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MSI Prestige 15 A10 review after 1 year of use
Thumbnailsubmitted by robin_from_the_hood to MSILaptops
IntroThis is my experience with the laptop for 1 year and in this thread, i will be expressing all of my thoughts and will tell you how the laptop has held up so far in almost every aspect. 1 year ago, i wrote a "1 week later review" and i constantly edited it throughout the past year every time i found something new, better or worse. In this re-review, for a lot of stuff i will refer to last year's post, in here i'll mostly explain how it held up and what i did to work-around some (stupid) design decisions that MSI set. To avoid any confusions, i have the base 1399$ config: i7 10710U, 1080P display, 16GB (2x8) RAM on dual channel, GTX1650MQ 35W, 512GB nvme pcie gen3x2 ssd.
General findings, sum-upKind of a tl;dr
Longer, more detailed review
Exterior concernsIn terms of how i take care of my laptop, i am not "super strict" to think that my whole life depends of a piece of tech but usually i like to take care of my devices, specifically this laptop because i use it almost everyday. I try to clean it at least once every 2 weeks, that is by cleaning the dust off of the display (not pushing it to the sides where the dust gets in the frame), i use standard 70% isopropyl alcohol to clean the whole aluminum (and plastic) parts of the laptop and so far i haven't had any issues with it. When i don't have alcohol, i use those display cleaning sprays for TVs that you can find in your local market (it comes with a micro-fiber cloth which i use to avoid scratching the laptop). Perhaps this info might have looked obsolete but if you hesitate on using 70% alcohol for your aluminum laptop, don't be, just use it since it won't cause any problems.
I also take a hair dryer, set it in the cold option and blast it at full speed under the laptop over the air-intake vents, specifically over the fans to try to blow some stuck debris off of them. I still haven't taken the laptop apart to clean the cooling fins (that are connected to the heatpipes, over the fans) - the exhaust area since i'm suspecting that some dust has started to build up in there. Since we're at the debris part, there are some small dust-pieces that are stuck under the keyboard. I can't remove them but since this isn't an Apple "butterfly" keyboard, there is nothing to worry about. The keyboard still works ok.
Since we're at the exterior, these parts on both hinges have been a bit scratched and as a result, they look like the top-paint has worn off. This happened because when i lay the laptop on a table, i drop the back part of it first, then the front. You will never actually notice them unless you're looking for them. Btw, since we're at the hinges part, they have actually held up great. Tbh i am still concerned that the also notorious hinges issue will appear on my unit but so far so good. The laptop still opens easily (and kinda satisfying, a bit weird to say that) with 1 hand without holding the base and the screen can be closed up to a bit less than 30 degrees until the display closes itself because of the weight. That's pretty good actually.
As of the construction of the laptop, again, just like in my original review, it is better than a plastic laptop but nothing special. In fact, the build quality is just OK. When i hold the laptop with 1 hand, if i put my hand around the back part, over the exhaust area and the fingers over the intake vents (exactly like this), you can easily feel the thin metal bending and touching the top RAM stick (fortunately, it doesn't push the ram stick). That is very uncomfortable and concerning. Oh and if you're experiencing keyboard deck flex (when pushing), keep in mind that these 3 rubber feet in the middle of the bottom-panel might be too short (that's my case) or the back 3 rubber feet might be too tall. I tried to shave off the 3 back rubber feet (near the air exhaust part) but still the other 3 middle feet don't touch the table, specifically the 2 side rounded ones, those are too short. I can keep on going, by slicing a couple of layers off of those 3 taller feet but i don't really mind them now. Also, i haven't seen this "issue" reported by others but my unit cracks a bit when lifting it up or opening the lid. The cracks come from the improperly seated bottom metal panel and the plastic air exhaust area. Also, the reason why the display flexes more than usual (compared to, f.e: and XPS 15 with a glass display) is that the front of Prestige 15's display is plastic, also it's frame is plastic and so, the display as a whole is not very strong. Not to forget mentioning that the aluminum display cover is just a sheet, non-cnc milled.
While typing ( a bit more intense) and sometimes when tapping on the trackpad, i hear and feel the bottom panel rattle a bit. While this is probably an issue only in my unit and that it can probably be fixed by taking the bottom panel apart and re-seating it, this issue has to do with the infamous MSI trackpad issue. Since MSI uses the same battery units across a lot of their laptops (this 82Whr battery specifically), those batteries have extra screw-holes (however you say that) so that they can be applied in different MSI laptops with different bodies. If you search in this sub for "trackpad" and sort by "new", you'll find a lot of posts regarding this issue, specifically for the P15. As you can see here, there's an extra plastic part interfering with that shiny circular part. As a result, when holding the laptop only on one side, because the body of the laptop isn't very rigid, it will start to slowly bend but the battery will try to stay in its place. This will result on the battery literally pushing the trackpad up, in this way you won't be able to physically click on the trackpad. This issue can also be reproduced when you use the laptop on your lap (in most cases). Also, because that plastic part interferes, this also results in another issue: the bottom panel is not fully seated in. I addressed this in my original review, but i'll include some pictures here again. You can see that the panel on the front is for ~1mm not fully clipped-in. As you can see in this thread, if you cut that plastic part and make some way for the shiny silver circular part, the problem fades away. Since i still haven't taken the laptop apart, i haven't tried this and i actually won't do that since to me the problem rarely appears, only when my laptop is sitting on uneven tables. On my lap, it rarely causes any "physical click block".
Something also important to mention is that, because the usb-c ports aren't seated completely in the body (design choice), all usb-c cables will kinda stick out and sag, potentially breaking the ports. To avoid this, specifically for the charger, i keep one of the charger's tie (sry, idk how to say it) like this. This way, sagging is avoided. I have been using it like that since day 1, no issues so far.
Edit: my unit has a tiny bit of coil whine which is audible only when you get up close to the keyboard (~10cm from it) and when both fans are off. With either of the fans spinning, I can't hear it.
Trackpad / Touchpad, Keyboard performanceSince we're at the touchpad, as you can see, after 1 year of use there aren't any very noticeable oil marks, if not at all. On my unit, on the picture you can see that the trackpad isn't properly seated in its place. The left part is ever so slightly deeper in the body that the right part. When clicking on the left part, the click feels and sounds "heavier", and a bit noisier compared to the click on the right side which is more reassuring, a bit quieter and kinda "stable". Don't worry, this is just on my unit but it really doesn't annoy me. Anyway, the trackpad performs great, it is very smooth, very accurate/precise, it registers even the slightest finger movements and it works very well overala. I compared it side to side to one of my colleague's Macbook Pro 13 2016 and the trackpads had almost an identical feel to them, both very smooth and it was a bit hard to tell them apart. Accuracy is also VERY similar. You might think that the mbp's trackpad might be more accurate but check this: on my 1080P 15.6" display, when moving, f.e: the cursor for 1 pixel, the pixels are bigger (and not that many) as as a result is looks like you need to move your finger a lot in order to move the cursor to the next pixel (to be more precise), compared to MBP13's 13.3" 2560x1600 display where because of the higher PPI, moving the cursor looks smoother and more accurate but in reality, it isn't. If someone has the UHD display Prestige 15 and compares this trackpad performance aspect side to side even with a macbook pro 16, the Prestige 15 will look smoother because of its higher PPI display. Btw, the fingerprint scanner sometimes gets in the way. It is very fast on unlocking but i guess that initially i didn't add it correctly because i have to lay my fingers on it in a very specific angle, otherwise it won't register. It registers something like 5/10 times.
Keyboard is actually nice to type on, at least for me. There are almost no oil marks at all (sorry, my phone's camera quality is not good and the lights keep reflecting a bit over the keys but just take my words for granted). The feedback is nothing special but enough to feel it. The key size and spacing for me is ideal. The keys aren't very stable, if you push the very edge of a key, it can go down for quite a lot, almost to the bottom without clicking but fortunately at that point it registers a click. The backlight is great. It isn't very even but keep in mind that the keys are intentionally transparent on the sides so that the sides will illuminate the rest of the keyboard and as a result, i rarely use lvl2 or lvl3 brightness. What i still dislike is some of the layout. I am used to it but still, some keys are badly placed. The delete key's position is fine to me, i got used to it very quickly and i use it very often. In all instances, keyboards are subjective, totally a personal preference. Probably you don't like it but i do.
DisplayAs i said in the tldr above, there's ghosting. I initially didn't notice it since i come from another display which also happens to have a lot of ghosting but i've watched a lot of monitodisplay reviews and i saw how displays with low, almost nonexistent ghosting behave and this 1080p display really has ghosting. When moving the cursor fast, or scrolling a bit faster than usual, you can notice it. Also, it's response times are slow (one of the reasons for ghosting) but not an issue in day to day use unless you're gaming. Something very important (and annoying) is color banding, which is very noticeable in almost every image which has (deep?) gradients. Black to gray (also other colors) images are displayed with a lot of banding. For other info about the display, check my original review.
Battery Life, battery unit's degradationAs stated above, battery got a 11.5% wear over the course of 1 year. For the past ~10 months, i've been using the 80% charge limiter for pretty much all the time. There are a few (maybe 2-4) exceptions where i charged it to 100%. Now, i am very sure that battery wear didn't start until i started to use the 80% limiter. I am suspecting that i should've been using the 60% limiter all the time but because i needed to use the laptop on battery sometimes for a couple of hours, i had to use the 80% one instead of 60%. For those past ~10 months, i haven't really taken the laptop out with me besides class, library, etc. Even during quarantine, i've been using the laptop on charger, as expected. I am totally fine with this 11.5% wear since all li-ion batteries degrade over time, some sooner, some later, some quicker, some slower. I am a bit surprised because just ~3-4 months ago, i had only ~7% wear but i guess from now on i have to use the 60% limiter whenever i can.
Anyway, even with that 11.5% wear, the laptop still charger to 100% (but only at around 70Whr instead of 82Whr) but i am still getting awesome batterylife. A couple of days ago i did another battery test, from 100% to 0% until it turned off. I got around 11hours of batterylife. I could've gotten right at around 12 hours but that stupid sppsvc.exe service kept running on the backroung every couple of minutes and made the cpu draw ~15W for 1 second and as a result, the batterylife was a bit shorter. Before continuing with the way how i did the battery test, if you have that problem with high cpu usage with that sppsvc.exe service, just download Process Hacker, search for that process and suspend it. Make the app open on startup and you'll never have to worry about unexpected high cpu usage ever again.
How i tested the batterylife this time: it was a very light usage, i set the brightness at 150 nits (50%, assuming the unit i have reaches 300 nits at 100%) because i am in my apartment and during the day the room isn't super bright so the matte display does a great job at dealing with glare and reflections and as a result, i don't need anything over 150 nits in this case. Keyboard backlight off, wi-fi on, no battery savers of any kind - windows battery setting on taskbar set to best performance and in Creator Center i always use only High Performance but keep in mind that MSI automatically lowers the CPU's PL1 and PL2(i guess) to 15W, which is essentially the "Balanced Mode" - some kind of battery saver. I have addressed this in my original review. I have also been using a -110mv undervolt (on core and cache, as it should be) for the past year. Apps minimized on background (that don't really need any cpu resources - around 1% all in total, only need RAM) are: taskbarX (former falconX), throttlestop, mailspring, MSI Creator Center, MSI True Color, Nvidia control panel thing. Btw, from last year, i remember that undervolting didn't help much with batterylife, at least in this light usage test.
Since were at the battery section, i still use hibernation instead of sleep. It uses s3 sleep but it drains power like modern standby sleep in XPSes. Also, even when the charger is connected, hibernation, sleep, and even shut down will drain power from the battery, instead of the charger. Hibernation drains around 3% for 24h. Check my original review for other info.
One more VERY interesting thing i found out. I made this comparison of the battery units of the GS66 (the 99.99Whr battery) and Prestige 15(82Whr battery). I am 99% sure that the 99.99whr battery not only will fit, but even work properly inside the Prestige 15. Perhaps i may be wrong but check that picture, the specs are the same besides the battery capacity (of course, that's the point). I can just imagine how the Prestige 15's batterylife would've been with a ~25% battery like that 99.99Whr one. I asked MSI Support and they told me that they provide users with batteries that the laptops originally came with. In my case, if i ever request a new battery, they would give me only a new 82Whr one, they said that they didn't test the 99.99whr battery in the Prestige 15 yet. I am thinking of doing a workaround for this, perhaps i can get the original (not 3rd party) 99.99whr somehow directly from MSI.
Performance of the CPU and SSD, fan noise, fan behavior improvements.First, i have never used the GTX 1650MQ for gaming or work, only for stress/stability tests. If there was a config only with the i-gpu, i would've gotten that instead since i don't have any uses of the dedicated gpu at the moment. I can confirm that the gpu never throttles, on charger nor on battery - always draws 35W when used at 100%. Also, to try to cut this review short, there still hasn't been any bios or ec update for this Prestige 15 A10 in almost 1 year, so no improvements whatsoever. Not even an option to choose to prioritize CPU's power draw on battery (switch to 65W&45W) compared to GPU's priority (35W, perhaps to lower it to 15W or so), at least 1 option. Nothing at all. The battery can output around 65W (or even 60W) in total, that's why one of the components should get less power, in this case MSI chose the cpu. MSI's customer support is awful, straight up sucks. Sorry for anyone who has had good experiences but their online chat is not good. I have to wait 1 to 3 days for 1 reply.
Anyway, i have addressed the next issues in my original review, too, so i'll try to cut short. All you have to do is use this May update of Creator Center (the newer Microsoft Store version doesn't apply the fancurve settings when woken from sleep./hibernation. Perhaps it has been fixed now), switch to High Performance, switch to Advanced Fans and apply these fan settings for the CPU fan and the GPU fan. Don't worry about the very low values, MSI will overwrite those when a particular cpu/gpu temp is reached. What you should concentrate on is the first dots(s) from the left, in each tab. All you have to do is edit your default facurve of the gpu fan and set the first dot to 0%. This means that the gpu fan (that makes more noise) will remain off until the cpu reaches 65°C (or 66, not sure). Now, even though the cpu fan spins a lot (2500rpm at 30°C, ~3200rpm at 65°C), it makes less noise because it is smaller. Because during idle and light tasks the cpu doesn't pull more than 5 watts (depending on what you do), and those 5watts don't generate much heat, the cooling solution is able to handle that heat with ease and the temps will still be the same, just like if the GPU fan would've been spinning, too. You can also set the cpu fan's first dot (from the left) to 0% to turn it off but its starting point is lower than gpu fan's, that cpu fan will turn on when the cpu reaches ~51°C and it will immediately spin at 2900rpm or so. Because with both fans off, during idle and light tasks that heat from 5W just circulates inside the heatpipes, the cpu temps will raise and chances are that it will settle at around 50°C. This will make the cpu fan often turn off and on, every 10 seconds or so which is VERY annoying. Since it produces less noise, i'd recommend you to leave that cpu fan on (apply those fan curve settings like here) and you'll never be annoyed by the fans, even though that smaller cpu fan spins all the time now. In my room, which is very quiet, i can slightly hear the fan from ~60cm distance but it doesn't annoy me at all, i can easily ignore it. With this improvement, you'll never have to switch performance profiles again (in most cases) because you'd better get the full performance while you're on charger but on battery, it will automatically switch to "Balanced mode" even though it tells you that you're on "High Performance" mode. So, you're on battery saver when using the laptop on battery anyway. The laptop still stays pretty cool to the touch, even at light tasks the top part of the exhaust area is slightly warm. On load, the metal around the top number row and over it get uncomfortably warm.
As of the cpu performance, it is still the same, with or without undervolt. Undervolting helps more on higher cpu loads but for that info, check my original review. In CBr20 it still performs great, first run usually at over 2900 points, then the second at around 2800 and it will settle at mid 2700s for every run after that. It pulls around 48W to keep 3.9Ghz on all 6 cores with that undervolt, then it settles at around 42W indefinitely, at around 3.7 Ghz or so. Single core results are weird since i can't seem to understand whether MSI set those limits or Intel (probably Intel). Only for 1-2 seconds it keeps 4.7Ghz on 1 core at around 19W, then it hovers constantly between 4.0Ghz at ~13W and 4.6Ghz at 18W or something. It sometimes scores around 480, sometimes 450. During the single core CBR20 test, fortunately the fans' speeds stay at around 3200rpm and 2900rpm, for temps of around 65C and 88C (because of the low fan speed). The cpu temps are still identical to 1 year ago but there's something that i discovered yesterday. The temps that i'm getting are pretty much the same temps that Jarrod from Jarrod's Tech on youtube got in his MSI Prestige 15 review(s) but,only 1 core gets hotter compared to others and reaches high temps faster. As you can see here, after a couple of CBR20 runs, the temps stabilize at mid 80s but only core2 stays at ~95°C. Now, because all of these software that monitor temps and set fanspeeds work only by getting the highest temp from 1 of the cores (not the average temp of all cores), as a result, it displays that all cores are at 95°C, which isn't true. Because of that, every software displays that CPU package temp is 95C. Now, as soon as that core passes ~90C, the fans quickly start spinning from ~5K rpm to 6K rpm, just because of that core, which shouldn't be the case. From what i remember, from videos of derbauer (der8aur) and Steve from Gamer's Nexus and Linus, i'm suspecting that either the heatsink isn't applied correctly or that the thermal paste is not spread correctly. This is usually the case when one of the cores reaches higher temps than the rest. I have yet to open the laptop but i am sure that a repaste (and heat-sink re-seat) will fix this issue. Otherwise, the performance is still great, considering this aged Intel architecture. Btw, there's still battery drain when using both the cpu and gpu at 100%. The power draw is capped at ~87W and it still drains the battery, similar to how XPS 15s used to behave and how the macbook pro 16 (and 15s) does. Not good, but i don't care about the d-gpu so this doesn't affect me. It is worth mentioning tho.
As of the SSD performance, i intentionally wanted to talk about this since i was kinda disappointed. MSI confirmed that both m.2 2280 slots are nvme pcie gen3x2 (one of which is also a sata3 slot). This is not good since the gen3x2 ssd that is installed performs only at (year) 2015 speeds (perhaps even prior to that). I understand how MSI cut a lot of stuff to bring the price of this laptop down but in 2019, this was totally unacceptable (imo). This has to do with the way how pci-e lanes are configured inside the i7 10710U. Even though it has 16 lanes, they're configured differently compared to the 16 lanes of a, f.e: i7 9750H. If MSI would've gone only with 1 m.2 2280 nvme pcie gen3x4 slot instead of 2 gen3x2 m.2 slots, that would've been better (at least for me). Sure you can get another gen3x2 drive and put them in raid 0 to get double the speed but that is not convenient. There are instances in my day to day tasks that would take benefit of a gen3x4 drive since i can sometimes tell when the ssd is being a bottleneck.
There has been only 1 instance (~7 months ago) where everything just slowed down, wi-fi and bluetooth weren't working, etc. I went to register.msi.com to ask for this issue but a window appeared with the most common issues with MSI laptops and this was one of them. I followed the steps and everything went back to working properly. The only BSOD (besides when undervolting) that has appeared is last year in Android Studio's emulator, because of an update of intel haxm. This was fixed in the next update and i never had any other BSODs, system slowdowns, etc. That issue wasn't laptop's fault anyway, besides those cases, it is very stable.
Edit: In the fancurve editor, I set all points to 0% on the cpu tab, besides the last one which is set to 10%, same for the gpu tab. This makes the cpu fan stop spinning unless the cpu has reached 95C. During this time, the gpu fan again turns on at around 65C cpu temp but it stays at ~2900rpm until it reaches 95C and also until it stays at 95C for around 10 seconds. This means that if you have a short, high cpu usage, only the gpu fan will turn on but it won't start ramping up for around 10-15 seconds, so it will stay at a constant speed. After those ~15 seconds of continuous high cpu use, both fans start spinning and for around 5-7 seconds they reach 6K rpm. During this time, the cpu's power draw is pretty much identical as before. This varies between different ambient temps, table surface, thermal paste, heatsink seating, etc. To me, besides the high minimum fan speeds, this is the optimal fan-behavior. Sure, the body temps during idle raise a bit, so do the idle cpu temps (with a couple background apps and a lot of tabs, right now the cpu is at 49-52C, ~2.3W power draw). The fans are off at the moment, completely silent. At this point, I just wish that the fans' minimum speed was at around 1300rpm and that the gpu fan's turn-on point would've been something like 80C.
MiscellaneousI highly encourage you to read the comment section of the Prestige 15 A10 review by notebookcheck. Although that review is a bit misleading and their pointing (scoring) system sucks, the comments section provides some good insight for Prestige 15's audio latency issues and the display panel lottery. Some comments are cringe, some are trustworthy. Just keep in mind that every single laptop in the existence of consumer tech, has their kind of issues, defects (hardware wise).
Conclusion, some talk about the Prestige 15 A10 and A11 (2020), Summit E15 and B15.The Prestige 15 is still unique, there isn't anything that is similar to this. Sure, there's that Asus Zenbook 15 but that one has a numberpad and it doesn't come with the 6 core 10710u, it's battery is smaller, etc. There's also a Lenovo Ideapad (if i'm not mistaken) that is similar but it also has a numberpad. I don't want a laptop that makes my arms shift to the left when typing. The Prestige 15's almost centered keyboard was one of the purchasing factors. There's also the new Prestige 15 A11 and the new Summit Line. To not make this thread any longer, i will just link you a comment i wrote ~2 months ago about those new Laptops. The new Prestige 15 is a downgrade in multicore cpu performance but it has better single core performance and the pci-e lanes are configured better. Read that comment for the full insight. Do i still recommend the Prestige 15 A10? I am not saying this because it is my laptop, but i actually recommend this over the new A11, but ONLY if you can get it for around 1000$, this config in particular, and ONLY if you need a laptop with specs like these and with a look like this, otherwise it would be great to ditch MSI completely. The other config with UHD display, 32GB ram, 1TB ssd ain't worth more than 1300$ in my opinion, mostly because of its 1 year age and because of the existence of not only new Intel stuff but Amd apus which are amazing. Sure, the ryzen 4000 are overall better but new Tiger Lake cpus have better single core performance for the same power consumption. Most day-to-day tasks are single threaded but i am not trying to justify Intel laptops' prices, at the moment Amd is better. Keep in mind that not everyone cares about their laptop's performance, it isn't even my top priority. Mines are: first, battery life & build quality at the same time, display (from now on, nothing under 16:10 ratio), performance, etc. Keep in mind that where ever you buy the laptop from, make sure that there's a return policy and that can you easily return in, just in case the unit you get turns out to be defective.
Again, just like last time, if you have any questions, feel free the ask them. Perhaps some of the questions can be answered in my original review but again, feel free to ask anything around the Prestige 15 A10.
Looking for a business idea? Here's ANOTHER problem to solve.
As thanks, I wanted to post another interesting idea that you could hustle you could way to being successful with - I know this group is all about the hustle. Let's dig into it -
Opportunities in Work From Home Perks“Like many companies, we’ve recently shifted to a completely remote company. One of the biggest problems we are now facing is shifting our company perks to this new WFH model. No longer are we catering lunch, offering all you can eat snacks, or utilizing our amazing office space.” - HR Manager at a funded tech company
Market Background & Opportunity Size
Employee perks have become a coveted hiring strategy for some industries - namely tech. So much so that some companies have started hiring employees solely responsible for making the company’s employees happy and providing them with perks - like workplace coordinators.
It wasn’t always this way, there’s been a recent shift towards companies offering some pretty sweet perks to get top talent - so it’s a young industry. Currently, here are some employee favorites that are being cut due to the pandemic:
- On-site fitness studios or gym memberships
- On-site snacks and beverages
- Catered lunches
- Office spaces w/ phone booths and ergonomic office equipment
- Company outings and happy hours
This year we’ve seen companies like Twitter, Google, Facebook, and Shopify use the pandemic as an opportunity to accelerate the shift to remote work for their employees. But, this isn’t just happening with large tech companies.
While finding an exact number was tough, a study by Gartner estimated that of the 56% of US companies that can allow their employees to work remotely, 74% say that they are going to shift more employees to remote after the pandemic. Another study cites that by the end of 2021, 25-30% of workers will be considered remote. It may not come to you as a shock, but it looks like remote work is here to stay.
Who’s already helping companies manage and offer employee perks?
- Founded in 2013
- Roughly 500 employees
- $583.6M raised
- Founded in 2009
- Roughly 1,000 employees
- $516.1M raised
- Founded in 2008
- Roughly 700 employees
There are a number of opportunities in this space, but I’ll stay focused and call out the ones that I see as the best return for the time/energy investment.
With people shifting to remote, a lot of companies are having to rethink how they do perks. If you can offer relevant perks while making it easy for the company to manage, I think you’ll have a winner. Here are a few ideas that I’ve got -
- Delivery curated food boxes for employees to keep them fed during the days.
- Schedule or give a stipend for cleaning services to keep their home (and now workspace) tidy.
- Send a cocktail kit every Friday (or once a month) so the team can do a virtual happy hour.
- Offer a service that offers home-office make-overs. You can spruce up their living space to make it a video call friendly, or provide them with better equipment.
- Create an easy way to manage and order group lunch for everyone working from different destinations.
Here are some companies that are also trying to solve the perks problem.
- Cherry offered a flexible perk program that allowed employees to choose perks that mattered most to them. They recently shut down and wrote a stellar blog post about why. While they didn’t directly offer any of the services I mentioned above, I added them because I think this a model that you could emulate.
- SnackMagic allows employees to curate a box filled with their favorite snacks that is delivered directly to them. It’s unclear if you can set up recurring orders through their site, additionally, their branding could use some work but overall seems like a solid company.
- DRNXMYTH is a pre-made alcoholic beverage company. They offer, among other things, a way for companies to send their employee's drinks. This makes for the perfect virtual happy hour.
My favorite part about this idea is that I think you could hustle your way to $10k/mrr with relative ease. Since that’s what I would do if I were pursuing this, that’s the plan I’ll talk about -
- Define Your Early Adopter: Let’s start by targeting HR Managers. Next, think about which HR Managers are already trying to solve this problem for their company. With that in mind, I’d look at who’s using interesting perks platforms (not just Gusto or Zenefits). My gut says a good place to start would be tech companies that recently closed a Series A - this likely means they are hiring and looking for ways to attract top talent. Pro tip: you might be able to reach out to the founders of Cherry to see the types of companies they sold to.
- Use LinkedIn for Prospecting: Use tools like Dux-Soup and LinkedIn Sales Navigator to quickly start reaching out and testing marketing messaging. If you’re not able to even get responses from people, this is a good indication that you may need to pivot the offer or the solution you’re pitching.
- Build a Concierge MVP: This basically means don’t use a lot of tech to solve the problem, just do it manually to start. With this idea especially, you don’t need any fancy code. Find a few suppliers for the product or service, package it up, manually handle the logistics, and send a nice report to the HR manager at the end. This would allow you to test market risk, product risk, and channel risk really quickly and at a relatively low cost.
- Start Small: Once you’ve got some traction, limit the number of companies and employees that you work with. Since this will likely be a logistics heavy operation, find 1-3 companies with 10-30 employees to run a pilot. This will give you an opportunity to easily work out the kinks and find the places where you can start to automate the process.
- Logistics heavy: This isn’t as straightforward as a typical SaaS tool. There are many moving parts which means it’ll be a bigger headache to manage. This is a solvable problem, but it’ll take more leg work to get everything worked out.
- Is this just a “nice to have”? With everything that’s going on in the world, there are likely problems that will take priority over something like this. While there is a problem here, it may not be large enough to get companies to take action on a potential solution. I’d focus on getting an answer to this question as soon as possible.
- Low defensibility: Part of the beauty of this idea is how easy it is to start up. But, that is also true for anyone that wants to compete in this space. This may not be an issue if you want to build a smaller lifestyle company.
Thanks for reading - now get out there and build it.