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September 8, 2020

#6 The cave

It took a great deal of restraint to keep our pencils up for so long, but it was worth it, we needed to properly understand the usual trifecta: user, market, and economics. In other words: what does our user need, what is the market missing and how do we make the numbers work. Quick note: you need all three to pull it off.

The Design, Marketing & Engineering Teams all had the same brief on the table: an urban helmet with integrated lights that is stylish & clean (but well ventilated) and packed with functionality (yet still light, comfortable AND affordable). Sure, it all sounds peachy… until you try to juggle concept sketches, user interviews, feasibility & margins (which is exactly what we did).

It was every bit as crazy as it sounds, a beautiful mess with all fronts moving forward at full speed (and all at once). With the added bonus of lockdown in a global pandemic, we locked ourselves in the proverbial Cave to create a game-changing product.

To aid our own research and widen our gaze, we decided to create a Beta Program: a small group of hand-picked individuals – representative of our target markets – to give feedback & share insights along the way. Their input has been – and still is – priceless: these are real commuters across the globe with unique commuting experiences, stories, pain points, and concerns. What better fuel than that?

Meanwhile, the Design Team started playing around with concept sketches. With a product like this, it all revolves around the shape: 3-4 lines that can either make it or brake it. We had dozens upon dozens of sketches, models, 3D-prints, zoom-based debates and even a nameless sketch battle against market-established helmets (a fun little exercise we used to get honest feedback on our design direction) – can you spot ours?

“I agree with the sentiment that we can’t just ask for what customers want; they don’t always know how to articulate it. But I am a firm believer in the power of understanding our community. I’m a firm believer in the power of user research and qualitative insight gathering”.

Katie Dill, VP & Head of Design at Lyft

Almost simultaneously, the Engineering Team was designing the electronics, building the Supply Chain, and fitting a ton of tech inside a helmet without compromising performance nor looks. The BOM (Bill of Materials) started taking shape and was heavily monitored to make sure we ended up with something scalable & profitable (after all we run a business, not a charity).

Before we knew it we were building the damn thing and lines on paper became a very real product. We dubbed it FARO – the spanish word for ‘lighthouse’.

In fact, we’re ready to come out of the cave and tell you all about it.

Stay tuned, this is about to get lit up.

The UNIT 1 Team