InCube from Inside (Part IV) – Hard work in the storm.

Sunday: do not go gentle into that good night

©Raisa Durandi

Remember I went home on Saturday at 1am ? Yes, it was definitely a misery to wake up on time and caught an early empty 69 bus heading to Polyterrasse. But I still managed to arrive at 9 am. The weather was cloudy and cold, but event helpers from ETH Entrepreneur Club was already guarding the cube from outside since 6 am. The helpers were always around to guarantee everything goes smooth. They were the silent hero behind the scene. We cannot thank them anymore.

 

And, as always, the Shiz-Academy was already polishing their cube and prepared for a fresh day. The task ahead of them was prototype testing, developing business canvas and making their pitch deck. The endmark of the Sunday would be their final prototype.Before they went to bed on the Saturday evening, they developed two prototypes. They experienced lots of negative moments on Saturday, including teamwork falling apart, doubt in the process and drain of energy. And these two prototypes were developed after they successfully refueled themselves and picked it up. They gave up the problem statement they had. Found a new one. And developed prototypes. They were feeling confident before going to bed. Surely, they were confident to test their ideas on Sunday morning.

After debriefing the Sunday task, they directly went out to the interview and gathered feedback for discussion. Then, it came to a point where they will learn how interviews could ended up differently. As one important piece of Design Thinking process, interviews is all about getting the honest feedback on your product. It is the moment where you could realise if your product is solving an non-existing need or a real one.

The team sat down to unwrap the insights from the interview. The prototype they were testing was an knowledge exchange social network, where people could anonymously and individually ask the right person about their personal development questions. As of no surprise, the feedback they got were really diverse. Some people thought they never need this and some thought it could be useful. Then, it’s confusion again. The team tried to unwrap the interview procedure as detailed as possible. They wanted to know if any of the feedback they got was a result of selling the prototype or just simply presenting it without defensive attitude. The discussion went long and directed to different paths.

So, here they were again at a confusion point. What’s different was, the team was keep challenging their problem statements and prototypes to determine: if it’s a real need and a must have, or something just nice to be there. In fact, they were always asking this questions persistently and relentlessly.

When the confusion was rising, the entrepreneurial expert, Dominik, visited us as scheduled. He was active in startup scene and had experience working in startups. This was a perfect moment that the team urgently needed someone‘s real feedback from the real world. The team seized the chance and pitched their two ideas to the him. But the idea was hit hard on different aspects, but especially, on monetizing. Indeed, that’s the reality. Your prototype needs a reliable business model.

Moreover, the expert shared his startup experience on other details as well. Very quickly, the team found him very helpful and wanted him to be back again in the later of the day. Because they decided to go after another idea, which came from the real-world education problem that themselves are facing.

The time was already Sunday noon. And the team decided to go after a complete new problem statement and idea, bearing the fact that the final pitch of InCube is barely 30 hours ahead.

Clock is ticking and they had to deliver.

Recognising the time is running out, they started to redo the problem statement, prototype and business canvas around the new idea quickly. Although it’s in fact ditching everything that they had worked out, the spirit of Design Thinking is to fall in love the problem and not solution. Hence, it’s encouraging to go after a real problem they like, no matter what it takes to finish. In addition, they were all clear about the risk they were taking.

While they were working hard on the new idea, the weather outside was starting to show an angry face. In the early evening, it started showering with strong storm outside. In general, evening was the time when the team were most concentrated. Because during the day, they could easily got distracted by the people walking by around the cube. While during the evening, outside turned to almost complete darkness, the brightening cube sitting on Polyterrasse alone was like a small ship sailing across the oceans in the dark. The lightening was not strong enough to be cautious or afraid of. But the dedication in the storm night was surely their key to win out the weather and win out the others.

What came more surprisingly was the revisit of Dominik in the evening. He was one crazy startup man with dedicated attitude. While the storm was blowing hard and rain punching on the windows, he kept giving his advices and experience. Although he was not participant, he definitely held the same spirit.

The idea got developed very fast and everything was moving quickly. The team was trying very hard to catch up the time. It was stressing but exciting at the same time. The most beautiful thing was, they still got a whole night to make everything possible.

The energy was very positive. I stayed until half past 12 and had to catch the last tram back home. When I left the cube, the storm was was weaker and the rain stopped. But what didn’t stop there was the hard work.  A poem by Dylan Thomas suited very well to describe the Sunday evening:

“Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

 

After three days of ups and downs and hardwork, the final day is knocking at the door. Is the team ready to brace the challenge? Would they managed to catch up the time? Who would be the final winner?

Stay tuned for the next and last post. “ Monday: The Finale”.

 

Shirzart Enwer was InCube participant 2017, co-organiser 2018 and cube facilitator for the Education Team on Polyterasse during InCube 2018. He is doing his Master studies in environmental engineering at ETH.