Updates from thoughtbot Startup Incubator: AvidFirst

An overview of Weeks 5-6 of the thoughtbot Incubator. Curious to hear about weeks 1-4? Check out the previous Summer incubator post.

AvidFirst’s mission is to make it easier to save for college and use your savings. Ashley’s goals are to come out of the incubator ready to fundraise, and to make a plan for building an MVP.

Gaining confidence about our target market

When starting out, as with most very early projects, we felt unsure about our target audience. We had lots of assumptions, and we picked a few we felt strongly about in order to test whether we were on track.

One hurdle we’ve faced throughout this incubator session has been feeling like we lacked a strong, consistent message coming through from the people we were interviewing. However it’s important to remember that this “strong message” can look different depending on the circumstances. In our case, at the end of week 6 we realized that we had actually gotten to a place where we felt like we had solid confidence in our target market for the first phase of AvidFirst’s launch even though it hadn’t been a lightning bolt moment.

Sharing tidbits and highlights from our interviews with each other during discussions has allowed the team to have alignment throughout the process, and we finally got to a place where one of us wasn’t saying “well actually, I heard something to the complete contrary…”

Technical diagrams turned pilot brainstorm

The original technical diagrams we drew (for a refresher on those, refer to our last incubator check-in) were intended to be a lofty, idealized workflow for what we were imagining. More recently, we’ve revisited these diagrams, refined them with our updated knowledge, and looked at them with more of a feasibility lens. We identified where we have questions and where we have options for different paths to pursue, as well as the ones we feel most strongly about in terms of potential success.

Moving from 1:1 interviews to Google Ads

After many weeks of interviewing different personas in the 529 space and finally feeling like we’re hearing a repeatable message from participants, we’ve decided to collect a different type of data from users. This time, we’re looking for volume and numbers.

We’ve started to put together a Google ad campaign that will include collecting page views, lead form submissions, and answers from a survey we’ll include.

The idea is that these statistics will help us validate that our value proposition is valuable enough for people to want to learn more and stay in touch, or at the very least click on some information to learn more. This adds another layer of showing interest besides verbal responses to our questions in 1:1 interviews.

What’s next?

We’re wrapping up this session! As we come to the end of our time together we’ll be putting together a plan of action going forward, making sure some initiatives have been started to keep the momentum going for Ashley, as well as talking about next steps for the idea in general.

Incubator Session 3 applications are open!

Interested in joining in on the fun? Applications for our next incubator are open, but only until October 5th! Learn more here.