The Pilot Project

Vision

SBC - The Student Buying Club

Our vision is that students will be able to combine their buying power to get good deals on products and services that they want.

There are many open questions for each team to play around with: Where do the products come from? What kinds of products? How about services? What price ranges? Merchants? Local or national distributors? Other students? Why would the students use this? Why would the sellers uyse this? Is it an auction, a blind auction, a fixed price? All of the above? What about delivery?

Process

For the first 4 weeks of the course we will focused on the “Lean Startup” approach to validating a vision for a project, pivoting as necessary to achieve a product-market fit. We will divide students into groups of 5 or so, and each group will work independently to use the process on the vision for a product described below.

  1. Class is divided into 5-student teams. You are a study group. You will work together to understand the ideas of Lean Startup and apply them to the Pilot Project.

  2. During the first 4 weeks we will rapidly cover the Lean Startup approach and concepts. In that time you will read about half the book.

  3. Each pilot team is required to meet at least 2 hours per week outside of class as a study group to learn from each other and work on group homeworks.

  4. The pilot project will end with a class when each of the teams present their deliverables for the pilot project.

Pilot Project Report

What to “hand in”

  • A report/discussion of 2-5 pages covering the elements of the lean startup process
  • Written as a google doc (later submitted as a pdf)
  • All team members should submit the same paper to Latte. All students on a team will get the same grade.

Tips

  • Try to be clear and specific, allow the reader to be able to distinguish your product from all the other ones.
  • Pay attention to the overall impression that your paper makes. Is it well organized? Is it well written (good English)? Is it pleasant to read? Does it follow a logical structure? Is there an Introduction and a conclusion?
  • It is often helpful if you can have some diagrams or images or tables or charts. They break up the text and make the report easier to digest.
Key information for the report

There is no set outline for this report, but here are some suggestions (in no specific order) of content to be included..

You should have a high level (one-line) description of the product. This needs to be catchy but also descriptive. It’s surprisingly common for a reader to literally not understand the product. The reader must be able to understand what the product does for them, and something about how it will do that. Sometimes another way to look at this is to have an elevator pitch for the product (see: Elevator Pitch). No matter what, there should be a clear description of your product. Include a list of top features.

You need to address the characteristics of the market(s) that your product targets? Within that frame think about the engines of growth: What are some of the ways in which this can grow? Which of the types of engine of growth do you think would work.

You should be specific about your hypotheses: What type of hypothesis? (customer, problem, etc.) Any leap of faith? Which ones did you validate and which ones failed? By what evidence? And hopefully, even at this early stage you have some data from “out of the building”. What tools and techniques did you use, what were the results? Which ones would you still like to validate? What dead ends did you pursue?

Related to this, what MVP(s) did you create or would you create? Think about how you did or would use it to validate the hypotheses? Did you pivot during the pilot project? What other pivots would you anticipate and why? How would you handle them?

It’s ok to list ideas or steps that you intended to take but ran out of time or resources. Or to indicate “next steps if we had more time.”

And finally, don’t forget to reflect on the experience: How did your team operate? Were there any conflicts? How well did the LS work for you? What challenges did you have to overcome? And do you think this product would work? Could it make money? Would you invest in it?