Watch how Mingl, helps apartments EARN MORE. SPEND LESS.

Watch how Mingl, helps STUDENTS LEARN. PARENTS EARN.

Watch how Mingl, helps your business Spend Less. Grow More.

‘The Paradox of Choice’ is a term made famous by American psychologist Barry Schwartz in his book from 2004, with the same name.

In the book Barry makes an observation that Less is More, and that having many options to choose from, rather than making people happy and ensuring they get what they want, can cause them stress and problematize decision-making. As a consequence, decision-making processes can become stalled –  Analysis Paralysis.

We all Want Many options available, but just really Need One solution that is right for us. As an example, we all want to have the option of having different cuisines(italian, chinese etc) but within each cuisine, need only one restaurant that is right for us. OR we want the option of many pubs around where we live, but really Need, the one where all our friends hang out.

Mingl is designed to solve this problem for communities like apartment, condos, churches, schools etc.

Mingl gives communities the option of Many in each service category, while also partnering them with the One preferred merchant who can give back saving and personalized services to its members. With Mingl, a community can also support each other by spending with business owned by its members.

At the time of designing Mingl, as a solution for the problem we faced, we did not know the technical term for what what we were trying to solve. Now, thanks to Barry, we can articulate the problem Mingl solves in just 3 words – Paradox of Choice

 

We all have heard the saying A Stitch In Time Saves Nine

This is not only true in life but also in product development. The later in the life-cycle the more expensive it is to solve an issue.

In product development, this could range from the choices we make on technology to use, product feature we decide to include, or even something seemingly trivial items like what to call the field names in database.

The downside is that it may take a little longer to finish the product, but it pays-back significantly over the lifespan of the product.

Earlier last year, we made a tough decision to rewrite almost the entire code. It was throwing away several months of work, not to mention a large six figure in cost. What made it even difficult was not knowing if it was right decision. You realize, when you are at that cross-roads, there is BIG difference knowing something in theory and putting real money to act on it.

Luckily, it turned out to be the right call. We were able to achieve more with a leaner code base. It is now not only faster to scale, but maintenance has become easier as we can zero in on issues in minutes, instead of hours or days.

An added bonus has been the performance of the app. We were able to reduce the size by 80% to just 9MB and in a live demo, this was able to replace 5 apps, that totaled 350MB

At the time of posting this, we have not completely recovered all of the lost time, but based on the trajectory we are very close to getting there.

One of inspiring movies for an Entrepreneur or Intrapreneur to watch is Moneyball. It is about Oakland Athletics baseball team’s general manager Billy Beane.

As the story goes, Billy, who faced with the franchise’s limited budget for players, decides to build a team of undervalued talent by taking a sabermetric approach to scouting and analyzing players.

Early in the season, the Athletics are way behind, leading critics to dismiss his new method as a failure. Two months later, the team starts an amazing winning streak and ends the season with a record-breaking 20 consecutive wins.

I have always been fascinated by such counter-intuitive ideas or seemingly innocuous things that have a disproportionate impact on us.

So much so that this has shaped our design thinking philosophy at MINGL.

I will be posting these MONIBALL  philosophies mostly as our internal guide, but also to  document our journey and learning in case other product designers may find it useful.

I wanted to start with a remarkable experience that started it all – when a period[.] almost cost my job

Co-incidentally this also involves another famous Bill.

MONIBALL #1 – IT MATTERS[.]

In 2005, I was leading a development team in an Investor Services department of a large bank. Long story short, my team had written a bunch of programs that serviced Microsoft shareholders.

A major problem occurred, when a glitch on a corporate action caused all of Bill Gates shares to show up on someone else’s email and Bill got a random shareholder count to vote on.

Needless to say, *IT hit the fan pretty fast.

For some context, this was 2005 when Bill Gates was the CEO and largest shareholder of Microsoft.

The last thing you wanted to see was Bill Gates and furious in the same email – especially when he was totally justified to be!

The next few days were surreal. All I remember was the entire department working on this. From sifting through thousands of lines of code to checking if CNBC, WSJ had any breaking news on this – There was an implicit understanding that few heads would roll if this made it there, and as a lead I was on top of the list.

It was mixed emotions when we finally found what the problem was – one period[.] just happened to be on a wrong line.

The issue was that in programming language, Cobol, there were 2 ways to end the loop –  END-IF or period[.] and problem was the loop ended in a wrong place.

What made this experience truly remarkable and humbling was the disproportionate cause[.]  and effect[Bill Gates]

I think, in the end, every saw the irony of this and as far as I know no heads rolled because of this.

In conclusion, the lasting lesson I learned from this experience was, to never underestimate period.

At Mingl, as we design new product features, we are constantly asking what can we do to improve the experience of community living. To answer that, one of variables we analyzed was the co-relation between money and happiness.

According to researchers from Princeton University who surveyed around 500,000 households, there is a relationship between salary and happiness. They found that people who earn a good living are often happier than people who live in poverty. Having extra money certainly enhanced our lives by providing extra food, objects and creature comforts in our homes.

Ironically, the research also found that, earning additional income does not lead to extra happiness, once we have already attained a “comfortable standard” where we have what we need to function and be content. While the “comfortable standard” can vary based on location, in the US, the research found it to average around $75,000.

So, once we had this co-relation, our next question was What can mingl do about it?

The intuitive answer seemed to get everybody to earn $75,000 – realistically we could not do that.

So we looked at the problem statement differently…

Instead of asking how can we get members to earn $X to attain “comfortable standard”, we asked how can we get “comfortable standard” to our members irrespective of where they are with their earnings.

All our design thinking is based on a singular objective – redefine comfort from being a privilege attained at a price point to a right entitled without any price point.

More on it in our subsequent blog posts.