Rise and fall of an idea

I want to talk about my experience at the Cologne StartupWeekend this past weekend. I decided to join the Idea ‘myDoctor’ as it represented something I could relate to: waiting at the doctor sucks and anything to improve the scheduling seemed like a good idea. On friday evening a team of 6 gathered around the idea and started brainstorming. We quickly came to the conclusion, that our market were the professionals and not the patients. And the former had no incentive to optimize the experience for the customer: a full waiting room is the best thing for a doctor as it means he can grab the next patient as soon as he has free time. As for the patients, they would come back the next day, as their pain will not go away. So there is a great imbalance of powers. After realizing this we decided to focus on reminding patients of recurring checkup, that are necessary e.g. at the dentist. The problem here, was that we could not validate that particular customer segment on a weekend. Thus we pivoted towards hairdressers. Everyone needs recurring visits to the hairdresser and if we drafted a reminder services we could possibly increase the frequency of visits. That was the value proposition. We prepared a pitch and went out to meet some hairdressers. The answers were unanimously: “We don’t need such a service”. There a 3 main reasons for that:

  1. Hairdressers fix the next appointment with their client right at the checkout
  2. Hairdresser do not use a computer but a paper calendar
  3. Customer are reminded of going to the hairdresser each morning when looking in the mirror.

While the last point is probably specific the hairdressers, the other two are not. Especially the use of paper calendars where appointment are pencilled-in (and made through the telefone) are a terrific tool for scheduling that has many advantages (central, collision free, resillient, …) and are really difficult to substitute by a digital solution (I dare you!). The act of scheduling the next appointment at the end of the current is also something that is not specific to the customer segement. After these results the team found that there is no room for another pivot and that the idea had to be dropped. Thus we gave up (maybe prematurely).