After successfully raising our seed round in late 2019, we were excited to expand our team and bring our envisioned product to life. At that time, the concept of fractional commercial real estate was just gaining momentum, with a few big players already in the market. However, we recognized that we were the first platform open to non-accredited investors with no holding period, and it was the perfect time to establish ourselves as one of the earliest players in the field.
We realized that building the necessary technology to support the whole investment experience could take over a year, and other competitors might have already launched their products and gained a first-mover advantage. This led us to consider the idea of a waitlist product, despite the potential delay it could cause to our core product launch.
Our decision to implement a waitlist was three-fold:
With only a few upcoming properties, we created a unique browsing experience inspired by infinite marquee (see example) and scroll effects. Each property was displayed as an individual card in an infinite loop, creating an illusion of more properties and a professional first impression. We also overlaid the property cards on a map for interaction and easy access to property details.
We went beyond a typical waitlist by introducing the Indication of Interest (IOI) feature. An IOI is a non-binding show of interest in the upcoming properties. With IOI, customers could not only browse properties, but also reserve their own shares before the IPO opens, creating a sense of participation and engagement. The Zeigarnik effect in psychology suggests that unfinished tasks are remembered better, potentially leading to higher conversion rates. The IOI also provided valuable insights for deal pipeline and targeted sales and marketing efforts.
With no marketing budget, we focused on acquiring as many users as possible before our core product was ready. We implemented strategies to prompt users to invite others by showing their position on the waitlist and offering a "move up in line" call-to-action (CTA) to leverage FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and encourage organic growth.
Contrary to our expectations, the waitlist product did not slow down our product development. In fact, it provided a great opportunity to establish our design system and build up our tech infrastructure. Many of the design components and code from the waitlist process were repurposed for our core product, shortening the expected timeline for its development.
During the waitlist phase, we noticed some customers making excessively high Indications of Interest (IOI), such as indicating 10,000 shares. This trend became apparent after our first IPO, and it could have negative effects on our business by providing false insights to our sales team and causing confusion. To address this, we updated our IOI copywriting to weaken the notion of "non-binding" and communicate the potential issues of inaccurate IOI. The new copy encouraged more accurate IOIs that reflect customers' real intentions on the number of shares they want to purchase.
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