Brian Wong's Portfolio

Senior Thesis

Lean Startup: Head of Product

'Sharing' economy 2.0

I want to disrupt the 'sharing' economy to it's core meaning – sharing.


In our modern world, we could all benefit by helping each other. How might we create a fair value exchange between those willing to help and those needing help? Good Sam is a system that allows strangers to exchange services, from buying a cup of coffee to picking up your neighbor’s groceries. My mission is to re-align the Sharing Economy to its core meaning — fair exchange of services.


Where's the sharing?

According to Lisa Gansky, one of the core principles of the Sharing Economy is “unused value is wasted value.” Unused value refers to the time that products, services, and talents are unused and lay idle. Businesses and organizations are now utilizing this idle time as their key resources, calling it the ‘Sharing Economy’. On-demand ridesharing services like Lyft Line and Uberpool are more efficient in putting otherwise idle resources—such as empty car seats—to use, by providing riders economic incentives (cheaper rides) to carpool with strangers. However, there have been negative consequences to this behavior change. Uber alone has more than 11,600 daily active drivers offering their time and services as part-time drivers in San Francisco, resulting in an increase in traffic by 21%, with rush hour starting as early as 3pm.

Playdate is a new location based networking app for families. We help connect families in similar neighborhoods and backgrounds to one another. Parents can set up events and invite other families in their proximity to join them on their play date. 

We work with families to create the most accurate family profiles so each playdate is stress free, seamless and fun!

Playdate is a safe and private networking service just for your neighborhood families. Our customer representatives are online 24/7 to ensure the quality of the community is kept at its best.  

So why Playdate?

Follow along our 13 weeks journey below:

We went out in the world, spoke to 224 parents, and send out more than 7,000 emails to generate this concept.




A true peer-to-peer economy, enforced by social contacts.

Playdate - Lean1.png


Talk to customers to understand their pain and gain

We talked to 5 parents every week and conducted market research around our market:

Validating Product: 

Creating Minimum Viable Product [MVP] to get ideas in customers' hand

We launched two 'smoke tests' to over 5000  parents in the Bay Area and measured over 600 clicks with 32 'fake door' sign ups

Product Market Fit: 

Final product and service should deliver the value proposition that aligns with customers' pain and gain.

We 'concierge' hosted our product Playdate with 32 RSVP’s. 8 families signed up on the spot and all together we had 40 attendees. Responses were positive and parents were asking, "where do I download the app?"

We had a Weekly Sprint Cycle

our MISSION is to gain PRODUCT market fit.

We structured our MVP development in weekly sprints to allow maximum learnings.
After a 13 weeks cycle, we created and pitched Playdate. Follow along our Lean journey – 



We talked to 5 parents and created empathy maps EVERY WEEK:

...And we heard that

Class: Senior Thesis

Project Date: Jan-May 2015

Project Length: 4 months

Team: Solo

Key Role: Generative research, Ideation, Interaction Design, Real world testing

Senior Thesis Advisor: Kristian Simsarian

So we send out some smoke tests:

Go Babysitters

On week 4, we send out 'Go Babysitters' to 2000+ parents with 267 clicks, 4 signups, 5 responses

0. Go.Babysitter_EmailMPV.png

We asked questions like this:

How often do you use a babysitter? 

How do you find a baby sitter?

What is important to you while seeking for a babysitter? Why?

Have you considered using a babysitting service while traveling?



On week 6, we send out 'Playdate" to 5000+ parents with 441 clicks, 27 signups

0. Playdates_EmailMVP_Screencapture.png

We asked questions like this:

How do you make friends?

Who would you want to connect with?

Should we Pivot or Persevere?

From our 'Go Babysitter' smoke test, we found that parents seeking for babysitters adds an entire layer of complication; can I trust this babysitter? Thus, parents organically form 'playdates' to babysit each other kids, "I'll look after your kids today, and you'll look after my kids tomorrow."

As a team, we decided to pivot from a babysitting service to a networking service, with just the feature of matching parents with other parents who are interested in hanging out, in hopes that organic relationships will eventually form from this interaction.


Our data said that there's a market for it.


concept validations:

Can we get parents out of their homes to meet other families?

We 'concierge' hosted our product Playdate with 32 RSVP’s. 8 families signed up on the spot and all together we had 40 attendees. 

Parents' responses were positive and many were asking, "where do I download the app?"


the final VALIDATION:

Will parents host their own playdate and give us money? 

We created an thank you email to all those that came to our playdate last weekend through our RSVP and our onsite sign ups. In the thank you email, we gave parents the option to host their own playdates. We also offered the $5 option for parents to let us cater coffee and snacks for their playdate, which could potentially validate our potential sponsorship/feature opportunity.

Click here to view all of our 'Smoke Tests' / Emails >>


Roadmap, and the ask:


The Pitch, and 'Fund or no fund?'

At the end of the course, we were asked to pitch our idea as if we were pitching for funding. Our grades would then be directly correlated to the percentage of fulfillment. Our classroom was set up like Shark Tank with 6 (real) venture capitalists, 3 of which were angel investors. After our pitch, we got fully funded – 6 sticky notes all with checkmarks, $1,000,000 dummy cash, and an A+ grading.


Click here to visit our blog, and learn about our weekly learnings >>