The last 9 months have been a whirlwind.
This blog post is me taking a moment to catch a breath and look back at where we started, and where we’ve ended up (stay until the end for a funny but real picture of Anna).
From surprise outdoor adventures to virtual team building experiences, it has been quite a ride with so many lessons learned along the way.
This is the story so far of RandomDots, Anna & I trying to survive without any investment (or clue where we would end up) during the pandemic.
Idea 1: “Surprise adventures in your home city (Singapore)”.
We were fed up with people moaning that Singapore is boring and to have fun, one must fly to an exotic location.
We figured by matching a surprise adventure to people’s personalities with a short quiz, it just may be possible to experience something unique, fun, and engaging in the ‘little red dot’.
First off, we ran around the city armed with questionnaires to add some data around our theory that our weekends were not being maximised.
Next, we pitched up at Camp Kilo to sell the concept (cold sweats are coming back) and managed to convince a few people to give us a try. Boom!
The next few months were incredibly fun, seeing the images of customers laughing and generally having a good time was seriously cool.
We set a goal to track our progress: conduct 100x surprise adventures by April 30th, then take a moment to assess if the concept was viable.
Outcome: Semi-successful, for a while – destroyed by covid.
Enter COVID and Phase One: Bummer.
No more outdoor surprise adventures, the goal of 100 adventures stopped in its tracks.
After spending a week contemplating what to do, we decided it would be the perfect time to take a break and analyse the results we’d had so far. Surely this would blow over in a month and we could get back at it…
But after a few days we were lost, without anything to actively focus on, time seemed to be passing us by.
Surrounded by negative news stories and hearing about the struggles for f&b vendors and practically every other small business we’d worked with.
It was time to act.
We threw together a quick selfie video to see if a surprise ‘home adventure’ would be interesting to anyone. So many of our vendors were in despair and it felt like there was something we could do to help.
What came to be known as #stayhome experiences was born!
Idea 2: #StayHome Experiences
Our vision was to use a new bar and restaurant for each experience, thus providing a platform for connection with customers despite not being able to visit the store for the time being.
Food + drinks + an activity, delivered in an ‘experience package’.
It turns out that building new vendor relationships, ideating and creating the evening activity, designing packages, making enough sales to cover the event costs, and arranging logistics is a lot of stuff to do.
From music sessions, to virtual live tours, to cook alongs – we tried out a bunch of things to offer an experience that was engaging and hands-on rather than passive. It goes without saying that some concepts worked better than others.
During this time we developed so many amazing relationships with our customers (that’s you, hello! 👋) and the wide range of vendors we collaborated with.
The patience that we were shown when things went wrong and the time taken to fill in our post-event surveys (they must have been bloody annoying) was so humbling for both of us. From cold food to Zoom failures, you name it, it happened.
During this period, Anna & I were working around 18 hours per day, it is not flattery to say that the feedback you gave kept us going (coffee should also get an honourable mention).
The 100 customer goal I mentioned earlier… was hit! Albeit not in the fashion we had initially planned.
Outcome: The most intense, yet fulfilling time of our lives.
Idea 3: A home experience for any day of the week
As Phase Two came into effect, it became clear that gathering enough people to enjoy a live experience at one specific time would be very difficult. Understandably, any kind of non-screen related activity was the priority for most people.
But, after a number of customer calls, an experience with more time flexibility was frequently popping up in conversation.
We got to work creating an experience that kept the core components of #StayHome Experiences, but with the flexibility to enjoy any day of the week.
A Munich chef and videographer got to work creating a beautifully polished, 4k, 35-minute cook along video with sleek b-roll of the surrounding natural beauty.
A cook along + alcohol + souvenirs + all ingredients and tools was created.
Our plan was to roll out a number of foreign locations based on the results of the first product.
In theory this sounded great and initial feedback was positive, but after an early buzz, the product fell flat.
In hindsight, an experience that is available at any time does not have sufficient urgency to make the purchase decision.
The product lives on over at GoLivMo, One Night in Bavaria.
Idea 4: Team Building Experiences for Corporate Teams!
Faced with the next crossroads but energised by the positive reaction from earlier #StayHome Experiences, we knew we were kinda close to an interesting virtual experience.
Out of the blue, a team leader caught wind of our #StayHome Experiences and asked if we could create something for their team members.
We created a live foreign travel experience for the team and they seemed to truly enjoy it.
After multiple iterations, we have arrived at a set of experiences that aim to connect teams in a dynamic, and human way.
Feeling like we were close to a working business model, we re-designed our branding and built a new website that enabled us to convey our concept in a clearer manner.
After experimenting with all kinds of marketing ideas, Google, Accenture, and the Ministry of Education found us and entrusted us to create team experiences for them.
It initially felt a little weird to us. We’d been consumer focused from the start and to now serve businesses took some time to adapt. Formal sales calls, invoicing terms, and the likes. In the past we’d come up with tongue-in-cheek messages and silly videos which no longer seemed appropriate.
After a while we began to realise that our values and approach did not have to change that much. Whatever we do, human connection has to be at the very core.
Outcome: To be decided.
Thinking About Life
My dad sent me an old film camera to practice with a few back as I’ve started to learn photography, I took this photograph of Anna a few days back and in a weird way, if signifies everything I have felt over the last 9 months.
The focus is wrong and the subject is exhausted, but somehow in a Wabi Sabi kind of way, it makes sense.
If you made it this far, thank you.
Once again, I want to express my sincere gratitude for the time and patience shown to us this year from all of our customers and partners.