Category Archives: Insights

Insights from meeting with advisor

Here are some of the insights we obtained from our meeting with our advisor, Sven from MDV:

Problem with server:  Our new server in Hong Kong suddenly experienced an intermittent connection for a long period last Thursday. This is really unacceptable, considering that the usual server downtime rate is probably less than 1%!

Suggestion 1:Sven suggested that we switched to a premium server in Hong Kong or China to ensure that we do not face this problem again.

Suggestion 2: Embed server monitoring services, eg AlertBot, Uptime Inspector. These services allow us to find out about when our server goes down before our users do and allow us to intercept before any damage is done.

Other comments:

1. We need to get real events hosted on our site immediately. This is to facilitate our understanding of our users and quickly analyze if our system provides the real solution to our users.

2. Our question to local businesses and retailers should have had a filter, to only ask the businesses and retailers who have sponsored college events before. This would have given us higher quality information on the reasons why these businesses want to sponsor college events.

Some targets for next week:

1. Get 20 real events hosted on our site by next week. It would also be better to get 20 real events from one school, so we can get better data, then 5 events per school.

Getting down to work!



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Insights (Meeting with Sven Strohband)

Insights gathered from meeting with Sven Strohband

1.     User acquisition strategy

a) Use monetary incentive to pull events. Eg offer free drinks to events organized on our site. Three fold benefits:

i.     Event host will be willing to sit down with us and feedback to us his events organizing experience with our app

ii.     Event host will be more willing to help promote our app.

iii.     Viral effect as people discover a quick and easy method to get some sponsorship for drinks.

b) Immediately line up event organizers that will use our application once it is launched. At least 20 events organizers per targeted college for a compelling number.

c) Hire someone at the individual colleges to be in charge of pooling all the events that are being organized on campus to be broadcast on our application.

2.        Monetization strategy

a) Possibly to connect with groupon companies, offer targeted student deals to specific events. Eg. If student organizing a dinner, offer deals from local restaurants at the event organizing page.
b) Pulling out of to create a standalone web service which charges people for hosting events. Rationale: While students not willing to pay, enterprises might be willing to pay for such a service.
c) Focus on getting users so we get bargaining chip to monetize, such as selling data etc.

3.          User Interface:

a) Initial user interface to be nice. Need to be aware that we might not have many events hosted on our website on the onset. Must ensure that our page still looks attractive and not a site where there is only 1-2 events.


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Interview questions for next week’s deliverable

Interview questions for “early adopter”, a event content provider — campus event host:

First 4 target colleges: TsingHua University (Beijing) — Yinan; Shanghai Jiao Tong University (Shanghai) — Junhao; Wuhan University (Wuhan) — Lu; and Huazhong University of Science and Technology (Wuhan) — Yiye.

  • What kind of features are necessary for event-hosting  renren app?
  • What kind of post-event feedback would event host like to have from their audience?
  •  Is sponsor matching and recommendation a useful and valuable feature for event host? What kind of cooperation do they look for?
  •  What should ZiiLion team do to keep event hosts if there is not a obvious promotion effect at initial launch? (egg and chicken problem)

Format is following:

  1. Name of University
  2. List of interviewed event hosts (student communities’ leaders)
  3. Statistics of replying

Please interview ASAP and have feedback by Jan. 30, Monday.

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User Interview Insights

Customer Discovery (Users): Interviews (Face to Face)

 The team went out this week to interview potential users. The following are some of the leading questions for users of who spent their undergraduate in China.

1.     Pain points validation:
Have you organized events before back in your college in China? Are the normal distribution channels (newsletters, etc) a big hassle for you? What was the biggest headache about organizing events?

2.     Value Proposition validation:
Do you think an app on will be beneficial to you when you organize events?
Would you want post event analysis?
What will be the killer feature for you?
Would offering ticketing as a service be useful for you?

Our Insights (from 20 interviews)

1.     Pain points validation
Distribution/Promotional Activities
There exists problem of reach of advertisement with current channels, but the more you organize, the better you are at getting people. Current channels include BBS, an online school forum where people log in to find activities around the school, QQ, which is similar to MSN chat where activity groups can be formed, FeiXing, a mass SMS tool, and the traditional methods of posters and banners. Students in China colleges also live in dorms, so word of activities usually spread quickly.

However,the strength of current channels vary across the different colleges that we have interviewed. For example in Peking University, BBS school forums are very active, but in other colleges in WuHan Province, BBS school forums are usually lacking in user traffic. Also, with all the current distribution channels, user management is non-existent. The ability to pull of a large scale event with many participants usually also requires certain skills to work the advertisement channels through personal contacts and relationships. Finally, there currently exists no channels at all to reach to students in neighboring colleges, and this problem is very prominent in big cities like Beijing, Shanghai where the colleges are close and nearby.

Other pain points
Perhaps a unifying pain point amongst all the users we have interviewed is the pain point of financing their events. It is usually difficult for a student body to secure sponsorship for their events, and presents itself as a major pain point we can service.

2.     Value Proposition validation:
The idea of an events organization application on is very well received by all whom we interviewed. They like the idea that the events that they organized will be able to get a further reach just by being available to all those on Post event analysis would be extremely helpful too for future events, especially in the getting of contacts and feedback from participants in a well organized manner. If sponsors recommendation can be provided, that will be awesome. However, online ticketing is still a relatively new concept amongst China colleges, and it is not in the student’s behavior to purchase tickets online, and hence would not form a strong value proposition.

A word of caution from a few whom we spoke to: is usually cluttered with applications that are usually not of the serious nature, and is still mostly used only as a mode to maintain friendship contacts. A serious application like ours in events organization thus run the risk of being lost amongst all the other non-serious applications which might result in a low pick-up.

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Happy Hour Insights

Insights from happy hour, 17th Jan 2011:

1. Our revenue model needs to be changed. Possible ideas: Engage businesses around colleges in China to provide Groupon like services. Do a ticket master like website which lets students purchase tickets to events through our renren app.

2. Censorship issues need to be resolved. Immediate action has been taken: A product development manager, Jiaye Tang, at was contacted over happy hour and it was brought to our knowledge that would actually encourage the development of such events organization apps. Follow-up will be done with him. Further action to be taken: To get in touch with app developers on who have prior experience on censorship issues. To get in touch with advisor.

3. Intellectual Property rights on to be understood. Action to be taken: To get in touch with app developers on who have prior experience. To get in touch with advisor.

4. To further understand events host/attendees pain points. Action to be taken: To do interviews, both face-to-face interview with users of in Stanford, and online interview with users of in China colleges.

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