Venture Stories

How a Two-Day Workshop Helped a Business Focus on a Better Solution

03/27/2024

Carbon Mileage is a venture from Houston, Texas that incentivizes air travelers to make carbon-conscious choices to enable a sustainable aviation ecosystem. Currently incubating at Moon Creative Lab, the Carbon Mileage team underwent a quick sprint to better understand decarbonization within the airline industry and plan their next course of action. 


Key Learnings:

  • Defining a problem statement.
  • Identifying key users and stakeholders.
  • Understanding users through research.

Carbon mileage pledge.png

The Moon team recently met with Carbon Mileage, one of the ventures selected to be part of our Boost incubation program. Over the course of two days at our Palo Alto studio, we dug into the problem the team is seeking to solve: incentivizing decarbonization in the airline industry. Two days might seem like a lofty goal, but for us, we thrive in a short-time bound environment. Rather than spending unreasonable amounts of time reworking the same problem over and over again, two days allowed the team to make quicker decisions and confidently map out all necessary steps.   

Before the workshop began, the team outlined three main goals they were wanting to achieve during the two days: 

  1. Define the problem statement. 
  2. Name the biggest assumptions and build a user research plan to de-risk them.
  3. Commit to a product hypothesis.
  4. Work on team building to sustain momentum remotely. 

 

Defining a Clear Problem Statement

Before any project starts, it’s important for the team to align on a clear problem statement before identifying a possible solution. By defining a problem statement, this prepares the team to further investigate different solutions through proper research and confidently act on the best proposed solution.   

Carbon Mileage defined their clear problem statement as, “How might we engage air travelers in decarbonization efforts?” which evolved from the original statement that fixated on the idea of an incentivisation program. The original problem statement felt narrow and closed-minded to how much broader the team could explore decarbonization efforts. By switching the problem of only having an incentivization program to thinking more broadly towards engaging customers, this allowed the team to think much deeper into possible solutions.  

  

Analyzing Target Customers and Stakeholders 

After defining the problem statement, it’s important to analyze who the true stakeholders are, also known as the target audience of the Carbon Mileage program and all those who would be involved in Carbon Milage’s solution. The team outlined four main stakeholders: airlines, air travelers, travel organizers, and sustainable fuel suppliers. Beyond identifying stakeholders, it’s important to get to know them even more by determining what motivates them to act a certain way or make specific purchasing decisions. By specifying key motivations, Carbon Mileage can leverage this information as a way to build engagement amongst target users and explore solutions to their problem statement. 

 

Mapping Out the User Journey To Better Understand the User Experience

carbon mileage 2.png

Aligning the user journey with the product hypothesis allowed the team to visually see where in the target audience’s journey it would make the most sense to implement Carbon Mileage. 

The team first explored, “How might Carbon Mileage reward travelers?” Some ideas included priority boarding, travel status, points redeemable for sustainable merch, and additional airline miles. Then the team explored how this might align with reduced carbon emissions. Ideas included buying carbon credits to compensate for annual travel and traveling with lighter bags to reduce fuel usage. 

While listing all of these ideas out is important, what makes the ideas even more tangible is creating concept cards to help paint a clearer picture of what direction the team feels is the ideal solution. By creating prototypes of the ideas, the team is able to confidently visualize the possibility of an idea before acting on it.   

Carbon Mileage.png

 

Name Assumptions and Build a Research Plan to De-Risk Them 

With these concept cards, the team then built out a user research guide to de-risk any of their previous assumptions. By gathering early feedback from Moon team members, the Carbon Mileage team was able to commit to a product direction during the workshop. 

What was unique about this user testing experience was that it was the first time Carbon Mileage team members asked open-ended questions and avoided leading questions about their product. A leading question might look like, “Would you pack lighter if it meant to be rewarded by product credits?” rather than open-ended questions like, “What is the first thing that comes to mind about air travel?” The reason for asking open-ended questions versus leading questions was to widen the knowledge base for the team, unleashing new insights into what potential customers might bring. Many times teams lean on assumptions to answer the root of their problem rather than exploring the truest needs of their users. 

Taking the exploration even further, the team created a landing page to test the value proposition with users. Why a landing page? It’s quick, it’s tangible, and it’s the first exploration of the product that might speak to potential customers.

 

What’s Next for Carbon Mileage  

The team agreed that there needs to be even more exploration of de-risking the most critical assumptions by engaging further user research with key stakeholders, focusing on travelers and airlines. Additionally, there needs to be a design experiment to test the theory that IF consumers were rewarded for choosing carbon reduction efforts, they would do so.

Since this workshop was only two days, the team agreed that this would need to happen at a later time. We look forward to learning more about Carbon Mileage in the coming months as they begin to explore further together with Moon.

If a workshop similar to this sounds interesting to you and your team, Moon would love to hear from you. Contact us at hello@mooncreativelab.com to start the conversation of how we can help your organization, team, or startup begin digging deeper into the root of the problem you’re seeking to solve. 
 

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