In the summer of 2014, I was accepted into a program organized by the MIT Entrepreneurship Center through which I would meet students from around the world and launch a company in four weeks. Early in the summer I formed a team with three other students on the basis of shared interests and complementing skills.
Problem & Solution
As a team we quickly decided that whatever we created our goal would be to facilitate close connections among people from diverse backgrounds. Over the course of several sleepless nights we finally realized that one of the greatest connectors among people in the world, transcending even language barriers, is sports. To hone in how we would use sports to connect people we decided to create a matrix optimizing for interest and feasability given our four-week schedule. After going through many post-notes and a team deliberation we agreed on a solution. We would provide a service so college students could easily discover, create, and join pick-up games of sports (from basketball and soccer to ultimate frisbee and jogging).
Minimum Viable Prototype
I quickly programmed using Python + Django a mobile web app to send updates as a casual sports league. I then printed 500 posters and placed them around the MIT campus with a link to the site. We then hosted games throughout the week at local facilities, providing snacks and refreshments.
User Research & Findings
After creating our MVP, we split up and canvassed all of Boston and Cambridge. Talking to both target consumers and businesses, we tried to collect stories from a variety of perspectives: old and young, amateur and collegiate athletes, shy and outgoing. We conducted several types of interviews; Either we would observe people use the product, we would join an ongoing pick-up game and strike up a conversation, or we would approach strangers and have them fill out a questionnaire without referencing our solution.
Solution Features Mock-Up
As a group we decided the primary features necessary for our service to work. I then created a UX wireframe and mockup to see how these features would fit and flow together. Based on research findings, we decided that our app needed to synchronize with social media, find local events organized by proximity and personal interests, provide a secure way to join events, and promote new events.