We are team 2 of the 1:25 section of Professor Wales Entrepreneurship class. Our team members are John Aiken, Jack Howell, and Steven Pugh. We are all management seniors, with John and Jack graduating in December. Through trial and error we arrived at selling silicone wristbands with a portion of the proceeds being donated to the Alzheimer's Association.
Our innovation has taken many different shapes this semester. Originally our plan was to sell silicone wristbands with reminders on them that customers tend to forget on a daily basis. We would sell the wristbands in packs of 10. The reminders were based off extensive customer discovery interviews that we conducted along with 30 surveys that we had 6 of our friends fill out and 24 strangers complete the rest.We had the surveyees circle their top 5 choices. Along with the utility that our customers would get out of the wristbands, we also hoped that we could compete because silicone wristbands are fashionable. We discovered that by selling wristbands that had reminders on them we would compete with school planners and notification systems on most smart phones. After more customer discovery interviews, we learned that not enough people would stop using their planners or phones for helping them keep track of their daily tasks, and we would not have a large enough target market. We decided to make an innovative pivot in our business model.
We liked the idea of selling wristbands because they are fashionable and online manufacturers make the ordering process quick and inexpensive. So we decided that we would start selling wristbands with the words "Don't Forget" on them, and that for every $5 dollars we sold each wristband for, $2 would go to the Alzheimer's Association.We selected this charity because a team member has a personal association with the disease. We found that we benefitted from this pivot in two ways. We could sell each wristband for more money, increasing our profit margin while raising money for charity, and that we removed ourseleves from competition with school planners and smart phones. The competitive advantage we gained from innovation was by incorporating our selling efforts with raising money for a charity, which allows us to sell our product for more money and still keeping our costs low.
Through our first set of customer discovery surveys we found that those individuals that were the most likely to purchase our product first would be busy college students as well as people who already wear wristbands. Due to the fact that most students have a hard time balancing their social and academic lives on a daily basis this led us to believe that there were many individuals who could be considered early adopters of our product, as well as the fact that wristbands are currently trendy and socially accepted. Since competing with daily school planners was a main issue, we moved away from targeting people who usually forget academic assignments and more towards those individuals who consistently forget daily tasks outside the classroom. Through the customer discovery surveys we also realized that almost every person thought that neon would be the best color choice for a wristband that they would purchase and wear.
Since we pivoted from focusing on daily reminders and partnered up with the Alzheimer's Association our early adopters of our product changed. Through more customer discovery interviews we found that when the time came for people to actually purchase a reminder wristband most of them declined our offer. The utility of the product was not enough to combat the ease of using a daily planner. Therefore, we focused solely on individuals who have been affected in some way by the Alzheimers disease, or those individuals who just want to help out a good cause. This pivot drastically changed who our early adopters actually were throughout the selling of our product.
Critical Success FulcrumEdit
The key to our success was the pivot to partner with the Alzheimer's Association. Before this pivot we were stuck with a product that didn't really have any value adding features that would have driven sales. We were also able to raise the price of each wristband sold in order to better cover costs as well as give the charity their share of the revenue. This partnership drastically changed how we conducted business, and was the leading factor in our success.
The main failures that we experienced came in the form of the percieved utility of our original product. We thought that having reminder wristbands would be a great way to alleviate some of the stress that a college student experiences, but when it came down to it not many people thought that they would actually use them as reminders. Another set back that we experienced was the delayed arrival of our first order of 50 wristbands. The order was approximately a week and a half late, arriving just before Thanksgiving break. This took up selling time, as well as forced us to expedite our next order of wristbands and ultimately incurr more costs.
Advice for Future StudentsEdit
The advice that we would give to students getting ready to take MGT 372 is that they should take the benchmarks and incremental goals that are given throughout the semester seriously, and that getting started early is the best way to ensure success. The course is set up in a way that allows each team to use the material that we learn in the classroom in the real world, so going to class and participating helps with the work that you do outside the classroom. Overall, the course is a beneficial class to have on your resume and the things that we learned we will take with us into the business world in the future.
Overall we conducted 21 customer discovery interviews and 30 surveys listing possible reminders that would be useful for people.
Here is a link to our youtube channel showing some of our customer discovery interviews and surveys:
Here is a link to a video made by the Alzheimer's Association promoting awareness for the disease:
Our product MVP changed as the idea for our business developed. Because we were not manufacturing in-house, our initial MVP was hypothetical because we did not want to spend money on an order until we received enough confirmation that we could sell our product. We knew that we wanted to stay with wristbands after our pivot because they were fashionable and we could order a large number of units inexpensively. Before our pivot the idea for our MVP was based off customer discovery interviews and customer surveys. In this process we discovered that potential customers preferred a wristband that was thin and with bright neon colors. The lessons that we learned from these interviews we kept in effect after we made our pivot. Our first tangible MVP is a simple silicone wristband with the message "DON"T FORGET" written on it with a sharpie. We displayed this MVP to a number of potential customers who were pleased with the overall style but desired brighter colors for the lettering than simple black. We elected to keep the wristband green because throughout the customer discovery process we recieved positive feedback about the color from both men and women. Our first order of wristbands was bright green with white lettering. Our second order was a darker green with yellow lettering.
Business Model CanvasEdit
We made plenty of wrong assumptions initially which is reflected in our business model canvas. Most of which stem from our assumptions before we made the pivot to split profits with the Alzheimer's Association. Our customer segments changed when we made our pivot. Our initial customer segments were thosewho would benefit from having a set of wristbands that had a different reminder on each one. These segments were the "Busy College Student" who would benefit from the utility aspect of having helpful reminders as fashion accessories, and the "Trendy College Student" that would want to wear silicone wristbands because they are still in style. Following our pivot we still focused on college students but different segments of them. The new segments we began to focus on were college students who were actively incolved with charities, and college students who have personally been affected by Alzheimer's. Once we decided to partner with the Alzheimer's Association our costs incurred increased because we were now splitting profits with the organization. The Alzheimer's Association also became one of our key partnerships. The value added by our product changed from helping busy college students stay organized with a fashion accessory that was both trendy and convenient to selling a fashion accessory that a potential customer would be proud to wear because they directly helped spread awareness about a disease.