Monthly Archives: February 2012

Business Canvas: Week 5

We have found that our value proposition for the diabetics customer segment needed to be broken down so we could test each individually. In addition, the large response we received on the frustrations from manual input, we added “normal” glucometer makers as a potential Key Partner. Both the invasive and non-invasive makers as partners are big guesses we need to test.

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Kunal: Customer Discovery Session Recap

As previously mentioned, we had a customer discovery session with Kunal yesterday. He is a Berkeley graduate student in Civil Engineering. We shared had a very informative discussion over some delicious Zachary’s Chicago Pizza (he chose).

For the majority of the session, we took Steve’s advice on running these types of sessions (as opposed to focus groups). So we tried to ask questions objectively, and let Kunal steer the conversation. What we found by listening to each other is that it was very difficult to remain objective and not state our opinions, thereby potentially affecting Kunal’s responses. Despite this, Kunal had some fantastic insights that we never would have thought of on our own. For brevity, here is a summary of the most surprising points:

  • Top 3 Frustrations at beginning
  1. simple reminder to take night time insulin
  2. manual input (excel) → usually doesn’t track
  3. seeing a high reading and thinking “why the hell did that happen, I thought I did it right?”
  • The activity of exercise matter (not just duration and intensity)
  • Leaderboard: “knowing someone was doing better than me would kind of piss me off”
    • don’t show ranks or scores, but people above and below in your category would be helpful
    • ability to click on others to see what they are doing that is working for them
  • Top 3 Frustrations at end
    1. providig feedback/recommendations – remove thinking process (avg. stdev, user sets target of HA1c, show potential adjustments i.e carb ratio from 12-10)
    2. just remember to take my damn night time shot
    3. LifeScore and objectives – some sort of feedback that shows immediate feedback of how they are doing, and if they want they can go further (to make changes)

Check out the slideshow of some pics from the session.

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American Diabetes Association (ADA)

Meeting people in person is way more effective than email!

Dropped into the ADA office on 9th Street in Oakland unexpectedly.  Met two very nice ladies who were very enthusiastic with our project and what we are trying to accomplish!  They are providing a gold mine of bay area sources which will enable us to increase our contact pool more effectively and much faster!

I showed Ka-Ryn, the associate director, a sample of our app screens – basically the kind of stuff we want to test (see previous post).  She recommended we make the fonts of the app customizable as many diabetics suffer from retinopathy and have a difficult time viewing small fonts – something I doubt we would have come up with on our own!  She was extremely excited about the complete product – both hardware and software, wants to connect us with local diabetic non profits in the bay area for testing our hypothesis’, and thinks local VCs will eat it up.  Sounds good to me! 🙂

Also spammed a number of blogs with survey monkey links.  One had us removed for violating their soliciting policy within minutes!

Customer Discovery Zone

Highlight this week:

Toward the end of our meeting with Kunal, a fellow student and type 1 diabetic, we showed him our low-fi app to see if it satisfied his wants/needs.  After seeing our “Lifescore” he made a few remarks about how it might carry negative connotation (high scores which are good vs high sugar levels which are not good) and how we might improve it.  After hearing his suggestions I asked what he would think if replaced it altogether with an experience bar and level instead.  To that he smiled, and while deep in thought replied “That would be cool.”.

Though we are targeting diabetics, this does not really relate to the disease, so what do you think? A or B?

“Just Fit a Curve To It”

The title was the theme of the past several hours. In the midst of programming, we took a slight detour to devise the algorithm that would be determining the scores for our leaderboard. Initially, we only wanted to perform this exercise to determine what values we had to keep on our server, and how to organize them. Then it slowly turned into chaotic scribblings of math. Looking at it after the fact, we are not quite sure how we even formulated certain parts. However, this exercise was very useful as it cleared up certain parts of the application that were debating over and paved the way for some potential changes in how we structure the usefulness of the application. Tomorrow night we will be holding a “customer discovery session” with a few diabetics. We are hosting a dinner to talk with them in person about their greatest frustrations with diabetes, top items on their wishlist, and iff (if and only if) they mention it we will show them some mockups of the application to gauge the proximity their needs.

This is very exciting to finally have a long (several hour) time frame with some diabetics to get some hopefully eye-opening feedback to solidify/modify our business canvas.

And here’s a brief look into some of the whiteboard mayhem.

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Article from Bhavik

Thanks to Bhavik for sending this article our way. It exposes how an enormous amount of diabetics in the UK are not being given proper annual tests. Although the primary care trusts (PCT) claim they have high percentages in most areas, it is still surprising to see some areas as low as 10%. That means that 9 out 10 diabetics are not getting tested for potential complications. It was mentioned that this could be due to the increasing number of newly diagnosed diabetics. If this is the case, then a simple combination of automated reminders and updates to the PCT through an app would help out. Potential future feature. We will have to ask our group of diabetics if this happens in the US, too.

And even more startling was this article, presenting the trials of a potential non-invasive glucometer that tests sugar levels through your breath!


Rohan knew the creator of a cool thing called LeanLaunchLab. So now we have started to use it to attempt to better organize all the facets of the Lean Startup methodology into our day-to-day workings. Thus far, we are impressed with the general product. We will see how effective it is as we progress.

Customer Discovery vs. Focus Groups

The office hours we had with Steve yesterday were extremely helpful. Perhaps most helpful though, was the differentiation he made between what he called customer discovery and focus groups. We had asked him for advice about conducting focus groups in the ensuing week. He immediately stopped us and said, “Whoa, whoa! Big, slow companies hold focus groups to show consumers their product and figure out how to market it. Is that what you are doing?” Clearly we were not, as we still have far too many guesses we need to validate. He continued, “What you guys want is to see if your assumptions on the problems your customers are feeling are true. You need to ask them open-ended questions that get them talking about what they want (and what they don’t even know they know). THEN after you have extracted all you can, you ask them ‘So would that look anything like this?’. From which, they keep talking and providing you with feedback, not on the product, but the problem they are feeling.”

This was a huge distinction that our entire team had not realized. In addition, when we showed him our balsamiq mockups, he clarified that that was plenty for a “low-fi app”. Low-fi did not equate to code written, which was another mistake we subconsciously made. With this in mind, we plan to move more swiftly and do some face-to-face customer discovery this week.

Business Canvas: Week 4

The two things we need to test in the upcoming week were from suggestions on a potential partner and new customer segment.

Potential Key Partner: Non-invasive testing company (i.e. C8MediSensors)

Potential Customer Segment: HMO’s (i.e. Kaiser Permanente)

We are meeting with C8MediSensors to see how plausible this type of relationship is and are awaiting response from KP to test the waters there. Due to the need for efficacy and the complicated cost structure involved with HMO’s (as displayed by CanScan), that may be a short-lived hypothesis.

Another possibility would be moving the non-invasive testing company to the Customer Segment box, as we would be providing value. This is something we hope to discuss with the teaching staff.

The green box around “Hospitals” as a Customer Channel is simply to highlight that we finally received some positive feedback from UCSF about being able to advertise there (in the form of brochures – better than nothing).

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UCSF Visit 2

Second chances are great! The first visit to UCSF taught a few key lessons that we were able to build upon for our trip this time around:

  • Multiple recruiters to take on higher traffic
  • More professional poster
    • informative text for inquisitive passer-bys
  • More professional setup
    • table + chairs + etc.
  • Walking with passer-bys as you pitch (aggressive > passive)

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This may sound obvious, but they were things that we did wrong the first time. Last week, we acquired 15 emails over 4 hours. This week, we acquired 29 emails in just over 2 hours! Even better, some of the contacts were nurses, or family members, that agreed to pass our surveys and emails along to their diabetic networks. In addition, one of the security guards that saw me get kicked out of the hospital last week asked us to bring brochures next time for him to give to patients as they enter the hospital. I guess a little empathy goes a long way.


*Sidenote: the Facebook blast seems to be bringing in some good traffic and very interesting responses.