The Power of Experimentation for DARTdrones
Babson professors tell their students that we need to learn by trial and error, by asking for feedback, and by conducting small experiments. Learning this in class is one thing, but actually building a business model based on small experiments is another. Working in the Hatchery this summer showed me first hand that experimenting and asking questions is the only way to create a unique product that solves a real problem.
In April, my cofounding team scrambled to pull together a business plan for the TecBridge Business Planning Competition in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Our business idea, drone training and certification, is an emerging market. We did not have time to conduct extensive interviews, to speak with our competitors, or to find our perfect “niche” in the market. We threw together our plan and lucky for us, won the competition.
With some award money, mentors from the competition, and a feeling of validation in our idea, I signed up to work in Babson’s Hatchery for the summer. Over the month of June, I made all of the “logical” steps towards starting a business such as designing business cards, building a website, writing a mission statement, and creating a Facebook page. I had done everything except listen to what my professors had just taught me over the last year in the MBA Program. I realized that I was not talking to my customers, but instead making decision based on what I thought a customer would want. This realization led me to change the business’ course, take a step back, and learn more out what my customers wanted.
After weeks of interviewing people who had participated in Drone Training courses around the country, I learned that all of these training courses were targeting people who were “hard core” about drones. The most interesting piece of information that I found from my interviews was that a substantial amount of people attending the Drone Training courses were not considered drone enthusiasts; they were realtors, investors, policemen, firemen, photographers, and aspiring entrepreneurs just wanting to learn the basics about this emerging market. I also realized that my team had been pushing a huge boulder up a mountain all summer trying to build our six day training program, but what we really needed was to conduct an experiment.
Our experiment is called “Drones 101”. Starting in September, DARTdrones will be offering “Drones 101” courses throughout the East Coast. The course targets beginners to the drone industry who want to learn about rules and regulations, training models, drone spec options, entrepreneurial ideas for drones, and how drones will affect industries such as real estate, photography, extreme sports, and delivery. Our goal is to help people take a first step in understanding this emerging market and technology. With our “Drones 101” experiment, we plan to build partnerships with industry leaders who will speak at our courses, to learn our target market’s major concerns and needs for the future, and to identify the real opportunities within the drone industry.