Of Roller Coasters and Feature - laden Products

By Marius Messerschmied - Participant in Journey programme 2017. Blog 4

The past two weeks in Munich felt like a rollercoaster ride - fun, constantly alternating ups and downs and unexpected turns - ending with the win of the audience award at the pitch rehearsal session.

But let’s start from the beginning. After we had crystallized our challenge at the end of our first leg in Bologna (see last blog entry), the second leg in Munich was characterized by finding and developing solutions: We kicked-off the two weeks in Munich with an extensive ideation session followed by low-fidelity prototyping and stakeholder research. As my team’s challenge revolves around making use of the by-products (especially spent grain) that occur during the beer brewing process, we went out to talk to small and mid-size breweries and craft beer shops. Apart from validating our assumptions made when defining the challenge, we also discussed potential solutions with them. The final solution we decided to focus on converts brewery’s spent grain into tasty and healthy gourmet snacks.

In the following days, we then had further discussions with several startup advisors, whereby negative and positive feedback were alternating. After some moments in which we were considering a radical pivot, a Friday afternoon session at the Impact Hub Munich encouraged us to stick with our general idea. In the so-called “kaleidoscope” format fellow students as well as experienced social entrepreneurs gave us input on the general idea as well as on how to exactly position our product. While their opinions regarding the general direction were very uniform, they differed quite significantly for the latter.

As we received similar feedback also from the judges during the pitch rehearsal last Thursday, it again made me reflect on the role of this input and how to work with it. On the one hand, constructive remarks and suggestions can help to drive the development of products forward and identify inconsistencies. On the other hand, it is also easy to get caught up in the vast amount of comments. Thus, it is crucial to be aware that it is never possible to please everyone and that you have to prioritize and find a sweet spot. Otherwise you end up with an undifferentiated, feature-laden product. Exactly this we are going to take heed of as we are going into the final days of the Journey which the grand finale coming up on Thursday.