Project Overview

As pet lovers ourselves, Team Common Ground, wants to find a way to provide transparency with vet costs. In order to address this problem space we implement Lean Startup ideologies so we can pitch our solution to investors and startup experts.
Team Common Ground
Corey Rossi: Messaging, Marketing, Brand & Sale
Jiyeon Park: Technology & Distribution
Dewen Zhang: Finance, Investor relations, Operations
September - December, Fall 2020 (14 weeks)
Skills and Tools
Product Design, Lean Startup, User Research, Team Project, Collaboration, Professional Communications, Mural, Google Drive

The culmination of the entire groups work in one final pitch deck. In just under six minutes we provide well-rounded information about our product and why we should be invested in. Our intended audiences were investors, startup experts, and professionals in the IXD field.



Using the Molecule Structure we created multiple Product Snapshots. During this stage we ignored the solution aspect of each molecule. Instead of designing with a solution in mind we wanted to pinpoint what the problems really are so they can be more appropriately addressed. Not including the solution this early on in the process allowed our team to remain open to the problem spaces we will come to find later on during the research process.

The molecule we moved forward with was voted on by each of the Common Ground group members. We moved forward with the molecule that received the most votes and based on each members personal interests in the proposed molecules.

The Winning Molecule

Due to our collective interest and knowledge with animals we decided working with Jiyeons suggestion of pet adoptions was a good fit for our team.

We justified our decision with the idea that we also knew many other pet owners that we could potentially interview. This was especially helpful considering this project was done fully remotely during COVID.

We also had to consider what kinds of businesses we would have to connect with during this major pandemic and work with the general limitations set in place with the social distancing orders.


Having settled on the Pet market space we decided to interview a few pet owners so we could get some insights on their experience with adoption.

We found that out of the pet owners we interviewed none really had an issue getting their new pets. Most fascilities offered full care packages and information needed for new pet owners.

Luckily, however, each pet owner we interviewed had a painpoint regarding their experience with the veterinarian office.

With this new information we pivoted our origional molecule to fit the problem space we identified through the pet owner interviews.

Provisional Persona

Much like the flexibility of the molecule we are also working with a flexible persona. This is Parker Jay and her cat Mr. Pickles. As we discovered more about our customer space we updated our persona to reflect what we know. We moved forward with this persona until we eventually developed Parker Jay’s personal story. Watch Parker Jay and Mr. Pickles Story on Vimeo!
  • Always keeping a close eye on their pet
  • Feels unsure when to take their pet to the vet
  • Goes to school 5 days a week and works from home
  • Feels overwhelmed with the idea of costly vet visits
  • First time taking care of a pet on their own
  • Comfortable searching online for help
Needs & Goals
  • Information about vet pricing
  • Competitive pricing
  • Quality veterinarian
  • Needs to know when to take her pet to the vet
  • Keep her pet healthy and happy
  • Transparency in vet prices/services

Market Research

In addition to interviewing pet owners we found some additional information we found helpful in validating our problem space.

Right now, The average cost for unexpected Vet care for dogs and cats is about $1,500. A ⅓ of domestic animals in the US require emergency veterinary care each year! With this in mind The perceived social pressure to “do everything” for a pet can guilt people into paying for higher cost options when it might not really be something they need.


User Research

All interviews were conducted over Zoom. Our goal was to interview at least 2-3 people each week for the first 5 weeks. We pulled together 15 interviews total.

When we interviewed the fifteen pet owners all 15 noted, that they receive their invoice at the end of their visit and the prices are always higher than expected but they are still going to pay for the vet cost regardless of the price.

9/15 of our interviewees said they had experience going to the vet and received a treatment that did not solve the issue.

One of our priorities was to reach out to Veterinarians each week so that we could understand the full picture of the veterinarian office experience.

Unfortunately due to the complications of COVID-19 all contacted veterinary offices were unavailable for interviews or were unable to get back to us for scheduling.

Comparative Research

For Pet Savvy we are entering the pet care market as a niche player.

We use two metrics to understand our potential competitors in the market, platform versus service, and community-driven versus profession-driven. An example of profession-driven service will be a traditional vet clinic which pet owners would be the most familiar with, they provide authentic medical care but pet owners suffer from asymmetric information and unreasonable pricing. Profession-driven platforms aim to bridge the gap between veterinarian and pet owners, they make the system more efficient but the cost of veterinary services is still untackled. Community-based platforms connect pet owners with each other, their features are designed for a more generic use case. We believe by focusing on sharing the experience of pet care among the pet owner community we can solve the problem more effectively.

Market Sizing

With a lot of support from Dewen we were able to address TAM, SAM, and SOM for the Pet Care Market. (Total Available Market, Servicable Available Market, and Serviceable Obtainable Market).

Our Total Available Market is all 85 million households with pets in the US. If we can attract one member from each household and charge a $5 per month subscription fee, it totals up to $5.1 billion per year.

With 27% of our SAM being made up of millennial pet owners, we only need 10% of them to subscribe to our service to bring us to $140million dollars per year.

In 3 years’ time, our SOM will reach 100 thousand users, and if 10% subscribe, that brings us to $700 thousand in revenue every year!



With adequate research on our problem space we are able to add a Solution to our Product Snapshot/ Molecule.

Through our research we have identified that a community driven app, that compares information & experiences about vet offices, will provide the transparency pet owners need.

Pet Savvy MVP

In order to validate wether the Pet Savvy app provides the right benefits for pet owners we built a landing page for our product. Our goal for this landing page was to provide a place where people can identify with the pain points we found through our interviews, and offer a proposed experience. Those who felt Pet Savvy was right for them have the option to sign up to our mailing list as early adopters. Those who sign up would receive email updates on our product as well as be eligible for interviews.

Our landing page offered context on the issue, and the solution. Here is the product video we host on the site. Illustrated and edited by Dewen Zhang. Storyboard, script, and voiceover by Corey Rossi. Landing page Design and Construction by Jiyeon park.

MVP Experiments

Pet Savvy as a community based app means people will need to share personal information about their pets. In order to confirm pet owners are willing to do this we provided a google form on our website and posted on social media accounts, that asked pet owners about their experience at the vet. Depending on how many people answered and how thorough the answers were, defined the success of this MVP. Pet owners who were shared this information were provided with thank you emails.

With this MVP experiment, we believe Pet owners are willing to share the cost of previous vet visits.

• 27 out of 40 people shared their vet cost of previous vet visit

• We have collected data from the google form and about 24(89%) of people shared their vet cost out of 27 participants which is the higher amount for what we’ve expected (60%) within a week.

Acquisition Plan

We reached out to people through the resources we had at CCA and our own instagram accounts.

Through email and instagram posts we provided a link to our landing page that links to our instagram and vice versa.

We shortened all links using so we could track the click-through rate of email and instagram campaigns individually.

In 7 days We managed to reach out to 8,660 people. From there 88 visited our landing page And 29 managed to participate in our MVP and/or sign up for updates on PetSavvy.

We learned that it’s more effective for us to target pet owners rather than large groups of mixed people. Targeting a specific group of people will also be more cost effective for advertising.

Lean Canvas

Annual Cost Structure

We estimated our cost structure, adding our costs, our run rate per year about $150 thousand, and after our launch, we expect to make $14, 000 for the first year, which brings our burn rate to just over $130 thousand.

Final Pitch Deck


By the end of this project I have a much better grasp at the concept and practices that go into product design, and a big picture look at what it means to be a startup. Most of all this team experience primed me for the real world work i’ll be practicing outside of CCA. As a team we had well defined roles and expectations, we knew each others strengths and made sure to use them to our advantage.

My favorite kind of work has always been done working in groups. I know there is a lot for me to learn and the best way for me to absorb knowledge is collaborating with other people in the process. I am confident I can handle any team project moving forward and create as productive a workspace as I did with Team Common Ground.

I wrote a longer reflection post on Wordpress, here is an excerpt from that reflection:

Lean thinking, batches, nudging, acquisitions, MVP’s; It all had a greater purpose than just starting a business. A lot of what needs to be done in order to be successful as an entrepreneur is what I need to do to be successful in school, or in life. I guess you could say I’m excited to be able to put what I’ve learned into practice in the real world with a cool company that I can work at for years to come.
Read More on Wordpress