Moments of great change have an opportunity to rearrange things.
As the world is being reshaped by forces beyond your control, it is time to consider where existing habits and offerings might fit and to re-prioritize what is already in the plan.
That was the case during the COVID-19 pandemic. When government-ordered closings began in March to stop the spread of the disease, companies worked quickly to figure out what would make sense in a world of social distancing, placing projects high on the agenda for which something was originally intended could be down the street.
At the Morrell Park-based photo booth company PixilatedThis resulted in a new product: the company used the experience in the event space and a technical backbone to build the online photo booth PixiWeb in weeks.
With canceled personal events, CEO Nic China Business has dried up for the entire industry. This includes companies like Pixilated, which operate photo booths, which are a trusted source of fun photo memories at public parties and weddings in Baltimore.
In addition to determining funding and payroll for the immediate tenure, CEO Nic China said he and co-founder Patrick Rife thought about the market and how the company could continue to deliver a product. Finally, China said, “As a company with limited reserves, cash only goes so far when you can’t sell.”
Events were still happening, but virtually. And after software had already been developed with which photo booths could be operated and sold digitally, a product was already on the roadmap with which the photo booth was to be put online. The events of spring pushed it up.
“It was a necessity, but it also forced us into a fulcrum that we were headed towards anyway,” said China.
PixiWeb offers the photo booth experience online with the ability to add the “skins” for a specific event and share photos via an online gallery.
The team worked with freelance developers to form an MVP. With the company PixiCloud Software that serves as the back end, the main task was to create the front end and add API endpoints that are specific to the product. After building the engine, they started testing it. Rely on the from Eric RiesThey tried to keep the Build-Measure-Learn-Feedback loop going even as the product started selling.
“Every time we go through a learning loop, I think the product gets a lot better,” said China.
One key: it’s a web app that can run it, whether it’s on the desktop or on the phone. The emphasis was on keeping things as simple as possible. That included considerations like starting a full screen in camera mode and a little bit of training on how to use it.
“We thought a lot about how it feels. When you’re on your phone, it should feel like a native app, ”China said. “When you’re at your computer, it should feel like a website.”
After releasing multiple versions, they reached three levels: a lower level that focused on smaller events like birthday parties, a middle level that could include a “hybrid” event with more people like a wedding where the photo booth was made up of everyone An album can be created for the phones on site and a pro version for brands who are looking for experience in marketing. With a nod to time, it is designed to be flexible about what is safe and allowed at the time.
“Just as we served all of these event marketing companies, now all of these companies are in virtual event marketing,” said China. “We have a product that fulfills the same requirements, and we see it even when live events come back as a nice hybrid.”
Right now, about four months later, it’s “a giant learning curve,” said the CEO. Ultimately, a good product is one that gets a lot of use. Along with a design, it’s about figuring out what made it a hit with the people who have used it a lot.
“The best you can do is have people use it and talk to them. They start to find common themes and they start to ask specific questions, ”he said. After all, it’s ultimately for the users, not the builders.
And when it comes to changing something? “Never let your ego get in the way of a decision.”