Roof Space is a peer-to-peer marketplace platform connecting people wanting to send large sports equipment (e.g. surfboards, kayaks, bikes, etc) from A to B with travellers who are already driving that way.
The problem driving this idea is that sending large equipment throughout NZ using traditional courier or freight services is often very expensive and equipment often gets mishandled & ultimately damaged.
The initial idea was to tap into the sharing economy to connect travellers & courier customers, so a Facebook group was formed as a place for the two parties to connect & test the idea within the market. After seeing the group grow & actively engage with each other, it was time to further develop the idea into a platform of its own.
How did we know this was a problem worth solving?
The problem was first identified by my client, Jack, who needed a surfboard shipped from Christchurch to Gisborne & was quoted for $450 – that’s half the cost of the board.
Motivated to find a better way, Jack created a Facebook group called Roof Space NZ & shared it around various sports groups where he quickly found someone already making the trip to transport his board for $100.
The driver earned $100 for driving the direction he was already going and Jack saved himself $350 – win/win.
Fast forward 1 month from this initial transaction and the group had grown to about ~1,000 active members making these same transactions amongst themselves! Clearly this is bigger than just a one-off.
A deeper understanding
With an active Facebook group & an excited client wanting to take the next steps, this is where I jumped in to offer my expertise and help bring the idea to life.
I assisted Jack in conducting user research by engaging with Facebook group members to really understand the problem at hand and more about what was working and what wasn’t working with the group.
After having ~10 in-person interviews, the two biggest things we learned were:
- The FB group lacked trust.
- Finding driving gigs was difficult & cumbersome with the group.
How does one member know another member isn’t going to steal their stuff? Or that the Driver is actually going to get paid? Facebook was a great place to start as a proof of concept, but it lacked the extra trust & security that a dedicated platform could offer. And although these issues never actually occurred, it was a concern that just about everyone we interviewed shared.
FB didn’t offer a quick and easy way to find driving gigs. If someone was about to make a journey & wanted to see which items were available to transport and where they needed to go, it was difficult to find these posts without any sort of search or filter functionality and posts would often get lost within the group’s timeline.
In other words, discoverability was completely missing.
Equipped with these insights, it was time to get to work. In an attempt to avoid re-creating the wheel, I start my projects by looking at what already exists to find inspiration and then cherry-picking what works & leaving behind the rest.
An AirBnb for driving equipment?
As cliche as it sounds, the first thought that came to mind was AirBnb as a place to draw inspiration. Instead of renting a home, this could be just an AirBnb for sending equipment.
But after further consideration, there are a few key differences that made this comparison fall apart:
- For AirBnb, Hosts both create a listing & receive payment. But for Roofspace, it was different. Senders (the people wanting to send their equipment) create listings, but they’re the ones who make the payment, not receive it. So the transaction between two parties was completely different.
- Guests on AirBnb browse listings and then book and pay on the spot. Drivers for Roofspace browse listings, then offer to drive an item and only get paid after the delivery is made. So there’s this arbitrary time gap between a “booking” and payment.
- Renting a home on AirBnb has a fixed start and end date. Driving items with Roofspace is a little more arbitrary. There’s no fixed pick-up or drop-off date. Senders can specify if they need the item by a certain date, but it’s not as fixed as a set booking period. This arbitrary time period makes features like paying out Drivers and requesting reviews a little more difficult.
Not AirBnb. Think job board instead
Because of these key differences, we came to the conclusion that it was better to think of this platform more like a job board where the Senders are the employers listing a job (items to send) and Drivers are the contractors submitting proposals (offering to drive an item), completing projects (actually driving the item from A to B), and getting paid after the project is complete (item gets delivered).
Putting together the pieces
Using the job board as inspo, I was able to map out some user flows of how Drivers & Senders would interact.
In addition to the core functionality of connecting Drivers & Senders, the two main things we focused on based from our interviews with FB group members were:
- Building safety & security into the platform to create trust.
- Making it quick and easy to find driving gigs
To create trust within the platform, we decided to include these 3 things:
- Driver verification
- User profiles
Sign up, onboarding, & Driver verification
As part of the sign up process, Users were given the chance to sign up to either send equipment only or drive & send equipment. Anyone was able to sign up and send equipment, but if you wanted to drive equipment & earn money, you had to go through a Driver verification process by uploading a Photo ID & their date of birth.
Given this was an MVP with a limited budget, we were trying to focus on the core functionality of the app first and foremost & so initially left out user profiles.
As things progressed though, it became apparent that user profiles were actually part of the core value that we were trying to offer: trust. And so we decided to include them after all. It also tied in nicely with the Reviews giving them a place to live within the greater context of a user.
Reviews were always part of the plan as that’s an easy and common way to build trust between users. The question wasn’t whether or not to include it, but how do we incorporate it into the flow of an interaction between users?
This is what our initial flow looked like. After an item was delivered and confirmed by both Sender & Driver, we were going to trigger an email similar to how AirBnb does after your stay.
What we decided to do instead though, was quickly capture this review at the same time users were confirming the item was delivered. If they’re already on the platform, why not use that as an opportunity to capture a review?
So the revised review flow actually looked more like this:
Finding driving gigs
In addition to building trust, the next main bit of value our users wanted from us was making it quick & easy to find driving gigs. We did this through a combination of filters & search functionality.
Let’s talk about impact
Although the goal was a prototype, we managed to quickly progress it to a functioning MVP using Bubble.io based on these learnings, initial wireframes, & user flows.
Some key results:
- 1800+ people have joined the FB community
- 440+ users signed up to the app
- 52 successful transactions have taken place with earnings of ~$1350
What lessons did we learn so far?
The biggest obstacle we were facing and continue to face is getting people to make the jump from Facebook to a new platform. Although lots of users expressed concerns about trust with the group, it’s still a challenge for some of them to actually make the leap.
The other biggest obstacle we face are hesitations around submitting a photo ID for Driver verification. Again, although users expressed concerns about trust with other members, the new concern is now around submitting a photo ID on a new platform they’re not yet familiar with.
Obviously there’s still more learning to be done :).
🚗 On a roadtrip? Be sure to hop on Roof Space & check out the listings before you go! Who knows, you might be able to have your entire petrol costs covered & meet some cool people along the way.