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The Epiphany Prototype

The other day I had an epiphany, but it was not one of those good, "ah ha!" kind of moments, it was more of a "du'oh!" moment. It came as I realised I had been manually providing a prototype of our product for quite some time whilst working in customer service for a large eCommerce store.

Hour on hour, day on day, as part of my job I would respond to questions relating to bike specific parts compatibility. It was from this role that we knew a good amount of the market validation we had performed, was solid as it fell directly inline with what I had seen. But what I had failed to realise was that I had actually been the working manual prototype of our product. You see, Bike Matrix, once integrated on an eCommerce platform, will assist customers by asking them to select their bike brand, model and year of manufacture and then confirm the bike pictured. With their bike now loaded, the customer can now go shopping, with the website now only showing parts compatible with their bike. It dawned on me that this scenario was directly comparable to conversations I was having with customers through online chats and emails. Conversations often went like this:

Customer: “What chain do I need for my bike?”

Me: “Can you please tell me your bike brand, model and year?”

Customer: “It’s a Trek Marlin 5 and I think it is a 2021 model”

*Googles Trek Marlin 5 2021 and opens several options in new tabs*

Me: “No worries, is your bike this one pictured here [provided picture of bike]”

Customer: “Yeah that’s the one!”

*Looks at specifications for a Trek Marlin 5* *Determines compatible chains based on mechanical experience* *Finds compatible chains on eCommerce site*

Me: “Perfect, for this bike you can fit any of the following options: Chain 1 - hyperlink to product Chain 2 - hyperlink to product Chain 3 - hyperlink to product Is there anything else I can be of help with?”

Customer: “No, that’s great, thanks!” Day after day, hour after hour, I would have this exact conversation over and over, but replace chain with brake pads, bottom bracket, headset, cranks, wheels, fork, there was no limit to what customers were keen to install themselves. The thing is customers were seeking someone more experienced to point them in the right direction, or to confirm that their research so far was correct, because the information out there wasn’t clear or concise. I stopped counting the number of customers who remarked just how difficult it was to select parts for their bike and how frustrating they found it. I don't disagree with them on this fact, it genuinely can be hard to find this information, especially for the everyday consumer. The other surprising take away was that these customers were often not racers or enthusiasts, but just everyday riders, ranging from retiree’s to teenagers, teachers to lawyers, to automotive technicians. There was no clear pattern to the profile of customers who were keen to have a go at repairing their own bike. The thing is, it shouldn’t be confusing to find replacement parts for a bike and the time has come to make a change and put the power back in the hands of mechanics, sales staff, manufacturers, and bike owners to instantly determine which parts are suitable for the bike in front of them. Because of this Bike Matrix will change the way bike parts are bought and sold.

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