UST entrepreneurship students spent Tuesday honing in on their class projects in Silicon Valley. For one team of students, the San Francisco location proved to be just right for their research.


Great weather seems to bring great success here in California. When I woke up to the sunshine and the palm trees it was like a fresh start. After a chaotic few days it was nice to take a step back and refocus on our goal; create a solution for a problem.

We spent the morning meeting coming up with ways we could make the process of showing people our concept and having that “ah-ha” moment with them feel more natural. We left the dress clothes in the closet and our flashy prototypes on our hard drives and went back to the basics. Many groups did their prototyping with a large piece of paper and sharpies! For my group, we used two slides to show them; out of the original 45.

Bobby Mason and I are working together on reinventing the four year college planning procedure. Lucky enough, we happen to be located near two major colleges that are within walking distance! So we hiked up the hills of San Francisco and headed to the University of San Francisco. Lined with gardens and bustling with students we hit the research project gold mine! We were able to show our prototype to more than 20 people in just a few hours. And by us taking a step back and letting the user take more control of the interview; we were able to gain more insightful knowledge. When someone asked “What does this do?” or “How does this work?” instead of us giving them our answer, we asked them “What do YOU think it should do?” and “How do YOU think it should work?” By becoming better listeners, we were able to become better learners.

The next step is taking all of this great information, re-prototyping and doing it again! We will be spending part of our Wednesday doing prototype interviews, and the remainder of the day getting ready for our presentations tomorrow at Mainsail Partners. We are focusing on telling them a story of the user, as opposed to just selling them a product. Seeing as this is not how a meeting with a venture capital firm typically goes, it will be a new and great experience! But now, back to the sun and more interviews!

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About The Author

Clark Gregor has more than a decade of business marketing, communication and public relations experience, primarily in higher education, with shorter stints in corporate public relations and the federal government. At the University of St. Thomas he manages communications at the Opus College of Business and edits the university blog for graduate business programs, Opus Magnum along with other marketing efforts.

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