In all my entrepreneurship classes I try to have an early stage entrepreneur serve as the course project. Effectively, the students develop the go to market strategy for an early stage company (or an idea) within the resource constraints of real entrepreneurs. This semester I have three projects running with three different entrepreneurs. One entrepreneur is ecstatic with the results, one entrepreneur is very pleased to have access to the resources of the university and the third project is struggling because we cannot find a customer/market for the product. This is the big unstated secret in Project 3, we do not know who to sell the product to--until yesterday.
Yesterday we were going over the fourth round of research on different possible customers. We were looking at interviews with the disabled that the students conducted and also learning about whether the product would be approved by Medicare. A discussion of pivoting to robotic wheelchairs prompted a student to relate a story from her home country of Sweden about the launch of a specialized elevator. As soon as she told the story six people all knew what the market for the product was. I have never seen six people all have the same insight at the same time, but it was very obvious that this was a high quality idea and the answer to the unstated problem. Of course more study and thinking is required, but the whole class felt better that we now had a good working hypothesis. Very pleased that collaboration produced the idea. Very pleased that so many students were relieved we finally had found a good hypothesis. Didn't think they took these projects so seriously and personally.
Takeaway: It is true that you know a good idea when you see it. You just have to keep working on the problem until you have a breakthrough. This article is a nice compilation of techniques for more creative thought, "The Myths We All Believe About Breakthrough Thinking". Particularly valuable article for engineers.
In September I will need two entrepreneurs/startups for my new classes. Would prefer one consumer products company and one tech company (any field). If you or someone you know is interested to go through 12 weeks of analysis, consulting and development for an idea or early stage company...to go to market or develop a growth plan, please contact me.
The last article on a related theme, "Three Types of Innovation".