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Testing a Concept with a Familar Platform - The Birth of Babblebox

New parents Gosia and Conrad had a vision for a chat-based tool that allowed them to connect with their local peers to help and support each other as a community.

With a tight budget, they needed a cost-effective way to take the first step and test their idea. They knew they wanted it, but did anyone else?

Like most people, they both used WhatsApp daily, and so they hit upon using the ‘groups’ function to kickstart their testing using a platform that people are already very familiar with.

Find out more about how we scoped and created a design system for Babblebox 👶

The benefits of a WhatsApp MVP

  • Cost – why spend money where you don’t have to. 💸
  • Familiar product – almost all target users had Whatsapp installed already, and are familiar with its capabilities and limitations. 📱
  • Reliability – Tech issues or bugs are unlikely, and if any crop up, they’re WhatsApp’s problem to deal with! ✔️

Launching first in their local area, Cambridge, the groups proved very popular. Users gained a lot of value from them, proving that mums and dads seeking support did indeed want a chat-based solution.

Outgrowing the third party

Despite all the positives, WhatsApp groups were never going to be the end product. There came a point where leveraging a third party started to hold Babblebox back.

  • Size limit  – WhatsApp groups aren’t made for for larger groups. It is only possible to add 256 people.
  • User data – Seeing the data allows you to understand user behaviour and improve the service – this was all hidden in WhatsApp.
  • Brand Interaction – Similarly, WhatsApp offered little to no scope for Babblebox to put their own stamp on things.
  • Features – Users were clamoring for features a simple WhatsApp group couldn’t deliver.

In order to roll out beyond their home city, the product was going to need to outgrow WhatsApp groups. It was time to scope the first release of their very own product.

Scoping the first release

As a self-funded startup, Babblebox were, to put it bluntly, never going to have the budget to build something to rival WhatsApp. Almost no-one does!

What they could afford, however, was a top class UX and Strategy team (spoiler alert, it was us) to help the non-technical founders scope the most important features and give them something to take to their offshore dev team.

Turns out, there’s rarely a need to reinvent the wheel. The features really needed for this launch could replicate much of WhatsApp and Facebook’s functionality, with an added marketplace, and still cover the things people kept asking for.

What about the early adopters?

It’s a fact of human nature that people don’t like change. Rather than put masses of weight behind moving the original users from the WhatsApp groups onto their first release platform, Babblebox turned instead to onboarding new users, who’d never have known about their product’s humble background.

Moving to more new cities and focusing efforts on onboarding brand new people became a major focus for the business rather than trying to migrate the dyed-in-the-wool WhatsAppers.

The Cambridge based parents could continue using their groups and (hopefully) make the jump across with gentle prods once the proper product was made, but the cost and effort involved in a large push to make them switch was too great.

Early adopters are great and valuable, but there are always a lot more new people out there.

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