Enhance Productivity and Efficiency with Stephen’s Innovation Insights

Innovation Insights by Stephen Shapiro

As many of you know, I have been involved with an incredible movement called Girl Starter. The goal is to empower young women to launch their own businesses by giving them the tools and support they need to be successful.

I first got involved during the filming of the television show. Season 1 (6 episodes) aired on TLC between April and June of 2017. It is being rebroadcast on the Discovery Family network.

However, now that the final episode has been aired to the public, I can finally share snippets of the videos with you.

The first episode I appeared on was Episode 2: Plan It. This is the week where the girls developed their initial ideas, launched in Episode 1: Start It, and create their plans. They gathered input from the market (by conducting surveys on the street). And they presented their ideas to the mentors. This week’s mentors were yours truly and Tiffany Pham Founder and CEO of Mogul.

This two minute video contains highlights from some of the feedback sessions. The three teams that are included here are the ones that were eventually eliminated from the competition. Here’s my post-mortem on what happened with some ideas of what you can do in your business:

  • Team #1 initially wanted to create a television show about social media stars (or something like that – I was never quite sure what they were developing and I don’t think they were either). The concept evolved over time, but as you can see in the video, they struggled to get clarity around why anyone would care. My feedback to them – “If someone else hasn’t done it, there may be a very good reason.” Just because you can bring a new concept to market, doesn’t mean you should. Although customers may not always know what they want, in some cases it is clear what they do not want.  Don’t throw good money after bad. Cut your losses and move on. In this case, their lack of value cost them dearly and, as a result, theirs was the first team eliminated in this Episode.
  • Team #2 had something with potential. The idea was broadly around how self-care is the new health-care (I loved that mantra). Unfortunately, “broadly” was the word that hurt them. They never got clarity about what the business was – and more importantly – what it wasn’t. They were trying to solve every health care problem ranging from true mental health issues (there are already plenty of apps for that with licensed therapists) to proper breathing, and skin care treatments to natural supplements. I really liked this team and their potential. Although the two co-founders were technically minded and very bright, their inability to present their business concept clearly hurt them. Although they were not eliminated this week, they also didn’t win any of the challenges this week.
  • Team #3 was working on a product-based company designed around cookies as conversation starters. I loved the general concept. It was the only non-digital business in the competition, and I really liked that. What worked for this team is that both of the women had successful businesses that they previously launched. So they had a leg-up on the other teams in that they already knew business fundamentals. The thing that worked against them is that both women already had successful businesses! As founders of existing product companies, the young women were interestingly at a disadvantage in this early planning moment as, given their combined experience and confidence as business creators, they were less open to crucial and impactful feedback from the mentors than their less experienced competitors. They therefore lost an early challenge they might have otherwise won.
  • Team #4 is not featured in this video, but they will be in the future. Their business started off as a wide range of offerings for the artist community. Their first thought was a physical co-working space. It seemed overly ambitious and lacked focus. Over the course of the week, they listened carefully to the feedback from the mentors and the market and they pivoted. Instead of a physical space, they changed direction and decided to focus on creating a mobile app designed to help artists find each other and collaborate virtually. The fact that they adjusted their plans and focused more narrowly on something achievable, this team was awarded the $10,000 prize this week.

The show was a brilliant microcosm of what happens in the real world with innovation and business start-ups. The young founders grappled with big issues in a short amount of time, demonstrating their grit and passion, and inspiring audiences around all things start up!

I will be posting more clips with more analysis over time.

Please help support Girl Starter with their mission by sharing this article and telling everyone about the great work they do! Visit www.girlstarter.com to learn about the six steps: Start It, Plan It, Prove It,  Build It, Brand It, Fund It. 

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