Having completed I&E 281 with Professors Toon, Hallford, and Azhar, I was able to acquire a wide-spanning perspective of lean innovation practices, product analysis, and how to apply the skills in a real-world setting.
During the first of three sections of class taught by Professor Toon, I learned the hard-skills of competitive landscape identification, market segmentation, and value proposition through lectures and case studies. At the same time, many interesting Duke alums and lecturers from industry visited each class and explained what types of decisions made their companies successful. I gained a diverse understanding of many types of startups from med-tech to real-estate, what works and what doesn’t and why. The midterm of this section of class focused on conducting an analysis of Adworks, an online real estate marketing service.
During the second section taught by Professor Hallford, I was able to apply the previously learned skills in multiple biomedical device case studies. I really enjoyed this part of the class and found it extremely relevant to my goals, as we analyzed real devices like Sparo Labs’ “Wing,” and whether or not it would succeed in its market. Instead of simply discussing the concepts, we were encouraged to answer questions and discuss out-loud in
class. It reminded me a lot of a product design meeting, where the group collaborated to identify pros and cons, what direction the product should take to be successful. Moreover, we focused heavily on the FDA Regulation Process and how certain types of medicines and devices are approved for a patent. This was an excellent topic for me to cover since many of the concepts can come into play for medical device design. For the midterm of this portion of the class, I reported on the potential of a device that prevents involuntary urination, how it would fare in its market.
The final portion of the class integrated everything together, as lectures with Azhar focused heavily on application. In the end, the class was separated into groups of 6-7 and chose a real company or product to analyze. My team chose to look at Opendoor, the potential “Uber of Real Estate.” The main idea to look at was scalability and cost, so we conducted research on the real estate market, its fluctuations, and the market for Opendoor. Creating the slide-deck and delivering the presentation to the class was the prefect way to practice these hands-on skills.
Overall, I&E 281 introduced me to “Technology and Commercialization” in a more understandable, concrete, and usable way. Before, startups and innovation were somewhat abstract concepts to me, but now I understand innovation as something one can control, conducting it like an experiment, and managing decisions to keep the machine rolling. Through this course, I have developed a natural curiosity for Lean Startup Theory and how to refine its practices in a real-world setting. The skills I have learned have built a great foundation for me to pursue my goals in digital health and biotech.