This post was written by a MEST Training Program Class of 2020 Entrepreneur-In-Training, Sally Musanga.
At times, life brings each of us incredible personal experiences and such is what I’ve experienced as an Entrepreneur In Training (EIT) at MEST. This has been an exciting journey that has enabled me to pick up business, tech, and communication skills- all critical for a successful founder. For anyone looking to get into MEST or entrepreneurship, make sure to watch this video for more insights on my journey.
Capstone 2: Kickoff
January 31st was the official kickoff of Capstone 2, which is 7 weeks of market research, design thinking, and user experience research culminating in product design and development leading to a final pitch. “EITs gain experience building, validating, and pitching business ideas in a fail-safe environment. We do this three times throughout the year in what we call Capstones. This article is about a milestone I’ve crossed as I seek to build a renowned startup with my fellow EITs in Capstone 2.
I was privileged to work with three amazing individuals ready to disrupt the FMCG, Fast Moving Consumer Goods, Industry. The team was led by Ulric Chekap, a profound sales manager with over five years of experience, spearheading our vision. Onboard also was Frank Nana Addae, a financial analyst at heart with three years experience and Alfred Doh-Nani, an enterprise software engineer with over three years of experience, working hand in hand with myself, a backend engineer with two years of experience, to ensure we come up with a user-centered product that fits the market.
Week 1: Research
Our first week began with stakeholder meetings. Half of the team got to meet a few stakeholders while the rest did desk research (killing two birds with one stone 😉). The primary research included both short and in-depth interviews and this helped us gather information about our user’s pain points.
The next thing we did was design thinking, an activity that helped us understand what the users think, feel, say and do throughout their journey as salesmen. In the process, we identified regular patterns that constantly affected our user persona, better positioning us to solve the problem.
Week 2: Primary Research
This got us waking up at 5.30 am to conduct in-depth interviews at a stakeholder’s company located in LaPaz, Accra.
The goal was to validate the new assumptions that had popped up after design thinking, as well as collect user requirements to enable us to come up with user flows and mock flows for our intended solution.
We created our Minimum Viable Product (MVP) strategy by developing low fidelity prototypes using Adobe XD then diving into coding both the front end and back end.
Week 3: Product Set-Up
This week marked the preparation for product development as well as laying down business objectives such as go to market strategy, and competitor analysis, etc. We set up the development environment for coding, and we got our hands dirty with coding our solution.
Week 4: Midpoint Pitch
By now, we were midway into our capstone project. As required, we presented our project in the form of a midpoint pitch to the rest of the cohort and Teaching Fellows. This was an opportunity for Frank Nana Addae to flex his pitching muscles by delivering an overview of our research. Here’s a sneak peek, of the amazing work done by my fellow EITs, from MEST’s Twitter.
Week 5: Product Development
This week was filled with caffeine-fueled all-nighters. My Tech Lead and I burnt the midnight oil to ensure both the backend and front end of our product worked seamlessly. We had quite a handful of features that we had to develop and this time was when I really came to understand the real essence of an MVP. I mean we had to come up with a mobile-first web app that had sufficient features to satisfy early adopters. On the other hand, our business and sales guys worked on developing a solid business strategy and revenue model for once we were ready to launch our product.
Week 6: Testing and Pre- Pitching
By now, burnout was kicking in but the constant encouragement from our Fellows, combined with Team building activity that my team and I had at Deone Recreational Center and the beach powered us up. We intended to do alpha testing with our potential user but due to unforeseen circumstances, we were not able to test with as many users as intended. On a positive note, we completed the MVP feature list in time for pitch practices.
Week 7: Pitch Practice
The COVID-19 Outbreak changed business as usual at MEST. To ensure adequate preventive measures, MEST switched to working remotely. Hangouts and Zoom came to the rescue as we worked from our hostel.
Guest Lecture Weekend
For the first time in the history of MEST, pitch practice and the final pitches during Guest Lecture Weekend were completely remote. The EIT class of 2020 was not deterred and graced the occasion with investment-worthy pitches.
Follow this thread on twitter to get a glimpse of the show. Congrats to a successful Capstone 2 from the Class of 2020! 👏 🎉