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Day 3 – Prototyping and business models

The first day was all about learning the principles of design thinking, and yesterday was focused on finding out users' needs. Today, it's time to get the creative juices flowing and get down to solutions. Some teams had already started on the ideation part yesterday, and true to the spirit of design thinking, built prototypes of their proposed solutions. More important still, today will be about money: Will the teams' solutions be financially sustainable?

Prototyping: seeing is believing

Prototypes – that sounds fancy, like a lot of work, done at the end when all kinks have been sorted out. Negative. A prototype in design thinking comes early. Humans are visual and tactile creatures. When we can look at something and touch it, it becomes much easier not only to understand what it is about, but also to see how it will or will not work. That's why the teams spent the good part of day 3 of Impact Week folding paper, gluing things together, cutting and drawing.

Prototyping-web-1024x683Who got to enjoy the fruits of these efforts? Again, users. Or people who could be users, if the idea takes off. Teams roamed around campus today, talking to people about their ideas, explaining their solutions, and collecting feedback. Does the solution address the problem it is meant to solve? Are their any aspects they didn't consider? What can possibly be improved? You bet the interviewees didn't hold back with constructive criticism, and the teams were eager to soak it up.

Again, we had some experts from the Nairobi tech scene come in and share insights with our participants. In the morning, Graham Ingokho from Africa's Talking told people the basic principle of building a successful business: "Look for your customer's pain, that's how you make money". He was followed by Riyaz Bachani from Angani, who talked about his experience running Kenya's first pay-as-you-go cloud business, giving advice on do's and don'ts for startups.


Today's advice: dress for success, and make sure you have a business model

The afternoon was devoted to a different topic: How to make money. While the participants joined us for Impact Week because they want to tackle some of the problems they and others face in daily life, there's little question that you need funds to implement any idea. Impact Week wants to appeal to young people's entrepreneurial spirit, and part of this is finding sustainable ways to finance your operations and turn a profit. In the afternoon, teams learned to use a business model canvas to identify potential revenue sources – sales revenues, public subsidies, or private sponsorships – and work out arguments selling their idea to different audiences to create a solid business model. And in our case, we also added the importance of the Social Impact to each business model.

BMC-web-1024x683This was followed by a session in which teams from different tracks joined to share their ideas and give each other feedback. The cross-sharing session helped participants identify blind spots and gave them an idea which parts of their ideas and presentations still needed tweaking. It also prepared them for the final agenda item of the day: the pitch. Impact Week founder Michael Hübl, himself a founder of a successful start-up, took the stage in time to lift people out of the afternoon dip and demonstrated what matters for a successful pitch. His advice: make sure you have a great story to tell, and dress up! There's only one chance for a first impression, so don't waste it on sloppy appearance or the wrong body language.

Freshly energized, the teams went to work preparing their pitches for the next day, supported by their strict but loving coaches. And they did not rest until they had got it right – we saw lights on until late at night. So much enthusiasm will surely result in some great presentations of inspiring ideas – but see for yourself in tomorrow's post.