Project type: Group
Timeline: Four weeks
I served as a design consultant for Roger Younan, an entrepreneur and MBA student in CMU's tech entrepreneurship track. Roger's business concept is an online marketplace to connect healthcare industry startups with angel investors as well as inexperienced investors interested in the medical field. As part of a course called "Designing and Leading a Business" in CMU's School of Design and Tepper business school, I worked with Diya Deb, a master's student in CMU's Human Computer Interaction program, to conduct user research leading to personas.
Diya and I entered into the project after Roger had already signed on one investor and had undertaken a couple of iterations on Linkup Health's website. Because he had already done some research on the needs of startup owners, Diya and I decided to conduct interviews with investors, and then to create personas based off our interviews.
We also conducted a competitive analysis with other angel investing websites in order to compare Linkup Health's audience to the audiences of other sites, and to understand how these other sites appeal to their user bases.
Together we interviewed five investors and one healthcare startup founder. We realized early on that Roger's audience could be segmented into different kinds of investors. We chose to exclude professional venture capitalists, who are more likely to invest in somewhat later-stage startups and for larger amounts of money than the companies on Roger's site. Instead, we focused on angel investors and private individuals who can afford to invest in startups (and have the desire to do so) but don't have the confidence, time, or expertise to do so easily on their own.
We created a Google document with questions that we asked of each interviewee so that we could compare the responses. We were especially interested in learning about the investors' main sources for learning about potential investments. We were also very interested in understanding whether investors would want to publicize the list of companies they'd considered, and which they'd invested in. Spreading information about investments and investors' opinions of various investments was to be a major part of Linkup Health.
A few common themes emerged from our research:
- Experienced investors felt very capable of doing due diligence on the investments they considered. They learned about potential investments from many different sources.
- Inexperienced investors trusted word of mouth from their close friends and acquaintances over their own research into a company's financials or business plan.
- All investors were interested in publicizing the investments they'd made. It was less clear whether investors would feel comfortable describing the investments they'd passed over, although experienced investors seemed more comfortable doing so.
- In-person interaction is currently a very important way that investors learn about how to invest, and about potential investments.
- All investors are interested in following what highly successful investors do.
Creation of personas
Diya and I decided to create three personas: One representing an inexperienced investor who didn't have aspirations to become a semi-professional angel investor. The other two personas represent two stages of a different persona's career; a beginner investor who does aspire to become an advanced, semi-professional investor, and that investor later in his career.
I focused on the inexperienced investor persona while Diya focused on the other two personas.
Creating personas is only the first step in designing an effective web platform. Translating our interview data into personas was immensely helpful for Diya and me in understanding the needs of the users and the goals of the product. With the addition of startup founder personas (perhaps one or two total), LinkupHealth could have a solid research foundation with which to design wireframes, branding, and marketing strategy.