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5.11.10: Case Questions

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    The National Association of Broadcasters launched its PILOT Innovation Challenge in 2016. The challenge is centered around a specific challenge question aimed at helping the association’s primary customers, broadcasters. The most recent challenge question was, “What is an unconventional way broadcasters and other local media could serve communities?” The PILOT organizers have contracted you to help them design their next challenge. Using your knowledge of innovation and customer-centric entrepreneurship processes, what would you advise? How would you go about determining the challenge question? What questions about innovation would you have regarding the Innovation Challenge?


    The Guidewell Innovation Center at Lake Nona Medical Center on the outskirts of Orlando, Florida, is a 92,000-square-foot facility aimed at accelerating innovation within the healthcare industries. Guidewell, the parent company of Florida Blue, brings in outside companies to help with that innovation process. One of the features of the Innovation Center is its Collaborative Resource Ecosystem. Some of the center’s strategic areas of focus are next-generation consumer engagement, computational health, well-being and human performance, digital health, and remote management, among other areas. How could Christensen’s theory of disruptive innovation and jobs-to-be-done theory help guide Guidewell’s mission? What are the prevalent business models in the strategic areas for incumbent businesses? What are opportunities for innovation for new companies?


    As youth programs face severe budget cuts, many youth sports organizations respond by raising their fees, which shifts the costs to families. Good Sports was founded in 2003, to tackle this problem by providing new equipment, footwear, and apparel to those most in need. The organization’s addressable markets include children ages five to eighteen living in low-income households, as defined by poverty data, and participating in youth sports in top fifty metropolitan service areas. This Boston-based organization has plans to expand from its three existing markets in Dallas, Chicago, and Boston to seven total markets by 2023 with a goal to serve 600,000 kids by that target date.

    1. What would a customer empathy map look like for Good Sports’ target user? What about its target customer segment? Would it or should it differ in differing markets? Is the Boston area user any different from say, an Atlanta, user?
    2. Given its social mission, what are some impact measures Good Sports could use to gauge success and impact?

    DoSomething.Org is a “global movement for good” among 6 million young people, transforming their communities across the United States and in 131 countries worldwide. This nonprofit organization constantly holds cause-based campaigns, ranging from receiving over 1 million pairs of donated jeans from teens to clothe homeless youth to cleaning up 3.7 million cigarette butts through its Get the Filter Out initiative. A past campaign, “Don’t Be a Sucker,” addressed the problem of Americans losing $5.8 billion annually and producing 8.7 billion pounds of carbon pollution by leaving unused devices plugged in. The campaign sought to slay those “energy vampires” not in use by having users unplug equipment and post a sticky note next to the outlet to remind others not to let them suck the energy dry. Further research the problem, solution and this campaign and answer the following:

    1. Identify what social impact(s) the campaign addressed.
    2. What impact measures could the campaign assess?
    3. Could a viable business be created around this problem?

    In recent years, the entrepreneurial educator and author Steve Blank began applying lean startup principles to various US governmental agencies. Through a Hacking for Diplomacy course, students at Stanford University began tackling problems for the Department of State. A former US ambassador to the United Nations, a State Department representative to Silicon Valley and senior advisor for technology and innovation, a retired US Army colonel, and other entrepreneurial educators joined Blank in applying lean startup methods to State Department issues. Then-Secretary of State John Kerry even visited the Stanford students and said he was looking forward to the solutions students develop during the ten weeks. One project that emerged was from a group calling themselves Team Space Evaders. The team was tasked with working on the problem of satellite collision. Members charted satellite positioning data and explored how information about potential collision was shared by commercial operators and governmental entities ranging from the Federal Aviation Administration to the Department of Defense.

    1. Apply the lean startup methodology to identify potential customer segments and problems and solutions that students such as yourself could identify for the State Department on the issue of satellite collision.
    2. What would a unique value proposition for a State Department solution to this issue be? How could a high-level concept pitch work when selling the concept within the State Department?

    Incorporated in 2003, Tesla declared in its mission statement that its goal is “to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable transport,”46 and it has proven itself a leader in green technology in the automotive sector. In its initial business plan, by co-founder Martin Eberhard, the electric sports car company promised to provide the value of a high-end sports car at a lower cost to the customer and a lower environmental cost to the planet. Electric vehicles were seen as inferior to standard vehicles prior to Tesla’s innovations in creating powerful cars that piqued consumer desire. The generic automotive manufacturing business model relies on collaborative manufacturing with industry partners and a distribution model dependent on third parties. Standard cars are aimed at people and businesses with individual transportation needs. This model is commercially viable because of custom-equipped add-on features to the per-vehicle prices.

    1. Tesla’s business model is different. Identify at least three ways in which the Tesla model differs from the traditional automotive business model.

    In the mid-1990s, at least one newspaper company, the now-defunct Knight-Ridder chain, created the prototype for a tablet newspaper that very much resembles the present-day iPad. A 1994 video titled “The Tablet Newspaper: A Vision for the Future” shows off the design of a futuristic newspaper designed at the Knight Ridder Information Design Lab in Boulder, Colorado. The video went viral in 2011 after it was posted on YouTube and numerous websites and blogs. The person behind the tablet vision, Roger Fidler, had even published an essay describing a tablet future as far back as 1981. The Knight-Ridder lab shared a wall with its neighbor Apple, with executives swapping ideas and visitors. The newspaper company, focused on content creation and not the hardware side, decided to not patent its tablet design and scrapped the project because screens took too much energy, and it was too expensive.

    1. Using the components of a feasibility study, consider how the newspaper company would stack up on go-or-no-go decisions for each component of the feasibility study.
    2. How did the newspaper company in the 1990s fare in terms of management prowess, resource capabilities, financial viability, and market analysis?
    3. Do you think the newspaper made a wise decision to abandon the project when it did? Why or why not?

    Founded in 2013 primarily as a coding boot camp, Tech Talent South offers both part-time and full-time courses on topics like Ruby on Rails and Big Data Analytics. Most of the camp’s programs are run out of cooperative working spaces and temporary locations throughout the cities it has a presence in. The primary focus of the Atlanta-founded and now North Carolina-based company as branded in the name was on coding in the South, but the company to date has expanded to eleven markets with plans to expand even more. The founder, Betsy Idilbi, jokes that she wouldn’t have named the company Tech Talent South if she had known its full potential and growth, including being plugged into the entrepreneurial ecosystem in places such as Columbus, Ohio. The company even has offices in the northeastern city of Hartford, Connecticut.

    1. Could a feasibility analysis have helped Betsy from the start?
    2. The company has expanded its business to offer corporate trainings at existing companies, rather than teaching classes directly to student enrollees. How would you identify a new potential market for Tech Talent South to enter?
    3. What could be done with its existing business?
    4. How would you advise the company on making go-or-no-go decisions for entering new markets?

    You were introduced to The Cut Buddy, a plastic hair and beard grooming tool that began selling on Amazon in 2016, in The Business Plan. Following funding from the Shark Tank investor Daymond John, the company plans to expand into retail and extend its product line.

    1. How would a business plan for the company’s ecommerce business differ from a retail distribution outlet?
    2. Discuss how changes to aspects of the original business plan affected the outcome of the success of The Cut Buddy.
    3. What do you think should be the key markets and strategies moving forward for the company?

    Pretty Young Professional, discussed in The Business Plan, failed because of disagreements among its four founders that emerged shortly after launch.

    1. If you were to launch the venture today, outline what steps you would need to take in formulating a business plan.
    2. What do you think the total addressable market would be, which industry classification would it fall under, and who would be the primary competition?

    5.11.10: Case Questions is shared under a not declared license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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