Team & Strategy
In the Masters of Design Engineering program that I just graduated from, we formed thesis teams around our guiding principles, complementary skills, and non-negotiable goals for the project. The team consists of Mark Araujo, Kat Maddox, and me. Our team is concurrently taking this project through the Entrepreneurship Practicum course, and we have been awarded a spot in the Brown Breakthrough Lab summer accelerator. By both using this project for our thesis in the Design Engineering studio and for our venture, we hope to glean the best practices from design, engineering, and business.
All team members take on a variety of roles, but my general roles are in design research, systems thinking, outreach, and operations.
We started broad: how can we work to close the gap between the 40% of food wasted in the US and the 14% of food-insecure US citizens. Our team's guiding principles were 1) to attack wicked problems in an impactful way and 2) to leave those who help us in our research and testing with something in return.
Not straightforward, but intentional (see above), our decision-making is driven by bottom-up research in the form of 91 interviews and counting and our team's guiding principles. While we started by thinking about starting our own venture to address food waste and food insecurity, we soon realized that supporting the many organizations already tackling these issues through capacity-building and barrier-breaking tools would be far more impactful. Thus, we have decided to create a crowdfunding platform that will increase the universe of donors and thus the amount of money going to nonprofits through impact-driven motivation, engaging UI, and psychology-backed . Our beachhead market on the nonprofit side will be small- to mid-size food nonprofits and our beachhead donors will be young professionals currently unsure about how or to whom to donate.
At each step along the way, we conducted interviews as well as market research. See a running list of those we've spoken to below, along with an example of a market sector analysis below (in this case for cold storage, a direction we were moving in for several weeks). In Breakthrough Lab currently, we are conducting donor interviews and meeting with mentors to shape our business plan with a focus on discovering and honing the value proposition for the donor.
We use tools like insight gathering and comparison, systems mapping, and feasibility vs. impact graphing to brainstorm solutions. These tools are fantastic collaboration devices, and allow us to be rooted in research as we ideate.
As of May of 2022, we have a looks-like prototype of FRUITFUL built. It's basic and cannot yet take payment, but it's an exciting step that allows us to get very valuable feedback from both donors and donees as we move forward into further customer interviews. Check it out!
We're not just teammates, we're good friends. From implementing IDEO preflight, midflight, and postflight frameworks to checking in about working style, team dynamics, communication, and morale to bringing in our dogs to bring emotional support and playfulness to meetings, we take positive teaming seriously.