The Cart Before the Horse

This week’s hour was about selling or at least that is where we started.  The challenge as presented was the lack of sales traction being achieved.  While a few sales meeting had been secured, second meetings and follow-ups were not happening.

The product is an educational toy targeted at the emerging countries.  It was developed to work in accordance with learning principles use in the development of artificial intelligence (AI) approaches.  The inventor is a researcher in AI. 

The goal of the inventor and business owner is to establish a business that would support a lifestyle that would obviate the need to return to salaried employment. However, it was recognised that a change in business model and a more “methodical/scientific approach to the business was needed.

The personal motivations of the presenter is to make a difference in the lives of childern in the emerging World.

There was no shortage of questions from the group. The initial queries were about the product it-self and what was actually being sold.   We learned that the product was a combination of physical pieces in the form of brightly coloured letters, software and teaching materials.  It quickly emerged that the product was not based on any existing curricula nor was it advocated by anyone in the educational market, teachers, researchers, or parents.  Some approaches had been made to potential sponsors in the educational market, but they had not responded.

The cost of the product was also expensive even in well-funded school systems.  The price was driven buy the cost of production and delivery of associated services.

In the feedback portion of the hour, it became clear very quickly that a fundamental problem in the proposition is the lack of customer interaction in the market assessment and product development.  While innovative new approaches are very welcome the resulting product must be something that the customer can buy.   The product must forward the objectives of the customers and users. The best way to understand what that might be is to interact with them to understand their needs and constraints.  In the case being examined today that had not been done. 

As the product has been designed on sound language learning ideas, perhaps the business could investigate the English as a second language market.

The final part of the hour is asking the presenter to articulate some commitments and actions they will undertake in the coming weeks in response to the group’s feedback.  Among other things, the presenter suggested that they would, at least for the near term, set aside the product and focus on a assessment of the market and its requirements.

We will check back with them in early 2020 to see how the opportunity is developing.

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