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The Rapid Innovation Cycle—An innovation and market testing process for new products and services development

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The Rapid Innovation Cycle (RIC) is an innovation and market testing process that was developed in 2011 out of the need to assess the market potential for new product and service innovations in hopes to improve economic conditions in Spain (Figure 1). The belief is that technology and service innovations represent a strong component of the economic strength of any country (Nothhaft, 2011). The Rapid Innovation Cycle consists of four key phases: Opportunity Recognition, Solution Selection, Market Experimentation and Experimental Results. In each of these four phases, various steps are taken to 1) find a market opportunity 2) define a solution within a given set of constraints (Tasic, 2008), 3) create a market test to assess demand for the proposed solution and 4) use quantitative market test results to make well-informed decisions on a given business venture. Even in its short existence, the Rapid Innovation Cycle has now been used at the high school, undergraduate and graduate levels in order to assist new entrepreneurs, innovators and anyone else who wants to discover if their next big product or service innovation will succeed in the "unforgiving marketplace" (Blank, 2012). A typical challenge to starting a business is understanding product-market fit as these decisions are largely based on assumptions and market trends (Ries, 2011). The RIC aims to address this challenge by applying a series of qualitative and quantitative tools in typical business decision processes. Application of the RIC has helped several startups understand their markets and reduce time finding a sustainable business model. Two RIC cycle based startup companies are described, one from each type of market test: product-and service-oriented.
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The Rapid Innovation CycleAn innovation and market testing process
for new products and services development
Chris D. McCoy1, Zubin Chagpar2, and Igor Tasic3
1University of California, Berkeley, USA cmccoy@faculty.ie.edu
1IE Business School, Madrid, Spain
2IE Business School, Madrid, Spain zchagpar@faculty.ie.edu
3Atlantico Partners,igor.tasic@atlanticopartners.com
ABSTRACT
The Rapid Innovation Cycle (RIC) is an innovation
and market testing process that was developed in
2011 out of the need to assess the market potential
for new product and service innovations in hopes to
improve economic conditions in Spain (Figure 1).
The belief is that technology and service
innovations represent a strong component of the
economic strength of any country (Nothhaft, 2011).
The Rapid Innovation Cycle consists of four key
phases: Opportunity Recognition, Solution
Selection, Market Experimentation and
Experimental Results. In each of these four phases,
various steps are taken to 1) find a market
opportunity 2) define a solution within a given set
of constraints (Tasic, 2008), 3) create a market test
to assess demand for the proposed solution and 4)
use quantitative market test results to make well-
informed decisions on a given business venture.
Even in its short existence, the Rapid Innovation
Cycle has now been used at the high school,
undergraduate and graduate levels in order to assist
new entrepreneurs, innovators and anyone else who
wants to discover if their next big product or
service innovation will succeed in the “unforgiving
marketplace” (Blank, 2012). A typical challenge to
starting a business is understanding product-market
fit as these decisions are largely based on
assumptions and market trends (Ries, 2011). The
RIC aims to address this challenge by applying a
series of qualitative and quantitative tools in typical
business decision processes. Application of the
RIC has helped several startups understand their
markets and reduce time finding a sustainable
business model. Two RIC cycle based startup
companies are described, one from each type of
market test: product- and service-oriented.
Keywords: Hands-on, Rapid Innovation, Rapid
Prototyping, Innovation Process, Minimum Viable
Product, Market Testing, Effectuation, Crowd
Funding, Crowd Sourcing.
I INTRODUCTION
A. Motivations For This Study
In late 2010 in Madrid, Spain, a product “idea” for
smartphones was generated. But upon verbally
describing the market opportunity, sufficient doubt was
expressed amongst fellow engineers, business colleagues,
friends and others whether this “idea” would be a market
success. After hours of tiring and depressing speculations
about its market potential (or lack thereof), the inventor
decided to build a prototype to better explain the “idea”
which would become a “minimum viable product”
(MVP). A MVP can represent both a physical product or
a semi-functional service (via a website, advertisement,
etc.). Each MVP has their own opportunities and
challenges.
However, what typically is a simple prototyping endeavor
in the U.S., the search for a local, low-volume
manufacturer in Madrid, Spain proved to be difficult.
Additionally, the concept of “inventing” something new
received further speculation and awkward looks as
culturally it was apparent that invention and innovation
were uncommon and unwelcome.
Figure 1: The overall global youth unemployment rates for various
countries with Spain topping the chart with 43.5 percent. Source:
Eurostat.
Noting these significant product development and
entrepreneurial challenges present in Spain, the
connection was quickly drawn to its economic recession.
In 2010, general unemployment was approximately ~20
percent and for youth, nearly 50 percent (Figure 1).
Robert Solowa Nobel Prize winning economist
claims that 80 percent of a country’s economic strength is
based on technical innovation. These technical
innovations create business competitive advantage
thereby creating long-lasting local jobs in manufacturing,
packaging, shipping, design, administrative services,
sales, marketing, etc. While Nothhaft focuses on the
entrepreneurial challenges present in the United States,
the motivations for technological innovation remain valid
within any country (Nothhaft, 2011). Other significant
barriers common to entrepreneurship also noted in Spain
are summarized by Sarasvathy (2004). Because of this
need a course on innovation and a new processthe
Rapid Innovation Cyclewere created.
B. Creating the Rapid Innovation Cycle
The observation of how new products and services were
createad (described in the case section) catalyzed the
Rapid Innovation Cycle and drove the creation of the
course Hands-on Rapid Innovation (@HandsOnRI). The
course being based on the following pillars: A set of
innovation tools, an entrepreneurial mindset (Kelley,
2010) and the Rapid Innovation Cycle. The combination
yields a highly project based, intensive and hands on
course on innovation (Figure 2).
Figure 2: The key pillars of the course Hands-on Rapid Innovation
(Twitter.com handle @HandsOnRI).
The product development process of both case studies
highlighted both the local cultural and environmental
challenges present to innovation as well as serving as the
first execution of the RIC and will be described in the
results section.
Figure 3: The Rapid Innovation Cycle (RIC) is an innovation
process intended to help innovators, entrepreneurs, executives, etc.
determine market viability of their new product or service
innovation. The four key phases are shown along with typical cycle
times
II THE RAPID INNOVATION CYCLE
The Rapid Innovation Cycle (Figure 3, Figure 4) is a four
step innovation process designed originally for anyone
who is responsible for generating product or service
innovations that are sustainable and profitable within their
company or startup (these people will be referred to as
RIC participants).
Figure 4: The RIC cycle phases and their key components.
Unlike checklists, algorithms or other processes that
suggest one is “done” upon completing a set of steps or
by inputting data, the RIC requires that within each cycle,
the RIC participant(s) draw valuable insights from the
collected data from the market test and make an informed
decision whether the product, service or internal solution
should be executed and scaled up (this is similar to the
Ries build-test-learn cycle for software companies)
(Ries, 2011). The process can be used iteratively with
varying cycle times, solving market needs both in the
short term and the long term; however the examples in
this research focused on short-term time-to-market
projects (long-term time-to-market example would be the
3D printing of biological structures such as human organs
or bone and heavily relies on significant and time
intensive scientific or technological advancements).
Lastly, it is interesting to note that while many people
have a theoretical background on how business works and
how to successfully launch new companies, fewer have
practical experience; and thus success rate of new
companies is low (a rule of thumb success rate often cited
by Venture Capital partners is about 1 in 10). The Rapid
Innovation Cycle seeks to provide a low-risk method to
practice business thereby ideally improving the success
rate of entrepreneurial startup companies and / or
intraprenurial corporate projects.
The conventional hurdles to enter the marketplace are
sufficiently large to prevent the majority of people
interested in innovation from ever attempting to start a
business that revolves around a product or service idea.
Typical factors affecting innovation are a region’s
education and human capital, governance and corruption,
macroeconomic management, regulatory framework and
gender equity (López-Claros, 2010).
It is unclear how reducing the barriers to creating
innovative companies via innovation processes like the
RIC might impact the publicwould quality decrease?
Would people’s safety be put at risk? Would innovation
happen at a faster rate? Would large companies be
challenged by underdogs, thereby improving product and
service offerings in general?
However, it is hypothesized that the Rapid Innovation
Cycle can actually help answer these questions in the
sense that if an entrepreneur and their team execute
successful market tests that suggest positive return on
investment for their business opportunity, they can be
more confident about investing more into their customers,
the product, the service and the business in general rather
than lose it investing in an unwanted product or service
solution. Venkataraman (2003) describes that “a fear of
realizing the downside of creating a new business biases
one towards analysis. A bias for analysis significantly
decreases the probability of business entry, but increases
the probability of success.” The data collected from the
RIC should assist these types of analyses and therefore
increase the probability of building a successful business.
A. Opportunity Recognition (OR)
The first phase of cycle allows anyone using the RIC to
identify market opportunities. Sarasvathy (2002)
describes opportunity recognition as an obvious
existence of both supply and demand that is identified
and is consequently brought into existence by a new or
existing firm. In the context of the RIC, this phase
typically includes effective brainstorming, seeing
problems as opportunities, constantly looking at the world
with fresh eyes, asking questions like: “what bothers you?
What causes you pain in your business? What keeps you
up at night?”, looking for workarounds (Figure 5),
traveling and any other form of seeing the world around
the observer as a source for numerous market
opportunities.
Figure 5: An example how looking for workarounds can help
identify a problem and define a market accepted solution. A
simple door wedge is nothing new, but applying it to a different
problem and adding features that may be interesting to different
customers present new business opportunities. People exposed to
this “market experiment” subjectively said they would pay about
$US 4.00 for a gadget that costs less than $US 0.40 to produce. The
next step would be to actually sell at that price and see what
percentage of people would actually pay the “claimed” buying
price of $US 4.00. Also a price skimming strategy could also be
used.
“Entrepreneurial opportunities are rarely found,
they have to be created and earned.”
(Venkatamaran, 2003)
Sarasvathy (2002) further identifies an entrepreneurial
opportunity consisting of three key characteristics: 1) A
new idea / invention that will possibly lead to the
achievement to one or more economic ends, 2) beliefs
about things favorable to the achievement of these
possible valuable ends, and 3) actions that generate and
implement those ends through specific new economic
artifacts.
At the end of the Opportunity Recognition phase, the user
has a large number of recognized market opportunities
and some ideas of technical solutions for them. But now,
the participants need to choose the best or most promising
opportunity depending on their goals. This filtering
process happens in the Solution Selection phase.
B. Solution Selection (SS)
Amongst the number of potential market opportunities
generated in the previous OR phase, the RIC participants
evaluate which idea is best suited for market testing. The
plethora of ideas is quickly filtered by time limitations,
financial constraints, the team’s technical abilities and the
availability of other resources. All filtered ideas should
be saved for future venture development.
The typical market study which assesses competition,
market size (both in revenue and people), trends, and
other information relevant to a market / industry
represents one component of solution selection but are far
from the most important selection criteria. Traditional
marketing studies are conducted with the assumption that
the customers within this segment actually know what
they want from a product or service. Consumers however
have been academically proven to be unpredictable when
they make purchase decisions (Armstrong, 1991). In fact,
a typical quote (often referred to as the business tycoon
Henry Ford) that describes such situations is
“If I had asked people what they wanted, they
would have said faster horses.
Additionally, the popular Steve Jobs was quoted in 1998
in Business Week to have said:
...people dont know what they want until you
show it to them.
Therefore, market studies can be used for supplemental
information but not as the sole basis for the success of a
future venture. Often their figures illustrating market
potential can help place some financial importance and
sustainability on a recognized opportunity.
In addition to filtering based on the financial projections,
other constraints such as time, resources and competition
should be evaluated. The team that will develop the
market test(s) needs to be qualified to either build or
manage the construction of the market testwhich can
take many forms: physical product prototype, a service
prototype, a mock website, a live website, survey,
interviews with potential customers, teaser
advertisements, etc. Anything that can be used to
represent the market opportunity, collect feedback and
assess the market acceptance of the solution. Clearly, a
market test can be outsourced but the team needs to
understand the financial, time and technical limitations.
Table 1: Criteria for filtering market opportunities in the Solution
Selection phase of the RIC.
Time
Resources
Competition
Time
window of
market
opportunity
Technology
development
roadmap
Time
available to
invest by
founder(s),
team, etc.
Complexity
of market test
Expected
time needed
to collect
sufficient
market data
Team
capability to
build,
develop and
execute
market test
Financial
Access to
specialized
tools,
equipment,
locations,
expertise
Networks
Clear,
measurable
and useful
test metrics
Pre-existing
systems of
use
Larger
players in the
same or
similar
markets
Direct
competition
Size and
strength of
direct
competition
One Solution Selection process is well described by Tasic
(2008) using the effectuation model. Effectuation is the
process of making decisions during times of uncertainty
by understanding the resources currently available to the
decision maker (or team) and their affordable losses.
Other potential filtering methods include but are not
limited to the Analytic Hierarchy Process as described in
(Slocum, 1992) and / or the more familiar PESTLE,
SWOT and “Porter’s 5 Forces” business analyses.
Once an opportunity is selected within the means and
constraints of the RIC participants, the process of creating
a market test begins.
C. Market Experimentation (ME)
This part of the RIC is when participants begin
committing personal resources to successfully executing
the market test in order to transform ideas into products
and services. If the first two phases are done well, the
market test will be buildable, measure key variables in the
target market, highlight the potential of the product and /
or service. These data provide the RIC participants with
invaluable information and insight into the viability of
their recognized opportunity thereby reducing venture
risk and uncertainty.
Keep in mind that a decision to abort a recognized
opportunity is a valid decision and can be seen as a
success in the fact that an immense amount of time, effort
and energy will be spared from developing something
that is not marketable at this time. Market tests from a
very basic level, should produce some mix of qualitative
and quantifiable data by which the RIC participants can
gain insight on their recognized opportunity.
Additionally, because the opportunity was selected
keeping in mind how the market test would be defined the
work is now executing on building the market test. The
market tests described below are mere examples and RIC
participants are only bound by their creativity and the
degree to which they are willing to bend or break moral,
ethical and governmental laws in order to make
innovative and insightful market tests.
Product-oriented Market Tests
Market tests that evaluate the viability of a product are
typically in the form of a physical prototype. In the
context of market testing, the term: “minimum viable
product” aka MVP is often used (Ries, 2011) and is a
product that is at a point in its development where a
customer is willing to “pay” to obtain the product. For
product market tests, this is typically a payment in the
form of cash. But in the world online market places and
platform websites, often times customers make equally
significant purchase-like gestures via user registrations,
offering personal information, completing tasks and
freemium-style payments.
The main goal of the prototype is to show how a new
product works rather than simply explain the idea or
concept. Many people struggle to understand a new
innovation without seeing or touching it in person.
Additionally, it non-discretely demonstrates a personal
investment and commitment to the venture (helpful when
pitching to an investor or potential co-founder). Even
more powerful are the prototypes that are 100 percent
functional and can be purchased (albeit at a reduced
quality, reduced customer service, etc.). Not all
prototypes have to be “incomplete” or unpolished per the
common perception of a prototype, but the cost per part is
typically high in traditional manufacturing in low
volumes, and for market testing, only as many parts as
necessary to get sufficient data should be made
(affordable loss).
In the context of the course Hands-on Rapid Innovation,
prototyping is broken down into three categories based on
available development time. They are informally known
as “office hacking”, “24 hour prototyping” and “48 hour
prototyping.”
Figure 6: MIT D-Lab Discovery: Kinetic Nametag - Prototype.
The office hacking can be observed in Figure 6 above and
the concept is to use whatever you might be able to find
in an office storage supply room and use to demonstrate
the product concept. You likely could not sell this to a
customer but it would be much more effective at
conveying the product idea than a simple set of words or
a drawing in the above example a ratcheting mechanism.
“24 hour prototyping” includes more in-depth options for
design and development. This can be buying screws,
nails, tools and other supplies in a hardware or
technology store. The idea being that if you have a set of
tools, the materials and the desire to build something in
less than 24 hours, you can find stores that will likely
have something for you to construct a functional
prototype. This may also be small garage shops that have
1 or 2 mills and will custom hand mill your piece but this
is typically expensive. Additionally some 3D printing
services offer customized parts in small quantities and
sizes in less than 24 hour hours. The first BuddyGripper
prototype was built in less than 24 hours (Figure 7).
“48 hour prototyping” is the next level of physical
prototyping in that more time is available to allow
materials to be shipped, received, glued, cured, installed,
assembled and tested. This also includes rapid
prototyping services such as www.firstcut.com,
www.protomold.com, www.you3dit.com, and other
websites that offer prototyping services to quickly bring a
design to physical form. More services that fit each of
these descriptions can be found at
www.handsonrapidinnovation.com/rapid-innovation-
tools/
These rapid prototyping tools are a few of many ways to
help construct product-oriented market testswhich are
designed to be representative of the product concept so
that potential customers can give more accurate feedback
on whether or not it is a product they would buy. A
minimum viable product should be the goal of a physical
prototype but is not a requirement to learn something
about the potential market of the product. Clear market
validating datafor exampleis when a monetary
exchange can be made for the MVP. This gives pricing
feedback and market validation.
However, a product prototype can also take the form of a
mock advertisement or a website. If realistic images of a
product can be modeled and placed in a website or
advertisement where potential customers could either buy
or place on hold the product, then this also serves as a
market test. The challenge here however is that maybe
people will not buy a physical product sight unseen,
especially if the use case of the product is not explicitly
clear. Most product innovations offer new ways to solve
problems and illustrating the product’s advantages can
present a challenge to entrepreneurs and innovators.
Figure 7: The BuddyGripper product prototype illustrating the
entire Rapid Innovation Cycle process.
Crowd funding sites like www.kickstarter.com (U.S.A.)
and www.lanzanos.com (Spain) are perfect examples of
where inventors and entrepreneurs can go submit their
prototypes and receive funding if the investing
community believes their product has value. Now a
finished product can be created using pre-order money.
These sites are typically populated by entrepreneurs,
innovators and early adopters. Early and late majority
customers will likely be tougher customers to attract.
Read more from Moore (1999) about “crossing the
chasm” and for other ways to attain mass market success.
Service-oriented Market tests
Service-oriented market tests are typically in the form of
advertising, mock up websites and small teams posing as
staff from yet-to-be-built services. The challenge is to
sufficiently convince potential customers that a service
that does x, y, and z activities actually exists and that it is
ready to receive clients. However, the cost of setting up
the service may be prohibitively costly and therefore, a
market test that offers insight on whether a market exists
at a sustainable price point should be conducted before
any heavy investment is made.
In 2012, the concept of market testing regaining
popularity (perpetual beta) and tools to conduct them are
essentially free. The tools most RIC participants use are
a combination of website design templates and user
analytics.
Table 2: A short list of free website templates and web analytics
software that are great tools for service-oriented market tests.
Free Website Templates
Free Analytics
www.wordpress.com
www.wix.com
www.drupal.org
www.joomla.org
Google
Analytics
Crazy Egg
Alexa
Compete
More similar services and tools can be found at
www.handsonrapidinnovation.com/rapid-
innovation-tools
For example, a 3D printing service that utilizes local
networks of 3D printers in order to bring customer ideas
to life conducted a service-oriented market test in order to
observe the public response to the service offering
(Figure 8). The team used a combination of physical
flyer advertisements in addition to a minimal Google
AdWords campaign that pointed potential customers to
the website www.you3dit.com and then Google Analytics
recorded the user traffic.
The website was built using a template and the service
was described using a number of borrowed and team-
generated images to describe the service.
Figure 8: www.you3dit.com is a service-oriented market test to
gauge market interest in 3D printing services available for the
general public and not just engineers. The key features here for
this market test are the domain (it actually exists and was
purchased by the RIC participants), a believable and well defined
“service description”, and a method to know if people are
interested in the service, the “customer form.”
D. Experimental Results (ER)
This is the last phase of the RIC where the participants
have data from their market tests and they generate
insight in order to make a business decision on the new
venture. In an ideal market experiment, the output data is
not only clear and believable, but also correlates in real
market interest in the product or service. The results
however are always non-ideal because the market
experiment can never actually represent the true product
or service offering. They can offer a near exact replica of
the offering but typically a product is encapsulated with
customer service, forums, user communities, user
feedback, multiple store locations, media and press
coverage, etc. The audience needs to be the target market
but non-target markets that are specialized in innovation,
such as the “innovator” and “early adopter” segments
(Moore, 1991). Additionally, the network of RIC
participants and advocates also represent a similar
segment of potential employees and because they
understand the process, can offer insight not only via their
participation in the experiment, but based on their
experience and expertise executing market experiments
via the RIC cycle. The goal of the RIC is to learn about
the product or service in order to make the best next
move for the product / service and team.
Common data that is pulled from market experiments are:
customer interest, customer segmentation, price points,
product / service feedback (strengths / weaknesses),
market demand, customer pain points, other opportunities
and many others. The metrics of interest for business are
the market demand and the size of that demand. From the
engineering side, the product or service feedback is
typically very useful.
III CASE STUDIES & INITIAL RESULTS
The following case study examples were taken primarily
from RIC cycles executed by the authors but supported
by commentaries based on RICs executed by students and
supporters of the process.
A. Methodology
The following case studies generally followed the four
phases Rapid Innovation Cycle process, making data-
driven decisions at the end of each experiment and
conducting cycle iterations as necessary. Each case study
below represents the most recent data collected for each
of the both types of market studies: product- and service-
oriented.
Future academic studies will leverage a better defined
methodology, with comparable output metrics and will
take into consideration the proposed experimental
suggestions made by Ries (2011): varying cross-
functional teams (RIC participants), changing cycle
times, changing development platforms, etc. The main
point being to increase the level of uncertainty of the
solution to a given problem while maintaining the ability
to measure objectively the quality of the outcome.
B. Case 1: www.BuddyGripper.com
The BuddyGripper is a gadget for smartphone users who
need / want to take better images on their camera phones.
Unlike the Glif, Oona and other smartphone tripod
mounts, the BuddyGripper is universal for all
smartphones, can be 3D printed in multiple colors and has
a series of adaptors to enhance the user experience. The
BuddyGripper is built using the latest design and
manufacturing technologies in order to give the customer
the best possible product at the lowest possible cost.
The BuddyGripper represents a product-oriented market
test.
Figure 9: The BuddyGripper “Puts professionalism in your
pocket. Designed and built in November 2010, the market
experiment began 27 December 2010 using 20x initial prototypes,
Facebook.com and AdWords to draw potential customers to a
Wordpress website equipped with Google Analytics and
Amazon.com Payment services. The experiment continues in 2012
and the product and business continue to grow.
Table 3: the BuddyGripper RIC executed in 2010.
Solution Selection:
How to temporarily affix
a tripod to a smart
phone? Tape, magnets,
custom smart phone
cases, suction cup,
customized widget,
earphone or charging
port connector.
Market
Experimentation
An easily manufactured
MVP was designed
(November 2010),
fabricated 24 December
2010 and sent to “avid
iPhone camera” users
via a Facebook “wall
post.” Total cost:
$US500.
From this initial beta tester group, the BuddyGripper
team was able to quickly see where the strengths and
weaknesses are for this market test. Having background
demographics of the user group would have better
defined the target customer, but regardless, there were
clear product design recommendations, price point
suggestions and some market trending info. What lacked
however was pricing data because no one actually paid
for the device. Lastly, the means of selecting beta testers
lacked any effort on the “customer” thus, there was no
“risk” or investment on behalf of the beta tester /
prospective customer.
As of summer 2012, sales are low but the revenues equal
roughly the financial investment.
C. Case 2: www.you3Dit.com
You3Dit.com is a web services for anyone who wants to
bring a product idea or personalized gift to life via 3D
printing (Figure 8). Unlike 3D printing services like
www.shapeways.com and www.pokono.com who only
accept 3D CAD files that are ready for 3D printing,
you3Dit.com allows anyone to submit an idea, concept,
drawing, or CAD file to a team of designers that then
submit final 3D print ready files to one of a network of
3D printers that is local to the customer, significantly
reducing lead time and cost.
www.you3Dit.com represents a service-oriented market
test.
Figure 10: www.you3Dit.coma 3D printing service that brings
creative ideas to lifewas launched as a market test in Madrid,
Spain using a combined set of physical flyers / announcements, a
basic website equipped Google Analytics, a customer submission
form and a minimal Google Adwords campaign.
Table 4: The RIC cycle as applied to you3Dit.com.
Opportunity
Recognition:
Solution Selection:
Avid Shapeways.com
customer becomes
frustrated with long lead
times, inaccessibility of
service to non-engineers
and the costs associated
with current 3D printing
services.
Offer a service that
leverages a network of
3D printers local to the
customer and outsource
the design of customer
parts to low-cost global
talent.
Experimental Results
Market
Experimentation
In the first week, 103
visits to the website, 71
unique hits, average time
A basic website that
allows people to submit
text, a picture or a 3D
CAD file ready for 3D
printing. A service
description, along with
flyers and a Google
Adwords campaign to
drive traffic to the
website.
As web analytics data was collected (Figure 11),
continued promotion of the site via websites such as
facebook.com, checkthis.com, and twitter.com (among
other social media sites), the RIC participants awaited the
most important data: interested customers willing to
upload an idea, drawing or a 3D CAD file. The important
fact to remember for this service-oriented market test that
the RIC participants did not have direct access to 3D
printing capabilities, nor did they have dedicated 3D
CAD design teams, nor did they invest a huge marketing
and advertising budget. Total development cost for this
market testincluding time invested by the teamwas
less than $US 1k.
Overall, these two Rapid Innovation Cycle market tests
would benefit from more structured metrics, better
understanding of what represents the Minimum Viable
Product and in general, more conclusive data. The next
step for the Rapid Innovation Cycle is to improve the
outputs to the Market Experiment so that better decisions
can be made in shorter time frames with less resources.
Figure 11: Google Analytics data for www.you3Dit.com during the
market experimentation phase. Key metrics to note are the Avg.
Visit Duration which is high implying user interest and
engagement. The Bounce Rate is unfortunately high and
represents the percentage of visitors who leave the site within 10
seconds or less of visiting the site.
IV CONCLUSIONS
The Rapid Innovation Cycle has shown success in
providing a framework for entrepreneurs, innovators and
people responsible for innovation to generate new ideas
and test them in the unforgiving marketplace. By solving
common problems using technology, building a prototype
within given resources and constraints, presenting that
service or product prototype to the market and reflecting
on collected market data, these RIC participants are able
to make better decisions about the future of the business.
Whether or not further iterations are made to the first
market test, whether or not the company pivots or if the
project is abandoned and saved for another day, these
individuals and teams will have ideally saved the critical
resources of time, money and effort using the RIC
process.
Given the newness of the methodology however, much
more data is needed from other RIC users to fully confirm
the relative success of the process. It is even
hypothesized that a more realistic description would be
the Rapid Innovation Spiral (RIS) in the sense that each
time an iteration is made, more knowledge is learned and
the product or service market test evolves with time.
Using the RIC cycle for each product- and service-
oriented market test, the following data-based decisions
were made:
The BuddyGripper product had mixed and poor
initial reviews from 9 out of 24 beta testers.
Customer pricing ranged from $US 5-15 and as
the product evolved and the MVP has been sold
to over 50 people over the span of 2 years with
little or no business development. The initial
RIC cycle was completed within 1 month of the
construction of the first prototype. The RIC
cycle has been conducted numerous times now
to assess the market interest and pricing of
related products and new designs.
You3Dit.com now has had 5 independent
customers, brought to the service mainly through
word of mouth marketing. However, the
website data suggests some interest from the
general public and the RIC cycle can be
conducted again to clarify if the longer-than-
average site duration is due to interest in the
service or confusion. Only 1 RIC iteration was
conducted but more are planned for the future.
Lastly, as suggested by (Ries, 2009), future work will
include the general application of the RIC cycle in order
to test the success of different innovation models and
processes. Holding specific variables constant, it is
hypothesized that users of a RIC-like process will be
more successful in long-term entrepreneurial success as
opposed to users of different methodologies. Because
metrics will vary across the various market tests, the
authors will continue to look for universal measurements
that can be compared across market test type, technology
or industry.
Of the 100 plus students exposed to RIC and the tools
taught alongside this process, two have won business plan
competitions (Venture Labs at Instituto de Empresa 2011,
ActuaUPM 2012, Seedcamp Jan. 2012), 5 have formed
companies (HivePlay.com, BuddyGripper.com,
Minggler.com, Race4Awareness.org, You3Dit.com) and
many more continue to use the process to generate new
businesses and improve existing ones. The subject,
“Hands-on Rapid Innovation” which is largely based on
the Rapid Innovation Cycle, was created and taught at the
number one technical school in Spain (Fall 2011) and has
been taught at the IE Business School in September 2012.
IE Business school is recognized as a worldwide top 10
MBA program as deemed by the Financial Times and the
Wall Street Journal.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
The authors would like to extend their warmest thanks for
all the people herein who believed in our mission to
reduce unemployment in Spain using innovation. Each of
these people helped bring Hands-on Rapid Innovation to
life via their hard work, dedication, effort, time, financial
support, extension of their professional networks and
constant and unwavering support. Thank you: Mr. Luis
Herrera, Mr. Walter Foxworth, Prof. Miguel Hermans
(UPM), Prof. Erik Schlie (IE Business School), Prof.
Joseph Pistrui (IE Business Schoool), Prof. Maria
Dolores Banos (UPCT), Ms. Sara Merino, BEST Madrid,
Mr. Aristides Senra (ActuaUPM) and Mr. Michael
Shashoua.
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The power of vulnerability Listening to Shame The Four Hour Workweek
  • B B Brown
Brown, B. (2010) " The power of vulnerability. " Retrieved January 11, 2011, from http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/brene_brown_on_vulnerability. html Brown, B. (2012) " Listening to Shame. " Retrieved August 20, 2012, from http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/brene_brown_listening_to_sham e.html Ferriss, T., (2009) The Four Hour Workweek. Random House Inc. 2009.
Precision Machine Design Society of Manufacturing Engineers
  • A Slocum
Slocum, A (1992) " Precision Machine Design. " Society of Manufacturing Engineers. Prentice Hall Inc.
The Startup Owner's Manual
  • S Blank
  • B Dorf
Blank, S, Dorf, B., (2012) The Startup Owner's Manual: Volume 1. K&S Ranch Publishing. 2012.