Pastime

Pastime is a project created by me and my three classmates (Monica, Alice, Jiaan) focused on one single idea –

You do you, with people like you!

Pastime Explainer Video

Created by Alice Cai (https://alicelcai.squarespace.com/pastime)

What is Pastime?

We experienced that a lot of time, the things that we do are defined more by our friends than what we actually want to do. Due to our need for being accepted, we often end up choosing the social part over the activity part for any social activity. Pastime (formerly called Social Life Advocate) aims to reduce this cognitive dissonance.

With Pastime, a user can pick the activity and the time and it will find another person who’s interested in the same activity at the same time. The two parties can then connect and decide on the logistics. This can function for both immediate activities like a movie show or a planned activity like a trip.

Pastime aims to break this loop of frustration

Note: The aim is not to become a dating platform but to continue the focus on the activity.

Team and Team Roles

In a small group project, it is hard to define roles. However, due to the team’s diverse profile, we were able to start off with this team structure.

Monica – Team Leader (Ideas, Project management)

Alice – Designer (Videos, Storyboard)

Jiaan – Technical expert (Mockups, User Journey)

Kunal – Product Manager (Competition Analysis, Finance)

We often worked together (via Zoom meetings) and gave feedback to each other on the parts done by others to ensure that consistency was maintained.

Pivoting

The original idea revolved around mostly outdoor activities. However, with social distancing a norm, the team pivoted to incorporate it in our structure. Now, the product is capable of helping folks during isolation while being ready to grow when the situation is back to normal.

Another minor change that we did was renaming the service from ‘Social Life Advocate’ to ‘Pastime’. The name was a mouthful and we believed that we needed a name that captured the exuberance of the product.

User Research

As we had pivoted quite drastically, our research focused on both the original idea as well as virtual activities. We interviewed 22 people to understand their needs and requirements in current situations and also to understand what were their major problems in doing the activities they enjoyed before Covid-19 pandemic.

One of the most interesting findings for us was that with social distancing, the roles of extroverts and introverts had changed a lot. Most extroverts, who were eager to use a product in normal times were more interested in maintaining their existing relationships while introverts were more open to the idea of virtual interactions with new people.

Based on user research, we decided to focus on a group aged between 20 to 35 as our target users (can be seen as our two Personas in slideshow). We had initially added 50+ age group and parents with young children in our personas but after our research dropped them as we did not find them eager to use such a product, especially in current times.

External Research

In addition to user research, we also did some external research focused on understanding the opportunities based on current situation.

Our external research was beneficial in understanding how our pivot will affect us (virtual events) and what activities are happening where Pastime can help people.

Analysis

In addition to the research, we also did PESTLE Analysis.

Pastime – PESTLE Analysis

Based on our PESTLE analysis, we narrowed down on certain SET Factors to identify Product Opportunity Gap. We concurred that while there has been a drop in social interactions and activities due to unforeseen circumstances, the craving for activities has not dropped. If there is a product in the market that helps people by creating value for them, it will find success.

Pastime – Value Flow Diagram

Product

Armed with our research and analysis, we identified a set of features along with a user flow which will be most useful for our users. The product was divided into two parts – Minimum Viable Product (MVP) with limited features and Final product with a complete feature set.

The purpose of the MVP is to ensure rapid development based on user feedback.

Revenue Streams

We decided that the MVP will focus on product improvement and revenue systems would only be incorporated in the final product. Two major revenue generation tools are planned to be used – Advertising and In-app Purchases.

Pastime – Revenue Streams

Competition

Due to its unique focus on activities, Pastime doesn’t have any direct competition. While there are some potential threats like Meetup.com, Instagram Live, they serve a different niche and should not impact Pastime’s growth without them changing their product direction significantly.

Reflection – Kunal Prakash

I am part of the ‘Social Life Advocate’ group, later renamed ‘Pastime’. The group consisted of fairly diverse individuals with different sets of skills and backgrounds that were complementary to each other. This helped us in two ways. One, it gave us the opportunity to learn from each other tremendously. Second, division of labor was easy as different folks could work on different pieces of the projects on the basis of what they enjoyed the most. My expertise lay in competitive analysis and financial analysis and initially, I focused on completing those tasks to the best of my ability. However, as we progressed, the contribution blended into other facets as I learnt from the course and my teammates. 

Expanding on the group dynamics, the team had a good rapport and we were both supportive of each other and cognizant of each other’s strengths and limitations. We also tried to complete most of the project work (both documents and presentations) together via Zoom calls. This helped us bounce off ideas with each other and while it did take more work in coordinating, I believe this helped us produce better quality results. 

Having said that, there were two challenges that the team had to face. First, due to diverse backgrounds, there were different design sensibilities on how to approach a problem. This was further escalated by the social isolation due to which we couldn’t sit together and brainstorm in a meeting room with a whiteboard, which I believe is the best way for idea diversification. This was particularly needed for our team as our product had to go through significant changes due to current circumstances which brings me to my second point. Due to social isolation, we had to pivot our product significantly both in terms of what problems we were solving to how we would solve them now. While I believe that the team succeeded in resolving these challenges, I believe that without these issues, the quality of both the original idea and execution of that idea would have been far superior. 

Moreover, I believe that I will be able to use this knowledge of working in a diverse group remotely in my future endeavors. One challenge that our team faced was taking time to come to a common consensus due to different viewpoints. In future, when I work with such a group, I will be able to steer them to a joint decision faster. 

Finally, working with this group has helped me grow significantly. All the three members were excellent in their design sensibilities and helped me learn about design and design thinking. Furthermore, this has also helped me develop an interest in video making and editing. Initially, my inputs to design related items were limited and I was mostly focused on learning from the others. By the end of the course, I was an active participant in the design related decision making which is a significant growth for me.  

Conclusion

Pastime has developed from a decent half-baked idea in its infancy to a great product concept in the past few weeks with a journey that involved pivoting, researching, losing user personas, and gaining features. It has helped me learn significantly about product development, collaboration via virtual methods, and design. Finally, I leave you with these storyboards created by Alice for our product.