We’ve spent a lot of time recently discussing the value proposition of our venture ideas. In his UDACITY videos, Steve Blank lists questions we should ask ourselves: “What product or service am I building? For who? What does it solve for these people?” In other words, we need to clarify the product features (the whole package), the gains the customer gets and the pains that we relieve from them.
Well, believe it or not, this is harder than it sounds. We (with the help of Linda “ripping the band-aid off” as expressed by Emily last week) are down to 2 ideas. We spent most of last week’s class figuring out the value proposition of each of these ideas: from the exact features of each to what each customer segment could gain from them. It was a great conversation to have, because it turned out we all had a different idea of what each of these businesses was going to look like.
So, it was time to get out of the building and do some hypothesizing.
As I interview people this week, I’m trying to keep some of Robert Baron’s ideas in my brain. In his article, “Opportunity Recognition as Pattern Recognition:How Entrepreneurs “Connect the Dots” to Identify New Business Opportunities,” Baron states that there are three main contributors that help entrepreneurs recognize opportunities.First, we must engage in an active search for opportunities. (Check!) I do think my classmates and I have covered this already in our ideation process, but I also think we have all been keeping our eyes open for other options. Which leads us to number two: be alert to opportunities. This also goes back to Steve Blank, who encourages entrepreneurs to be wiling to pivot. Oh that didn’t work? Try a new direction. Pivot! PIVOT!
And finally, having prior knowledge to the market is important. Why, just this morning Linda forwarded us an email about a business venture that sounds similar to one of our ideas. It’s important to be aware of what’s happening around us.
I remember once, while sitting in the green room between morning shows at a children’s theater in NYC, hearing a staff member sing loudly to the tired high school interns she was training: “I’M ALIVE, ALERT, AWAKE, ENTHUSIASTIC. I’M ALIVE, ALERT, AWAKE, ENTHUSIASTIC. I’M ALIVE ALERT AWAKE, I’M AWAKE ALERT ALIVE, I’M ALIVE, ALERT, AWAKE, ENTHUSIASTIC!” (Maybe you need a tune to truly understand, but I’m trying to say that I, as an entrepreneur, plan on being ALIVE, ALERT, AWAKE and ENTHUSIASTIC.
 Baron, Robert. ““Opportunity Recognition as Pattern Recognition: How Entrepreneurs “Connect the Dots” to Identify New Business Opportunities,” Academy of Management Perspective, February 2006, p. 104-119.