Introducing the IDEA Center Market Test Podcast

Author: Mitchell Kokko

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The IDEA Center is excited to share the work of our team as we seek to accelerate new ventures at the University of Notre Dame. Each week, we will be sharing a new project and how our team looks to test the idea and the potential market opportunities for projects. We are looking to understand the metrics that matter for new companies, and gain insight into their growth potential.  If you have any insights as to the test we will run or recommendations on how to improve, connect with us here!

Here at the IDEA Center we are looking to help spark innovation and entrepreneurship in the Notre Dame community.  As projects move through the pipeline, they move through committees that help the founder understand their market, prospective customers, risk factors associated with their idea, and technological barriers that need to be overcome.  When a project understands these factors, they can forecast what funding needs to be raised and what milestones to target to keep their project rolling.

In today’s post and attached podcast, we are going to walk through one of our student projects and examine how they will de-risk their project in order to attract investors and ensure that their startup really the potential to produce a return on investment.  The process is simple: brainstorm propose a test that will break down an identified critical risk for the projects business model and market opportunities, run it by an industry expert for feedback and tweaking, and then launch the test and examine the results with the expert to evaluate the opportunities and risks associated with the project.

The Test

Some quick background on Streetlight Creations.  Streetlight was founded by two students here at Notre Dame, Nicholas Lampson and Ralph Moran. Their idea is simple; create a platform where customers can connect to young artists to request the creation of a custom song to be given to a friend, family member, or loved one.  We love the hustle of these student entrepreneurs, but now it’s time to get serious and figure out whether this is a cool, niche business opportunity or whether there is a scalable business model. 

Our goal with this first test is simple: Streetlight Creations needs to understand whether the value they offer to young artists is enough to keep them coming back and producing more music.  If artists find value in the money they make for custom songs, they will return to produce more music for new customers. Unfortunately, if artists find that the costs outweigh the benefits, we will see a quick decline in active artists willing to make music and Streetlight will be unable to grow.  I sat down with John Henry, the Director of Startup Programs and Matt Gardner, the Director of New Ventures and Investments to brainstorm the initial test, and the following project breaks down that proposed test, experts feedback, and subsequent finalized test.