As we went further into the research for our startup business–POP SPACE, we inevitably found some similar ideas and realized that we are stepping into an competitive market.

At very first we were interested in three ideas, non-permanence, quantified-self and self-reflection. Later we agreed on the first idea and decided to design a startup with it. After many disappointing “oh, this has already been done,” we chose to develop a platform. The platform will help leaseholders from financial pressure by subletting commercial space with people who want to test their products or hold a meeting etc. As we surprisingly confirmed the availability of our expected name, POPSPACE, we sadly found Storefront shortly after. Storefront is an existing website not only shares our idea but also thrives in San Francisco. Which means we are in trouble. Mayday, mayday!

Here is a map about our ideation process.
And another illustration about our idea.

We won’t simply give up especially when we were told that there are three companies sharing the house renting business with airbnb. So we started to learn our imagined and real competitor and try to figure out what Storefront lacks and what can be our unique features. One of our key features is the Profile function for both subletters and lessees to read the record of each others’ behavior, like how much visitors have been there; what this place usually sells; what kind of products/arts this lessees normally sells etc.

One of my worries is that we are adding a lot of functions to our product, which can possibly make POPSPACE an over-designed and clumsy platform. We have also checked the entire process of our competitor, in both perspectives as subletter and lessee, and we figured out that Storefront is actually doing a “not bad” job. Maybe their design can be criticized somehow, but users won’t care about it that much as we designers do.

With our Profile function, we may have the data like visitors flow and products’ popularity. We want to streamline the process of searching space or finding lessees by our algorithm based on those data. Even we can sell these data to commercial space agency to help realizing our target of free platform.

Nevertheless, Storefront just started in less than one year and it is only available in New York and San Francisco. I don’t necessarily think we will be far behind. Furthermore, its existence proves that subletting platform is a possible business, which is really helpful because vendor capitalists will fund us for their hedging strategies. Therefore I firmly believe that we will survive and live well in this market.


Comments (2)


Good post, Xiao. Your concerns are well-founded so I hope you are expressing them to your group. They can be addressed through a little customer research, but it’s important to speak up and make sure others understand your concerns.

6 years ago

    Thanks! Team communication is for sure. We will move ahead on more interviews and secondary research.

    6 years ago

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