Target Audience

We took a good look at all the wonderful #BikeNYC portraits by Dmitry Gudkov. Then we tried to guess who is likely to use our product. This is plainly based on this one small paper version of a portrait photo, silly stereotyping, and us imagining what kind of person this possibly could be. We even made up stories of some in order to place them right on our sliding scale. “Would this person have a smart phone?”, “Does this person even care about tracking?”, “Is this person too hip, too old, too busy, too …?”. It’s far from scientific, but it definitely helped us thinking of who will be key users of the Paint Your City platform.

By the way, this is true for all the photos except one, as we actually met the amazing Julie (blogger and commuter on a Linus) on the Tour de Taco last year. You might notice that we secretly hope she will be painting her city from her bike :) Click on the image below to see all portraits placed on the axis of most to least likely to use our service.

Brand Landscape

Through using Gimmebar, we have collectively captured a bunch of brands that are either competitors, we want to be similar too, or that we believe influence current bikers, potential bikers and so on. We also added some pure visual inspiration. We went after keywords like fitness, tracking, environment, bikes, transportation, social, lifestyle, nostalgia. When laying the cut-outs out on a table, we tried several different axes for structuring. In the end we were happy with the lifestyle vs. fitness axis, but the other yellow stickies became more like their own little islands, than a continuum.

Either way, we agreed that we are definitely closer to the lifestyle than the fitness space, that our brand should be somewhat creative and “designy”. It should be a Vimeo rather than a YouTube. It will appeal to creatives, but not be over the top hipstery, as we do not want to alienate the masses.

Our brand should feel informational (Feltron-style), though our target audience will not be athletes with $10,000 bikes that care about all kinds of very accurate, detailed data about their rides from a fitness perspective (heart rate, cadence etc).

We believe our target audience could be riding quite a lot of different bike types (road bikes, fixies, cruisers), but think that our brand very well could adapt the clean style of the Abici or the Public bikes. We hope to attract even the people that care about the stylish, old-style Pashleys or Gazelles with fancy baskets, leather saddle and all that, but we don’t dare to go in a too romantic, nostalgic direction with the brand.

Finally, we are flirting with the idea of an open source platform, which in itself will inform how the brand is perceived and how it appeals to more “geeky” audiences. We have not reached a decision on this yet, as we’re still researching various ways to go about when building the platform.

Our Bike Manifesto

Once upon a time, far from now, bicycles were a novelty. Claimed as a gift of science to man, these human-powered machines charmed the adventurous. At the turn of the 20th century, men strapped on their suits and women pulled up their bloomers to ride. These vehicles transformed one’s puny strength into something greater—mankind finally found its’ superpowers, and women in particular found their freedom machines. The bicycle saddle became a lot of people’s primary seat for getting from the suburbs to the inner city to do work.

Today, for some people riding a bike from the suburb to the city center is plain out impossible. Today, American cities are built for the automobile. The concrete streets and interstates that link neighborhoods have, in many cases, caused unsustainable and lousy living. Today, we are so much ingrained in the car culture; it’s hard to imagine having it any other way.

Thank goodness, New York City is different. New Yorkers heavily rely on public transportation and their own two feet to get around. Thanks to the efforts of Janette Sadik-Khan, our city increasingly becomes more bike-able. As Commissioner of the Department of Transportation, she has been painting New York with beautiful green bike lanes since 2007.

We are determined to help Sadik-Khan paint our city. Well. Not literally with green paint all over our hands. However, we are head over heels dedicated to get more people riding on the streets. Instead of using paint, we are giving New Yorkers a color to track their rides on a map. Seeing your own bike rides on a map reveals your bike habits. Seeing your friends bike rides on that map, makes you want to beat them. Or join them. You decide. Either way, you’ll be surprised by how far you can go, as well as inspired by all the places you have yet to conquer.

We’ve heard all the excuses. Seriously, all of them:

“I don’t want to give up my morning bagel routine.”
“I have to wear a suit to work.”
“I don’t want to mess up my hair.”
“It’s so much effort to pack gear everyday.”
“I don’t have room in my apartment for a bike.”
“My bike is so nice, I don’t want it to get stolen in the city.”
“Manhattan terrifies me!”

Honestly, we don’t disagree with any of them. Getting in to the habit of biking is hard at first. We know, we’ve been there.

“Can I really do this?” This was the question we first asked ourselves. We were open to it, curious and felt a little challenged by it. Or a lot. It is this very curiosity that will lead you to discover your human superpowers–just like the men in suits and women in bloomers at the turn of the 20th century. Once you just try it out, we can assure you that you’ll never regret a ride.

Your rides have a color, they record your personal story, but they are also a voice in the grander scheme of biking. You and only you own your data. However, by sharing your rides anonymously, you will along with the entire bike community have the power to make New York City more bike-friendly.

Is it a bike day?

Know the very moment that your friends get on their bikes. If your friends are doing it, obviously you can. Prove it. Skip the morning bagel. Try something new. Be the first one to be on your bike.

Track your rides with your phone to color your city with beautiful patterns.

Be encouraged by your own bike efforts and compare with your friends. Make them jealous for that matter. Go ahead, show off. Tweet, share, like on Facebook. Tell everyone! We’ll even help you print a poster to hang on your wall!

Share your data anonymously and help paint the whole picture of what is happening on NYC streets.

Try new places, new streets, new things on your bike!

No Ordinary Office Game

For Kristin and I, biking is not about our calories burned or carbon footprint reduction. It’s simply about the joy it brings to us and that it gives us the ability to explore and know our city better. Not to mention an excuse to be outside, a workout and commute in one, and a flexible schedule. For thesis, we want to spread the joy of biking that we experience to more people.

The King of Two Wheels was our first trial run of a bike challenge hosted within a work environment. From there, we decided that we want to create a mass movement of people riding bikes. This led us to our thesis concept, Paint Your City (PYC). It’s a social tracking platform where riders use their phone for tracking bike rides in the city. One’s beautiful traces can be seen visualized on a map on the website, along with rides from friends, co-workers and neighbors.

Many people either fall into biking or start riding because their friends are doing it. The PYC office challenge is a two-week event that embraces social pressure to encourage biking for transportation.

Office workers are invited to join a challenge by Paint Your City or can be challenged by another company. To join, participants upload their photo to and choose a color to paint the city with their bike. As an office, they choose their team color to defend their honor as a company.

The contestants are competing against each other internally, but are also joining forces to conquer fellow companies. So, they can either challenge other companies or be set up against competitors by Paint Your City. At the large scale, participants can see how their company measures up against all other companies in their city involved in the challenge at that given time.

This is no regular competition, though. It is about riding your bike, but also getting to know your city and encouraging other people to start biking. There are four ways to get ahead in the game.

(1) Obviously it’s about riding your bike a lot. (2) It’s also about recommending and giving tips about great places in the city—places that you might discover on your bike rides. (3) It’s about exploring the city and trying the places out that are recommended by your colleagues.(4) And, it’s about getting new people to download the app and tracking their rides. Recruiting bikers will also be a way to get ahead for the contestants.

These four ways to get ahead in the game are also the four ways that contestants are honored for their achievements—ride, share, explore and recruit. But the rest of the office can also get involved!


Office mates can get recruited to ride and share city secrets. In addition, they can cheer for the bikers they love. They can do this through their own phone or with a phone provided in a game kit. Twitter and Facebook will help the riders connect and push each other.


During the exciting and intense challenge weeks, other people’s bike habits will interest contestants more than before. They can easily find out if and when their co-workers and opponents got on their bike seats this morning, and let that inform their own decision about whether to bike or not. Their rides will be broadcasted the moment they get on their bikes!

Contestants will be competing against people they don’t know. We want to embrace that and enable them to talk to each other through social media.

Of course we will utilize social media both to get more people to bike and to get more support and cheers for the bikers in the competition.

Because we want to facilitate water-cooler conversations around biking in the workplace, companies can choose between game kits to heighten the challenge experience.


At the very basic level, offices can use the app, website and have access to a visual display of the bike rides that can be projected on the wall.

In the premium kit, contestants will get helmet stickers to broadcast to the world that they are painting the city. Companies will also get a contestant poster that honors the bikers and aids cheering. Cheering can be done by through a mobile phone or through the preprogrammed rotary phone provided. At the end of of the challenge, all contestants that are part of the premium kit will be gifted a poster of their achievements. We believe that this artifact will continue to promote the bike culture within the workplace beyond the challenge. A book of game rules will also accompany this kit.



Design brief

Who should be in the initial meeting?

The founders: Carrie Stiens and Kristin Breivik.
CTO, CFO, Visual Design Lead

An executive summary of the project goals

The vision for the project overall is to create a social tracking platform with game challenges to motivate people to ride their bikes for transportation. Thesis will be our phase 1. Our goal toward the end of thesis is to get funding for the project so that we can build it.

Phase 1:
Design of website, app and physical helmet
Prototyping and Testing

How will we make money off of this thing?

The basic features of Paint Your City are free to all users. These include the ability to track, bookmark places and participate in game challenges. Users are able to view their data for the previous month to the current date and can bookmark up to 15 places. Involvement in game challenges is unlimited.

Our primary source of revenue will come through premium subscriptions. The subscription gives users access to their data for the previous 3 years to the current date, allows users to bookmark an unlimited amount of places, and allows users to receive secret tips about the places bookmarked by other users of the platform.

Our secondary source of revenue is through product sales. This includes the helmet, game kits and visualization posters.

Background and key findings from user interviews, personas and scenario, demographics and psychographics

Our audience are New Yorkers with under-utilized bikes. They fall under three categories:

Leisure rider
“I ride my bike around my neighborhood and outside the city, but it’s not really a transportation mode for me”
Our goal for this group is to get people that don’t bike to bike.

Casual commuter
“I ride around my neighborhood and to work occasionally. It’s a secondary mode of transportation.”
“I used to ride my bike, but recently have become lazy about it. I’d like to get into it again.”
Our goal for this group is to get casual riders to ride more and to commute.

Committed commuter
“I ride my bike to work everyday. It’s my primary mode of transportation.”
Our goal for this group is to bikers excited about the in-ride experience and to spread the bike love.

Findings from competitive research, positioning, ways to differentiate

As data tracking will be the core of the platform, there are a lot of products out there with similar features; RunKeeper, Nike+, Jawbone’s UP and FitBit are all collecting data and creating visualizations. Paint Your City will be different as we are more focused on the joy of getting around the city on a bike, than on staying healthy and burning calories. That you burn calories is a nice side effect, but you will use Paint Your City mainly to be a part of a bike movement, to share beautiful visual bike stories through your data tracking, and to discover and share secrets about your city. Cause you don’t bike for exercise – you bike to get around.

Other sources for inspiration: Weight Watchers, tour guides, scavenger hunts, games, Tour de France, Daytum, Yelp, Google Places, sports tournaments, Tamagotchi, Cabspotting, Nokia Vine and Chromaroma. Paint Your City will not have any of these services/products as direct competition, but can definitely look to them to include certain elements (game mechanics, city bookmarking, storytelling through data, motivation, personality).

Timeline, budget, milestones

December 2011:
Synthesize research
Concepting one potential game challenge
Winter break:
Deciding on advisors
Read books on motivation, community building, gaming, html/css/javascript
Research ways to build extensive HTML/CSS prototypes
Moodboarding. Gather visual appealing material, tone of voice etc.
January 2012:
Prototyping and qualitative research on bookmarking feature
Testing game mechanics
Wireframing website (information architecture and interaction design)
Wireframing app
Processing explorations(?)
Visual design
Front-end development
Create video pitch
Kickstarter campaign – so we can build this thing
Create presentation
Practice performance
Present thesis product pitch

Single statement which clarifies product’s purpose, what it will achieve, for whom and why

Paint Your City is a social tracking platform with game challenges that motivates people to ride their bikes. It’s for city dwellers with under-utilized bikes who have a need to maintain a busy and active lifestyle and get around their city. Unlike tracking apps that are exercise-focused (Runkeeper and NikePlus), our service caters to the unique way that a biker experiences the city. In addition to tracking while riding, bikers can bookmark places and events, unlock secrets from fellow riders, be cheered on by friends, and get directions spoken to them. This narrative is visualized on a city map individually or as part of a bigger bike story.

List of personality attributes to guide the creative execution of the product

Playful, colorful, but stylish and minimal. Appeal to designers. The data visualizations and the narratives they are telling are the core of the identity.

Direction for messaging, content elements, tone

Clear, simple language. Playful and positive tone of voice. The content core is people’s routes on the map. However, in any communication with the users, be sure to encourage the users to keep riding.

Focus on the joy of biking:
- the empowering feeling
- the sense of flying
- being in charge of your own time
- being in charge of your own route
- the way biking enables you to be impulsive
- the closeness to the city – stitching the city together
- being outdoors and free
- creating a narrative through painting the city

Do not focus on how your choice impacts the environment.
Do not focus on calories, speed, heart rate, cadence.

Inventory of proposed features for the product

The proposed features include the following:

Web Platform:
Database to store rider info and data
Ability to compare rides between bikers
- sidebar widget that lets the user choose who they want to compare their rides with
Display aggregated data of neighborhoods and networks
Ability to receive data realtime and communicate who is on the road at any given time
Display bookmarked places on a map with tips about them
- roll-over states for places
Interface to view and compare data
Interface to sign up for game challenges
Interface to buy helmet and posters

GPS tracking
Bluetooth connection to the helmet
Receive commands from a helmet or earphone button
Re-programs button on from earphones to bookmark a place
Integration with Twitter and FB to notify friends when tracking starts
Interface for bookmarked places (ex: bucket list)
Interface to start and stop tracking

Game Challenges and Kits:
Three different levels of game kits available
Multiple challenge offerings (work environment, group of friends, partners)
Bike stardom poster for cheers
Text interface and system to cheer for bikers
Rotary phone installation
- ability to call to send a cheer from a rotary phone

Bluetooth connection to the phone
Button to bookmark places
Sensor to stop and start tracking
Microphone to record voice notes, or make phone calls
Speakers to receive cheers, directions, and tips about places

Visualize riders data over time
Ability for rider to choose which data to display

Rough illustrations of pages, flows, aimed at communicating concepts (not complete designs)

Cheer For A Biker

We’ve been asking ourselves how we can motivate people to bike for a loooong time now. I believe we’ve just found the solution. Just hire Dr. Wires, push him into the audio booth, and there you go! Why would we do that? To create the audio for our cheering wall in the office bike challenge we’re creating:

Below is a behind the scenes walk through of the audio for the cheering interface. Dr Wires had to run along before the photo shoot, but we’re confident that his contribution will get our contestants to hop on their two wheels!

The poster with our bike challenge contestants and their two digit phone numbers is coming along too: