Validating ideas to create start-ups
Designing and validating a service for SME's in the UK to access credit. The goal was to understand the business portential and the solution fit.
In the UK, 1 in 3 company failures are caused by late or unpaid invoices. Sellers have no control over when they get paid, resulting in small business not being able to manage their cashflow. Additionally, SMEs have few affordable options to access credit inssurance.
Crediful came up as an initiative to provide SMEs with flexible and affordable credit options. The entrepreneurs behind this idea joined AllianzX for three months to validate their concept and aim for investment.
AllianzX is the innovation hub from Allianz. The company brings together entrepreneurs and experts to test potential business opportunities. In three months, the teams detail the value proposition, refine the business model and conduct a validation experiment to test the solution and market potential.
The first stage was to conduct interviews with SMEs in the UK in order to understand their pains and gains regarding cash flow and payments. The research validated our hypothesis regarding cash flow issues that small companies face; it also revealed the fearless attitude that drives these organisations to continue growing as well as how thei build trust in order to enssure their business stays afloat.
With these findings, Crediful set to offer invoice factoring to SMEs, in combination with an insurance partner to ensure payment. The service value add was a credit checker, where SMEs could verify the level of risk when dealing with a specific customer so they could select either a different partner or opt for a better protection. This feature helped SMEs build trust with their customers faster and at a lower risk.
With a clear idea regarding Crediful’s proposition and key customer benefits we were ready to test the service as a credit solution for SMEs. We defined a validation experiment that would allow us to assess if there was a product-market fit by testing the customer’s willingest to pay.
In order to achieve this, we mapped steps customers would go through to access Crediful. By mapping the journey we were able to pinpoint which channels could be used to address our customers, direct them to the product website, engage visitors by providing the information they are seeking and guide them towards subscribing to the offer.
We began to design the website that would be used for the experiment. Using pen and paper as well Sketch for wireframing we designed the site’s structure, the different user-flows and the features that would enable users to experience Crediful first hand. In parallel the Visual Designer created Crediful’s brand identity. From designing the logo to selecting the brand colours and creating the illustrations to showcase the product benefits and features. Additionally, we ideated and detailed the different marketing campaigns that would be used to bring potential customers into the site.
In order to implement the website, the visual designer and myself worked hand in hand with a front-end developer. Using Wordpress we made sure to be quick enough and had something up and running as soon as possible in order to test the solution. To facilitate the prototyping process we worked in sprints and used Jira as planning and communication tool.
Once the website was in place we implemented different marketing campaigns to address the target audience and direct them through the purchase journey. We ran both online and offline campaigns using Facebook, LinkedIn, email, AdWords and even post mailing to reach potential customers.
We used tracking to measure conversion from different channels and heat-maps to quickly find and fix usability issues. The leads that were generated were also interviewed at a later stage in order to further understand the benefits and challenges that Crediful would have if being launched.