O.zen - Ubisoft
Turning an internal project into a start-up to facilitate new market exploration.
In October 2015, Ubisoft released O.zen, a connected wellness program based on a heart rate sensor and a playful experience to learn how to breathe and manage stress in daily life.
Souffl teamed with Ubisoft to manage the project during 18 months and turn invention into innovation.
June 2013, Ubisoft asked Souffl for help.
During 4 years, a team of great designers and developers from Ubisoft and Neotrope had been working with scientists to invent a program half way between a health monitoring application and a video game.
The novelty was such that Ubisoft was having difficulties to estimate the project potential based on traditional indicators. What type of product? What offer? What market? What type of users and what needs? What business model?
Souffl and Ubisoft agreed to take the project out of internal process and to operate as a start-up, in reactive mode, with a limited budget, to test the product and find answers.
From September 2013 to March 2014, first tests.
We chose to take the product “as is” to conduct the first experimentations as rapidly as possible. In the United States, the “Obama care” program had started a few months earlier.
We formulated the following business hypothesis: big American companies would be interested by a connected health application with a positive impact to reduce stress among their employees.
Testing the product in Silicon Valley would allow us to reach early adopters and to obtain precise comparative feedback.
A collaborator at Ubisoft San Francisco worked in our team and travelled around Silicon Valley. We gathered quality feedback from companies, the product concept was well received and the first analytics on game experience were encouraging. O.zen catched attention, users liked the program experience and benefits.
However, this experimentation led us to revise our starting hypothesis. It appeared that smartphones and tablets were more suitable than computers, and the business model turned out difficult to generalize. In addition, the FDA agreement often required was a long process.
From March 2014 to July 2014, first pivot.
With O.zen production team, we suggested to adapt the product, and Ubisoft top management agreed to invest in the development of a mobile/tablet version. We made another business model hypothesis: direct online selling and early adopters acquisition strategy, based on the model of many start-ups in the connected objects industry.
The Ubisoft team was back to work and adapted with great attention the full content for mobile devices. With them, we worked on the sensor and its shape. We implemented a sprint design, and for 2 days, we reviewed the usage, the spirit, and the shape. Two weeks were necessary to develop 5 prototypes that were later presented to more than 20 people. We took into account feedback from “desirability” testing, but the final decision also included other important factors such as development costs, reliability and delays.
In parallel we worked on the offer, consumer targets, and a full release plan.
July 2014, the meeting that confirmed O.zen’s potential
Thanks to Ubisoft editorial team support, we came into contact with several hardware manufacturers we wished to survey to see if O.zen could be embedded in future platforms.
The wearable technologies market was booming. The first connected bracelets created the buzz but were experiencing difficulty in maintaining recurring usage. Manufacturers, Google, Samsung, Apple were looking for applications and contents meeting real needs and having impact on people’s lives.
In July, several important appointments were made with worldwide manufacturers. A collaborator from Ubisoft editorial team was seconded for the occasion. With him, we prepared in 3 weeks all the presentation materials, website, keynote, and videos.
Meetings were a success and Ubisoft Top Management could assess the enthousiasm that O.zen generated.
From Septembrer to November 2014, the project was validated and returned to Ubisoft traditional process.
Wellness connected products emerged on Amazon as well as in many other retail stores, a sign that a full market segment was created. O.zen’s attractiveness and order potential remained to be tested among traditional retailers.
From September to November, we defined a new strategy on a more classic product model. With the Ubisoft Business team we met the main retailers to present the concept, the offer, and the outset of the marketing plan. From every meeting we obtained precise feedback allowing us to validate the marketing mix.
Ubisoft teams now possessed tangible elements and comparatives, and was able to estimate the product commercial potential.
In November 2014, the project was back to Ubisoft. O.zen was realeased in October 2015.
By creating the frugal conditions of a start-up, we explored the emerging connected health and wellness market, and after several experimentations, we achieved product-market fit.