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Create a project in less than a year - Find the idea

As part of my second year of my master's degree (Head of Strategy and Digital Innovations) at École Multimédia through the courses given by Protocole Startup, I have to create a project that must be a digital innovation.
I decided to divert the subject somewhat by creating innovation in the service of digital since it corresponded better to the idea I had.
To tell you quickly about my career path, I completed a bachelor's degree in "Digital Project Manager" with a specialization in web and mobile development at the École Européenne des Métiers de l'Internet, which gave me a good understanding of project creation and helped me in the design of this project.

Throughout this series of articles, I will explain how I created my project: Koala.

#1 Finding the Idea

Finding project ideas is not the most difficult step. While many studies show that we have almost 100,000 thoughts a day, it's not hard to imagine that project ideas can be found in them. However, ideas don't always work, and that's why we have to start from a different base.

The most complex thing is actually to disregard all your ideas and start from scratch. Forget the "I want to make a mobile application that will do this" or the "I'm going to build a platform to do this". Focus on the everyday problems, the ones that can generate risk, waste of time, money, or emotional frustration. These are the problems you will have to solve through your project. This problem could be formulated as "I would like to do X but I can't because X" where X is what the situation is.

One of my biggest problems is that I'm constantly using notebooks for everything and anything. While this is a good practice, it is not necessarily the most environmentally friendly when I have to make sketches to show them off or just to take notes that I won't be able to use after two hours.
So I have a waste of money that corresponds to the purchase of notebooks, a waste of time since I must always have my notebook with me but also an emotional frustration regarding my ecological impact. One of my underlying problems could, therefore, be formulated as follows: I would like to find an ecological alternative to notebooks but I can't because I don't have the time.

Some of my notebook for 2019 - 2020

#2 Test your problem

Now that you have a list of problems, the next step is to go out and meet people. Whether it is in the street, by mail, by phone or by carrier pigeons all means are good to contact people. The aim is actually to check if other people admit to having a similar problem. Because if you are the only one who encounters it, it probably means that something that meets the need already exists. However, if several people have the same problem, it means that there is probably something that can be done!

Since my problem started when I started my own business during my studies, I thought it was relevant for me to meet freelance developers and designers. I told them about my main problem and the underlying issues, and I came up with a draft questionnaire.

This draft questionnaire allows us to establish a potential primary target (in green) and a potential secondary target (in blue). But it also allowed me to confirm that I was not the only one to encounter the various problems mentioned.

#3 Talk about the first solutions

Now that you've checked that your problems are "real", you can start talking about different solutions! First of all, we will try to make a value proposition without talking about applications, websites or other. For my project, my value proposition is the following: We propose a solution that allows you to take notes in an eco-responsible way.

Now that you have your value proposition, you will have to find several solutions to find the best of them! What we did in the process with Protocole Startup was to find a physical product, a service, a digital solution, a shop and an event. Each of these solutions must be able to meet our value proposition but also our problem.

Here are the different solutions that came to my mind when designing Koala:

  • Event: Hold a conference on mental note-taking.
  • Service provision: Agency proposing people taking notes for you.
  • Shop: Pop-up store selling recycled paper notebooks.
  • Digital solution: A mobile application, a website, a chrome extension, software to take notes on your computer.
  • Physical product: A recyclable notebook, a touch pad.

All these solutions, each with their advantages and disadvantages, did not suit me and did not suit the target I had envisioned.

#4 Confirm your solution

Once you have listed different solutions, all you have to do is go back to Step 2 and meet people again. We start again by explaining the problem and the value proposition to them. Then we go on to list the solutions. That's how I realized that it didn't suit the targets I had found.

Only after I realized that everyone in the coworking space had a computer did another idea come to mind: a computer protective case that you can write on. So I told the people I had interviewed earlier about this solution, and they were immediately won over by this new idea!

Now that you have all the keys in hand to come up with your idea, all you have to do is implement it. In the next article, we will talk about the development of a Lean Canvas and market analysis. Then, later on, we'll talk about how I designed the first physical prototypes of the Koala and the current landing page.

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