Ideation and Beyond'19

A workshop

By ERIC (Entrepreneurship, Research and Incubation Centre)

College of Vocational Studies

The theme of the workshop was ‘Ideation and beyond’. We focused on the problems an individual with an idea faces before starting a start-up and after starting a start-up with the help of various activities taken from the studies at Google and Stanford along with constructive discussions.

At a glance the problems faced before starting a start-up:

1.       Risk of failure, peer & parent pressure

2.       Idea and Innovation

3.       Finance, Revenue Model and Legal Constraints

4.       Product, Market Awareness and Surveying

5.       Mentor=ship and Infrastructure

 

And after starting a start-up:

1.       Goal Setting

2.       Prototype and strategy & Learning and Development

3.       Team building and Hiring – Core + Operational

4.       Customers and Marketing

5.       Unbiasing

6.       Funding 

We started off with The Marshmallow Challenge as our Icebreaker for the day. The participants/attendees were divided in teams of 4 and had to make the tallest standing structure using 20 sticks of spaghetti, a yard of tape and thread and the marshmallow on top. It taught us how we constantly need to innovate and build on each other’s idea in a team.

1) Then we talked about the ‘Risk of Failure’ starting with a brief about Risk and it’s characteristics and an activity, wherein the participants had to bid for a ₹100 note, and bidding would start at ₹10, with the given condition that the runner up will also have to pay his/her bid price. This activity highlights how much risk a person is willing to take, for example if a person bid ₹90 and the runner up had a bid of ₹80, then he might as well pay some more and let his opponent be the victim! The participants were fully engaged in this activity with the bid going upto ₹350. Yes, for a ₹100 note. Then we talked about Risk Aversion with another activity which proved if a person is a Risk taker or Risk Averse. 

2) Then we talked about the importance of ‘Idea and Innovation’ for a start-up and how it is the key element around which the rest of the venture revolves. It determines the culture of an organization, the values and the vision associated with it. We talked about the various approaches to Ideation, and specifically Design Thinking and Design Thinking Process. It is the one approach that combines creativity with structure, to solve big problems. Then we conducted an activity wherein the participants had to write as many start-up ideas they can in under 5 minutes, then they were divided into groups and had to follow a process called Design Sprint, which is a five-phase process that uses Design Thinking and had to come up with a prototype in 10 minutes. A perfect brainstorm brew for the participants.

 

3) After an individual has developed an idea and all the strategies towards a successful start-up, next hurdle in the cycle they need to cater with is ‘Financing and Legal problems’ and developing a perfect ‘Revenue Model’ for the idea. We explained the various ways through which an individual can raise the necessary funds to push one’s start-up forward. Then we talked about the Legal constraints and the frame work to generate revenue for the start-up, i.e. the Revenue Model.

4) Then we talked about ‘Infrastructure’ and why it’s not something to worry about. “Every second, three more Indians experience the internet for the first time.” And that, “By 2030 more than 1 billion of them will be online,”. According to IAMAI, India is likely to have 500 million internet users by June 2018. The answer is going Digital. The customers are going digital and so should start-ups. Tech Infrastructure has to be given a priority over physical Infrastructure. Build Networks, make connections and then worry about Infrastructure. Coming to space options available to start-ups and how your home garage can bring you closer to the whole world!

 

5) Talking about ‘Product and Market Awareness’, we had a discussion about how to conduct an effective Market Survey and it’s importance. Then we conducted an activity in which the participants had to fill a number from 1-100 and the number that is closest to the 2/3rd of the average of all responses will be the winner. The purpose of this activity was understanding the crowd a person is interacting with, i.e., the Market. The more rational and competitive this crowd is, lower would be the average of all responses. Our average came out to be 41.25 and the 2/3rd being 27.5. The winner had a response of 27. This same activity was conducted in a weekly Bingo session in the UK and the average came out to be 59. And the average in a class of Stanford students was 18. Then by taking the example of Sony Glasstron and a Fidget Spinner, we explained the importance of knowing your customers, your competition and doing some legitimate market research.

 

6) Comes in ‘Mentorship’, which is a critical foundational component for building a successful start-up. Having a great product/service and good market traction are good, but a great mentors is equally important to sustain and grow these elements. We talked about how an individual should present his/her idea to a potential mentor, what to do and what not to do. How to approach them, and the significance of Networking.

 

 

With these, we tried to cover all the problems an individual might face before starting a start-up. 

After the break, we continued with the problems faced after starting a start-up.

 

1) ‘Goal Setting’ is the process of identifying something that you want to accomplish and establishing measurable goals and timeframes. We talked about OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) and other traditional planning methods and how they’re different. OKR is a goal system used by Google. It is a simple tool to create alignment and engagement around measurable goals. OKRs are frequently set, tracked, and re-evaluated. It is a fast-cadence process that engages each team’s perspective and creativity. Google, and many other companies use OKR, including Spotify, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Airbnb. Then we talked about the components of an OKR and the problems an individual might do while forming their OKRs. We conducted an activity in which the participants were divided in teams of two and had to write an OKR for their partner, a simple Objective with 2-3 Key Results which they had to achieve in the given time period.

 

2) The next topic was ‘Prototype and Strategy’. A prototype is an early sample, model, or release of a product built to test a concept or process, or to act as a thing to be replicated or learned from, which is usually followed by creating the MVP(Minimum Viable Product). Compared to the prototype, the MVP isn’t a model, but a real working product with minimal but useful functionality. Then we talked about the advantages of making prototyping and why one must do it, followed by a step by step process of doing the latter.

Now, once you have an MVP, what Strategy would you choose to market it? We talked about A/B Testing (also known as Split Testing or Bucket Testing). It is a method of comparing two versions of a webpage or an app against each other to determine which one performs better, along with the framework of it which the individuals can use and would’ve learned from.

 

3) Now, ‘Teams’. Having a good team can determine the future of a start-up. It can go up or down, solely because of the type of team an individual have. undervalued part of building a successful start-up is the team. Many entrepreneurs just hire their friends and people around them without giving much thought on what they can really bring to the table and if the combination of skills, experiences, personalities, etc. is right at all. They forget that it is an important if not even the most important part of becoming a successful start-up. Then we did a little comparison study by taking two teams, Team A, which was composed of people who are all exceptionally smart and successful and Team B, which was different. It was evenly divided between successful executives and middle managers with few professional accomplishments. Team B would probably work like The Avengers and Team A like The Justice League. The purpose of this was explained by conducting the following exercise. We divided the participants in teams of four, with one team like Team A and the others like Team B, i.e. diverse, and told them to brainstorm and list the possible uses for a brick in under 5 minutes. The result? The teams with diverse people performed far better than the team with all the successful people, with uses ranging from having an Assassination agency to carving a brick for personalised gifting. Individually, all the members of Team A were exceptionally bright. But, they came up with the same ideas. Teams with diverse people on the other hand came up with a lot of clever and innovative uses, everyone was fluid and took a leadership role. Hence, introducing diversity into the workplace, also introduces new ways to tackle problems. The result is more productive teams. So, how to form a good team? It’s simpler than one might think. Start by objectively evaluating your own skill set then, find competent people to handle the rest.

 

4) Talking about ‘Unbiasing’. It is the process of removing Unconscious biases from one’s decision making. Unconscious biases are the automatic, mental shortcuts used to process information and make decisions quickly. At any given moment individuals are flooded with information, but are unable to consciously process it. The mind unconsciously prioritizes and dismisses large volumes of input. One of the problems faced while recruiting people in order to form a good team are our many biases. We conducted an exercise known as an Implicit Association Test, which basically explains how a person unconsciously makes decisions. The participants were provided with two different categories and words relating to one of the categories were shown on the screen. What we found out was that as the questions became more complex, the participants started making more Unconscious decisions because they weren’t able to process the information in the given time span. Clarity of thought can help a person overcome his/her biases, but there’s still a lot to learn about how to mitigate it.

5) Our next topic was ‘Hiring’. It is one of the most important things any organization has to do in its initial stages. Consequences of a wrong hire can be really costly, not only in terms of money, but also in term of time & resources. So, it is necessary to give more attention to the hiring process and make the right choice upfront. We talked about the whole hiring process and discussed some hacks & tips to get it done right by sharing the expertise of the hiring team at Google.

 

And that was the end to the first ever event by ERIC (Entrepreneurship, Research and Incubation Centre), College of Vocational Studies, University of Delhi. We got positive responses and delivered the best to our abilities, but there’s always room for improvement. Ideation and Beyond, over and out.