Getting Onboard
Surf

Getting Onboard

Client
Surf
services
Product Management, Web & Mobile UI/UX, Branding

Making a splash in a new advertising and media market: the rideshare industry.

About

Surf is a rideshare entertainment and media platform that reaches ~3,000,000 riders per month and serves roughly 15,000,000 monthly video impressions.

I led the product team as Head of Product through the planning, launch, and management of products that serviced stakeholders from every part of the company: drivers, riders, advertisers, fleet operators, and Surf employees. I also designed and developed the logo, corporate identity, and website.

Surf tablets feature free content including top video content creators, unlimited music from iHeartRadio, and local business deals.

The Surf App

As the entry point for both riders and drivers into the Surf ecosystem, our app simply had to be badass. If passengers did not find the content interesting or engaging, they wouldn't use the app and drivers would lose out on the extra cash they loved. We went through three major–and I'm talking huge– revisions of the app, with the final revision being designed by yours truly. The previous revisions of the app tested the general thesis that people would engage with the tablets if we focused on an entertainment-forward interface, but we were limited to only about 9 "channels" that were video content only.

Once the thesis was tested, management started rapidly expanding partners to music providers, more video content creators, local deals, and even games. Surf v3.0 was born, and transformed the Surf App from a simple video library to a fully fledged in-car entertainment powerhouse.

Click here to see the interactive Surf App prototype. (Loading time may vary)

Surf Design System

When I joined the team, my instincts told me that there would be quite a breadth of products that would be required to make Surf operate like a well-oiled machine. My first priority thus became the creation of a design system for our web products that would give a homogenous and familiar experience across all of our products, no matter who they were for. As you are about to find out with the sheer number of web dashboards we created, my instincts were proved correct.

A small portion of the Surf Web Product Design System

Driver Products

Surf drivers were a critical piece of the ecosystem: they provided the "supply-side" of the Surf advertising marketplace. Without Surf drivers, there were no Surf passengers – and thus no advertising revenue.

I led the design and launch of the Surf Driver Dashboard, where new drivers could apply for a tablet system and existing drivers could monitor their performance. Drivers were paid monthly for tablet usage and enabling them to monitor their revenue in realtime was a critical user requirement.

My team was constantly working with our Driver Support Team to improve the onboarding process, from tweaking copy to removing redundant fields to drive higher conversion and application velocity.

I also championed the research and launch of our Driver Referral Program (see below, bottom right screen) that cut our driver CAC by nearly 90%.

Click here to see the interactive Driver Dashboard prototype.

Driver Dashboard Mobile View (Sample: 11 of 113 Screens)

Driver Operations Products

When Surf became nationally recognized among rideshare drivers, we were inundated with tens of thousands of applicants and accepted drivers. Our Driver Ops team was overwhelmed with the "MVP" product they had been using to manage drivers, which was essentially a glorified Airtable. My team was tasked with creating a robust and user-friendly dashboard that: 1) allowed for management of new and existing drivers; 2) gave a holistic view on the health of our driver acquisition programs and marketing ROI; and 3) recognize and address bugs/issues that were affecting drivers.

Thus, the Driver Administration Dashboard product was designed (by yours truly) in close cooperation with our Driver Ops team. I led user and stakeholder interviews that were worked into storyboarding, user stories, and finally a product backlog that ended with a successful launch. The end result was massively reduced hours spent on driver management. Happier drivers, happier operations team members, and happier management.

Click here to see the interactive Driver Admin Dashboard prototype.

Driver Administration Dashboard (Sample: 5 of 200 Screens)

Fleet Operations Products

Eventually Surf moved away from a B2C-esque driver model and instead began working on large B2B fleet accounts. These rideshare fleets had upwards of 5,000 vehicles and enabled Surf to cut many expenses associated with individual drivers and deliver a more reliable and consistent experience for riders.

This new pivot, while very effective, came with huge operational changes and consequently new product requirements. In particular, the company had a new and extremely important stakeholder to keep happy: gigantic fleet accounts. In order to get paid every month for upgrading their vehicles, a fleet operator had to ensure its drivers were meeting minimum tablet usage goals. Thus, the need for a Fleet Dashboard to monitor performance and issues both across their fleet and on a per-vehicle basis was born.

Click here to see the interactive Fleet Admin prototype.

Fleet Administration Dashboard (Sample: 4 of 30 Screens)

Advertiser Products

At the end of the day, Surf is an advertising play. Rideshare passengers provided an exceptionally captive audience in an untapped, video-powered medium. Advertisers were drooling to get their brands in front of riders, but our Sales and Advertiser Operations teams did not have the tools and products they needed to sell ad packages at scale. Moreover, the Ad Ops team was spending an unreasonable amount of time and effort preparing monthly performance reports for advertisers, which was leading to ad account churn. Product team to the rescue again.

The team was tasked with three main tasks: 1) provide a means for advertisers to monitor their own campaign performance;  2) make it easier for the sales team to close deals and onboard the advertisers; and 3) reduce the time from sales prospect to campaign go-live.

I led the design and development of our new Advertiser Dashboard, which included realtime campaign metrics and a self-serve ad buying functionality that allowed advertisers to target DMAs, zip codes, and geofences with their ads. It also allowed advertisers to upload their assets and preview them on the platform. The launch was a resounding success and allowed our sales team to close larger accounts with faster pilot programs and markedly cut our advertiser churn rate.

Click to try the Advertiser Performance Dashboard –or– Self-Buy Platform

Surf Advertiser Dashboard (Performance & Campaign Self-Buy Sample Screens)

Conclusion

Working at Surf was the most challenging yet rewarding job of my career. I joined the team as the first employee and helped build an incredible company that 30+ people were proud of. I got to create products that were used and loved by some of the largest companies in media and advertising, including Paramount Pictures, Viacom, Vevo, iHeart Radio, and countless YouTube creators. Although my journey with the company has come to an end, I take with me the plethora of skills and learnings that come from working at a high-growth startup with products that are built are by few and loved by many.

“Jared is one of these few people that are able to perform and connect his technical expertise with business, design, and operations. You can depend on him fully to exceed any milestones or goal he sets.”
ELI CHMOUNi - surf ceo

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