Tuesday, May 6, 2014

TI:GER Program wrap up

Well, after two years of preparing for graduation, I was caught by surprise when it actually happened. Now that the festivities have ended (and my family has returned home), I've been able to reflect on my time in the TI:GER program. 

Graduating is bittersweet. These past two years have been a tremendous gift and have allowed me to focus on my personal and professional development in a way that few adults are given the opportunity to do. The saying that youth is wasted on the young might have some truth to it. 

Through the TI:GER program I've had some amazing experiences, networked with some incredible men and women in the Atlanta start-up community, and gained a great group of friends. Additionally, I've learned how to work better in interdisciplinary teams, how to deal with uncertainty, and how to fail fast. This experience has certainly formed the cornerstone of my MBA experience and I can't imagine being as prepared to return to the workforce as I am without it. 

Before I turn the blog back to Margi and next years students, I wanted to leave you all with my two greatest lessons from this semester, and I'll use my recent Ben Franklin readings to frame them. 

1) "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." This semester, more so than my previous three, my team was able to effectively divide work but still form a cohesive report at the end of the project. I attribute this not only to my great teammates (shout out!) but also to our upfront planning. Previously our divide and conqueror approach would come early in the process. We would go out independently, do our research, then bring our big pile together and try to craft a cohesive document from it. This semester we moved the planning and outlining stage to before the research stage. Essentially our team would meet, determine what information (specifically) we needed to proceed, then break and look for it independently. This made the end of the semester paper writing and compiling much smoother and really helped ease the time burden during a stressful finals week. 

2) "Think of three things: Whence you came, Where you are going, And to whom you must account." Forgive me for taking this quote out of context and fitting it into my "consulting is a skill" box but I think it works. This for me is the simplest expression of how to structure projects. Our sponsor was great at giving our team a wide array of projects and let us select which one we thought would be interesting and achievable given our education and work backgrounds. Once we had selected a project, our team would get clear client goals for the project, forming the foundation of our accountability. Lastly, our team would decide what our goal was (presentation, report, etc) and would make sure that all of our work was leading to that final product via the outlining process described above. By understanding our strengths, our goal, and our client, we were able to work quickly and effectively on this project. 

Once again, thanks for reading these posts. It's been a great experience for me and I've gotten a chance to talk with several of my readers via email or in person. I wish you all the best, wherever the road takes you! 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Marketing Claims Research

Happy March readers! Spring break is just around the corner and after a busy midterms season, I’m in need of some time off. This semester has been as hectic as my other three but I can see the finish line in sight. I can’t believe I’ve only got two months left at school, time has flow by!

So far this semester my TI:GER project has been focused on creating and ranking marketing claims for an biotechnology start-up. While there are claims that any medical device company needs to make in order to achieve FDA approval (efficacy and safety claims), there are also a wide array of other claims such a company would like to be able to make for marketing purposes.

Through our team’s research of competitor companies, we generated a list of claims that other medical devices in our field used to distinguish themselves from the current technology. This process involved going to competitors websites to find the claims and then reading the actual studies that were undertaken to back up these assertions. Most start-ups need to be lean and make sure their money is spent in the most effective way possible. By understanding not only what claims were being made in the market, but also the underlying testing required, our team was able to develop a cost vs. claim table.

After we generated our unranked list of claims and associated tests, we met with our client to determine next steps. Our client was pleased with our progress but needed our team to go the next step and rank our recommendations. These rankings were done in concert with the client as well as through competitor research. Our final deliverable was a set of the top 10 claims the start-up should test for in order to truly differentiate them in the market.

The next step is to vet these claims with current users of the technology. The next phase of our project (market entry analysis) will provide our team with ample time to speak to actual users and discover what would be the most important factors to them when considering changing technologies. Phase one of our project has been a blast and I’m excited about the next steps! 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Spring 2014 Kickoff!

As always, the fall semester flew by and now I'm starting my fourth and final semester in the TI:GER program. My time in the program has been marked by constantly evolving projects and the opportunity to continue to explore new markets and my current project is no exception. Our team last semester supported NextInput  and (hopefully) was able to provide them with some interesting research that will help drive their start-up forward. As always with consulting projects, the work depends on the needs of the companies, and NextInput did not have enough of the right kind of work this semester to have a TI:GER team on board. Luckily, I was able to switch projects this semester to work with a new medical device start-up! 

My new project offers an exciting change of pace and is my first foray into the exciting (and complicated) field of medical devices. Several of my fellow TI:GER students have been working with a variety of medical device projects over the past year and a half and I'm glad to finally get a chance to do some work in this field. With the added wrinkle of FDA approval and increasing legal regulations, this market should prove to be challenging but very rewarding to work in. 

I'm heading up the market entry plan aspects of the project. The start-up has several potential markets to enter first and selecting which market is critical to the widespread adoption of the technology. Some markets are more fragmented, some are more centralized. Some are large but broad, others are smaller and narrower in focus. Some have high barriers to entry, some are lower. 

Hopefully through our teams research, we will be able to guide our company towards the market that will allow quick penetration and return on their investment. We know the best way to go about this research will involve getting out of the building and start interviewing some key stakeholders within each potential market. I hope to use my past experiences in the program to make this last consulting project run smoothly and provide more actionable results!  

All in all, I'm very excited about my new team and our new project. I've already been exposed to several emerging markets through the TI:GER program and am glad to add another to that list.