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InnoVenture Customer Focus Workshop
– Question, Question, Question

(3 September 2018)

By Elijah Ng, IEL Student Writer

More than 90% of all start-ups fail. There are many reasons for that, but one of the most common problems that any enterprise can face is a disconnect between their product and the needs of the market. Thus InnoVenture 2018 ‘s first bootcamp was focussed on the customer. Before they could even work on the problem statements, it was essential for the students to start with a clean slate, and question any assumptions they had early on. This was taught through a series of simple, yet thought-provoking activities. One of which was the classic build-a-wallet activity.

By probing into each other’s definitions of an ideal wallet, students were able to uncover the reality of their differing wants and needs. The ideal wallet is not a homogeneous idea: someone’s personal conceptualisation of the ideal wallet may not necessarily match another’s. While there certainly were some common wanted features, students were quick to learn that simply creating a product that they want was not a good gauge of its market desirability. There was a gap between the product they would have created in isolation, and what their neighbour would have wanted. It was only through connecting with their target customer and asking questions that this gap was closed.

Students were then tasked with prototyping a wallet and selling it to their friends. It was as difficult as it sounds, but lots of fun at the same time. The key lesson here was that it’s even harder to accurately implement and materialize something that was in-line with the ideals that the customer had laid out. Simply having the knowledge of a customer’s wants does not necessarily translate into being able to create a product that truly met their needs or wants. Students realised the need to continuously test their ideas, designs, and products. It was the only way to ensure that they were creating a product that the market really needed and wanted.

The session ended with team meet-ups with InnoVenture’s academic mentors and partner companies who had provided the problem statements for the year – InnoSparks, SAF Military Medicine Institute, Champs Industrial and Surbana Jurong. The first bootcamp provided the necessary foundation to start the students’ of on their InnoVenture journeys – they set forth to pinpoint the problems that truly need solving.

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