Incubator Update 2 with Dionna & Danyelle at Womanish: Product Design Focus

As I reflect on where we stand in the program, I can’t help but feel a sense of optimism and excitement for the road ahead. We’re delving into the intricacies of our project, pooling our collective expertise to sculpt something truly remarkable.

In our previous blog post, we introduced you to the start of our journey with Womanish in thoughtbot’s startup Incubator. We shared insights into our initial activities, including orienting the team, defining market segments, and conducting initial customer interviews.

Today, we’re excited to provide an update on our recent endeavors over the past two weeks, including the outcomes from a condensed 3-day design sprint and our ongoing efforts in product validation and experimentation.

The continued spirit of team alignment

Over the last few weeks we have navigated a few challenges that anyone who works remotely understands all too well: collaborating across different time zones, navigating varying schedules, and distributing the work efficiently. One of the recent cornerstones of our team’s success has been the introduction of “Power Hours”. This is where we dedicate ourselves to productive, synchronous working sessions where we put our heads together on collaborative tasks such as User interview scriptwriting and deep-diving into competitive analysis. It’s all about driving alignment and keeping forward momentum going strong. Additionally, our founders, Dionna and Danyelle, have been instrumental in fostering an environment of open dialogue around challenging our assumptions, allowing for deeper insights and for discoveries to flourish.

Tracking the validation and invalidation of assumptions

We’ve kept our radar up for fresh assumptions, quickly adding them to our collection as they arise. What’s new is our method of tracking the big-risk assumptions and seeing how they stack up against the insights we continue to gather from user interviews. It’s all about connecting the dots and learning from our experiences as we move forward.

Live stream

Last week, we held a live stream with the founders about how customer discovery and market research has gone over the past few weeks.


Dionna’s “aha moment” was learning from our Womanish community survey that people wanted to connect based on shared interests instead of professional ones. She had previously assumed it was the other way around!

Dionna’s Advice on Scriptwriting: It takes finesse. It’s not a static document. It is iterative. Ask open-ended questions.

Watch for yourself below!

Further Market Segmentation & User Interviews

In our continued search for our early adopter, we moved through speaking to and ultimately disqualifying two additional market segments based on ability to scale and monetize. We’ve come to understand that sometimes, picking the wrong market segment is just part of the process. Spending a week on validation work, even if it leads to disqualification, is perfectly okay at this stage. It’s a small investment compared to the potential consequences of building the wrong thing for a year, only to realize it later. By embracing this mindset, we prioritize learning and iteration, ensuring that every step forward is a step in the right direction.

Speaking with the Womanish Community

With the aforementioned in mind, we set our eyes on the existing Womanish Community to hear what initially attracted them to Womanish, what compelled them to stay, and what they are hoping to see in the future.

We were excited, we were prepared, but acceptances didn’t come pouring in. Why? We were trying to interact with our segment in an unfamiliar location. While is familiar for us, our Womanish community segment would need to sign up for the platform and use a new tool. We learned, we pivoted. We found great success and gathered insightful feedback through conducting an online survey, which received an overwhelmingly positive response.

We learned about our community shape, size, challenges and needs, including what drew them to Womanish. Whilst overwhelmingly people found us on social media, we were surprised to learn that over a third was by word-of-mouth referral from a friend or family member! Shows that a recommendation is still one of the most powerful drivers of connection.

Competitor Analysis Collaborative Deep Dive

Similar to a standard SWOT analysis, we collected a list of competitors and divided them into 5 different categories mostly by industry in an effort to clearly identify where our uniqueness is.

Though it can be difficult to make comparisons to a company that you’re pouring your heart into, setting aside ego at this stage is critical. The goal is to identify the key aspects of similar businesses to determine gaps and find the narrow use case we can capitalize on. Doing this collaboratively positions us to take our shared understanding and uncover unique opportunities.

Whether this is based on demographic shifts or broader societal changes, we are hoping to discover a significant market trend that we can tie our solution to. By doing this, we can effectively argue our relevance and strategic positioning in the market.

Product Validation

This last week, we completed a 3-Day remote Product Design Sprint. The overall goal was to answer our biggest question of all “What are we solving for?”

Day 1: Understand

On the first day of our sprint, we delved deep into understanding the problem at hand. Our team collaborated to craft a clear and concise problem statement, ensuring alignment on the challenges we aimed to address. Following this, we engaged in a speedy 8s brainstorming session, where ideas flowed freely and rapidly, setting the stage for the creative exploration to come.

Day 2: Ideation

With a solid grasp of the problem space established, day two was dedicated to ideation and exploration. We began by defining our critical path, mapping out the key steps and touchpoints involved in solving the problem. This strategic exercise helped us identify essential features and functionalities to prioritize in our prototype. Subsequently, we engaged in storyboarding, visually mapping out user journeys and interactions to bring our ideas to life in a tangible way.

Day 3: Prototyping and User Interview Scriptwriting

On the final day of our sprint, we transitioned from ideation to action. Our focus shifted to prototyping, where we brought our concepts to life in a tangible form. Leveraging rapid prototyping techniques, we created a functional prototype that captured the essence of our solution. Concurrently, we worked on crafting a user interview script, preparing questions and prompts to gather valuable feedback from potential users. With our prototype and interview script ready, we were primed and excited to move into the next phase of testing and validation.

Next steps:

Armed with our prototype and user interview script, our next steps involve testing our solution with real users. This critical phase will guide further iterations and refinements as we progress towards validating our concept to our target market.

Founders Journal

Over to Danyelle for a summary of our Founders’ experience with the incubator program so far:

Reflecting on the past couple of weeks, it’s been a whirlwind of progress and discovery here at our accelerator program. With each passing day, we’ve delved deeper into user interviews, connecting with a broader spectrum of potential users. What has truly stood out during this time is the emergence of common pain points among our interviewees. Through rigorous testing of our assumptions, we’ve honed in on our target persona, setting a solid foundation for our journey ahead.

But if I were to pinpoint the highlight of these recent weeks, it undoubtedly lies in the strides we’ve made towards crystallizing our unique value proposition. It’s been an exhilarating experience, albeit one that initially caught me off guard. The direction we’ve chosen wasn’t exactly what I had envisioned, but as I’ve learned to trust the process, I’ve become increasingly enthralled by the potential impact our idea could have on fostering meaningful community relationships—an aspect close to my heart.

Working alongside the team has been nothing short of inspiring. Their unwavering dedication and passion for the project have breathed life into our collective vision. Each member approaches the endeavor as if it were their own startup, infusing every discussion and decision with purpose. It’s this collaborative spirit that has made my journey within the program immensely rewarding thus far.

Of course, no journey is without its challenges. Scheduling user interviews proved to be a stumbling block at times, disrupting our momentum. Moreover, grappling with the uncertainty of pursuing a unique value proposition different from my initial conception has been a source of nervous energy. Yet, through perseverance and a steadfast belief in the process, we’ve navigated these obstacles with determination.

As I reflect on where we stand in the program, I can’t help but feel a sense of optimism and excitement for the road ahead. We’re delving into the intricacies of our project, pooling our collective expertise to sculpt something truly remarkable.

Looking forward, my hopes are simple yet profound. I hope to see our ideas evolve into tangible solutions, to witness the impact of our efforts of fostering meaningful connections, and to continue learning and growing alongside this incredible team.

What’s next

Hearing the needs of the existing Womanish community in their own words is extremely valuable, so we continue our efforts to speak with them. In the meantime, we’ve created a lookalike User Interviews project to represent their key characteristics and discover insights through this channel in parallel.

We are now testing the clickable prototype developed as a part of our design sprint and eagerly anticipating feedback.

If you are going through a business validation process, or hope to in the future, the Incubator program may help you as well! We have recently launched the Customer Discovery section of our playbook so that you can tap into our exercises, helping your team find, or re-discover, customer/market/product-fit and support to discover your next best strategic focus.

Liked what you read? We’re also doing weekly livestream broadcasts with the Womanish Incubator team to delve even deeper into goings on in the programme. Follow along on LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitch!