Four students from UC Berkeley formed Team Blossom for their Lean LaunchPad course and embarked on their 10-week journey in search for a repeatable and scalable business model.
The team started with an idea for a mobile application intended for public schools. Studies demonstrated a strong correlation between a child's performance at school and their parent's involvement with homework, inspiring Team Blossom to build a mobile application that would enable parents to engage with their child at school and connect with teachers. Before building the application, the Lean LaunchPad class challenged Team Blossom to validate their hypotheses by talking to prospective customers.
During the course of 10 weeks, Team Blossom conducted 130 interviews with potential customers, stakeholders, funders, and influencers. Through the Lean Launchpad process, the team gained 10 key insights into the EdTech industry, which led to 2 key pivots, and most importantly, a better understanding of their customer. The team developed a deep understanding and appreciation of the time constraints and day-to-day challenges that teachers face in the midst of implementing and adopting new technology in the classroom. Team Blossom also discovered that private schools voiced more interest in their mobile app solution, and through a successful customer segment pivot, Blossom was able to secure key customer relationships with these schools.
By the end of the class, the team’s business idea had evolved into a mobile application tailored to connect parents, teachers, and students by enabling students to directly share their work with their parents while at school. Moreover, by taking the time to talk to prospective customers and identify their core needs and pain points, Team Blossom successfully secured 6 private schools as customers with a minimum viable product.
130 Customer Interviews
10 Key Industry Insights
6 Paying Customers
IDENTIFYING THE RIGHT CUSTOMERS
More startups fail from a lack of customers than from a failure of product development. By having the opportunity to input and track all their customer development efforts, Team Blossom was able to test their business model assumptions and synthesize team insights on an ongoing basis. Simultaneously, Team Blossom received feedback and guidance from their instructors and mentors throughout their innovation journey. The qualitative and quantitative data collected through the platform empowered the team to shift its focus from two broadly outlined customer archetypes in Week 1, to four clearly defined customer segments by Week 10.
KNOWING HOW TO BUILD A COMPELLING PRODUCT
At the start of the Lean LaunchPad course, teams often find it easy to develop their customer interview lists by tapping into their personal and professional networks. However, around Weeks 4-5, teams typically exhaust their networks and struggle to find interview candidates, in addition to maintaining the momentum of their Customer Discovery process. For Team Blossom, maintaining customer interviews was essential, as this process led to two key determining pivots during their Lean LaunchPad journey. In Week 9, just three weeks before the end of the course, the new insights gleaned from their customer interviews led to Team Blossom’s second major pivot. Within a week, Team Blossom successfully refined the key value propositions of their product, established pilot customers, and developed a scalable business model.
TAKEAWAYS FOR THE FUTURE
As a result of the 10-week Lean LaunchPad course, Team Blossom identified two invaluable takeaways for their future business endeavors: the power of customer discovery and the willingness to pivot. By connecting with customers early and often, and synthesizing data to iterate upon their business model, the team was able to qualify and quantify the real value they were trying to create. Conclusively, Blossom’s flexibility to shift between assumptions and feedback, and pivot when necessary, enabled the team to validate a thoroughly-researched and developed product with the appropriate target market. When viewing Team Blossom’s weekly Business Model Canvas snapshots, something that is not easily captured becomes clear: the entrepreneurial process and team progress in motion.