For the first time in U.S. history the nation’s high school graduation rate rose above 80 percent, according to the 2014 Building a GradNation: Progress and Challenge in Ending the High School Dropout Epidemic (a report released April 28 by Civic Enterprises, the Everyone Graduates Center, America’s Promise Alliance and the Alliance for Excellent Education.) This is obviously great news. However, when you look deeper there are some disturbing facts hidden just below the surface.
The stated goal is to “achieve a national high school graduation rate of 90% by 2020.” Data analysis indicates that the only path to achieving that goal is by improving the graduation rates for minorities, low-income students and the handicapped. This is an enormous challenge that has global implications. It’s a complex problem that will require a complex solution.Achieve a 90% #graduation rate by 2020? Focus on #minorities, #poverty & the #handicapped. Click To Tweet
Using the “graduation problem” as a use case for this article, and those that follow, will showcase how a startup founder can partner with a cognitive computing system to solve problems that have the potential to evolve into a scalable, self-sustaining business enterprise. We will be borrowing heavily from the customer development methodology as put forward by Steve Blank and Bob Dorf in their seminal work, “The Startup Owner’s Manuel: The Step-by-Step Guide to Building a Great Company. We will begin with the Customer Discovery process and the first phase of that process: Building a solid Minimum Viable Product (“MVP”).Can we solve the high school “#dropout” problem AND create a scalable, self-sustaining business? Click To Tweet
In the foreseeable future, the ability of a startup founder to bring a scalable and self-sustaining business model to market will be a general function of how well we as human beings can successfully “collaborate” with a “machine” (represented here as a fully functional cognitive computing system). As defined by the American Psychological Association (APA) a cognitive system is:
“A mental system consisting of interrelated items of assumptions, beliefs, ideas, and knowledge that an individual holds about anything concrete (person, group, object, etc.) or abstract (thoughts, theory, information, etc.). It comprises an individual’s worldview and determines how he or she abstracts, filters, and structures information received from the world around. A Cognitive Computing system is our attempt to replicate this function digitally.”
Using self-learning algorithms that use data mining, pattern recognition and natural language processing, the computer can mimic the way the human brain works.Trying to mimic the brain? Try #MachineLearning, #DataMining & #NaturalLanguageProcessing. Click To Tweet
There are multiple phases that our fictional high tech startup founder “Keith” must move through in order to become a scalable self-sustaining business enterprise. I will walk you through each phase as I describe how Keith and his team seek to solve the “graduation” problem. We will also discuss how partnering with a cognitive computing system like “Herbie”, Keith will significantly enhance the speed to market, the product quality and the customer perception of the market-facing product.
In general each phase will involve a process that answers some very important questions such as:
- How do I build an effective MVP?
- How can I tell if the target market for my big idea is big enough?
- Who do I think is going to pay money for my big idea and how much?
- How will my distribution network get my product from here to my customer?
- What is my chosen market and is there room for one more?
- How do I compete in my chosen market?
- How do I find and acquire new customers?
- How do I keep the customers that I already have?
- How do I get my existing customers to spend more money with me?
- What external resources do I need to succeed?
- What value-added partner relationships do I need to have?
- Exactly how much money can we make?
All of these questions point to complex challenges for startup founders that will take more than a few articles to explore.#Founders & #AI teamup to enhance #Speed-to-Market, #CustomerValue and #ProductQuality. Click To Tweet
What process or methodology do you use as a founder to develop a strong go to market strategy? What has been your experience with cognitive computing systems and can you see how they could add value to an early stage startup? Do you believe that lagging graduation rates is a big problem in America? How would you fix it?
I thank you in advance for coming on this journey with me. I expect to learn as much as you do along the way.