Jrl 458 Final Project, Getting Started


TIME TO INVENT
Your team project is to create a start-up around a singular idea, product, service, or process that solves a current, or future, problem in the media industry. We are using “The Lean Start-up” process as a model. from http://theleanstartup.com/principles

One of the core principles of lean thinking is:

WORK SMARTER NOT HARDER
The Lean Startup methodology has as a premise that every startup is a grand experiment that attempts to answer a question. The question is not "Can this product be built?" Instead, the question is "Should this product be built?" and "Can we build a sustainable business around this set of products and services?"

If your idea is sound, it allows you to get started with a campaign: enlisting early adopters, adding employees to each further experiment or iteration, and eventually starting to build a product. By the time that product is ready to be distributed widely, it will already have established customers. It will have solved real problems and offer detailed specifications for what needs to be built.

The culmination of final project will be:
• Polished, web-ready Ignite style 5-minute Start-up Pitch with a sleek deck
• 2-page Creative Brief (template provided)

We’ll tackle this week by week with a step-by-step process:

Week 1 and Week 2:

Brainstorm your idea – your start-up can be a product, an application, a process, a system, an invention, a tool, a method, a new economic model, or any combination of the above. But however you define it – it has to be imaginative, precise, targeted, and “novel.” Start with the questions you’ll need to ultimately answer:


• What is your big idea?

• Describe your idea as a tweet?

• What is the problem you are solving?

• Who is this for? Who is the audience/user? How will they be impacted?

• How is your idea unique, innovative, “novel”?

• What are the market challenges in implementing this idea?
Tips:

• Don’t build a “horseless carriage.” Leap into a new form.

• Your idea must identify and address, solve or ameliorate an existing (or future) problem in your field.

• Identify a clear audience for your product. But keep in mind Steve Job’s approach – he didn’t serve existing needs – he created and anticipated needs based on his own vision.

• Your idea can (and should) be simple and “elegant.” But it should be provocative, poetic, magical or surprising in its simplicity.

• Your idea should weave together influences from different disciplines. Identify your range of thinking and all influences for your idea. We’ll visit in class how Steve Jobs found inspiration in unlikely places for his radical work. Part of your assignment is to explore unlikely sources for inspiration.


Final Essay

The Best Ideas are Simple (Elegant). As part of your final Ignite style pitch, each team will turn in a 1-page* personal essay from each team member that documents how you’ve woven (a la Steve Jobs), your personal experiences and interdisciplinary influences that informed your thinking and creative process. Surprise me.


  • Don’t let the one page fool you – This doesn’t mean short and shallow answers – this means precision, elegance, inspiration and style. All pitches in the star-up landscape require you to be able to pitch BIG ideas in just a few minutes. This brevity forces you to clarify and distill your ideas to the essentials. With poetry. What is the soul of your idea?

Dana Coester
Assistant Professor
Reed College of Media
Creative Director
Media Innovation Center
West Virginia University
@poetabook