How can people in their mid-to-late 20s with careers find and meet new compatible friends with fewer hurdles?
A quarter-life crisis is defined as “a crisis that may be experienced in one's twenties, involving anxiety over the direction and quality of one's life” and as a lot of Millennials have started or been navigating through the real world post-college, the phrase has been hitting home for a lot of them. After being surrounded by friends and colleagues with similar goals and mindsets in a closed environment for their whole lives, it can feel extremely lonely and be confusing to a lot of people to suddenly face the world all alone.
As many people in their mid-to-late 20s set aside time for introspection and self-knowledge during this period, they grow out of their old values and start realizing their full potential and what they want to accomplish in life. According to a psychologist, Marisa Franco, as we become adults, we have less and less environments with ingredients of continuous unplanned interaction and shared vulnerability. On top of it, as Millenials get older, it becomes more challenging to come across opportunities to meet people who share your values and to set aside time specifically for new friendships on top of their careers and existing relationships.
The desire for new quality friendships exists among people in their mid-to-late 20s, as a study found that 30% of the Millennials asked said they are often or always lonely and 27% of the Millennials said that they have no close friends. Unfortunately, due to the factors of time and effort, sense of commitment, lack of organic opportunities, and many more, it creates a barrier for them to blossom new quality friendships.
“I need new friends” or “I don’t have any friends” were common phrases that I had heard among my friends but I wanted to analyze the roots of their sentiments. As I prepared to draft up a mock survey and reach out to people for user interviews, I wanted to make sure that I went into the process with no preconceived opinions as I already started imagining what the solution would look like in my mind.
Since the target potential users are people around my age, I focused on asking the importance of making new friends and any challenges that came with it. My survey included nine multiple choice questions and I was able to collect over 55 responses by sharing it to my network on LinkedIn. Through the survey, I was able to find and conduct five user interviews that focused on their personal experiences on making friends and what qualities they looked for in them.
There were great insights from the survey and user interviews that helped me shape a clear direction of what I wanted my product to solve.
User Pain Points
Over 55 people participated in the survey and these were some of the key insights what people’s experiences and thoughts are on making friends after college:
- While only 25% of participants considered initiating friendships difficult, only 50% of the people had made more than 5 close friends after college.
- Over 50% of participants considered finding and making friends they can hang out in-person very important
- Lack of available time and difficulty of finding friends with similar values were top two challenges of making new friends
Five user interviews were conducted, focusing on understanding what qualities people looked for in a meaningful friendship and the main challenges of finding those friendships. These were the common qualities and challenges we found:
- Sharing similar goals, values and mindset
- Similar lifestyle and career trajectory
- Having a similar level of emotional intelligence
- Time commitment to searching for the compatible friend
- Lack of opportunities to meet and find new people that fit their lifestyles
- Emotional commitment
The research not only confirmed the desire people in their mid-to-late 20s have for new quality friendships, but also exactly what qualities they are looking for and some of the challenges that are stopping them from putting in the effort. The results give a clearer direction on what to prioritize on what specific features the solution will need.
Landing on the Solution
Based on the jobs-to-be-done found from the research, I want to work on a solution that will solve 3 specific challenges - time commitment, finding the right people with similar values and emotional commitment.
Explanation of Solution
I’m excited to take this idea further by collaborating with a team and figuring out how we will be able to create a product that will address the challenges in making new life-long friends.
Finding the Right People: Users will choose what specific characteristics and topics they’re interested in, making it easier to filter and match with the right people.
Time Commitment: Each user will be limited to 3 conversations at a time and other users will be able to see how many conversations other users are in while browsing.
Emotional Commitment: After 7 days in a conversation, both users will have the option to opt-in for continuing for another week. If both users don’t opt-in, the conversation will automatically close. Also, profile pictures will be hidden until the second week of the conversation for more emphasis on the quality of conversations.
Product Manager Learnings:
Co.Lab’s Sprint program was a huge learning experience on becoming a successful product manager, especially as I focused on the problem space and not on the solution space.
The biggest takeaway was the importance of spending meaningful time in the problem space and truly understanding what it is that I am trying to solve. Although I had decided on the topic of making friends, the specifics on the problem changed through iterations as I collected data on surveys and conducted user interviews.
Through the program, I have learned how to take a problem and break it down into smaller and digestible pieces of information to analyze. Starting with the problem background/context, writing down a very specific problem statement and incorporating particular user personas, stories and goals to effectively communicate what the problem space is to anyone who isn’t familiar with the topic.