Structure of HBS class creates perfect testing grounds for lean startup brand experiment.
As a startup, how do you test the brand, price point, and product your customers want? Well, if you’re launching a business at HBS, you might simply ask your friends. But, are they representative or unbiased? Worried, we devised another type of test…the great HBS marketing experiment.
For the Uninitiated, the Anatomy of an HBS Class
Every HBS class is about 900 students. The school divides the first year class into 10 sections. Alphabetically identified A – J, sections are ~ 90 people, and every section is representative of the overall 900, with an equal distribution of professions, genders, and native geographies (if you don’t believe us, there is a Nobel prize winning algorithm to prove it). For the school, it’s a great way to build a close nit community of people with a diverse background. For us, it’s a fantastic way to get statistically valid, controlled, market feedback from our peers.
We needed to test our hypothesis about the type of brand and price point people would want. We had more than 1 idea, so we designed 5 options with a unique combination of brand and pricing. Next, we created postcards for each option, linked to a Google-account where interested customers could sign up. We printed 180 of each postcard and distributed all 900 cards (1 option per 2 sections) before the students got to class. Then we waited.
Around 10:30am, at the end of the first morning class, results started appearing. It quickly became clear that DoorHop, at $25 (option 1) was the favorite. Not only did we get an unbiased answer to our question, but we also got some statistically valid feedback, such as the number of sign-ups we can expect from a single marketing exposure, the gender breakdown, and the type of brand and product people really want.
What’s next? We’ve taken the market feedback and will be launching a hybrid of DoorHop and Max called Alfred at HBS in November!