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April 9, 2012 / Savvy Bears

Lean LaunchPad: Final Presentation

Today we give our final presentation to the Lean LaunchPad class. However, what started as a class project is now a full-out endeavor for all the members of our team. So we don’t see this as the end, but only another step in our path to improving teamwork collaboration in the classrooms. After today, we’ll continue interating and applying the lessons learned in our class to offer our customers the great product that they deserve. We know we’ll continue having disagreements, pivots, disappointments, hopes and pivots again. But we’re passionate about our team and we know that we will not find anyone else we’d like to embark on this journey with.

So stay tuned for more developments coming from the Praizl team. We share with you today our latest BMC, knowing that it won’t be the final version, but that it is one step closer to a validated business model.

March 23, 2012 / Savvy Bears

One week of using our own teamwork tool!

It’s been exciting one week for our team. Talking to students, professors, researchers, recruiters and advertisers. But the most exciting has been using our tool for our own teamwork!

Briefly, our teamwork tool works as follows: Members post their accomplishments on the team wall and other members get to comment and reward points in response to that posting. Each member has a fixed kitty of points to award to other members. At the end of a pre-set period, the points not rewarded expire and the kitty of points to be given out is refreshed for each member.

We had mixed feelings as we started using the tool. We were fearful. We were anxious. And excited. And hooked. And disappointed. And happy! Each one of us was afraid of how others perceive him and his contribution. Our tool brought forth those perceptions and forced a discussion in the team!

Everyone was anxious about how many points he would receive from others. And what to post or what not to? Sanjeev just decided to post whenever he “felt” like – whenver be needed to, whenever he wanted to play with tool, whenever he wanted to be appreciated with more points. He also found himself hooked to the tool. It was exciting to receive the e-mail notifications that said “you got rewarded”. And at times the wait and absence of those e-mails was disappointing.

Han was disappointed that he got only one point for a something that was so hard to do. He felt under appreciated! And that the system is unfair! He is now working on proposal to solve that problem.

Nicolas was not happy with total score that he received even though he worked hard to fix bugs on the website. As a result of that discussion, other members changed their behavior because they agreed that Nicolas should have had more points!

What we are finding is that we care about the points we receive. If it’s not per our expectations, we want to discuss that. And such discussions led us to understand each other better. Some are generous and run out of reward points early while others are more stringent and give out rewards one at a time. And still others are too busy to use the tool and reward any points!

We are looking forward to rolling out the tool to larger audience.

March 19, 2012 / Savvy Bears

New Business Model Canvas

March 19, 2012 / Savvy Bears

New Business Proposition

During one of our routine demos to a potential customer last week, the customer told us that she would not use our tool in a company, as she wants to maintain the long term relationship with her colleagues. However, it shows really easily the person who is not working in the team. Since she had difficulties dealing with freeriders in her current team, she was complaining many times during the interview.  This was discussed, digested and we  forgot about it a day later. But then it sprang up when one of our members brought it up again and developed a new business model canvas around it which was backed up with many data and later with survey results. After we had a lengthy discussion about the issues we had in our value proposition and how this could be a new business idea!! We discussed this over the next two days over several emails and calls. It was extremey difficult to give up our initial idea and direct the passion to another business after 7 weeks of work.

Finally, we saw a business case here: The tool that we were proposing as an employee performance management tool could now be used instead as a group collaboration tool by the students!! That was an interesting take. We spoke to about 20 students initially and then send out a survey which was taken by ~124 students and the results were pretty positive and interesting:  More than 90% of them liked the idea of using something like this to rate each other on group projects.

This forced us to reconvene and discuss further for long hours on the whiteboard until we covered most of the items on our business model canvas staring with the problem we’re trying to solve.

Value Proposition

March 18, 2012 / Savvy Bears

Reality Check – A Major Pivot??

After talking to about 70 customers, we are still faced with a few key questions posed by our potential customers:

1. Usage of our tool to provide continuous feedback would mean a big change in the existing EPM process.  Why should we change our process so drastically to accommodate a new tool?

2. We have concerns about our employees providing negative feedback. This can lead to an employee suing the company for statements he/she does not like.

3. Some Employees and Managers do not see giving continuous feedback. We see it as a wastage of our precious time.

4. Not very convinced that a scoring system would be useful in a corporate setting

In sum, our customers raised concerns on many different angles to the extent that, one HR manager even gave an example of a similar feature that had to be disabled in their tool because of the issues it created. We also realized that our tool is not mission critical and companies would not change their EPM process for it and hence a tough sell.

We love our tool and our idea. One of our members is also married to this idea and is having a good long term relationship…:)  But, Alas!! Reality SUCKS!!

In light of all the above statements and our understanding, we will have to give up our idea and move on…but to an even cooler idea.

Another new idea?? YES, the last week was intense with the assimilation of all our findings and with it came the birth of a NEW IDEA!! The important thing is that, this new idea came out of a customer interview as well.

Stay tuned for the next Blog post on our new business proposition…..

March 12, 2012 / Savvy Bears

Changes in the Horizon

This week we have continued showcasing our demo application (available at and receiving very valuable feedback. In particular we have asked our interviewees if they would buy our product and, if not, what would it take for them to hand us a purchase order. This clear-cut approach backed with a concrete MVP for them to try resulted in a set of concerns that we are now focusing on: What specific pain points are we solving? Who’s? In one sentence, what is the value proposition? Why would employees routinely use this? How can you stop them from gaming it?

With that in mind we have made several updates to our Business Model Canvas, and we will update our MVP in turn in the coming week.

March 5, 2012 / Savvy Bears

Options of Revenue Streams

After many interviews and online researches, we have identified four main revenue streams which we can use for our business. First, our employee performance management tool should be subscription-based with a distinction between annually and semi-annually fees. These are the time periods which fit the semi-annual and annual reviews. As the HR department will be able to evaluate the overall performance of the employees in these reviews, they can also check the efficiency of our system. Moreover, subscription should be based on the configuration as well. Customers who prefer more customized systems and support should be charged with higher subscription fees. Second, in addition to the subscription, we introduce dynamic fees for adding new employees, features and reward systems. Since our system can be used for four different categories which are workgroups, small businesses, medium-sized businesses and large enterprises, we will adjust the fees per employee accordingly with fixed fees. This leads us to the third revenue stream which is based on charging organizations for implementation and customer support. In order to cover the costs of customized support and on-site implementation, we need to request payment as well. Finally, the last option is advertising. Eventhough, it may be a small revenue stream, it is a useful option to provide space on our website for HR events such as workshops and best practices forums or HR support through articles, magazines and newsletters. These are the revenue streams which we have identified so far. We are pretty sure that there will be more options as soon as we have the website running with more users. Moreover, the next step will be to work on the payment options which makes the process as convenient and fast as possible for customers.