Emma Sleep Case Study: Validated a Subscription Revenue Model with a No-Code B2C App MVP

The Client

Emma Sleep is a mattress manufacturer company based in Germany since 2015. They operate all around Europe with offices in the US, Germany, Portugal, Mexico, and China.

They focus on improving what a mattress can do to improve people’s sleep by applying technology. With that goal in mind, their current portfolio has been evolving from manufacturing physical products like mattresses or furniture related to the sleep environment to more advanced and tech-influenced products like Smart mattresses connected to your phone. In 2021, after extensive research and testing, Emma Sleep decided to move to the next level: to build their app to improve people’s sleep in a more personalized way.

The Mission: Building an MVP to validate real user interest and assess the investment

Our mission lasted for 11 months, from September 2021 until August 2022.

In September 2021, Emma reached out to Product People to validate, guide the development, and launch a subscription MVP. As a part of its current strategy, Emma Sleep wanted to expand its footprint in the App environment to ensure a competitive advantage and give 360º sleep aid to its customers (mattresses, furniture, online support).

Emma's Vision

Our mission consisted of four big stages:

  • MVP Definition: where we worked on the feature setup, hypotheses to test, smoke tests, research, and flows & Journey
  • MVP Development: Coordinated the development of the MVP App using no-code tools, preparing the analytics architecture and Customer support people.
  • MVP User research and workshops: qualitative and quantitative research while the MVP was active. Workshops where we discussed how to improve the app on a second iteration
  • MVP Analysis and prepare 2nd iteration: Business case, retention analysis, and Lean inception workshops to prepare the second iteration.

Along the path, we supported Emma on other missions like upskilling the future Product Manager for the app.

MVP Definition

Starting by selecting what problems to solve

Emma Sleep collaborated with a few service providers to gather qualitative and quantitative data. Once we got onboarded on the project, we started by clarifying the user personas, we wanted to focus our attention on using the existing qualitative data. Their goals, pain points, and motivators define the feature set for the MVP.

One of the most challenging parts was to define what problems were out of scope. As part of Emma’s vision, they wanted to build an app that could support people’s sleep, but the hardest question was to define in what way.

To overcome that challenge and decide what problems we want to focus we:

  • Clustered and defined the problems with the help of the existing data and the Emma Sleep research department.
  • Sorted the problems by importance by running a smoke test via Facebook.
  • Clarified what problems couldn’t be solved by using an app with the help of the Sleep researchers.

Once we got the problems and the users narrowed down, we were ready to start with part two, Features for the MVP.

From Problems to Features on a Journey

Emma Sleep ran Design Sprints with a third party to get a possible prototype to test. This is understandable; it’s a popular/hyped method sold by many agencies. It’s often used as an entry point to upsell development services. Unfortunately, that prototype started with ideation space and big untested assumptions. Once we knew the exact problems we wanted to solve, we could filter the features proposed on that prototype and start with the hypotheses.

For the Hypotheses behind each feature, we did an exercise to cluster hypotheses and filtered what to test and what not. And for deciding what to include in the MVP, we used the Matrix User Importance Vs. Effort of implementation.

Hypothesis Board
Matrix: User Impact vs. Effort

Now that we’ve got the feature set we wanted to test to solve the defined problems, we mapped the User Journey, Trigger, Action, Reward, Investment (TARI), and content growth loops. Thanks to that, we could spot possible synergies and problems.

User Journey for the Future MVP

Business Model and Pricing

As a part of the exercise, we also aid the client in improving the Business Model planned for the app. Supporting them when necessary on details for the Smoke tests to decide the price or providing them with some papers and conversations with our internal experts to define aspects of the Business model.

No-Code MVP Development

To be no-code or not to be

Problems defined, and Features for those defined. Now we just needed to decide how to build the MVP. The goal was to build quickly and cheaply.

We considered some options in the table to test the assumptions. You don’t need a complex MVP to test value and user interest. But one of the team’s ambitions was to give a similar experience to what the user would have with a real app. We ****decided to use a User Experience Vs. Tech Effort and time/cost. No-code won.

We then appraised no-code tools, and the in-house Engineering Manager gave a lot of valuable input and feedback. We also consulted the who was supporting the client part-time.

Speeding up the development process

Features were clear; the challenge was to decide on the app design. We worked closely with the client’s external Product Designer, who worked part-time. We supported them by providing a study on 7 other vendors’ functionalities (Sleep Tracker, Pillow, Rise, Better Sleep, Sleepzy, Sleep Center, and Sleep Score). We also looked at best practices for B2C trackers and coaching apps. The Engineering Manager advised on the constraints of the No-Code tools. This helped speed up the decision and design process. And get super fast buy-in from stakeholders on design.

Sleep Tracker, Pillow, Rise, Better Sleep, Sleepzy, Sleep Center, and Sleep Score UX/UI Study

We’ve also created a Flow in Miro, so the Engineering Manager, external Product Designer, and stakeholders could better understand the interactions between the User and the app and have a map of what we’re planning to do.

Flow for the Future MVP

Metrics for the MVP

We decided on the metrics and used the AARRR (Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referral, Revenue) aka Pirate Metrics Framework, as it works well for this type of B2C product.

To gather quantitative data to validate the hypotheses behind the MVP, we decided to implement Mixpanel. We chose it over Amplitude as it’s easier to grasp for people less familiar with an analytics tool (our client stakeholders) and has a decent freemium model (which does tend to get expensive when you scale). It was great for this phase and this use case.

MVP user research and workshops

Once we launched the MVP, we decided to run weekly interviews with active users to understand their behavior better. We also interviewed churning users to understand their pains and motivations behind stopping. After this exercise, we started clustering problems to get inputs for a future second iteration.

Interview Debrief - Defining the Problem

Solving people’s sleep with an app requires long-term usage. Thus, we decided to run a workshop to implement gamification elements for the future app. With that, we aimed to increase future user engagement and stabilize it.

Motivators Board: Extrinsic and Intrinsic Motivation

Post- MVP: Analysis and 2nd Iteration

3 months later, we were ready for a Post-MVP analysis that could help us to understand better if the problem was defined and the solution designed where a success. For the debrief, we ran several sessions where we reviewed qualitative data and quantitative data.

Workshop to Analyze Quantitative Data provided by the App and Anecdotes from Interviews

Several sessions later, we achieved validation from upper management to continue with a second iteration of the app based on the numbers we achieved. In this next step, we could invest more resources in technology and team so that we could get the best V1 for our users.

One of the big challenges for this app was user retention. They would need to be very strict about using the app in the long run, to see improvements.

Thanks to the work we put in during the Problem Definition and Solution Definition space, we implemented elements that could drive future retention.

2nd Iteration

With the MVP validated, we needed to find a quick but effective way to set the cornerstones for the future app. For this, we decided to run an On-site Workshop where we would use Lean Inception to define the future: product vision, user problem, business goals, key metrics, personas, value proposition, etc.

While we were offboarding and handing over to an in-house Product Manager, we also:

  • Onboarded an internal Mobile App Development team, assigned to support this initiative. Aligned the ways of working between Product - Design - Developers.
  • Polished the documentation and previous findings so the team doesn’t repeat experiments or make the same mistakes.
  • Coached the in-house Product Manager and created a formal Discovery process by using Opportunity Solution Threes (OSTs), to use going forward.

Delivered Outcomes

Notable outcomes we've delivered in our 11 months:

💡 Launched a No-code MVP successfully.
💡 Got market and user validation through qualitative and quantitative data.
💡 Up-skilled their future PM with sharing sessions and mentoring.
💡 Launched GDPR-compliant user behavior tracking using a self-Defined a solid Discovery process for their future iterations.
💡 Guided and established a healthy delivery process for the Native app.

In the Client's Own Words

Space Crew of this Mission

Mirela Mus
Mirela Mus
Founder, Managing Partner
Viktoria Korzhova
Viktoria Korzhova
VP Product
Jorge Herna
Jorge Herna
Product Manager I

For Clients: When to Hire Us

You can hire us as an Interim/Freelance Product Manager or Product Owner

It takes, on average, three to nine months to find the right Product Manager to hire as a full-time employee. In the meantime, someone needs to fill in the void: drive cross-functional initiatives, decide what is worth building, and help the development team deliver the best outcomes.
If you're looking for a great Product Manager / Product Owner to join your team ASAP, Product People is a good plug-and-play solution to bridge the gap.