As you may have read in my previous post, Anya, Margaret, Maclean, and I decided to continue our design challenge, a more sustainable recycling/trash bin combo, as a CoVenture. Since we split off, we have done a lot of research and consulted with several experts. At first, we had a very specific vision for our first product, we would make it out of wood, we would have a small scale to measure how much waste is being recycled, and the top would be a surface a teacher could use to reduce clutter around the room. However, as we continued to do research, we realized that there was a large computer science aspect to putting a scale into our prototype, which none of us are familiar with, so we decided as a group to hold that off until a later iteration. We also decided to change materials for our first product because we want our bin to be not only portable and easy to assemble, but also be recyclable itself. We also decided to change materials because we discovered products that are very similar to ours, but we didn’t find one made out of cardboard, so it adds a unique aspect to our product. We also met with Mr. Jones, a venture investor, who we connected with because he is a parent of an MVPS student and is funding a project somewhat similar to ours. We met with him last Thursday for about an hour and he advised us on how to go forward and taught us a lot. He identified a lot of the questions we still have to answer such as “Is your product a social innovation or a commercial innovation?” and “What outside expertise do you need to complete your product?.” This really got us thinking about what our final vision of this product is. We decided that we want to make a social change in the school, not to make any money. He also inspired us to seek help from Mr. Edwards’s TED class to help with the CAD aspect as we only have one CAD expert and it was getting done very slowly. This will not only help us speed up the CAD process and give the TED class experience, but will also give some exposure to our product and the problem in the middle school. Mr. Jones also recommended that we make a business plan before we pitch to a company if we move forward beyond the school. I believe that this will surprise companies we are pitching to because they might expect a group of high school students who know nothing about a business pitch, and be blown away by our level of knowledge and preparedness. As of right now, we don’t know a whole lot about business plans, but Mr. Jones was kind enough to give us an outline of one. A business plan consists of: target market, is there a need to fill?, description of product, plan for getting materials (money, expertise, tools, manpower, etc…), plan of how to put it on market (advertisements, website).
Though our talk with Mr. Jones was very helpful and brought to light some things we should consider, we still have a lot of work to do. Because we are in the early stages of our product design, we can still pivot easily. Like when we switched from wood to cardboard, we were faced with an obstacle and were able to instantly pivot and avoid those obstacles, it’s like you are drawing your own path. I would personally value advice from the facilitators, because when we were with iD as a whole, sometimes the facilitators would listen to our conversations, ideas, and our thought process and chime in, asking us questions and telling us what ideas to zoom in or out on. However, as much as I value it, the process and the outcome will be so much more valuable since we have little advice from the facilitators and we will know that we mainly got there on our own.