Helping consumers save money and headache on electricity with Real Simple Energy

Real Simple Energy came to thoughtbot with a problem and idea. They saw people struggling in the Houston area as a result of selecting private electricity providers. The providers were using unethical techniques to enroll users into plans that weren't a good fit. That's where Real Simple Energy steps in.

2018 — Product / Design Sprint / Research / Front End

Project Kickoff

Our team was fully remote with the RSE team in Dallas and Houston and the thoughtbot team in Austin and NYC. The timeline for the project was tight, just a couple of weeks. We started aligning on a customer journey and a problem statement; from there, we worked together to form a job statement.


We rolled into a round of research to add assurance that product assumptions were heading in the right direction. We did a round of switch interviews with people who had recently switched from one power company to another. Those interviews helped prioritize the features we intended to build and even pushed some off the table entirely.

Prototyping in HTML

Since the timeline for the project was so short, I was looking for places to cut corners. It made sense to hop into code as soon as possible. I skipped visual tools altogether and went straight to working in HTML and CSS. This helped George Brocklehurst, the developer on the project, get started with building the Python app. The prototype was clickable in the browser with just the smallest pinch of color and brand.

Launching an MVP

We kept the features need to launch low by continually evaluating scope as a team and the value that they would bring to users and the business. Each week we would work together to prioritize our project management board. At the end of the project, I had just enough time to squeeze in a second iteration of visual refinement to help the team establish a stronger brand.


The MVP helped the Real Simple Energy team achieve some product validation. Over a few months, they had over 200 paid subscribers. Read more about Read more about the team's work on Real Simple Energy ↗