Our clients are diverse – they work in enterprise SAAS, digital health care, toy rentals, mobile gaming, and other fields. Read on to discover how these innovative teams used Game Thinking to 10X product/market fit, save months of time, and drive long-term engagement.
Deep Learning Startup
Robin Allenson, a serial entrepreneur, was developing a deep learning system to classify and generate pictures of clothing for the retail sector. He’d built a simple, polished game that people liked — but weren’t playing enough to generate meaningful data.
We threw out the polished game we’d built – and found success with rough early prototypes
We helped Robin identify & interview the right early customers – which turned out to be fashion designers who had a burning need for a system that would speed up their visualization process. Robin pivoted his idea, developed a stripped-down app, raised funding, and is now pursuing his deep learning system with feedback from a deeply engaged audience.
Full Case Study
Candis Best, an educator turned startup CEO, was developing a mentoring system for at-risk community college students. She’d been working on her app for over a year, and was struggling with lack of engagement in her Beta test.
Once we discovered how to build a Learnning Loop, our app got simpler and more engaging
With our help, Candis validated her ideas with early customers, and develop a strong Learning Loop to guide development. Using these tools, Candis streamlined her design and build a much simpler app that pulled her customers back.
Full Case Study
Crowdsourced Geneology Product
Myriam Pauillac, a historian turned technologist, had been working for 2 years on a big idea for a crowd-sourced geneology app. She knew that she needed to validate her ideas and build an MVP, but she wasn’t sure of the best way to do that.
Once we got feedback from passionate early adopters, we knew what to build first in our MVP
We helped Myriam develop a low-fidelity walkthrough of her ideas, and then find the right early customers to test it on. Myriam discovered that these customers loved the idea – and also had major privacy concerns which needed to be addressed. Myriam re-designed her prototype to address these concerns, and now has the tools and process to rapidly test and iterate her way to success.
Full Case Study
Smart Podcasting App
Cara Meverden had a hot idea for a smart podcasting assistant. Being an experienced product manager, she knew she wanted to start by validating market need and focusing her design on a small set of hot-core early customers. But she wasn’t sure how to find them, and what to ask once she did.
By using templates to find our hot-core, we saved time & avoided stumbling through the process on our own
With our tools & coaching, Cara posted a Superfan Screener and interviewed dozens of podcasting enthusiasts. She learned that the original group she’d been targeting – stay-at-home Moms – didn’t have a burning need for her product – but she found a group that did: under-stimulated professionals with a long commute. She focused on this hot-core and streamlined her design. She’s now testing her MVP with these customers and seeing great results.
Full Case Study
Digital Healthcare Startup
Two entrepreneurs from the gaming industry — Ofer Leidner and Tomer Ben-Kiki — had an exciting idea for a mood-lifting mental health app, based on cutting-edge research. They wanted help designing their app, and testing their innovative idea with customers before building it out.
We found that our customers wanted something that looked like Pinterest, but played like a game.
We worked with the team to clarify their strategy and find the right early customers. After exploring several niches, we discovered that stay-at-home Moms who’d recently left the work force were both eager and willing to help us develop the app. So we put together prototypes, and discovered that our customers wanted something that looked like Pinterest – but played like a game. So we re-designed the app with that insight, and launched a multi-platform Freemium service.
Happify is now a market-leading mental health app with a growing subscriber base and an enterprise division for health professionals.
Online Toy Rentals
The Pley team was planning to launch an online community to drive customer loyalty and enhance communications. But first, they wanted to make sure they were building the right product for their fast-growing customer base.
Talking with our Super-fans revealed an unmet need for “how-to” videos.
With our guidance and toolkit, Ranan Lachman and his team clarified their strategy and identified early high-value customers — in their case, a small, active subset of their current members. Interviewing Superfans made it clear that their idea for a text-based community was unappealing.
These conversations also surfaced a need for family-friendly “how to” videos that dovetailed with their business goals. So they pivoted, and launched a stripped-down YouTube channel to as a MVP hypothesis.
The experiment was a smashing success. Pley went on to raise a Series B and has now served over 150,000 families.
Blair Ethington & Jeff Tseng — executives at game studio Crowdstar — had an exciting idea for bringing hot designer fashions into a free-to-play mobile game. The team needed to validate and develop this innovative, risky idea with fashionistas who were active on mobile — but didn’t identify as gamers.
Weekly play-testing sessions forced us to test our ideas uncomfortably early.
Working together, we created a series of screening questions that surfaced the right early customers — and brought them into the development cycle with weekly meetings to review our iterative designs. We put together sketches, mock-ups and crude interactive prototypes — and quickly learned what these Super-fans responded to with enthusiasm. Using these insights, we focused on a small set of features for our Alpha build — and then expanded the core Super-fan group to include other cohorts.
By juicing their product discovery phase with vetted early customers and weekly play-testing, the game team was able to design a stripped-down Alpha test (aka MVP) built around real customer habits and needs. Today, Covet Fashion is an evergreen hit — with millions of monthly players and a healthy revenue stream four years after launch.
Enterprise SaaS Startup
Megan had an exciting idea for a data migration outsourcing business that would create opportunities for smart young people in developing nations. She was looking for help validating her business idea and designing her core service offering.
We discovered that our initial target customers saw us as a threat — so we pivoted, and found success.
We helped Megan clarify her strategy and interview early customers – Salesforce consulting companies. To her surprise, she discovered that they saw Sunreach as a threat. So she pivoted and turned her attention to the customers of these consulting firms instead.
Bingo! Megan and her team found a need AND signed her first few customers. She quit her day job, launched Sunreach and is now making 3X what she earned previously.
Audio Case Study
AI-Powered Technical Recruiting
Vinayak Joglekar – CEO of a successful technical outsourcing firm – had a smart idea for an innovative AI-based product to help technical recruiters. His team built a machine learning back end — and he needed to create a front-end recruiter experience that would drive engagement and delight his target customers.
Piggybacking on the habits of early high-value customers was our turning point.
Using our toolkit, Vinayak clarified his strategy and identified key early customers. He interviewed dozens of Super-fans, and created Habit Stories to capture key insights about their daily patterns and unmet needs. Vinayak then focused on delighting these passionate early customers — and re-structured his prototype to piggyback on their existing work habits.
This design activity helped Synerzip create a product informed by real customer needs. Vinayak estimates that his team saved 6-8 months of development time using Game Thinking — and will continue to save time as they iterate towards success.
Audio Case Study
Higher Education Startup
Two experienced product managers from Rosetta Stone had an exciting idea for an innovative learning platform. They raised some money, hacked together a crude working prototype, and tested the idea with their immediate circle. Based on promising early feedback, they decided to accelerate their product design efforts with Game Thinking.
Connecting with early high-value customers gave us the focus we needed to launch our pilot project.
Together, we clarified their strategy, looked through their early data, and focused on connecting with high-need early customers in the most promising business verticals. We studied the habits, needs and pain points of these custoimers, and used those insights to streamline the core platform with a compelling Journey to Mastery and Core Learning Loop.
This design allowed the Pedago founders to secure a business school partnership and run an Pilot Test of their platform. They’re now developing the third version of their Business School prep course, and growing their startup to accomodate their success.
What can Game Thinking do for you?
We’d love to support your success, and help you get the kind of results you’re learning about in our case studies. Get in touch and tell us about your project!