U+, a venture building studio founded in 2009, was approached by Bridgestone Corporation, the auto and truck parts manufacturer, in early January of 2020. 

At the time, Bridgestone faced issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which it hoped U+ would help it solve. 

The COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns radically reduced mobility and normalized at-home services across numerous industries. In an effort to adapt to these changing customer expectations, Bridgestone wanted to launch a US-based platform that delivered contact-free automotive maintenance services to customers’ doorsteps. The aim of the resulting business, Firestone Direct, was to deliver a fully-equipped mechanic van to customers’ driveways (or workplaces) that could be easily booked online.

Bridgestone wanted to launch a US-based platform that delivered contact-free automotive maintenance services to customers’ doorsteps.

The project was in its early stages when Bridgestone approached U+. The company still needed to gain a better understanding of how existing customers would respond to the service, where new markets could be found, and how to make the end-to-end process as seamless and efficient as possible.

seansheppard

Sean Sheppard, Managing Partner at U+

Working Together

The U+ method consists of four distinct steps. First, we help the client determine their value proposition by validating product ideas and ensuring there is a receptive market for them. Next, we rigorously define the product so nothing about its features or potential impact is left to the imagination. Then, we launch a minimum viable product with initial adopters in order to test and understand early customer behavior. Finally, based on market feedback, we support further iterations and adjustments.

With these steps in mind, U+ kicked off the project by performing market tests in three existing locations and in three new locations to determine product-market fit. We conducted 16 customer interview sacross four states (Georgia, Florida, Minnesota, and Washington), and launched a series of performance marketing campaigns.

Ultimately, we confirmed there was a high level of customer interest in building Firestone Direct in one existing market and in two new markets — identifying the cities of Atlanta and Tampa as the most promising markets in the US. We determined that customers were particularly attracted to the convenience, safety, and time-saving features of having a trained and trusted mechanic deliver services directly to their home or place of business.

We designed and developed two microsites for the purpose of A/B testing. 

On the commercialization side, we designed and developed two microsites for the purpose of A/B testing. In addition, we conducted a comprehensive UX audit of Firestone Direct’s existing website and provided recommendations for landing page improvements.

Outcomes

The eight-week project wrapped up on March 4, 2020. Having helped Bridgestone to validate new and existing markets, we provided further recommendations to continue performance marketing by optimizing their conversion funnel.

Firestone Direct has become an exceptionally popular service with Bridgestone customers, who appreciate the convenience of on-demand, at-home car maintenance, even as the pandemic recedes.

 

U+ is an InnoLead strategic partner, and one of the supporters of our initiative exploring Venture Studios & Venture Builders.