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MIRU

A connected mobility application that enables local exploration for car and non-car owners within their community.

*This was a capstone project that was later bought by Honda for further development.   

Made for

Honda 99P Labs

Year

2020

Role

UX/UI Designer,

Product Management Intern

Initial Problem statement from Honda (Our Interpretation) 

"How might Honda provide a service, platform, or software that delivers value to millennials as they commute"

 

My Role

Through the various phases of the product development of this project, I wore multiple hats such as a product designer, strategist, team leader, and a product manager. I spearheaded the design and business model constituents of the project during capstone and the product and data-centric user research during my internship period with Honda where we furthered this project by following a lean methodology.

 

I also focused on developing a strong business model to find the most opportunistic value proposition for MIRU. I was also continuously working with the user researchers to conduct and combine qualitative findings to further define user needs and pain points. 

Project Overview

    Why?

  • The commuting domain has great potential for growth.

  • Tech-savvy millennials prefer public transportation.

    Who?

  • Millennial non-car owners living in urban cities enjoy exploratory commute.

    What?

  • Miru enables millennials to engage with their local community in a personalized and secure manner.

    How?

  • 2-sided business model with 5 use cases that inform an aggregated data-based revenue model. 

   Validating Why

  • Commuting domain is more popular in bigger cities of US.

  • Millennials prefer car - most US cities don't have good public transportation.

   Validating Who

  • Older & Younger millennials are 2 personas interested in exploration along their route.

   Competitive Research

  • Honda platform - main differentiator as competitors have explored local exploration idea.

   

    Strategy Further

  • User: Community growth

  • Businesses: Customer acquisition & retention and product improvement

(January - May)

(June - August)

Followed a Double Diamond Process

Starting January, 2020, as part of a capstone project sponsored by Honda R&D Americas, a team of 5 students consisting of designers, engineers and business students followed a 4 phase design process to turn Honda's future vision into reality. The 4 phases consisted of identifying & understanding the opportunity space, conceptualizing the opportunity and finally realize the product solution through a business and marketing plan.

 

Identifying the Opportunity 

Initial Observational studies & User Interviews (9)

Observed multiple stakeholders in public transportation and types of activities they engage in during their travel time. From a broad target audience of millennials, we created multiple initial user groups based on demographics. We then approached these user groups with a crafted interview protocol and started to create value & need based user groups (5). 

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Sometimes enjoy chatting with drivers when ride-hailing

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Want low cost, efficiency, sustainability, less traffic when using public transportation

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To achieve a fun, healthier and more sustainable ride, people ride a bicycle or tricycle

Get a sense of independence, freedom, control when walking to a place

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Major Insight #1

Secondary Research: Understanding the Landscape

(*Studied Political, Economical, Social, Technological, legal and Environmental factors)

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Growing interest from industry in the first and last mile 

transportation services

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High income individuals with no children are more likely to use ride-share and less likely to own private vehicles.

In 2050, 2/3s of the world population will live in urban areas so more people will tend to commute shorter distances

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A connected network can allow vehicles to communicate with each other and do things such as warn about traffic incidents or road conditions.

83% of Millennials are environmentally 

conscious but admit that it can be hard to do so.

Stakeholder Analysis

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3 cups

Flour

1½ cups

Butter

Provides a type of service to the commuter, Honda or 3rd party

Makes rules & regulations for services that are available to commuters

Members creating & using the current types of virtual community

Paid Driving services

Directly or indirectly influence the commuters about car ownership, Honda, entertainment

Part-Of/Owner

Governed By

Understanding the Opportunity 

User Studies (21): Young Professionals | College Students

We conducted multiple co-design interviews and analyzed the results. Throughout the product development process, we also took expert advice from our Honda sponsors who had the technical and industry information. We also talked to multiple stakeholders who had either been part of similar projects or had deep knowledge of one of the tangential research areas.

1. Identifying Key values

From user interviews, identified over 25 values that the our target users value and analyzed their current and goal state. We identified the the 4 highest valued and most common values. We then identified opportunities using this analysis.

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Images of value opportunity analysis & results

2. Key Values satisfied within current solutions.

Created multiple positioning maps based on the key identified valued to identify existing solutions in the market.

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Images of value based positioning maps 

3. Focused Co-Design Sessions

After a detailed user research process, we finally had 4 user groups with defined values and needs. We then created more focused co-design session to narrow down on a major persona. 

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Image from a focused co-design session

User Journey Map - A defining moment

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Major Insight #2

Use Cases

"The Car Craver"

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Tessa

25 years old

Software engineer

Pittsburgh, PA

Non-car owner

Exploration

“Sometimes after work, I like venturing out to new food spots that I haven’t explored yet.”

Comfort

“I make sure that the commuting option I choose is comfortable even if that means spending a few extra dollars”

Minimized Interference

“I try to avoid running into someone to avoid engaging in conversation when I’m not in the mood of talking.”

Reliability

“You never know exactly when the bus is gonna come and how long the ride’s gonna take.”

Our Opportunity

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How might we exploratory commutes enhanced by the local community for millennial non-car owners living in medium-sized urban cities? 

Major Insight #3

Our Space

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Major Insight #3

Conceptualizing the Opportunity 

Key Product Requirements

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Commute-based 

Recommendations 

Community-generated

Content

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Visualizing the 

Recommendations

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Sustainable

Engagement

User Flow & Low-Fidelity Prototyping

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User flow

Initial Concept

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Route-based 

Recommendations

(Familiar commute, new experience)

Navigation guides to the spot and the destination

(To ensure worry-free exploration)

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Browse places, events, and activities all at once

(Business provided+community-generated)

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Review, recommend, and add new ones

(Community-generated content)

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Earn badges and rewards

(Sustainable Engagement)

Final Concept (*Per Capstone Project)

While majority of the concept remained the same, in the final concept, I incorporated the user feedback from the initial prototype and also defined an end-to-end user experience. Three important aspects addressed in this prototype was creation of user interface for the onboarding experience, addition of user preferences and landing page.

Onboarding Experience

Users add their exploration preferences for the first time they enter Miru. These preferences can be changed in the future as well through the profile and community icons however for onboarding, Miru would walk user through this journey to start recommending users personalized exploration spots

Regular/Everyday Experience

Once the user has onboarded, either immediately or whenever desired, the user can start from defining their day's goal and exploration mood which would take less than 10s. Once defined, users can start to get exploration spot recommendations along their route and can choose which detour suits them the best.

Realizing the Opportunity 

Preliminary Business model structure: Two-sided business model (Link)

Exploration

"Small Business Owner"

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Highly-Engaged Local Business

Mid-Size Cities

Provide Exploration

  • Showcase their business to customers through multimedia, offers and promotions.

  • Communicate information and interact with customers.

MIRU features they would use

  • Customize the information and photos that are seen by users on Miru. 

  • Access anonymous data analytics to further improve their business strategies. 

  • Listed as a “Local Business Partner” whenever users see this spot. 

 
 
 
 

Concept Validation

Local Exploration & Community Engagement

“I really love that I can see where my friends have visited on the map, read their reviews and get their recommendations!”

“Being able to filter recommendations on the map to my close friends and expand from there allows me to reveal recommendations as I please.”

“Earning and collecting badges can help with user retention and it is fun to do as you explore!”

Minimized Interference

“This is consistent with the goal of exploring and does not get in the way.”

Control Over Commute

“There are a lot of ways to personalise the commute. I like that you can go back and edit your baseline preferences.”

“Seeing the commuting route in map, image and street preview form makes deciding on which place to explore even easier.”

“Taking into consideration my current circumstances like how much time I have is really helpful.”

Flexible Social Interaction

“I have choices available if I’m in the mood to be exploring by myself, hanging out with a friend, or wanting to meet new people.”

 
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Taking MIRU to the next stages with the Honda team

Followed a Lean Methodology

After working on Miru from January to May where we went through the initial development cycle, we took a break of one month to reflect on the concept and get new perspective. Starting June, we started with the Honda team on this project again. Their new perspective and our experience with the product gave birth to the next phase of user research and product development process which led us to a more refined product opportunity by the end of August.

*Due to NDA, only the process about the project further would be discussed

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Methods

Economics of a Two-Sided Business Model

Liquidity

Demand

Supply

The 2-sided business model incorporates a business user and a demand-size user.

Blastpoint | Big Data Research

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Validated the basic assumptions with data

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Identified high-density millennial cities

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Created segmentation of city types

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Approximated the TAM, SAM, SOM

User Studies | Quantitative

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Created survey based on preliminary interviews

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Survey distributed through social media and SurveyMonkey in US

Wrangled ~500 survey results, clustered using K-means method and correlated other additional data to derive major persona insights

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Defined Total market size,

Serviceable addressable market, Serviceable 

obtainable market 

User Studies | Qualitative

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Affinity clustering of the 40 co-design sessions

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Took in account assumptions and used Mural for co-designs

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Interviewee data-points converted into themes and relationships 

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Insights combined with Quantitative research

Competitor Analysis

Identified solutions similar to MIRU in various cities and evaluated their current success metrics

Narrowed down to the top 20 competitor solutions

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Evaluated their business models, revenue streams and cost structures

Created a position matrix to identify gaps that MIRU can fulfill with Honda's strengths

Solution Brainstorming

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Re-evaluated MIRU's solution features and brainstormed ideas to create 10x value proposition

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Created categories, assumptions to be validated, focused segments within the MIRU solution

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Listed key benefits of Honda and current market trends

Narrowed down on 5 ideas for further testing and validation

Where I left off the project Miru

By the end of my internship, we were able to deliver two well defined user personas and a more structured business model. This project is currently being continued by the Honda 99P labs team

 

My Reflection

A key learning from Project Miru was that it is important to gain fresh perspectives on a project as it enables us to look at the concept from a macro level and question of its importance and validity. This involves short project breaks, other teams critiques, user testing and more. Honda asked us to target non-car owner millennials and the commuter community because they wanted us to explore opportunities for how they can enter this untapped market. Therefore, during the first part of this project, we had a lot of freedom in terms of the space we were operating in but it was only during the internship period where we started to put our opportunity in the context and attempt to identify an intersection. We also took 2 different product approaches i.e. design thinking and lean methodolgy both of which in hindsight were necessary to arrive at a viable and valuable product opportunity.

 

*Course+Internship Related project

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