This course is for second-year MBA students who have completed Launch Your Startup, have a clear startup idea, conducted basic customer discovery, and developed a preliminary MVP. The course will enable students to optimize their MVP based upon iteratively produced customer input and be prepared to advance their product to the marketplace. We will first take a deep dive into students’ initial discovery work to revisit their findings, check assumptions, and discuss what more students need to learn about their product and customers.
As the course proceeds, we will answer the following questions: Does their product answer a manifest or latent customer need and, if so, is the need one the entrepreneur expected? How might their product enhance customers’ lives? Is it distinctive enough to win buyers in a competitive marketplace? How can their product be improved with customer input? How do customers judge its value and how can the value be conveyed persuasively? How might the product be positioned in the marketplace? Students will revise their MVPs based on their learning from customers and assess evolving versions sequentially, optimizing as they proceed.
This course stresses qualitative market research methods to deeply and contextually explore, assess, and improve start-up ideas. It provides students with specific tools for conducting probing one-on-one interviews, illuminating focus groups, and disciplined ethnographies – all in the interest of building customer-driven products that have strong marketplace potential.
Lecturer in Business
Robert J. Morais is an anthropologist with a 35+ year career in advertising and market research, and a Lecturer at Columbia Business School. He spent 25 years with advertising agencies, rising to Chief Strategic Officer, and 11 years as a Principal/Owner at a market research firm. He has worked with Procter & Gamble, GlaxoSmithKline, WD-40, Coca-Cola, Post Foods, Danone, Hain Celestial, Safeway, Sabra, Pinnacle Foods, Sunny...