Project Bertumbuh Takes Prototypes In-Field

We spent the last weeks of Project Bertumbuh working out of Hubud, the Hub in Ubud, as our global team (South Africa, Indonesia, U.S., Italy, Singapore) prototyped and created business cases for our top concepts. As experienced innovators, we know good ideas when we see them, right?

Not so fast. As we were modeling out sunk versus variable costs for a product business case, we were reminded of a related tangent – the sunk cost fallacy. Behavioral economists explain the concept as when someone places more value on a thing once they have contributed time or money to it. While we believed in the power of the project’s Paket Impian concept (which means “Dream Package” in Bahasa,) we knew that since we had already invested time and effort into the idea, our intuition might have a bias.


So we went back out to the field to test Paket Impian prototypes and see what unbanked Indonesians thought of the idea. We mocked up cardboard phones with paper menu screens and tested the underpinnings of that concept, plus a few others.

We learned a lot.

The feedback we got on the “Price in Rice” idea led us to think the concept wasn’t compelling enough to stand on its own. But it ended up evolving into another idea – one for a mobile game. Customers could play it to gain familiarity with using their feature phones; since currently most people only use their phones for SMS and calling they are intimidated by mobile banking. We learned that Paket Impian fit in with how Indonesians in lower income brackets think about finances. People who said, “Bank accounts are for people with money, not for me,” told us a Paket Impian would be for them, because they had dreams.


In mentioning the sunk cost fallacy to a fellow frog, he said it was just like Designers Bias. I asked what Designers Bias was. He said, “It’s working on an idea so long that then when you share it with people you present it with a tone of, ‘On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being kind of awesome, 10 being I don’t even know how to spell awesome this is so awesome, how awesome is this?’”

Rest assured, we did not field test with Designers Bias; we tested with cardboard and curiosity. What we heard was that the foundation of the idea seemed so valuable, people were concerned a bank would not be able to make it real. “The bank is being too nice. How will they make money?” That’s what’s great about prototyping a business model with the product: in this case, we know both can be true.

Gigi Gormley

Gigi is an American born, Italian-at-heart, former design researcher and strategist at frog. She is passionate about agriculture, gut bacteria and the outdoors.

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