Hedgehogs and eyepatches: on the importance of user feedback

Maria Teresa Stella
2 min readApr 23, 2017

Two months ago at Startup Lab we started developing an idea for a new product, Drive Buddy, which is aimed at preventing sleepiness behind the wheel. When we first started defining its features, we were enthusiastic about how the project was unfolding and about the positive feedback we were receiving early on.

When we validated the problem through a questionnaire, the results seemed pretty clear: more than 50% of our respondents experienced sleepiness while driving, and 80% were worried about significant others driving in such conditions. Moreover, around 40% of them said they had been previously worried about the alertness state of bus drivers!

However, when we then validated our solution, we soon realized how some aspects of drive buddy were not ideal:

  • The logo: at the very beginning of the project, we decided to go for a friendly figure which could be seen as an actually “buddy” for the potential user. We ended up with the image of a hedgehog with a badass eyepatch. But, when we explicitly asked the users what they though about it, we were met with mostly negative (but funny) responses:“No, come on. What’s with the eyepatch?” “I hope this drive buddy is vigilant despite his handicap” Not clear. Are you pirates? Vegans? Can’t think of anything else. This feedback has made us understand that we need to radically change not only the logo, but also the look of the interface, in order to give an idea of safety and trust.
  • The interface: while at first the idea of a new device to be put in any car seemed ideal, the impression we got from the users is that an app, for smartphone or CarPlay, might be the most suitable option. This way, it would be acutally easier to reach a wider customer base.

If they asked me what I learned this year, it would definitively be this: users’ feedback is almost never what you expect!