How do people living in shared spaces (dormitories, apartments, etc.) schedule their laundry with others without clashing with each other while also respecting the rules (if a time is scheduled, that time MUST be used by said person and not someone else) through an app?
Armed with a full laundry basket, your quest for an available washing machine becomes a hassle through the building's floors. Each stop presents the same scene – occupied machines. Finally, after some wandering, you stumble upon an unattended washing machine. It's a small victory in the laundry room shuffle. With relief and a hint of accomplishment, you load your clothes and move on, grateful for some luck in the laundry routine. As you dump your clothes, one by one, into the machine, you think, “What if I knew what times were available for me to use the washing machine? That way, I wouldn’t have wasted all that time climbing that many stairs with a full laundry basket.”
These exact thoughts flew through my head when I experienced this exact situation. As someone who practically lived in dorms, I know what it’s like to guess when I could use the washing machine and dryer. A Google Calendar schedule could theoretically sort this problem, but that would require a lot of coordination, especially for an entire building. What if there were an application that could easily coordinate time schedules for different washing machines and dryers, something like a booking system?
User Pain Points
Based on my experience and several interviews with dorm residents, I noticed that users are generally frustrated with the timing of their laundry schedules, and most attempts to coordinate schedules have usually failed.
To support the conclusion, I interviewed 50 dorm residents, a few of whom are from various dormitories around the University of British Columbia. The results are as follows:
- 70% of residents saw the machines being used when they wanted to use them. This results in them having to use other floor machines instead.
- 80% of residents needed at least 2 cycles to finish their weekly washing times. I personally checked the amount of time required, and I discovered that this, along with drying, took a minimum of 2 hours.
- 20% of residents have tried coordinating with others. I discovered that the low numbers are usually due to a lack of personal motivation or a failed attempt at coordinating.
When inquired further, I also discovered that most methods used to coordinate were calendar apps (Calendly, Google Calendar, etc.). They reported that these apps don’t force anyone to use them, which is why they’ve been so ineffective.
Landing on the Solution
Based on the data from my interviews, I’ve concluded that a laundry scheduling tool could be helpful and profitable. The rough idea is there; however, the intricate details, such as what features or how to maintain customer retention, are another problem and would need further discussion.
The next step would be to improve upon this idea further. As previously written, the rough outline of this app is already there: be a scheduler created solely for laundry usage. However, there are a few features that I need more input on (for example, if we were to encourage usage, we would have to enforce this idea that a scheduler is NEEDED. Is a QR code too strict? Should a points system be used instead to encourage app usage?
Product Manager Learnings:
Daniel Owen Santosa
I’ll admit I did not expect much from Co. Lab initially. But because of my cohorts and the assignments from the program, I’ve learned (or at least have an idea of) a decent chunk of skills:
- Data gathering: Gathering data online and offline, filtering out the responses, and putting them into statistics took a lot of work for this program stage. It’s the part that either makes or breaks your idea because it tells you if it is viable/profitable. I’ve now realized the importance of data as a Product Manager.
- Presentation: After you gather all that data, you now have to present it so everyone understands. This is something that even I, a mere university student, occasionally struggle with today. Being a PM made me practice making my point more concise while maintaining the overall message.