pitched the project to 3 dietarians through video call (strangers launch). To lighten my explanation I showed them the first MVP and a diagram explaining each level´s topic and modules content of the platform. On the other hand, I contacted again all the people who dropped their phone number on the web page (first cycle) and sent them an online banner with a call-to-action message through WhatsApp to determine how many of them would be willing to sign up to HABHA; and to the ones who answered I offered them to do the initial diagnostic for free.

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Free diagnostic step-by-step

From those launches I found out that: the initial cost model wouldn't work because the user wasn´t willing to pay the suscription without a free trial first and the platform´s workflow was missing a few modules

Cycle 3

I iterated the platform´s design with the information from cycle 2 and built a wireframe for the app (users) and for the web platform  (for dietitians and coaches). In the next video you can see the wireframe. unfortunately ,I wasn´t able to launch this last MVP; thus ,no user feedback was given.

Results and conclusions

Food relationship is a fundamental and complex topic and through my research I understood how important it is to take a multidisciplinary approach towards it because the way we eat and nourish our bodies is deep rooted in our subconscious thereby intertwined with all other aspects of our lives.

As time was a concern, including one primary user research tool in every cycle instead of a full primary research phase at the beginning of the project was very helpful because I didn't overload myself with raw data to analyze and allowed me to deepen on users' needs as I designed the solution; thus, reducing time between each iteration.

Another problem was the user´s little time availability and willingness to meet in person (due to ongoing pandemic) which reduced my primary research opportunities. To solve this I included simple and well-planned co-creation exercises that helped me understand their feelings and deep needs regarding their relationship with food during shorter sessions.

It’s vital to create and launch a functional prototype to validate the last iteration to know for sure if the user would be willing to buy it 

Regarding the platform´s design, the main user is not a digital native so usage ease is a fundamental quality to engage him; to obtain these UI design must be a priority in the next cycle.

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