Erika Lygren FS

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Fall 2015, Class Site
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To find more current expansions of the time to kill website, visit Erika/John FS

Time To Kill

This website offers a service catered to a need of people ages 13-21. That need is the basic human desire to have fun, to not be bored, and to connect with others. My Coworker John Lewtas and I have both been immersed in the online world and we have noticed some trends, either in ourselves or with our friends: 1. That social media sites are great, but don't always fulfill the need for real face-to-face connection. 2. That people, in service of trying to live a more active and worthwhile lives are trying quitting their social media accounts to search for more real experiences.
Our website enters the market at this gap, as a potential solution to these trends. or (we haven't decided) is an interface that offers creative, easy-to-do ideas for fun activities for people to partake in when they are bored or would otherwise keep checking social media. It caters these ideas to the weather, and to the specific interests and preferences of the user. It uses location to promote site-specific hang out spots and activities. Our website will come up with easily-doable fun activities for the user that has only 10 minutes to kill to the user that has a whole day of time to kill. Revenue would come from advertisements of local businesses that would promote themselves as hang-out spot or fun-sites. One feature we are considering is allowing users to submit their own ideas, to be considered by our team - which may be helpful.
A few key questions we still have are: Is this a website that can link up with facebook? Revenue - are we going to have adds on the side? or no adds? or let companies promote at the top of search results?

Strategy SWOT

Turning Weaknesses into Strengths

  • Start with a small scale – encompassing just the bennington college student community and demographic, scale up from there; much like facebook
  • We would allow users to submit ideas, as well as rate current ideas to help us with our work; Make friends with a web-developer
  • Group-funding approach? (Indegogo, GoFundMe) Which gets people interested in the idea from the outset, and allows us to see if our idea is just completely not worth pursuing in other peoples’ eyes early on
  • Find a way to link our site to google searches “I’m bored”. Try to score a Upworthy article.
  • We’d have to get local research using local moderators from any area

Turning Threats into Opportunities

  • We could turn this into a strength by specifically telling facebook users how our site could be beneficial to them to break the online cycle? Partner up with internet time-limiting apps
  • On our website, we have visible all the benefits of not spending as much time online. As a catalyst to use our software
  • Let users be able to share on facebook what they did from our site – to catalyze some new users – make it a social thing
  • We distinguish ourselves from in that it is focused more on younger demographics, many of which and like-websites just link the user to new websites, we link users to new ideas. Attach ourselves to the google searches
  • Try to stay under the radar for as long as possible, or else try to show how our site would be a great partner with facebook? As a way to retain some of their quitting population? Hm.
  • Come up with ideas of things for them to do that they then can post online? That involve going out somewhere and hopefully still having fun, but still integrating into the online world to provide social incentive?

SWOT Analysis


  • We can scale up from here
  • Revenue-The ability for companies to promote themselves, not necessarily in the traditional advertisement structure
  • We're passionate about the topic
  • Linking with facebook would be beneficial to help get multiple people on our platform quickly, linked to their already existing friends
  • We are our own target market - we've had much experience delving perhaps too much into an internet-filled lifestyle
  • Our team is flexible, creative, and willing to turn critique into smart solutions


  • scale
  • Our team is limited at the moment
  • Big initial investment needed
  • Integration into the everyday lives of people
  • Our location-specific features are weak
  • We are busy people and cannot focus wholeheartedly on the project at the moment


  • The internet is a great platform to promote things
  • Many people are quitting facebook for periods of time and permanently, and many sites have listicles saying "why you should quit facebook"
  • Maybe facebook would want to partner? maybe?
  • There's competition in websites titled "I'm bored", which means we are entering a new gap trying to be filled - and we are distinct compared to them (differentiation)


  • Being online can be addicting / social media sites
  • The difficulty in making new habits within people, or breaking habits
  • Lethargy in younger generations
  • Competition -, I'm
  • Facebook may not like what we're trying to do

Target customer demographic research quote 1: "I love Facebook but I also hate Facebook, for being such a time suck, for making me feel bad about myself when other people’s lives seem so much more exciting than mine, and for leading me to spend more time interacting with a screen than with the real world. And when I log off Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are there clamoring for my attention, a never-ending scroll of links and tweets and photos and conversations that feels impossible to keep up with. A few weeks ago, I’d had it. It seemed like social media was bringing me more guilt and frustration than happiness."

Target customer demographic research quote 2: Yahoo Ask: "I'm bored. I don't know what to do!? My parents are very strict and they don't let me out often. All my siblings are gone. I'm home alone with my parents. It's sunday. There's nothing to do. I'm tired of being online. I don't really know what to do. So what do I do for fun?" <------ The fact that someone would Yahoo Ask what to do before coming up with a creative idea themselves is a telling trend among millennials. This is the target market we are tapping into. We hope to help these people find fun things to do that fill their days with more than just online social media scrolling.

Website/database structure

TTKSystem.jpg A quick sketch of how the site works. Users follow the double line, data flows through the single.

Previous Company Ideas

Idea 1: A health app much like the steps goal app on iphones that has an ideal healthy amount of outside time per day; uses GPS and satellite data to discern how much nature time a person is getting; fuels people to be outside more on a daily basis.

initial rough sketch

IDEA 2: A common thread that I hear from young people is the phrase “I’m bored” and “there’s nothing to do here”. This website helps those people by having an extensive idea-generating database that comes up with creative ideas of things for you to do – you can choose how you'd like to spend your time - outside, inside with friends, alone, with food, what kind of transportation you have available, etc. and it will produce a set of potential plans you could commit to.
Not only does it come up with these ideas for you, it is a fully-integrated plan-making website and is a social network; it’ll have your friends on it so you can make quick and easy plans with them, and it will schedule everything down on a calendar for you. It gets revenue from advertisements from local businesses that would advertise themselves as potential hang out spots. However, it will not allow posting photos or other such kinds of social networking features. In this way, people who want an alternative to their facebook lifestyle can actively use this website and improve their life with worthwhile things to do while not abusing the site. In this way, this website reduces the chances of people being online as frequently as they are now, because they will be encouraged to be out more, doing wholesome, meaningful, and fun activities.

  • It gets revenue by allowing add space for local businesses that advertise themselves as a potential "hang out spots"

Potential competition -
Challenge - Integrating this website into the lives of facebook users as an holistic alternative, or supplement.
Idea 3: Product: specially designed and cultivated trees that are ideal for climbing – complete with the low step branches, spiraling upwards in a beautiful, sturdy design. Planted in as many places as possible, and especially cities. There is a sign in front of the tree saying that this is a climbing tree made for people, and that you are encouraged to climb to your hearts content and meet some of the other humans in this special hang out tree.

Idea 4: Trade Screens For Trees™. This is an app both on computer and on phones that is for people who have a goal of reducing their addiction to the internet. It tracks their usage for an initial two weeks, then encourages user to take steps to reduce usage, adding hints and ideas how to do so. After the two-week control period, the more time that users spend off their computers or cellphones, the more points they get to plant trees. Once they get enough points to plant a tree, they can choose which designated sites in the world that they want the trees planted. A half-hour of internet time reduced equals 5 points. 10 points is the amount needed to plant a bundle of trees. One bundle = 5 trees. Thus, were an internet-addict to reduce internet usage by 2 hours on one day, they would be able to plant 20 trees in an area of their choosing. What an impact! Save yourself, save the planet, at the same time.


Week 1

Messy Minds Ideas for Startups

  • I thought these readings were really insightful and splendid. First, the Messy Minds of Creative people showed some very interesting psychological research on creative people and their three "super-factors". One thing that this reading left me wanting was to know more about the studies done on people to find out any sense of "super-factors" of creative people. I am not one to take an article predicated on science lightly. Insight into the scientific process that created the results mentioned in the article would have been helpful for me, and I'm sure for others as well - not just to help us understand the specific studies mentioned, but to understand that science is grasping at the truth, and that what may seem to be known now may end up being completely false later. I feel like that is a very important lesson that should be included when communicating science's current understanding of any topic. Regardless, the three super-factors mentioned in this reading did appear to be fitting. I think I may have lost some of my divergence over time and am becoming extremely adept at convergence, but as the article said, none of these qualities in abundance on its own lends well to the whole creative process. It's the interplay between them that counts.
  • Second, the startup ideas article was wonderful. I found it not only thorough and fascinating, but spot-on. What it mentioned about recognizing and understanding a problem first as a springboard for ideas reminded me of the process that Alison Dennis has her students go through in her Business Incubator class. Based on personal experience, it works really well. A team of collaborator friends seems essential, now, after reading that article. I realize I will need to find some, soon. I also will need to devote a lot more time to mental doodling in the near future. Making time to not be having to do anything, to be contemplative, reflective, and imaginative seems ever harder in the modern day, and as I am becoming an adult.

Week 2

Design Thinking

  • This reading was rather fun, and perhaps my favorite so far; the examples from Aravind to the coasting bike were really effective at communicating design thinking. The Benjamin Franklin example sounded a little cheesy to me, but it did get across the idea that design principles require hard, long work, and a lot of user feedback. I really loved the emphasis Tim Brown put on taking a human-centered approach. I see more now than ever that that is essential to the process. When reading the Design Thinker's Personality Profile, I was struck by how many qualities I posses, and in full. I have a huge capacity for empathy, integrative thinking, and optimism. One thing I think that has been decreasing in me over the years may be my experimentalism. Perhaps I will have to work that part of my brain a little bit more to get it active again. Something I wonder is if examples like these, about the qualities of creative people and design thinkers, make it easier for people to aspire, or if they are kind-of off-putting and makes things seem much more unachievable. Finally, I felt extremely inspired with the quote included in one of the last paragraphs that says, "Abundance has satisfied-even over-satisfied, the material needs of millions -- boosting the significance of beauty and emotion and accelerating individuals' search for meaning". That quote and the call to action Tim adds right after pretty much sold me on the idea that we need to be using design thinking to solve the world's most pressing problems, through complex combinations of products, services, spaces, etc.
  • Intervention is key. How to integrate something into the status quo. Yes. That will be the struggle in our Future studio class. There were so many elements in that Peru example; I wonder how Rodríguez-Pastor could wrap his head around all of the facets that became his middle-class project -- and how he and his team came up with their unconventional ideas! I imagine a lot of it was done with fantastic research and constantly checking in with stakeholders, but still! Brilliant work, brilliant team.

Week 3

What Is Strategy 5 Competitive Forces..

  • These readings were interesting, though didn't captivate me as wholly as some of the previous readings. However, I feel like I learned a lot about how the business world works, and why in some cases, companies can't seem to do it right. I now see the difference between operational effectiveness and true strategy. What I didn't have as much knowledge about was the fact that everybody is trying to copy each-other. I'm glad that some companies have chosen a different path - a unique and inter-connected path full of trade-offs, and different, reinforcing activities. Perhaps the most valuable thing I learned from this article was about trade-offs and the fact that trying to do everything, in fact, can be actually extremely detrimental and undermine the value of what a company was before. I thought the growth section was very pertinent to this class, as we venture into the interesting territory of for-profit, but not for ultimate growth businesses. The reading seemed to reflect our thoughts that growth as an incentive alone is often not as fruitful as working with a unique strategic plan in mind.
  • I perhaps read the intro brief of this reading a little too closely, which made some of the rest of the article a little repetitive with expanded examples. Either way, I can see how this kind of article would be essential to a business looking to enter a market strategically, or for an already existing company looking to asses their strengths & weaknesses through this framework. I was reminded of the strategic assessment of potential changes in industry structure done by oil companies early on, and how effective that was. One thing this paper left me wondering was how often a business should use the five forces framework. How often is too much? And how infrequent is not strategic? Also, It was interesting learning about Sysco, which provides our food on campus.

Week 4

Strengths & Weaknesses Threats & Opportunities

  • These readings were especially helpful and I like that they were written to be such. I found it interesting to see the target audience of these kinds of publications in sentences like "Ask the CFO to provide a full report that includes the following..." That especially made me excited to use these tools in a liberal arts education setting, for socially responsible aims. The section on flexibility and how already existing companies have trouble being flexible made me realize how freeing it would be to enter the market as a new company, and how strategically positioned we students could be to make something viable, especially if we work in a collaborative non-hierarchical team. I now see how hard it is to make a SWOT analysis without exactly knowing what your company idea is so I see that I need to solidify that first. Identifying your market seems key. I will do my best to be as specific as possible about that. These readings really helped me see that strategy involves a constant assessment of a company's external environments and its internal capabilities. This answered my question from last week of how often is too often to check the external market and assess it compared to your company's internal strengths. I see now that a best practice is to always have an employee scanning the market, looking for potential new customers, as well as threats. I loved the part that emphasized actually really knowing a competitor's strengths and weaknesses as well, as it paired nicely with last week's readings that delved into the mistake of companies trying to copy without realizing the intense interconnected different activities that other companies with good fit perform. One thing I wish was included in these readings was the idea of turning a weakness into a strength or turning an external threat into an opportunity. I think that is especially what turns a SWOT into a strategy SWOT and was a little sad to see it not mentioned in the helpful detail that the rest of the content was replete with.

Week 5

Experience Prototyping Design of Everyday Things

  • Experience Prototyping seems great. So intuitive, in fact, that I wonder why we haven't come up with this as a formal thing until recently. Roleplaying and bodystorming sound interesting, but for some reason I think I tend more towards valuing other peoples' experiences more than my own when it comes to learning about how something feels to go through. I think I'm more interested in other peoples' experiences of a prototype rather than my own or my team's - just because I feel you can get easily stuck in your product. Similar to how video editors need an additional editor to come in and cut out all the fluff that the previous editor had attached to, I think that the value of experience prototyping that I gleaned from this article is using another's experience to help look at something with fresh eyes, in a real way that cuts the narratives you or your team may have been saying over an over. I see though how personally experiencing a prototype could be humbling for some people, or for a team that has been only talking about their product on a theoretical level, or for a team that lacks empathy. One thing this reading left me wondering is - when are we going to be asked to do some experience prototyping in this class? Can't wait to get started.
  • I loved this reading, much like some other readings in this class. - The consideration of a human experience, full of our unique flaws, errors, and quirks is of course essential to product design if we want a user to be happy with it. I loved learning the terms affordance, signifiers, feedback, and conceptual model. I now am beginning to walk through the world looking for signifiers - It's quite fun! When reading this, I was distinctly reminded of this "Smart tv" clicker that we have at home and how completely frustrating it is compared to previous "less smart" clickers. I see now that in trying to add a bunch of cool new technological functions, the clicker's design fell apart. It did not engage proper signifiers, it did not show proper feedback for certain time-taking functions, and its mapping was not very good. I also, sadly, think I have one of those clothes washers that attempted to reduce cost by using cheap high-pitched beeping sounds. It now beeps at us in the middle of a cycle, at the end of a cycle, and we have absolutely no idea why because it does not give specificity to what the beep means in an intuitive way. This reading will be especially fun to take with us as we start to design the flow & signifiers of our website.

Week 6

Business Model Canvas IDEO Designkit

  • I absolutely love the Business Model Canvas. It is a tool I've used before and I'll continue to use it again and again! Not only is the book laid out so simply, so beautifully, and so effectively, but this tool itself is just incredibly helpful. I find it fun that we are using the same tools that actual giant and successful, perhaps even greedy businesses use and are using it for potentially B-corp-like ideas. One thing that I wanted to be able to expand upon more than we did was value propositions - I love the categories that the book used, but I imagine a company might be able to go more specific on what actual values their customer will be gleaning from their product, more in-depth than just newness, customization, or brand. I feel like going into more detail on that value question would be very fruitful for a business to do, especially early on. Something that I missed in the excerpt is that description of free as a business model, which is on page 88, I think, in the book. I think that might have been helpful for anybody trying to do a website or app-like thing in class.
  • The IDEO design kit looks extremely useful as well. I want to look much more into all of its little squares of tools, but the ones I've browsed through so far seem great. I really got excited when the kit suggested that "In a good session, up to 100 ideas are generated in 60 minutes. Crank the ideas out quickly and build on the best ones". That felt really inspiring to see that, and now I want to try it with a project at some point. Speaking of design, jeez, IDEO does it darn well. Now I see that our team mostly needs to get feedback from other people at this point - and to run a lot of experience prototyping

Week 7

Business Model Generation

  • As with the other Business Model Generation readings, I loved this reading. From the free model to freemium, to the long tail, to multi-sided platforms, open business models, this book has got it all! And explains it all in such quickly-digestible language. It's great. I see now that our Time To Kill business might strengthen from being an open business model, benefiting from information and research that other partners outside of our company have come up with. John and I think this would be a key strategy, especially considering that there are a lot of already existing activity-idea listicles out there that we could learn from, and that we could make good use of internal and external ideas simultaneously. One thing I wish I understood more was the unbundiling business models section. I'd want to see more why unbundling is a good thing, and how unbundling is different from just outsourcing. Perhaps they are one in the same! This is what I'd like to know.

Week 8

Business Model Generation

  • This was rather helpful for writing up business narratives. I can see why you assigned it. Other than that, I don't really have much else to say about this reading. It was good, it was helpful, and it was succinct! I'm intrigued by the more resources section and all of the suggested books and things. Notice how IDEO was mentioned in that section.
  • The bullet-point Narrative Description was also helpful, but a little bit confusing at times. John and I had to look up a few things like market share and such. Also this seems like a condensed version of what a lot of good businesses tease through, so I'm wondering if there's an even more detailed and elaborate guide for the "if your business is not going well, how will you turn it around and improve the situation?" section, for example. I feel like we could benefit from going through different scenarios of how our business is not doing well and then make predictions of what we would do for each scenario. I think that that would be perhaps even more insightful than the somewhat vague question asked of us in this tool.

Rhino things

rhino file - first lazercut thing