In the Spring of 2018, I took the I&E Capstone course in order to complete the certificate requirements. The capstone acts as a simulation for creating a start-up, specifically focused on identifying a problem that a customer needs solved and coming up with an innovative and entrepreneurial solution for it, rather than just coming up with a “cool idea.” Thus, the entire class centered on this single team project.
Our team prioritized efficiency, and was able to execute through often and clear communication and delegation. Through 25+ interviews with students who had attended CAPS, we identified the problems of anonymity in the waiting room, a high barrier to entry for the first appointment, and an inefficient use of the student’s time. We then utilized design thinking to explore the CAPS customer experience and empathize with them in order to arrive at a solution that would relieve their pain points. From this design thinking session emerged V-Queue, a customizable chat bot that could be used by CAPS to manage a virtual waiting room, creating a more private and time-saving experience for the students.
Through an existing connection, one of our team members was able to present an initial proposal to the Director of CAPS. While we received some feedback and insights, our proposal was ultimately rejected. It was a direct failure. But from it we learned a valuable lesson. For a venture to be sustainable, you have to seek the value, not just a solution. We learned about the importance of assessing the validity of your ideas with the actual paying customer, rather than just those who would benefit.
The course was organized into three modules: Identifying the Problem, Testing the Solution, and Finding the Business. At the end of each module, our group gave a presentation to the class updating them on the progress made and current status of the venture. As a course artifact, I have included the slide deck used for the Module 2 presentation.