Enabling the African Innovator
In 2019, we were tasked at a hackathon to design a solution to empower African youth. We discovered that the reward-based crowdfunding model that worked so well around the world didn't work Pan-Africa.
I was the design lead that started the audacious project to build a Kickstarter for Africa.
Africa has a youth population of about 200 million, a lot of which haven’t tapped into the full benefits of the digital age. Our goal was to design a tech-enabled solution to boost this enterprising generation’s creativity.
The key requirements to achieve our goal were:
1. Must deal with transactions
2. Must foster innovation
3. Must generate income for the end user
4. Must be easily accessible
5. Should be new to the African market
- I started the design system as a solo designer in 2019, and later on managed a team of 2 designers to scale it up through the years.
- I collaborated with my friends, a frontend developer and a fullstack developer to build the MVP
- I was lead on research, analytics, and collaborated on product management
- I implemented the HTML and CSS of the static pages.
- The app had a few iterations before it went live in April 2022.
If you’ve ever been to a hackathon then you know how the rush flows! It’s so many ideas that have to be implemented quickly. Through the e-commerce and marketplace ideas, we finally stumbled on something we felt comfortable with – reward-based crowdfunding.
Why reward-based crowdfunding? We realised through some online research that it was a niche that hadn’t fully been explored Pan-Africa. The research showed that crowdfunding of different niches had worked round the world and for some weird reason the most popular reward-based crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo didn’t allow people resident in Africa to start campaigns.
Images of niche crowdfunding companies
Images of the hackathon issues
Talking to real users
After the peak of the pandemic, we decided to look take this idea to the market. The first step was to talk to potential users and get their feedback. This was a tricky product to kickoff because it has 2 user segments – the creator(who starts a campaign), the supporter(who donates to a campaign).
Research method: Interviews
– Creators had little to no background knowledge of reward-based crowdfunding
– Supporters were skeptic if their money would be transparently remitted to the Creator
– Supporters were worried about the reliability of the platform to guarantee that the project was executed according to specification
Images of the research
Images of the MVP
We decided to give the creators less things to worry about and have closer to a manual onboarding process to kick things off. All the user had to do was fill an early access form and we’d pick it up from there.
One dangerous aspect of a new startup is the temptation to tract feel-good metrics like email signups which don’t necessarily convert to success for the business. We were mindful of this at the beginning and set our primary metric as ‘completely funded campaigns’. We didn’t realise till we launched however that that seemed for like a goal to aim for at the beginning and less of an active metric that was achievable week on week.
We took a step back to design around smaller scale metrics that could be tracked and optimised:
– Weekly transactions: Number of donations received by a campaign
– Creators onboarded: Number of users ready to have an active campaign
– New supporters: Number of new users donation to a campaign
The campaigning problem
We successfully onboarded the first set of creators with pretty cool projects. Great projects, cool rewards, talk to supporters, successful product, and everyone lived happily ever after right?…wrong!
Creators ended up treating the platform like an established platform, they just wanted to set the campaign up and go to bed 😴
"...how might we help Creators have better campaigns?"
The supporter problem
Recruiting the first round of supporters weren’t that difficult because of the initial hype and enthusiasm of a launch. A few weeks after the first donations, we started to get feedback on 2 key things:
– Supporters didn’t want to signup before donating to a campaign
– Supporters outside the country needed to see translated content
The next steps
The progress of the product hasn’t been exponential but there has been some progress. The next design stages will focus on features that could improve the user acquisition rate.
A few features which have been designed and are being tested/developed:
– Profile donation links
– Creator store
Version 3 of the app will enable open access to the general public and enable the users to interact on it better. I wouldn’t be working actively on this design full-time, I instead will continue to use it as a medium to train newbie designers that I mentor.
Thanks…hope you had a nice read!