The London Pilot Experiment
Greetings from the UK! I got in touch with Adam a few days ago to see if we could test out neighborrow in my fair city of London. He gave me a call in between his workshops in Paris, and threw down his own lean challenge:
“Run a one day experiment to see if you can get one person to successfully borrow anything on neighborrow”.
I asked people I knew (~10), targeted freebie and tech forums (100’s of eyeballs) and broadcast outreach on Twitter/LinkedIn (1000’s people). After 24 hours, 3 people (all already known to me) said they’d give it a go, of which 2 actually posted, and of which 1 looks like it will reach the target of Likes and comments. Here’s what I really learnt:
- People are suspicious of ‘free’ – 5/10 that I spoke to directly said they thought it was a scam, and I suspect others did but were too polite to say. Perhaps us Brits lack the audacity of Americans; perhaps we are not as familiar with communal concepts as mainland Europeans. Regardless, anywhere you go, the concepts of ‘buying’, ‘ownership’ and ‘no such thing as a free lunch’ are deeply ingrained.
- Don’t let Lean make you lazy – in hindsight, there are some very easy steps I should have taken in the first half hour to improve the user journey, thereby improving the level of learning from the experiment (as many users didn’t get past the ‘shady’ website and ‘outdated’ facebook page). This was a reminder that the MVP does not mean the minimum that is workable; it’s the highest return on investment (learnings) vs risk (effort spent setting up).
- It’s easier to get people to give than take! 4/10 people offered me items for others to borrow – even though I didn’t ask! This confused the economist in me, but rang true with many of the crowd-based projects I’ve been involved in before. I’m planning to experiment with this phenomenon further, and will report back!
- “It’s not free if I can’t keep it” – I love this piece of feedback (the highest rated comment from my forum posting) as it demonstrates the predominant view of ownership that the sharing economy is challenging – and highlights that there is a long way to go!
I like to think of consumer behavior and the sharing economy as a ‘turning tide’ – a) it seems to be changing direction (slowly), and b) is changing under our feet while we test, which makes experimentation here all the more fascinating!If you’re interested in collaborating on a future experiment (or want to hear about my next ones), add me on LinkedIn.