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Recap of June 2019 NYC Maker Meetup with Rent the Runway

How Rent the Runway improved mobile app development with Coda
See Campbell’s mobile app development template
Rent the Runway recently achieved unicorn status after being . The company lends designer dresses and accessories to women through a subscription service. In addition to the subscription service, Rent the Runway has also opened brick-and-mortar stores such as the 8,000 square-foot location in . At the June 2019 NYC Maker Meetup, we had an opportunity to hear from Campbell Sechrest, a product manager at Rent the Runway, about how her team launched a high-performing mobile app.
Source: LinkedIn

From Wall Street to tech

Campbell started her career as a sales and trading analyst at Goldman Sachs. During that time, she was an avid user of Rent the Runway, and decide to make a career change into product management. She took online trainings and learned everything she could about product management before landing a role as a product manager on Rent the Runway’s mobile app.

Doubling down on mobile

2 out of 3 picks happen on the Rent the Runway app. The mobile app also has 5X more sessions than the desktop browser version and not surprisingly, higher retention. The audience quickly learned that Rent the Runway’s mobile app is key to the company’s growth.
However, there were several issues the app development process which Campbell highlighted in her presentation:
The app was considered an afterthought
Long feature development lead to merge conflicts
This resulted in a QA bottleneck
Bug fixes could have been for features launched more than a year ago

To fix the dev process, Campbell did what any good PM would do and Googled “good product management software”. She found Coda, and quickly built an MVP and presented it to the Rent the Runway leadership team. Her proof-of-concept Coda doc demonstrated how her team could use Coda for feature releases, product planing and more. She was exploring other feature flagging platforms that have hefty annual contracts, and couldn’t fully build a prototype without purchasing the software directly.
We just had the biggest app release our team has ever done. It might not be obvious to the user because a lot of the updates to the app were on the backend. We are processing more orders than ever so we had to update our systems to support this. It was a 2-year project, and I think the only way our team got through this without killing each other was through Coda.

What were the jobs-to-be-done?

In addition to supporting the growing usage of their mobile app, Campbell discussed larger organizational processes that needed to be addressed. Some of these improvements included:
Cultivating mobile awareness throughout the organization
Continuous integration and development
Low-risk deploys and improved app performance
Predictable and regular app releases
As Campbell demoed her Coda doc, we could see some of the ways Coda helped with her team’s mobile app development process. By storing all information regarding the mobile app in one place, her team could see the status of any feature or release at any time.
People will ask me questions like “when is the next app release?” or “can I get this feature in?” or “how do I do XYZ?” and I won’t even respond anymore and just be like “look in the Coda doc.”
The various jobs-to-be-done were apparent in her Coda doc as she had sections for:
Release schedule
Feature roadmap
Release notes
On-call responsibilities

You can see a lot more information compared to other documentation platforms we tried. You could make a feature roadmap in one software platform, and you could have a calendar in another software platform, but to have it all in one place was really difficult. Coda provided all of that.

Differentiating Rent the Runway through user experience

As Campbell’s presentation winded to a close, audience members asked questions about different tools her team uses to stay productive and the future of Rent the Runway’s mobile app. This quote about providing a create user experience stood out and is a testament to why Rent the Runway will be around for many decades to come:
I think there are two things Rent the Runway focuses on. First, making the experience for her (the user) easier. Second, just making it a joyful experience. Companies that are not only able to provide efficiency but provide that joyful experience of using the product will retain their users. Many companies may do the same thing as your company, so the one thing that keeps your users coming back is that joyful experience.

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