Workshop 2: Assessing Opportunities and Value Proposition

On February 22, from 5:30 – 7 p.m., DifferenceMaker hosted the second workshop series session of the semester! The topic for the evening was assessing opportunities and value proposition. Holly Lalos, Entrepreneurial Initiatives Program Director, welcomed everyone and introduced the guest speakers.

Participants joining as the event kicked-off!

Professor Brent Shell, Faculty Fellow from the Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences, started off by recapping Workshop 1, which focused on identifying problems. He opened the floor for volunteers to discuss the problems they were interested in addressing. The problems ranged from stem cell therapy not being easily assessable, to children struggling to take their daily medications.

Once a problem is solidified, assessing opportunities must take place before developing a solution. Opportunities showcase the need for a problem to be solved; there is no use creating a product/service solution for a market that has no potential customers or users.

A great (yet silly) example provided was pickle flavored toothpaste. Professor Shell presented a problem – not enough pickle flavored products on the market. He loves pickles and developed pickle toothpaste. He thinks everyone likes pickles, so thinks his toothpaste will sell. However, after creating the product, he realizes it is not selling. This is because he did not assess the opportunity associated with his problem and potential solution – although he thought his product would sell, he did not conduct opportunity research to support that there is an actual market affected by his problem and willing to purchase his solution.

Professor Shell speaking about market research, and how it’s used to identify potential users and customers.

Then, the crowd moved into Zoom breakout rooms to identify and assess their opportunities through an interactive activity. Student participants chose the room they wanted to join – with themes such as engineering, environmental, business, and more.

In the breakout rooms, everyone was encouraged to speak about their problems and opportunities. An opportunity worksheet was provided as a guide and there was a faculty facilitator in each room. After ten minutes of discussion, everyone went back into the main room to share their opportunities. One example presented was a problem regarding stolen packages, and an opportunity being that homeowners (data collected through interviews) wanted a secure way of receiving their packages.

Then, Professor Neil Shortland, Faculty Fellow from the College of Fine Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, presented about value propositions. A value proposition demonstrates how a potential solution is more valuable (better, faster, more effective, less expensive, etc.) than what’s already on the market solving a problem (competitors). The value that a consumer receives when they use a product/service is important, because it’s what gets them to decide whether to buy.

Professor Neil Shortland speaking about Nonspec’s value proposition.

Since value inspires customers to purchase and use a product/service, it needs to be effectively communicated. An example that was provided featured Nonspec, 2013 Campus-wide DifferenceMaker team. The value that their prosthetic limb provides is that it is affordable and able to grow/adjust with the user, minimizing the need to purchase future replacements.

Then, another breakout room activity took place to discuss value propositions. The presentations that were given helped students develop their own strong value propositions to go along with their opportunities and problems. Once the breakout rooms closed, everyone was encouraged to share their ideas with the crowd. An example that was presented was to create a pill organizer that is fun to use, allowing children and parents to have a better experience when providing medication – the value is having fun while also having a better experience taking medication.

Thank you to everyone that joined DifferenceMaker for Workshop 2! To view a video of Workshop 2, visit the DifferenceMaker YouTube Channel. If you are interested in learning how to further develop your idea, build-up your team, and have fun, please register for the upcoming workshops:

Workshop 3 – Developing Business Models – February 25; 5:30-7 p.m.

Workshop 4 – Delivering Your Rocket Pitch – March 2; 5:30-7 p.m.


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