Homies! is a mobile application designed for connecting like-minded individuals who want to conduct a housing search or for the perfect roommate. Think Bumble or OkCupid but for finding a roommate based on criteria, budget, age, cultural background and much more.
Canada is currently facing a severe housing crisis, with rising rental costs, limited affordable housing options, and increased demand for shared accommodations. Many individuals (students, working-class folks, seniors, underemployed folks, professionals and new immigrants) in cities are seeking roommates to help make housing more affordable, but finding compatible roommates can be challenging. There's a need for a solution that simplifies and streamlines the roommate search process. As an effective and immediate response to making housing affordable.
The housing crisis in Canada is leading to a homelessness crisis comparable to Canada's major natural disasters. Quantitative data collected from 14 communities indicates that chronic homelessness has increased by an average of 34% since 2020, with 79% experiencing such increases. Additionally, 74% of Canadians state that homelessness is on the rise in their communities. Rising costs have also contributed to causing individuals to be priced out of major cities.
User Pain Points
To address this problem 12 user research interviews were conducted with participants across Canada who were professionals, students and underemployed. The most common pain point was the duration of searches, inconvenience, high possibility of bad experiences and incompatibility with roommates.
Preliminary research conducted with participants across Canada that were working professionals, students, recent immigrants and the underemployed was quantitative and qualitative. I found that 90% of participants are willing to test a new free platform for finding roommates to find a suitable roommate with a compatible living arrangement. Additionally, 100% of participants indicated that the primary reason they would have roommates would be to reduce their living expenses.
The preliminary user research to validate this problem was with working professionals, students, recent immigrants and the under-employed. It’s important to note that 80% of participants indicated that they had a bad roommate experience in the past. Participants were a combination of 40% professionals and 50% students who completed the survey. Only 20% were recent immigrants to Canada and 20% considered themself to be under-employed. 70% of participants had roommates before and only 30% of participants did not. To review additional data that was analysed from participant surveys please visit here.
Landing on the Solution
After identifying the pain points of our target users, its clear that a streamlined and convenient solution for roommate matchmaking is needed. There was a desire for a process that could be enhanced and much smoother than other platforms such as Facebook Marketplace, Kijijiji.com or hiring a real estate agent.
Explanation of Solution
The valuable insights collected from participants across Canada overwhelmingly highlight the desire for a user-friendly, streamlined solution for locating a compatible roommate or housing search party.
The solution is an Android and IOS mobile app called Homies! This app! is designed to help individuals in Canada to find compatible roommates for shared housing. It operates on a matching algorithm and artificial intelligence, similar to popular dating apps like Bumble or OkCupid, but with a focus on housing-related criteria. Users can create profiles and search for roommates based on criteria such as budget, age range, preferred locations, lifestyle, cultural preferences, and more.
To visually showcase the user experience, I have created high-resolution mockups that illustrate the step-by-step journey of a user from sign-up to the point where they can effectively start using Homies to match with a new roommate.
Users shared that existing platforms that do not prioritize roommate matching often provide a frustrating and time-consuming experience. This applies to both individuals seeking a compatible roommate and those offering available rooms in their spaces for rent. Or are searching for housing opportunities. I understand that the challenge and aim to create a more user-friendly and efficient solution will require more user testing and extensive usability testing. The next step in the process for this product would be to secure funding so that an MVP could be built and tested with users.
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Marketing Promotional Video: https://player.hourone.ai/4ada2edb436c4781bd7f3a785df0aab7
Product Manager Learnings:
During my time in Co.Lab training to become a product manager, an important key learning that came up during the user research phase, highlighted the significance of crafting targeted and non-overwhelming questions. I learned that it's important to consider the audience for the questions that will be asked along with ensuring they are not too vague or open-ended.
Another key takeaway would be the overall importance of staying in the problem space during the ideation and initial research phase. It made opportunities for me to be able to focus on listening to what users wanted concerning possible features based solely on their lived experiences.
I learned about the value of conducting quantitative one-on-one user interviews that can provide significant information and context. The experience of conducting one-on-one user interviews. This approach not only afforded an authentic level of depth in understanding user perspectives and pain points but also created more space for participants to share important insights.
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