Introducing
The Friend Club

An invite-only lifestyle community

16 weeks

from idea to MVP

3.5k

new users on 1st day

1 week

sprint cycles

40k

HQ images using Bunny CDN

Location

Los Angeles, US

Expertise

Product discovery

UX/UI design

Product management

Development

Testing & Analytics

Jaleigh spent countless hours searching through social media, blogs, and other online resources lacking in quality and aesthetics. As a consumer seeking this type of content, it’s overwhelming, and it takes countless hours to sift through what's good. Through her own experience of getting married, traveling, and buying a house, she realized a need for content & creator discovery that was vetted, curated, and community-driven.

The market size of the wedding services industry by revenue in the United States is $70.3 billion as of 2023. Jaleigh understood this problem was extensive by talking to creators and whole communities and that’s where Sudolabs stepped in.

Sudolabs team built an MVP in just 16 weeks. With an initial focus on weddings and plans for expansion, this user-friendly platform offers curated content and connections not found on Pinterest or Instagram, attracting over 3.5k users shortly after launch.

“The Friend Club had an amazing experience working with Sudolabs! Their team quickly understood the product we were trying to build, accurately estimated timelines and budgets, and delivered a great product with little to no bugs. We highly recommend Sudo Labs (and already have to some friends!)”
Jaleigh Friend
Founder, The Friend Club

Our product
approach

The market size of the wedding services industry by revenue in the United States is $70.3 billion as of 2023

We were all set to jump on a project and serve both sides; creators, who showcase their work & try to find qualified leads, and members, who are seeking vetted, curated & community-driven content, get inspiration, or request creators’ services.

Starting with the Wedding club, our plan was to launch our MVP within 12-16 weeks with a goal to collect first feedback from users, and more lifestyle clubs rapidly (gatherings, interior, travel, you name it). The months after were planned to be marked by intensive user research and data analysis, which would enable us to adjust features and add new clubs based on user needs and give us some time to fundraise money for future development.

In the initial stages of the Friend Club project, our client arrived armed with a well-defined design concept, laying out their vision for the entire product and outlining the key objectives they aimed to accomplish. However, upon closer examination, it became apparent that not all proposed features would provide immediate value to users or contribute significantly to our overarching goals.

In response to this fact, a collaborative effort unfolded in a series of meetings with the client. Together, we distilled the comprehensive product idea into its essential components, pinpointing the Unique Selling Proposition (USP) or the distinctive value that our product would bring to the market. That was the kick-off to the prioritization phase.

The first pivotal step involved the identification of the Core User Journey, where we identified the indispensable elements of the app. These elements formed a strategic pathway from the initial entry point, guiding users through a series of steps toward a successful outcome and final action, thus creating a post.

One important note here! The number of the U.S. top-notch wedding creators who were queuing for the release was counted in the lower hundreds. So, we decided to split the MVP into two parts & go with a first private release for creators only after completing the Core User Journey. That was exactly the part when such creators could have early access to it, starting to pre-populate their profiles while getting ready for the main release. With such an approach, we ensured that all creators gained access to the key pathways they would usually go when using our app. Once we released it, they were already familiar with the app and most of the questions, limits, and other plans to develop the app had already been communicated.

Subsequently, we delved into the realm of should-haves—integral features that would define the essence of our app. Emphasis was placed on incorporating features based on their potential impact and added value for users. Given the abundance of ideas within the should-have category, a thorough examination led to the categorization of certain features as could-haves. These were features deemed to lack immediate impact and added value for the product.

As the scoping phase unfolded, it served as an opportune moment to make definitive decisions. Some of the initially proposed features were relegated to the won't-haves category, with a mutual understanding that these would be post-MVP considerations. This scoping exercise ensured that the product's development focused on the most crucial elements, laying the foundation for a streamlined and impactful Friend Club app. At the end of the day, we were able to deliver our app in 16 weeks armed with analytics to measure progress ready to collect feedback and data for future fundraising & development.

It’s the experience that sets this app apart

The platform serves as a hub where you can connect with and explore creators spanning various fields, from wedding photographers and florists to bakers and more – an experience not offered by Pinterest or Instagram.

The Friend Club's platform offers users two distinctive tabs: 'creators' and 'inspiration,' providing categorized posts related to themes such as color, season, and design serving. Creators can establish profiles with portfolios and contact info, including an FAQ section and room for member reviews. Onboarding for new creators is a breeze - they create a profile that becomes public after posting at least 30 times.

Members have the option to contact creators with their inquiries, and upon submission, they receive instant notifications. What sets this platform apart is its unique feature that also enables creators to connect with each other.

A creator's post comprises up to 6 photos, with options to add captions, and tags, and mention other collaborating creators from the community.  A member can save these posts or make different mood boards. We initially launched with the wedding club and are expanding to interior and events clubs.

Enhancements were made to the search process, rendering it user-friendly. Users now have the convenience of filtering creators by "creator type" or various tags, with plans on the horizon to introduce location- and name-based search options.

With the founders’ strong Instagram presence, we experienced a rapid start with approximately 3.5k users within days of the platform's release.

Challenge - How can we boost engagement?

Our challenge lies in sustaining user engagement. Look at Pinterest, users spend an average of 14 minutes daily on their platform, with five minutes per session. Two weeks post-launch, users devoted 9-10 minutes to The Friend Club platform - an impressive start.

We maintained three working environments:

  • Visibility from the backlog to production (and beyond!)
  • 100+ metrics and industry benchmarks
  • Configurable and customizable APIs

Our tech
approach

Seamless front-end experience

With an extensive library of over 40,000 high-quality images, (and still growing!) and a core emphasis on visual appeal, we employed the capabilities of Bunny CDN (Bunny Content Delivery Network) for optimized content delivery to end-users. By caching and serving images from the nearest data center, we ensured a smooth user experience.

Furthermore, we proactively fetch photos when users haven’t yet viewed them, guaranteeing faster loading times. Naturally, the web application boasts a mobile-friendly design.

Achieving a rapid MVP in just 16 weeks

Our agile approach was a game-changer. We adopted 1-week sprint cycles, breaking the project into manageable features to ensure efficient delivery.

Each feature received dedicated attention from a single developer, responsible for both front-end and back-end tasks. This streamlined approach effectively removed unnecessary bottlenecks, enhancing the speed of our feature delivery.

Since we have been fully in charge of the technical side of the project, we decided to go with "battle-tested" technologies we had previous experience with, to make sure we as engineers can use their full potential and focus on delivering high-quality code with blazingly fast delivery.

Tech
stack

Front-end

Typescript

Next.js (React.js)

Tailwind CSS

Headless UI

Chakra UI

Apollo GraphQL Client

Back-end

Typescript

GraphQL Yoga

PostgreSQL

Prigma

Infrastructure

Render

Bunny CDN

AWS S3

Sentry

Sendgrid

Gained thousands of users in a couple of weeks. What's next?

Currently, the platform has already been running for a couple of weeks and managed to gain thousands of users and tens of thousands of visitors. Our goal for the next few weeks is to add new communities and features but not to neglect our main goal, performance, and overall user experience because the most important things behind this platform are communities and the people who create them.

Since the beginning of our collaboration with The Friend Club, we had one main goal in mind - to create the MVP of an innovative platform for communities in 12 weeks where performance is crucial for users to keep them engaged with the platform with as smooth an experience as possible. Since we have been fully in charge of the technical side of the project, we decided to go with "battle-tested" technologies we had previous experience with, to make sure we as engineers can use their full potential and focus on delivering high-quality code with blazingly fast delivery.

The core of the platform consists of creators’ portfolios and inspiration feeds full of professionally taken photos, which are used to represent each creator's work and to provide inspiration for other users. Dealing with tens of thousands of high-quality images without major performance drops is not the easiest task, and we tried to relay as much as possible on things like caching and image optimization.