December 18, 2017
"What's that smell?... Motor oil? Gasoline? - Nope, that's Harley Davidson's line of perfumes"
Companies large and small strive to prove new ideas and concepts. Internal focus groups may unintentionally encourage biased, skewed opinions. The demise of products like the laxative-including potato chip, Wow! Chips or the "Wake up with soda" Pepsi AM, can be attributed to poor focus groups and little "real-world" idea testing.
The "Proving Ground" is just one of the ways the Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship and the Baiada Institute for Entrepreneurship allow student/alumni companies to test their ideas and hone their MVPs (minimum viable products). Coming winter 2018 in the lobby of the Pearlstein Business Learning Center, predetermined incubating companies will showcase their product to garner feedback:
ChocAmo is known for its flagship product: the Cookie Cup, a dessert hybrid between a cookie and a cup. Made with love in Philadelphia, this snack comes in a selection of standard flavors and a variety that changes seasonally.
Producing new flavors requires upfront investment for ingredients, equipment, and packaging. For a startup, a "flavor flop" could be the difference between rising or burning. Founder Michelle Silberman and her team will host a Proving Ground session to supply Cookie Cups to one of the most judgemental of focus groups, college students.
Boost uses artificial intelligence to help marketers more effectively write copy for their target audience by analyzing text for emotion then suggesting changes.
For some incubating companies, disproving ideas can be as impactful as proving them. Boost Linguistics will be looking for the devil's advocates to poke holes in the seemingly solid idea. Drexel students from all backgrounds and schools will have the opportunity to interface with co-founders, Alexandra Dodson, Ethan Bresnahan, and Jeff Nowak.
EAOS created Bluetooth earbuds that fit securely in cyclists' ears and an accompanying app that allows riders to communicate with one another and be more aware of their surroundings.
The company recently revved up the tech community by launching this idea and seeking funding on IndieGogo. Founders Alperen Topay and Emin Faki are looking to engage with their target audience, tech-savvy motorcycle enthusiasts or hobbyists, to see if the products are ready to hit the road.
Gossamer Games was founded by Philadelphia developers who create aesthetic-driven video games meant for entertainment and art expression. Sole, Gossamer Games' video game that allows players to wander through a dark world using a guiding light, recently exceeded its Kickstarter campaign goal.
The interest is certainly there for the idea, but how will students across all majors react to the game? At the Proving Ground, they'll be able to play, relax, and spot bugs or other small issues with a game, providing invaluable, real-time feedback for the blossoming company.
So, maybe revealing issues about a product or idea isn't as easy as smelling engine grease or watching members of your focus group run to the bathroom. However, many preventable future problems become evident when exposing them to a broad focus group. The Proving Ground provides students with the chance to receive mentoring and advising from other Baiada companies, as well as unbiased (and free!) focus groups to test their ideas!
Written by Sarah Temple and Logan Levenson, Communications, Drexel University's Close School of Entrepreneurship