CS39820 Technology Entrepreneurship: Week 3

Have you ever thought of starting your own business? Entrepreneurship is popular these days and with all the facilities available through the Internet, starting a business has never been easier. I am doing a module on Technology Entrepreneurship at Aberystwyth University (Mauritius) and post about it weekly. Here is what I learned during the third week:

1. Lectures Summary

Lecture 5: Market Research and Marketing Basics

This lecture’s goal was to help us:

  • Evaluate the idea with the potential market
  • Explore what features are really valuable in that market
  • Estimate size of potential market
  • Estimate how much they would be willing to pay
  • Determine competitors and other threats

The information gathered will be used to build our Marketing Plan.

Aspects of Marketing

Marketing is getting the word out to potential customers and presenting the product/service in a such a way that they would want to buy it. To do it properly we need to clarify the different aspects of the idea. This can be done with the help of the following framework(7 O’s):

Occupant – Who are the market?

  • The market can be made of people having a certain:
    • Gender, Age
    • Income, Occupation, Education
    • Religion, Race, Nationality
    • Lifestyle Type, Personality
  • Estimating the size of the market (forecasting)

Object – What do they buy?

  • Analysing similar product on the market (Competitor Analysis)
  • Coming up with how to position the product in this space

Objective – Why do they buy?

  • Identify why they currently buy the existing products (needs/wants)
  • State why they should buy yours (USP’s)

Organisation – Who buys?

The potential customers can be:

  • Individuals
  • Peer groups
  • Consortia

Operations – How do they buy?

The potential customers might want to pay using:

  • Cash
  • Credit Card
  • Purchase Order

Occasion – When do they buy?

The potential customers might want to pay for the product:

  • Only once
  • Daily, Weekly, Monthly
  • On special occasions

Outlet – Where do they buy?

The potential customers might want to buy the product from:

  • The Web
  • Phone applications
  • Stores
  • Fairs

Market Research

Market research is the process of gathering and reporting on opportunities and problems related to the marketing of goods or services. It can be used to determine the 7 O’s and to answer other questions such as:

  • What market/s should we be in?
  • Are there/Will there be any changes in our market?
  • How can we mitigate our risk?
  • Where does this product/service fit in our portfolio and customer offer?

Here are the steps to carry out market research:

1. Define the problem

The purpose of the research.

2. Define the research objectives

The information that needs to be gathered.

3. Choose data sources

  • Field Research (Original/Primary data)
    • Surveys, Questionnaires
    • Interviews, Consumer Panels
    • Experiments, Observation
  • Desk Research (Pre-existing data)
    • Reports and Statistics
    • Government
    • Research Organisations
    • Electronic Sources

4. Choose appropriate research methods

Different types of market research are used for different goals:

  • Market Research – Who want the product
  • Product Research – What does the market want
  • Price Research – How much does the potential customers want to pay
  • Promotion Research – How to advertise the product
  • Distribution Research – How to get the product to the customers

The different types of market research use different type of questions:

  • Demographics Questions – Identify possible market segment
    • Age, Gender, Profession, Income etc..
  • Psycho-graphics Questions – Identify possible market segment
    • Interests, Hobbies, Opinion etc..
  • Buying patterns Questions – Identify Pricing, Distribution, Advertising target
    • Who makes buying decisions, How often, Typical budget etc..
  • Benefits Questions – Identify Advertising target, Marketing strategy
    • Features, Motivators, Needs, Wants etc..

5. Construct a sample

The product’s benefits or unique features can be used to determine an audience that can be sampled. They can be contacted:

  • on Social Media (Twitter, Facebook etc..)
  • in Person (on parking etc)

6. Undertake research Analyse and Evaluate results

  • Quantitative (Sales volume, Revenue, Market Share, Growth)
    • Measurements (Numerical data)
    • Structured
    • Statistically valid
  • Qualitative (Values, Attitudes, Opinions)
    • Understands customer psychology and lifestyle
    • Deep and detailed
    • Removes pre-judgements

For better results:

  • Find free services (Survey Monkey etc)
  • Find an audience that fits segmentation
  • Avoid bias in sample and questions
  • Introduce the research – Why is the recipient participating and how long it will take (make it short)
  • Do not use Jargon
  • Know what questions needs to be answered and how to process them
  • Have a logical development
  • Allow free spaces for comments
  • Use strong “calls to action”
  • Acknowledge
  • Test it before launching
  • Look for correlations in results

Report

The different market research activities can be documented using the following structure:

  • Title/Contents
  • Executive Summary
  • Research Methodology
  • Findings
  • Conclusions
  • Recommendations
  • (Appendices)

Marketing Mix (The Four P’s of Marketing)

To makes things clearer we can use the market research activity reports and we can make a Marketing Mix stating:

  • Product – The solution we are selling and what makes it unique
  • Price – How much it costs
  • Place – Where it can be bought
  • Promotion – How will people learn about it

Marketing Plan

The Marketing Plan will be the third and final part of the group report. It will contain all the marketing information gathered and will have this suggested structure:

Introduction and Product Description

  • What it does and how
  • What users value

Market for Product

  • Who would be interested (example customers)
  • Minimum price / Price they are willing to pay / Likely market share
  • Competitors / How we are differentiated (USP)
  • Distribution / support

Promotion of Product

  • Advertising / Mailshots / Media and social media / Offers

Justification / support

  • What we did to come to these conclusions (Market Research Activity reports)

Lecture 6: Business Ideas Workshop

We had this workshop to develop further on our business ideas.

2. Project achievements

This week we finally decided who will be filling in for which role. We did it without the Belbin test and decided that all of us will be doing presentation. Below are the role for each member:

  • Arjun – Idea
  • Fisayo – “Leader”
  • Kavi – Technical
  • Nytiennzo – Technical
  • Paul – Admin

On Monday we met after class. Since we were a bit late on the project, we were going with the food ordering app. But it did not seem fair. I suggested that we take another day to think about other ideas and it was approved. I sent a clear description of the instructions given in the first lecture to the group chat.

 

On Tuesday we met after class. I brought this list of random ideas:

I really wanted to do the second one. Kavi had a similar application but concerning only handyman service. I thought that maybe handyman would be a better/more focused start.

Arjun extended the food ordering idea saying that the users of the app themselves could do the delivery to other users. We really liked the idea but then we thought about liability if the food was not good.

The class was divided between food ordering and Handyman. We decided to meet on Friday with our research results on food ordering, Transport and Handyman.

 

On Friday, we went to Fisayo’s place for a meeting. The location was chosen as it was close for most members. He is Kavi’s neighbour and since he lives alone, we will disturb his family.

However, there was a Diwali party at the university on the same day. Arjun had to bring stuff for the party and he could not come to Fisayo’s place. He told us that he would be online on Skype, but we could connect because of very slow Internet.

I brought what I found on the different topics:

At the time I thought that Handyman was the best idea. But that changed when Fisayo asked us “How many of the handymen you know have a smartphone?” My answer to that was 0. We had to change the system to make it more accessible to Handymen.

On the food ordering side + transport side, Paul stated that food is a very sensible stuff and that it would be very hard to get a proper solution. So Fisayo suggested we drop the food part and focus only on transportation: a taxi App similar to Uber.

Paul stated that the government was looking for a way to solve the taxi problem in Mauritius. So we knew that there is a need and that we could get help and funds from the government. This magnitude shift made me a bit hesitant. We started our research on taxi apps in Mauritius and made the following list:

None of them had more than 1 thousand downloads on play store. Fisayo suggested we try one of them to see “What they are doing wrong” and if the idea is really viable.

Meanwhile we started to think about a grocery price comparison site/app. We did our research and could not find any for Mauritius. The idea seemed cool but we could not think of ways to monetise it. Also the supermarkets might not want to cooperate.

We decided to do more research on transport and supermarkets for the next meeting.

3. Interesting additional things

This week I listened to the whole Entrepreneurship For Software Developers playlist on YouTube. It was more about entrepreneurship mindset than business guidelines. I learned that:

  • Entrepreneurship is about taking risks and we should act more
  • We should not hope that the world to change for our product
  • We can get good solutions out of bad situations
  • Having an Audience is important
  • Tenacity and positivism are key
  • We should be able to respond directly with alternate options when there is a problem
  • We should not prejudge any potential customer
  • We should not hesitate to use tools to facilitate our life
  • We need to check people with whom we work

I listened to Digital Entrepreneur Episode on The 5 Things Your Customers Actually Want to Buy. The main lesson was that what we want is a stronger drive than what we need and this is why:

  • “Easy” is such a powerful benefit
  • Promoting physical comfort is actually a reward trigger
  • A bored customer can be a great buyer
  • We emphasis on the role of identity and social acknowledgement

Total Time Spent

  • Lectures: 1 hour
  • Group Activity: 5 hours
  • Panopto videos: 1 hour
  • Week Submission: 5 hours
  • Additional Explorations: 7 hours

Total: 19 hours

Questions & Thoughts

This weeks was the real start of the project and we had a lot going on. My question was: Are we getting a guest lecture in Mauritius?

I think that since we have to submit the Idea Proposal Form by next week, we do not have much time to waste.