© 2019 by Christian Leong

Passionfruit Design Document

1.1 What is the Purpose of Passionfruit?

Passionfruit is a hybrid, people pairing platform that strives to connect local individuals with similar passions to one another. To pair unique individuals, Passionfruit will incorporate aspects from other social networks as well as existing pairing platforms. Passionfruit strives to replicate the natural process of making a connection in person, which oftentimes begins when two individuals converse about a shared interest. By replicating this natural process in a stress-free, no-strings-attached environment, many benefits can be obtained for both parties involved, such as finding out about local events related to the passion, finding a group involved in the passion, or even talking about the latest trends related to the passion.

1.2 What is Passionfruit’s Core Interaction?

In its earliest iterations, Passionfruit’s core interaction will be centered around the idea of the traditional conversation. This will be done after two user match on a similar passion and then will be carried out through either an instant messenger chat box, or through a live video call (which will be much more highly encouraged). However, as Passionfruit grows in scale, local events will become a much larger aspect of the core interaction. By leveraging modern technologies such as machine learning, events related to the user’s handpicked interests will be suggested, granting the user access to an increasing number of specific communities that physically exist within the user’s proximity.

1.3 What does the User Experience Look Like?

Initially, the user experience will be quite different than that of the future dream of the platform. Similarly, to how Uber started off as a ride sharing platform that is now expanding into delivering food, Passionfruit will focus on its core interaction in its earlier stages. Generally, the user experience will be as follows,

  1. Download the application or sign up online

  2. Create a profile by indicating your passions, as well as other important details such as gender, age, and location

  3. Select an emoji and upload photos to represent your profile

  4. Peruse specially curated “networks” and match with others in your networks

  5. The contacted user has 24 hours to respond to a connect

  6. Connect through a video call or chat dialogue

1.4 Concept Art for Passionfruit

2.1 Why Passionfruit is Significant?

Today, technology is changing a multitude of aspects that were once considered to be foundational of everyday life. Technology has changed the way we interact, the way we shop, and even now, the way we date. As the world has become increasingly sped up and globalized by the forces of technology, one of the main difficulties of the ever-busy individual, is finding a community with which he or she can immerse themselves into. Passionfruit looks to solve this issue by doing the leg work of finding contacts that would be a good fit for the individual’s community by matching him or her with number of people of the same interest.

Whether one is a fan of the increasing role of technology in day to day life, the trend is that its role will only increase. Despite technological platforms such as Amazon and Ebay having replaced shopping, Twitch and YouTube having supplanted cable television, and Uber and Lyft having usurped the transportation industry, there is still much skepticism in using technological platforms as a tool to facilitate social growth (see Tinder). Although as a species, our social skills can be argued as being in decline because of such platforms as Tinder, which practically eliminates the dating process, the reality is that that may be the path in which humanity is already headed on. In other words, if most the population now does not have the time to foster their own communities centered around their passions, why would it be wrong to leverage technology to create communities for them?

2.2 Why will Passionfruit be a Platform?

In creating Passionfruit, carrying out a platform style of business would be incredibly advantages over using a traditional pipeline style of business. This is because Passionfruit looks to connect consumers with other consumers, meaning that Passionfruit will not own any of its supply.

In the illustration above, the characteristics of a pipeline business (left) is compared to a semi platform business (center) and a true platform business (right). As Dell and Coca Cola are examples of pipeline brands, they create and manufacture inventory, which is then pushed through the pipeline to consumers. In practice, Passionfruit’s business model would be most analogous to that of Airbnb and Uber’s, in that it will rely on consumers to drive the supply side as well as the demand side.

In creating Passionfruit as a hybrid of social networking and pairing platform, Passionfruit strives to serve a middle ground that best utilizes the connections found in social platforms, in combination with the personal connections found in pairing platforms.

On the spectrum shown above detailing the use of social networks versus intimacy of different platforms, Passionfruit is positioned in the middle, because although users engage in deep personal connections with one another, they will also reap benefits from engaging a larger social network related to their passions, such as finding out about different events and groups. Currently, there isn’t a premiere platform that focuses on combining these two core interactions equally; rather, what tends to happen is that companies focus on one or the other. For example, with companies that focus more on networking such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and twitch, the core user experience is to broadcast ones social, professional, or gaming persona to a multitude of different users, which is very impersonal. On the other end of the spectrum, with platforms such as Tinder or Bumble, where the core interaction is to try to match with others on the very highest of levels, the core interaction can be very hit-or-miss because of the stress involved in matching with another so deeply. By facilitating a less pressurized but very intimate mode of communication, Passionfruit looks to consistently match consumers with other consumers in an organic way.

2.3 How will Passionfruit Initialize?

When setting up a business that serves both the supply and the demand side of the market, one of the greatest challenges surrounding the startup of a platform is which side to get first. This problem is especially difficult since both sides are equally important to the success of the platform. Thankfully, because there isn’t a distinct line between individuals who will consume and individuals who will supply (paradoxically think eBay’s buyers and sellers or Uber’s riders and drivers), Passionfruit relatively bypasses this initial startup hurdle. However, as the nature of social networking platforms is one of the most unforgiving in getting new members to sign up, new networks must achieve results that are novel and noticeably different than already existing social networks.. To combat this problem Passionfruit will employ a micromarket strategy similar to that of Facebook’s. When Facebook initially launched, it launched in the closed, but dense community of Harvard. By leveraging Harvard’s initial micromarket of five hundred students, Facebook was able to initially gain traction in a geographical area, as it had its first active community. In similar fashion, Passionfruit will initially be released in the closed market of the University of Southern California and then gradually spread out as it starts to gain traction.

2.4 How will Passionfruit Maintain its Quality?

Another concern that is unique to the business of platforms is, how will a platform ensure the quality of each core interaction. As pipeline businesses can control the quality of the supply that is pushed to consumers, platform businesses have no such luxury, as inventory is supplied through external sources. Real examples of this problem include, Craigslist’s early kidnappings, and Chatroulette’s trouble with hairy naked men. In its infancy, Passionfruit will have two

strategies to ensure quality interactions. The first quality assurance measure that will be taken is to have an expansive set of passions that users can choose from. By diversifying the number of passions, the platform will be sectioned into many sub-communities. Furthermore, by having these many sub-communities, the majority Passionfruit core interactions will be unlikely to have quality issues, like trying to make a purchase on Craigslist, or trying to talk to a non-naked-and- hairy-man on Chatroulette did. The second strategy to aid quality control is to have an expanded marketing campaign. Since inventory will not be owned, money is freed up to improve the product in other areas. In similar fashion to LinkedIn, by marketing Passionfruit in a way that emphasizes its core interaction and purpose as a pairing/networking platform, a quality following will hopefully be found.

2.5 How will Passionfruit Drive Revenue?

Although the positive feedback loop of growing a platform happens very organically as users continue to get other users to use the platform, monetizing the network from the company side is oftentimes tricky. In a time when many consumers are rapidly cutting out expenses in favor of free consumer-created content (Twitch, YouTube, Facebook), free content has somewhat become the norm among many platforms. While initially, Passionfruit will primarily generate revenue through advertisements and advertisement sales, the platform has the potential to drive many forms of value in the future which can eventually be charged for. Some examples of future values are,

  1. For producers or third party providers: Passionfruit's sub-communities of individuals is valuable for recruiters trying to find talented individuals to fill job positions

  2. For both consumers and producers: Access for individuals to create events that are curated specifically for the community that they are trying to reach. For example, say Ruffles wanted to sponsor a drawing contest. The company could curate a specific event on Passionfruit and have access to individuals who would participate in this event

3.1 How Will Passionfruit Change the Way We Interact?

Although the positive feedback loop of growing a platform happens very organically as users continue to get other users to use the platform, monetizing the network from the company side is oftentimes tricky. In a time when many consumers are rapidly cutting out expenses in favor of free consumer-created content (Twitch, YouTube, Facebook), free content has somewhat become the norm among many platforms. While initially, Passionfruit will primarily generate revenue through advertisements and advertisement sales, the platform has the potential to drive many forms of value in the future which can eventually be charged for. Some examples of future values are,

3.2 How Will Passionfruit Drive Cinema Forward?

While cinema has traditionally been used to broadcast stories to audiences, in the last several years, cinema has expanded to connect audiences with the broadcasters. Specifically using Twitch as an example, the core interaction goes both ways, as consumers supply content that is not only consumed by, but also talked about by other consumers, increasing the quality of the interaction. Resultantly, pertaining to the example of Twitch, many different communities have formed around certain games or activities, bringing passionate gaming fans closer to each other than ever. With Passionfruit, the hope is to continue to bring communities together by using such blueprints as Twitch and the power of future cinema. One of my ultimate dreams for the platform

is to eventually have a series of popup cafes where consumers of Passionfruit can have their live interactions. By harnessing these new age cinematic capabilities that have the potential to further connect our world, dreams such as these popup cafes may now be possible.

If you would like to discuss this project further or talk about anything else UX related, feel free to shoot me an email at leongc@usc.edu