The Man In The Mirror!
– a lookback by a former SEP winner on his journey to entrepreneurship
Hi. I’m Jack and I took part in the Student Enterprise Programme in 2019, winning the ‘Best Commercial Potential’ prize at the National Final with my company Mirr (www.mirr.tech). Well over a year later and I’m still working on Mirr and we are preparing to step into the world of manufacturing.
Mirr is a touch screen smart mirror. This was new technology and the business was driven on innovation, but through the process of bringing it from a cool piece of engineering to a product I had to make sure it was something people actually wanted. Not that I was just making something for me.
This distinction of who the innovation was for was perhaps the most valuable learning I gained from the experience; the value of feedback and testing in innovation.
All businesses are selling solutions to a problem -and whether you’re coming up with a solution to an unsolved problem, or offering an alternative to an existing solution, you’re still innovating. The easiest way to make sure you’re on the right track is to test your solution and take in feedback from your users. The best way to start this is to clearly outline the problem you aim to solve, and find people with the same issue. Present them your solution and take any and all feedback, making sure to keep notes and document it all.
Here are my top tips!
-I’d recommend inserting each feedback session into a spreadsheet, trying to quantify as much as you can. That way you can easily identify trends, problems and recommendations. The next stage is to use this feedback to make changes to your product, then rinse and repeat as frequently as necessary.
-I would encourage early on in the product development to test and innovate the product as frequently as possible.
-Don’t wait to add multiple changes at once, implement each change after a feedback session and then document and test it again. That way not only are you showing constant acceleration in innovation but if you make a change that negatively affects the solution it’s much easier to identify and you wont spend valuable time and effort developing a feature that may not work. It’s also a great way to keep implementation simple, innovation is rarely about the complexity of the input.
-If you plan to implement in the a barebones version of a feature you can then receive feedback on it and choose to only develop the useful aspects of it – simplifying the input but keeping the desired change in the output. This is in essence an off-shoot of the ‘Lean Development Method’ but simplified and generalised not just for software development. If you’ve further interest in the Lean Method, there’s a great guide by Roadmunk (https://roadmunk.com/guides/lean-development/)
That’s all I’ve got – I wanna keep this simple and to the point. If anyone is taking part this year in the Student Enterprise Programme and would like any advice or just feedback on anything please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at MIRR. We can be found on Instagram or twitter @mirr_ire or feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org
Best of luck!