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One evening I received a mail regarding the Human-Centered Design (HCD) workshop which was organized for us [4th Sem Master of Social Entrepreneurship (MSE) students] and I was curious about the topic. I hadn't heard about the term and well, I looked it up at Google. I found out that it helps to design product/service focusing on customers in the market.  What was more interesting is that we were having an Acumen Fellow (international leadership development fellowship) as the trainer. 

 (Engrossed in a deep discussion- the trainer and the trainees)


The next day, I met the trainer on my way to college. Ms. Bailey Vaez, a bright and warm person and one thing that you would notice about her is her smile. While introducing herself, She told the real intention of the workshop is to gather market inputs about a service that she is trying to launch. She is working with Asian Healthmeter, a diagnostics company (a social enterprise) As a consultant she is helping the organization to scale their operations. Through this workshop, Bailey sought to gather market intelligence using HCD. Market studies and field action always makes us happy and it is interesting.

 The workshop was very hands-on, less theory and  more action was the mantra. Personally speaking, this action component in the workshop aided in understanding real time obstacles and problems of launching a product / service in the market. As a budding entrepreneur myself [I am co-founder of E-Vision, an e-waste management company with 3 other friends of mine], I am greatly benefited by this.

The Challenge: 

With basic understanding of how HCD works, we were all set to collect customer insights. We need info regarding the customer behavior toward the diagnostics services. With Bailey facilitating our progress, we brainstormed amongst ourselves and designed the questionnaire for the survey! We formed teams and chose specific areas of Hubballi ( a nice city, you must visit this once!) to visit and conduct the interview with the target market - patients and general public. We did a mock interview session to avoid common pitfalls during surveys and prepared ourselves.

Having learned basics of Research methodology in my program, along with my teammates, I was able to finish the interview quite early. The data was segregated for further analsyis. The survey helped us understand the general behavior traits of the market. For example, we found out that most of the people visit a particular diagnostic center because their doctor referred it. One other finding was that proximity to one's residence also play an important role in choice of the diagnostic center. As a business decision maker, for me, these insights are valuable. If I were to launch a service, then, it can be a success or a failure based on a doctor's recommendation.

The real challenge came next when we were asked to design a service  (based on the data collected). We had a freedom to choose our target audience and then design the service accordingly. For this to make sense, we went out for a second survey to gather more inputs. The objective of the survey was to find out whether or not the market will accept our service.

The Presentation: 

Equipped with the market survey and customer insights we gave a marketing plan in front of the judges which included, Mr. Niranjan Demanna, Program Manager - Sandbox Startups (Business incubator, Deshpande Foundation), Mr. Vadiraj Purohit, Marketing Manager at Asian Health Meter and of course, our beloved trainer Ms. Bailey Vaez, Consultant - Asian Health Meter.

We presented the idea and our team was appreciated for ideas like including Thyroid Diagnosis in the package and initiatives like SMS alerts to patients. We were also suggested to gather more inputs to understand the market dynamics before coming up with a service / product plan. The other team won and nonetheless all of us are elated at the outcome.

As told earlier, I am a co-founder of E-Vision, e-waste management company and understanding customers is paramount for the launch of our venture. For example, if we launch e-waste in Hubballi, what is the market that we have? Will the venture be sustainable? Do we have enough market potential for it? How do we model the service so that we gt support from the consumers, kabadiwalas and government bodies. A lot of questions needs to  be answered. Writing a business plan and pitching it in front of investors needs sound market understanding. Tools like HCD come in very handy to design products / services by keeping the market in mind. And, I personally feel this workshop was (and is) very beneficial for us!

Contributed by:

Mr. Jithin Sunny, 4th Sem MSE student, narrating a workshop experience hosted by Master of Social Entrepreneurship at Deshpande Center for Social Entrepreneurship.

About the course: 

Master of Social Entrepreneurship is a two-year postgrad program  that builds social entrepreneurs.  To know more about the course, click here.

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