CASE STUDY: Pley
Delight your customers with the right MVP
Pley is a toy rental service for Lego sets and high-tech toys. Part of the sharing economy, Pley delivers a great core experience: you get a fun, exciting toy in the mail, build and play with it for awhile – and then ship it back, move on and get your next exciting toy in the mail. Less clutter and cost – more fun and variety. What’s not to like?
In the Beginning
The Pley team had created a fast-growing service and proven their business model. They wanted to build a digital community to connect with (and leverage) their expanding member base. They had a good business case – but no idea if members actually wanted to participate.
The Pley team came to me for community and game design expertise, and advice for creating and testing their community MVP. Together we set out to clarify their business goals, quickly gain insights about their members’ habits & needs, and develop and test their community ideas.
How We Helped
We helped Pley clarify their strategy & business goals, test their early ideas, and extend their fast-growing service with a stripped-down, high-learning MVP that delighted their members and drove their business goals.
Setup small, high-learning experiments
To validate Pley’s community ideas and accelerate their design process, we setup and ran a series of small, high-learning experiments – using the MVP Canvas to keep our experiments focused on the right issues.
Find the right early customers for MVP testing
The Pley team had collected lots of opinions from customers – and their feedback was all over the map. To focus our efforts, we needed to identify the right people to gain insight from. We asked ourselves: who would be the first wave of active, engaged users of our Pley community effort?
We decided to focus on active Pley subscribers who were already sharing content – AKA our “early customer profile.” We emailed 250 members directly asking them for their insights — and got dozens of interested responses. We speed-interviewed them via Skype, and then interviewed the best subjects further to gain more insight.
Learn their needs and habits
After interviewing dozens of active, engaged members, several clear patterns emerged:
- They DID NOT want to participate in a digital community built around Pley.
- What they DID want is educational family-friends videos, play-throughs and tutorials for their Lego-obsessed kids that would extend their time with each rental toy.
- They also wanted better toy reviews on the site – an insight that helped the team bump this feature to the top of the queue.
Create a simple, high-learning MVP
Bingo! This customer need dovetailed with the team’s business goals of extending playtime for each rental.
So the Pley team leveraged these early customer insights about community and sharing to build a simple Youtube channel as their MVP, seeded with educational videos and Pley-run contests to juice interest.
Once launched, they grew that channel and tested their ideas – and learned about their members’ video-sharing habits without investing in technology infrastructure.
Don’t waste time building something people don’t want
Highly Connected Customer
I love online communities – but the last thing I need is another community I need to keep up with. That feels like too much work.
To test our ideas, we interviewed active members who already shared content on the site – the natural early customers for a Pley community. We learned that these people had a case of community burnout – and the idea of a Pley community for sharing tips and knowledge felt like a burden – not a pleasure.
My kid is obsessed with Legos – I need trusted videos to teach him something and calm him down after dinner so I can relax for a moment.
We also learned that parents with Lego-obsessed kids often want a break – and their kids like nothing better than browsing Youtube for play-throughs and instructional videos. Again and again, customers expressed their desire for a trusted, family-friendly source of Lego-related videos so they could entertain their kids – and catch a break.
Results: sharing with a purpose
Connecting with the right early customers helped the Pley team laser-focus their efforts, pivot their community plan, and create something their best customer were thrilled to engage with. The Pley channel grew and thrived, giving them ongoing customer insight data without engineering overhead. The company continued to grow, raised their Series B, and leveraged those early insights to build Pleyworld – a place where Pley creators share what they’ve built.