Feedback: Johanna Gomel, founder of La Kidzerie, talks about the Design Sprint

by June 24, 2021 | Interviews, Product as a service

One morning in May, Johanna Gomel, founder of La Kidzeriewas browsing the website of the movement Impact Francea network of positive impact entrepreneurs of which she is a member. She discovered a message from theTribe team, which was offering a free Design Sprint for impact entrepreneurs.

"Whaaaat! But this is exactly what I need to challenge my project! 

She immediately sends an email to the team to apply. She thinks she has little chance of being selected... and yet she immediately receives a positive response. 

This was the start of a great adventure for her and for us, which led, in one week, to a project to redesign her product . In this interview, she tells us about her experience and the benefits of the Design Sprint for her company and for her vision as an entrepreneur.

Hi Johanna! Can you introduce yourself and La Kidzerie?

I have spent my entire career in tax law, with an unfulfilled desire to be an entrepreneur. When my son was born, I looked for second-hand childcare equipment, because I was looking to equip myself in accordance with my values. And then I realised that it was very difficult to know what to buy and where to find quality equipment. 

That's how I came up with the idea of creating La Kidzerie, a marketplace dedicated to second-hand or second-choice childcare equipment. You can find individuals who sell quality items, in good condition and at competitive prices, but also brands that sell slightly "dented" but perfectly usable equipment (small defects, damaged packaging ...). 

How did the launch of the site go?

I set up the project 18 months ago. I had a lot of setbacks on the launch of the site, I lost time. I was completely new to web project management, and I asked myself the same questions as all entrepreneurs: Where to start? Who to contact? How do I find a developer who can develop a beta version of my site, for not too much money?

The only solution I found was to use developers in India. Except that I wasn't prepared for it to be so complicated. I had imagined a detailed model, but communication was not easy, everything had to be explained and specified. I lost time and money, because I ended up giving up and starting from scratch, opting for a SaaS CMS. 

Finally, the website went live in December 2020. It doesn't include all the features I had imagined, there is no mobile application... But at least it's running!

Why were you attracted to the Design Sprint?

When I came across theTribe's call for a free one-week Design Sprint for an impact company, I was completely unfamiliar with the method. But I quickly realised that it was exactly what I needed for La Kidzerie! 

At the time, I was thinking about the right way to make my site take off: do more marketing? Develop new features?

I really needed to take a step back, to bring a fresh eye to the project, to get an objective view.

"So here I am, embarking on the adventure, not really knowing what the Design Sprint consisted of, but knowing that it would result in a beautiful mock-up of the final product that we would have worked to build. All this in one week tops."

Tell us about it: where did you start?

The first day was a Friday. We organised a focus group, to bring together target people, to understand their way of consuming childcare products, and to get them to react in a completely open way about their problems. The participants had to be unfamiliar with the project, so theTribe helped me put together a group of 5 people.

How does the focus group work in practice? What did it teach you?

It was terribly frustrating, but I had to stay away so as not to influence the participants! 

As a result, Bastien, theTribe's designer, led the workshop independently. He led the discussions and asked fairly general questions. The idea was really to start from the basics: what needs do we meet? What are the customers' problems?

When Bastien presented me with the workshop report, it allowed me to get back to the heart of the matter. You have to know that when you are an entrepreneur, you are in the operational world, with your nose to the grindstone, and you quickly tend to stray from the fundamentals. 

For example, I had in mind that it should be easier for individuals to buy second-hand. But in fact, we need to look further upstream, without assuming that customers are looking for second-hand goods. The real question is: what problems do people who need to buy childcare equipment encounter? This step alone allows us to see things in a new light.

After this feedback, we immediately moved on to the Design Sprint itself , which lasted 4 days.

So how does this Design Sprint work?

With Bastien, we first spent two full days thinking about how to find a solution to consumers' problems

We were joined from time to time by members of my team and of theTribe. But I participated full time, I was completely immersed in the process. The advantage is thatyou let yourself be carried along by the method, it's very reassuring.

On the first day, we started by working on the personas and their problems, with the aim of arriving at a value proposition and, above all, choosing THE problem to which we wanted to respond. We then worked alone to list all sorts of possible solutions, without restricting ourselves. All this was done remotely, using the Miro tool. The ideation process was very interesting for me: it's impressive to see the way our brain reacts to a massive influx of information, and the way it organises ideas.

On the second day, we started to go over all the solutions we had come up with, with a clear head. Everyone took their ideas, read those of the others, and then discussed them until one idea stood out. The objective is to keep only the most impactful, differentiating and interesting solution to develop. Then everyone works on this solution, tries to tell a story around it, works on storyboards, and at the end of the second day, we put it all together.

"For me, as a single person running my own business, it was great to see how much faster the creative process gets moving with more people. When you're on your own, you quickly go round in circles!"

Did you encounter any moments of doubt, any blockages?

At the end of the first day, I felt frustrated. I had the feeling that we hadn't dug deep enough, that we hadn't managed to come up with a strong, new idea. Bastien had warned me that it often happens like that! You really have to trust the method. In the end, this feeling quickly disappeared.

What was the outcome of the first two days of the Design Sprint?

We had listed a lot of features, a lot of ideas, a new market to address... Finally, we decided to focus on the redesign of the ad sheet, i.e. the page that presents the products. At the end of the first two days, we had many elements to modify on this ad sheet. So we were able to move on to the prototype on the third day: Bastien worked on his side on mock-ups that integrate a maximum of improvements to this product sheet. At the end of the third day, Bastien presented me with the result of his work.

Did you get any feedback on the prototype?

Of course! On the fourth day, we gathered target clients again to get their feedback on the mock-ups. We got a lot of comments, some positive, some to be improved. But overall, it was positive, it confirmed that we were going in the right direction!

Then, to finish the Design Sprint, we all got together for a synthesis and final feedback, and we listed the next steps.

What is your assessment of this Design Sprint experience?

We concluded the week by listing the strong points of the project and the avenues to be explored. I came away from this experience with a better understanding of the next steps to be taken to bring my project to fruition, in line with the needs of my users .

It really allowed me to settle down and take a big step forward: where am I, what do I have to do? And it really helped me to validate the direction in which I should go. It led me to ask myself some deep questions: the next step is perhaps to pivot, to make the project evolve, to start working on my business plan again.

"Of course, it's disturbing to question yourself. But for an entrepreneur, it's necessary, even life-saving. I could have been wrong for a very long time without this experience."

In concrete terms, asking myself the right questions also helped me to rework my pitch. It helped me a lot to prepare my presentation to Réseau Entreprendre

So you think the Design Sprint is a relevant tool for an entrepreneur like yourself?

Yes, of course, and you have to do it as soon as possible! I think I would have saved a lot of time and money if I had been accompanied from the beginning in this way. 

Being accompanied allows you to start in the right directionstraight away. 

When you're starting out and you're not in the business, you don't know who to turn to. As many entrepreneurs as possible should discover the Design Sprint, because that's where you have to start: before you start meeting developers, before you draw up a specification and get your project costed.

Of course, if you are not lucky enough to do it pro bono, as I am, it represents an investment. But in the end, you win.

Any last words for the road, Johanna?

I really want to thank theTribe team, starting with Bastien, for their professionalism, their kindness and their involvement. Nothing like consultants who give you nice slides and leave you to deal with them. We felt that Bastien wanted to make it work: for a week, he was part of my team!

Thanks also to Johanna for allowing me to benefit from the programme, thanks to Fleur, Hortense, Emma, Lydie and Phil for their time devoted to my project.

A word from the designer

"The Design Sprint is a very effective format for getting results quickly, with actionable solutions that are agreed upon. It is important to respect certain constraints as much as possible: 5 consecutive days with a stable group is ideal. You need to involve a variety of profiles to come up with ideas that are realistic from all points of view (business, product, technical). I challenged Johanna a lot, we went over everything again: she came out of the experience with many questions, but it was necessary! For my part, I really enjoyed this project. There is an environmental dimension that touches me, and I made the Kidzerie my own for a week.

Florian Compain

Florian Compain

Chief Marketing Officer @theTribe

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