Product People Crafted a Roadmap and Go-To-Market Strategy to Transform an Internal Tool into a SaaS Product for Icon Incar

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The Client: Icon Incar

Icon Incar is a design consultancy specializing in automotive user experience, connectivity concepts, mobility ecosystems, and research and development. It is part of the Iconmobile group and is active at locations worldwide: Berlin, Munich, Ingolstadt, Santa Monica, Detroit, and Shanghai. Their clientele includes traditional OEMs, EV startups, and mobility ecosystem services. Icon Incar’s mission is to create intuitive, engaging, and aesthetically pleasing digital interfaces that enhance the driving experience, making it safer, more comfortable, and more delightful.

Isotope was born out of Icon Incar’s own needs. As the company handled various client projects, the key challenge was to effectively combine 2D and 3D assets from tools like Figma, Unity, and UnrealEngine into a single, interactive prototype. This approach to rapid prototyping enabled their clients to see and interact with early versions of the product, provide quick feedback, and ensure the end product was high quality without unnecessary rework. Over time Isotope evolved into an ‘operating system’ and became an integral part of Icon Incar’s workflow.

The Mission: Transform Isotope into a SaaS Product

Icon Incar, a design agency, only had experience in service-based offerings. The team at Icon Incar felt that the internal tool they had developed had the potential to open up additional revenue streams. However, they lacked experience with launching and commercializing digital products.

The Icon Incar team that Product People engaged with consisted of:

  • Chief Executive Officer
  • Chief Product Officer
  • Chief Experience Officer
  • 1 Senior Realtime Expert
  • 1 Lead Engineer

The product itself had been built and evolved on an ad-hoc basis as they would uncover needs from project to project. This resulted in a product that was highly tailored to Icon Incar but would need functional and infrastructural changes for it to be transformed into a SaaS product.

This is why Icon Incar engaged with Product People to leverage our expertise. Icon Incar essentially required a business plan — product positioning, product roadmap, pricing strategy, and development cost projections — to answer the question: should they invest in the product or not?

Launch: Onboarded Very Fast

Before we could propose a roadmap and a go-to-market strategy, it was essential for us to have a comprehensive understanding of the as-is product and what was the shared vision for the product. To that end, we took the following actions in the first couple of weeks:

  1. Formulated a mission plan
  2. Conducted stakeholder interviews
  3. Mapped the user flows for the as-is product
  4. Conducted a comprehensive competition and comparative analysis

Formulating a Mission Plan

Our approach was to work backward from the deliverables. This helped us identify milestones and dependencies and informed our next steps.

Mission plan: purple sticky notes were the deliverables, and yellow sticky notes were the steps we needed to take.

Conducting Stakeholder Interviews

We had in-depth 1:1 interviews with all the involved stakeholders. The goal of these interviews was:

  1. Understanding the stakeholder’s role in relevance to the company and the product
  2. Understanding their working knowledge of the as-is product, their perception of where the product wins, and where the product faces challenges
  3. Understanding their expectations from Product People, and what would help them move forward

Mapping User Flow

Isotope is a highly technical product targeted at developers and designers. Since the product was on-site and coupled with Icon Incar’s infrastructure, we had to rely on reading a lot of technical documentation and going through hours of how-to videos created by their engineer.

We also had interviews with their lead engineer to understand the nuances and eliminate any gaps in knowledge.

User flow for the as-is Isotope product.

Competitive and Comparative Analysis

Our goal for the analysis was two-fold:

  1. Looking at direct competition in the automotive design space to understand Isotope’s positioning amongst them, potential gaps and opportunities, and the pricing strategy used by these competitors.
  2. Looking at comparatives i.e. products that are technical and serve a highly specialized niche in the b2b SaaS space. We leveraged product people’s previous experiences to find inspiration for going to market.
Feature-parity matrix.

Explore and Conquer: Solved for the Client

Once we had the lay of the land, our next steps were:

  1. Identify opportunities
  2. Prioritize opportunities
  3. Create a roadmap
  4. Propose people mix and forecast costing
  5. Propose a pricing strategy
  6. Conducted an in-person workshop to present insights and plan the next steps

Identifying Opportunities

From the user mapping exercise, and competitive analysis we now moved to identifying opportunities. We framed these opportunities as How Might We (HMW).

For example, HMW monetizes storage.

Example of identifying opportunities at a user-flow level.

We then grouped the opportunities into themes and created an opportunity backlog.

This backlog was presented to and aligned with the stakeholders. The stakeholders provided their opinions and priorities based on their subject-matter expertise.

Prioritizing Opportunities

The next step was to prioritize the opportunities. We opted to use the ICE prioritization model (Impact-Confidence-Effort).

Since Isotope was purely an internal tool and there was yet to be actual market validation, our guiding principle was to prioritize low-cost and higher-impact opportunities crucial that would help in validating key hypotheses, and allow us to learn and adapt without too much upfront investment.

This is how we defined ICE:

  • Impact: The initiative’s potential to progress toward PMF (Product Market Fit)
  • Confidence: Likelihood of accurate estimations
  • Effort: Relative T-shirt sizing cost
Prioritizing the opportunity backlog using ICE.

We focused on the top 3 opportunities to ensure focus and alignment.

Creating the Roadmap

The prioritized opportunities informed our roadmap.

We opted for a hypotheses-led now-next-later roadmap. Instead of peppering the roadmap with features, our focus was on identifying the key hypotheses that would need to be validated to move us to the next stage.

In a similar spirit, rather than coming up with exact timelines, we opted for three broad:

  1. Now: in 3 months where the focus would be to validate the core value proposition while non-essential capabilities remained manual or unchanged.
  2. Next: 6 months where the focus would be on delightful experiences, minimizing the learning curve, and simulating a SaaS experience in a localized setting.
  3. Later: 9 months onwards where the focus would shift to truly transform the product into a product-led SaaS that can generate a sustainable revenue stream.

We further sliced the roadmap into four workstreams:

  1. Validation: what are the key hypotheses to be validated?
  2. User interface: what are the capabilities the end-users would interact with?
  3. Backend/infrastructure: what are the capabilities required to support the whole product?
  4. Manual: what are the tasks that would continue to remain manual?
Now-Next-Later roadmap sliced by workstreams.

Proposing a People Mix and Forecasting Costs

Having formulated the roadmap, we now had the basis for identifying the people mix required to deliver on such a roadmap. We engaged with development agencies in our network to understand what roles would be needed, what seniority would be needed, for how long would they be needed, and the approximate billing for those roles.

People and cost projections

As a result, the client could see the forecasted costs split across the phases.

Proposing a Pricing Strategy

Rather than using a cost-plus pricing model, we opted for a value-based pricing model. The inputs for the pricing model were:

  1. Competitive and comparative analysis
  2. Current pricing structure Icon Incar followed as an agency

We recommended a simple yet effective pricing strategy:

  1. Basic subscription fee
  2. A one-time onboarding fee
  3. Customization fees: we provided recommendations on how Icon Incar could balance between one-time customization fees or switching to Time and Material based on the complexity of customization requests.

Conducting the Workshop

The last milestone of our engagement with Icon Incar was conducting an in-person workshop. The purpose of the workshop was to:

  1. Present an executive summary of the agreed-upon deliverables
  2. Have an engaging Q&A session to address questions and collect feedback
  3. Conduct a retrospective to understand what are the current challenges and next steps

The retrospective, aptly named ‘Speed Car Retrospective’, was a highly engaging activity where all stakeholders identified parachutes (things holding us back) and engines (things pushing us forward).

Speed car retrospective during the in-person workshop.

Ultimately, the Icon Incar team left with a plan on what they needed to do next to transform Isotope into a SaaS product.

Mission Achievements: Delivered Outcomes

💡 Delivered 4 key deliverables: product roadmap, people mix and development cost forecasts, pricing strategy, and keynote presentation (in-person workshop).
💡 Delivered 3 additional deliverables: user flows, opportunity backlog with prioritization, and retrospective.
💡 Enabled informed investment decisions for Icon Incar through a detailed product roadmap, workforce and cost projections, and a strategic pricing framework.
💡 Laid the groundwork for enhancing user experience by delivering foundational user flows for analysis and improvement, along with a methodology for mapping out future product iterations.
💡 Provided a framework for strategic decision-making through the opportunity backlog and ICE prioritization methodology.

In the Client's Own Words

Space Crew of this Mission

Associate Management Consultant
Product Management Consultant
VP/Director/Head of Product

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