Design Sprint Workshop 2019

DifferenceMaker hosted a Google Design Sprint in August with current and past DifferenceMaker students and teams, as well as UMass Lowell student researchers. The Sprint consisted of four sessions with the goal of teaching student teams how to build and test their prototypes in just five days. DifferenceMaker judge and mentor, Richard Juknavorian ’98, Zuckerburg College of Health Sciences, led all the sessions. Each session consisted of videos, lectures, and teamwork.

DifferenceMaker judge and mentor, Richard Juknavorian ’98, Zuckerburg College of Health Sciences, introduces the five-step Design Sprint process

These sessions were based off the book Sprint, Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days, written by Jake Knapp from Google Ventures. The purpose of a Sprint is to be as efficient as possible with your time and to get everyone on the team to bring out their best ideas and contributions.

A Design Sprint is meant to Map, Sketch, Decide, Prototype, and Test ideas in just five days. It allows you to fast forward into the future so you can see how customers react before you invest all the time and expense of building a real product.

Sprint, the book that the sessions were based on.

Each day of the workshop had a different focus. For example, the first day focused on mapping the foundation for the product the team will be building. Each day led up to the last day of the workshop where the team was able to test their prototype on potential customers for feedback.

Team member interviewing a potential customer while the rest of the team takes down notes about the feedback they are receiving.

We would like to give a huge thank you to Richard Juknavorian for facilitating all of the sessions! The Design Sprint was an amazing learning experience for everyone.

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Demo Day 2019

On Monday, July 15 2019, the 2019 DifferenceMaker® Idea Challenge winning teams gathered in the UMass Lowell Innovation Hub to pitch their new and improved ideas since advancing through the summer Boot Camp. The audience consisted of alumni, faculty, staff, community friends, and interested mentors and advisors. The goal of Demo Day is to advance teams’ progress with the help and guidance of mentors.

Ha Pho, Entrepreneurial Initiatives Project Manager giving an introduction before the student presentations begin.

During Demo Day, students and mentors got to network with one another and each other. Student teams also pitched their ideas to everyone. In their pitches, they explained their business plans, potential customers, and impact that their product or service would have. There was an Q&A session after each pitch and more networking to end the exciting evening.

Stephen Wahome and Nicholas Bedard, founders of JamFuze getting feedback from Manning School of Business Professor, Deborah Finch.

One of the student teams, USe Cart, presenting their project before receiving feedback.

To learn more, please take a moment to watch a short video about Demo Day here.

Thank you to everyone that attended! The event would not have been so successful without the support of so many individuals. We hope to see you again next year!

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Boot Camp 2019

Throughout the month of June, the 2019 DifferenceMaker Idea Challenge winning teams participated in a 4-session summer Boot Camp to learn how to bring their product or service closer to market, develop their business models, and discover more about their customers.

Professor Deb Finch mentoring team USe Cart and giving them feedback and advice about their business plan.

Throughout these Boot Camp sessions, student teams learned about starting a business/non-profit. Before each session, videos about various topics, such as, building a start-up and customer discovery were provided. The sessions themselves allowed the teams to achieve a better understanding of who their customer segments are and gave them the opportunity to develop and test their business models and roadmap for their products.

The Business Model Canvas was used to further develop and understand their business.

The Boot Camp sessions allowed students to receive mentoring from previous DifferenceMaker teams and UMass Lowell faculty advisors. Homework was given each week and teams presented their discoveries in a pitch format, allowing them to receive immediate feedback from the Boot Camp mentors.

These mentors provided the students with advice on how they pitched, recommended people they could network with for guidance, and cleared up any issues on the products or services that might’ve come up in the future. The students asked them many questions, and received answers with many different opinions.

From left to right: Rajia Abdelaziz, co-founder and CEO of InvisaWear
Jonathan De Alderete, co-founder and CEO of NonSpec
Deborah Finch, UML Manning School of Business Professor
Brent Shell, UML Zuckerburg College of Health Sciences Professor and DifferenceMaker Faculty Fellow

All of these Boot Camp sessions helped the student teams prepare for Demo Day; an event that allows the teams to network, pitch their new and improved ideas, and talk to more mentors. Demo Day was on July 15th, 2019. Feel free to watch a video of Demo Day here.

The 2019 Idea Challenge winning team, Benji Ball, presenting their business model plan.

In addition to the Boot Camp advisors, we would also like to thank the Boot Camp guest speakers and mentors:

Richard Juknavorian

  • UML alumni,’98 Zuckerbug College of Health Sciences
  • Vice President, Centene

Erin Keaney

David Kantaros

  • Partner, Foley & Lardner LLP, Co-Chair, Technology Industry Practice
  • Business Law, Ventura Capital/Private Equity Attorney
  • Idea Challenge sponsor

Rajnish Kaushik

  • Associate Director, Office of Technology Commercialization

Hunter Mack

  • UML Francis College of Engineering Professor
  • DifferenceMaker Faculty Fellow

Chris McKenna

  • UML alumni, ’89, Francis College of Engineering
  • Partner Foley & Lardner LLP, Co-Chair of Technology Industry Practice, Co-Chair of Electronics Practice Group
  • Intellectual Property Attorney
  • Idea Challenge sponsor

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