Thank you all for coming to our first session on July 11!
We had two main goals for this session:
1. Build teams with complementary skills.
Most startup teams at universities have members that were either previously friends or who are studying in the same department and major. For example, it is common to see teams with three students who are completing their program together at the business school. Although such teams are easy to set up and are comfortable to work in, there is a downside. These three people can come up with a great business idea, but then they might not be able to actually design or build the product that is needed for the business. Similarly, if a team only has engineering students, then the team can build a very interesting device, but then they will have trouble when they need to sell and develop the business product.
For this reason, we are asking teams to reach out across different disciplines to balance the three major roles of Strategy, Design, and Engineering. Since engineering can be quite difficult and different tools are applied, we are also dividing the engineering role into software and hardware.
A team with balanced roles and responsibilities with different skills and different backgrounds can be difficult to manage at first, but the end results will be much better because they will be able to focus together on the three most important activities for a startup:
- Make product.
- Sell product.
- Build a team.
Startups should focus on these three activities, and very little else. Ask yourself at the end of each work session, "Did we spend our time doing one of these three things?"
2. Develop a Business Idea.
It is not enough to only develop an idea for a product. A startup team needs to develop a Business Idea. A business idea includes having an idea of what product to build and more. The team also needs to develop a plan to sell the product and a strategy to achieve their goals with limited time and resources. For this reason, the team should develop both their product prototype and marketing materials at the same time. A very simple exercise to do this is the following:
Take a sheet of paper and divide it into three areas asking the following questions:
When you answer these questions, though, you shouldn't simply fill in the boxes using words. The real challenge is that you must do so using images and physical objects. It's not just enough to come up with a good idea of a product to build, it is very important to find a clear way to communicate it with your target audience.
For example, this team:
Came up with this business idea. Can you see what it is?