Star Guide — Interactive Travel Guide Created by Influencers
Star Guide is a mobile app with interactive travel guides created by influencers. We built the product in our internal R&D department, Reactor. Utilizing the skills of our cross-functional team, we completed extensive product discovery and delivery.
Travelers often rely on content from influencers for their travel plans, identifying places worth visiting through social media posts, YouTube videos, and ebooks. But there’s a certain degree of inefficiency and inconvenience in how travelers can consume all that content to effectively plan their journeys.
During our extensive product discovery sessions, we found that travelers often resort to manually transferring points of interest (POIs) to their navigation apps or scroll through unwieldy ebooks during their trips. Video content also doesn’t offer the necessary level of convenience, plus it’s time consuming.
This insight brought to light a clear consumer pain point — there was no streamlined, user-friendly way to rely on influencer-curated POIs when planning trips. That’s how Star Guide was conceptualized: to give people a handy mobile application with small interactive guides with reliable and trusted travel content.
Scope of Work
Star Guide was a product built from scratch internally. From idea formation to App Store release, our Reactor team comprehensively put to test our product development capabilities to meet the needs of travelers.
The bread and butter of product discovery for Star Guide were customer and expert interviews. During the course of 30 interviews with travelers, we’ve managed to chisel out the problem sphere, with identified consumer pain points.
One of the biggest learnings during the design phase was the importance of creating high-quality and high-fidelity designs for one of the first meetings with our ambassador.
We made the decision to skip clickable prototypes and presale steps, because we figured that with the currently available automation, AI, and no-code tools, we build a single-feature MVP (which in essence is a ready-to-use product) faster. We had a flexible number of developers to accommodate changing project needs.
Interviewing 20+ content creators and acquiring three ambassadors to produce 20-25 mini guides. 100% income for content creators.
Methodical validation of the idea
To validate the idea behind Star Guide and ensure a smooth transition into the development phase, our team employed a structured approach. The key tool instrumental to product discovery were customer and expert interviews (with travelers and content creators). During the course of 30 interviews with travelers, we’ve managed to chisel out the problem sphere, with identified consumer pain points.
Next, we focused on Startup Defensibility, ensuring that Star Guide’s features and offerings would not only meet market demands but also provide a competitive edge that is difficult to replicate.
At its core, Star Guide is a marketplace for interactive travel guides that essentially serves two primary user groups: content creators (travel influencers) and consumers (travel enthusiasts). A key aspect necessary to increase the value of the app and its reach are network effects.
Network effects: As more influencers join the platform and create guides, the value proposition for the consumer multiplies, providing them with a broader range of experiences, stories, and insights. Conversely, as more consumers use the app, influencers find a larger audience to cater to, incentivizing them further to produce high-quality content. This symbiotic relationship is what fuels the network effect, a phenomenon where each new user (whether a creator or consumer) indirectly enhances the app's value for all other users.
Once we validated the idea behind Star Guide, we did an in-depth market analysis to scour for competitors. We also treated pricing as an integral part of early validation.
Equipped with all the insight, we created a list of hypothesis questions for the experiment, categorizing them according to the desirability, feasibility, and viability diagram. Although we initially tried to follow the B2B software sequence for our experiment in its entirety, we skipped some points.
We made the decision to skip clickable prototypes and presale steps, because we figured that with the currently available automation, AI, and no-code tools, we build a single-feature MVP (which in essence is a ready-to-use product) faster. It would also be less costly. Going for MVP would also give us more solid product validation evidence.
This extensive approach to product discovery helped gain the necessary confidence for the next steps: design and delivery.
Focus on high-quality design
One of the biggest learnings during the design phase was the importance of creating high-quality and high-fidelity designs for one of the first meetings with our ambassador. High-quality designs showing the actual application, its feel and shape, helped convince stakeholders. A great app concept is one thing, but seeing app designs let us dissipate lingering uncertainties. Also, the travel industry is a highly visual landscape, and including this aspect of the idea early during validation was key.
Impact — Evolving the App
For now, the application is available on the Polish market only. We have a strict selection process for content creators to maintain quality and ensure regular guide releases. We’ve also let creators vote on features they would want to add to the application, essentially creating an advisory board. We co-create with influencers to keep the application’s development in tune with the needs of the target group.
We have a backlog of nice-to-have and wanted features. But one of the key features that will bring tremendous value is a panel for content creators that makes it easier to put together the guides in a suitable format for Star Guide while also removing the bottlenecks when transferring content to the app.
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