The Data Entrepreneurs Story — Part 1: Finding a Case

The first step is to get into the conversations. Photo by Romain V on Unsplash.

“Who is an entrepreneur? Someone who jumps off a cliff and builds a plane on the way down.”

Reid Hoffman — Founder of LinkedIn

In the era of fast-changing markets and constant technological disruptions, those who do not innovate will become extinct. Innovation has been a central theme and at the heart of it are the entrepreneurs. Brave minds who dare not only to dream of a better world, but also willing to go face-to-face with the challenges. Among those who are foolish enough to embark on the journey, are three students united under the banner of Jheronimus Academy of Data Science (JADS) paving their way to become successful entrepreneurs.

Part 1 — “What are your frustrations?”

  1. What are the things that you believe is inefficient, too expensive, or non-existent?
  2. Is there any nonsense that you notice lately?
  1. A supply chain manager.
  2. A UI designer of a technology start-up company.
  3. A sales and service engineer of an industrial instruments company.
  4. A recruiter of a consultancy company.
  5. A finance analyst.
  1. Lack of traceability for doctor’s prescription.
  2. No platform that specifically serves medical tourism demand.
  3. Expensive time and money cost of handling an emergency shipment in a factory.
  4. Unreadable documentation and hard to transfer knowledge on how to use a (legacy) complex applications.
  5. Unstructured brainstorming sessions for mobile application development.
  6. Slow response when communicating with local authorities/government.
  7. Hard to find participants for application feedback and user testing.
  8. Unclear agenda for meetings.
  9. Lack of accountability for decision making process.
  10. Distraction during work.
  11. Feeling unsafe when walking alone in the night — yes, we also take note of some random thoughts like this.
  12. Sitting down for a long time while working.
  13. Manual verification of invoices.
  14. Slow approval process of higher-ups (the manager level and above).
  15. Cumbersome data entry for expense claims.
  16. Working depression and loneliness.
  17. Security issues in smart devices, in terms of accessibility (unauthorized access) and physical threat (intentional damage, got stolen, lost).

One problem at a time

The list contains many interesting problems, but if we try to solve many problems at once, we might as well solve none. We have to prioritize. What are the criteria that we can consider to choose which problem we shall focus on?

  1. JADS can provide us with extra support if we decide to work on some existing thematic areas: crime and safety, agrofood, smart cities, energy, smart industry, and health. Choosing a problem related to those areas will be preferred.
  2. Since we will face challenges and the work is nowhere easy, it is better to work on a problem that we, personally, are also interested in.
  1. Complex documentation and hard to transfer knowledge on how to use a corporate applications.
  2. Lack of accountability for decision making process.
  3. Cumbersome data entry for expense claims.

Quantity over Quality

With a real problem in our hands, we proceeded with the ideation step. We decided to use diverging-converging thinking method. As the name suggests, we start with divergent thinking, where each of us should come up with as many potential solutions as possible in a span of 10 minutes. This method forces us to think come up with additional ideas besides obvious ones. It is also creating a safe environment where every member can come up with any ideas without getting criticized. The goal is quantity, not quality.

A typical scene of a brainstorming session: murder of post-its.
  1. A recommendation system about drug ordering, based on previous similar diagnosis, typical drugs bought together, or current drugs availability.
  2. A managed drug inventory service for multiple hospitals, so each hospital does not need to maintain the supply-chain themselves.

What do we learn this week?

A venture should start with customer’s problems in mind. A simple yet effective way to find out what kind of problems people have to deal with everyday is, well, talking to them. We can even start from our own circle: our friends and family. It is also important to empathize during the conversation. Try to put ourselves in their shoes, how would we feel? What would we have done differently? We made sure to leave our assumptions behind for the initial interview. There are a lot of things that we are not aware of about in each profession. Let them tell us what is truly going on and ask as many questions until we really understand.

Next Step

We are going to present our ideas to our fellow students and our mentors to hear their opinion and get some feedback. Afterward, we are planning to do in-depth research and conduct further interviews with practitioners that understand how drug inventory works to separate feasible ideas from the far-fetched. Our priorities for the second week are:

  1. Make a list of our current assumptions that we should verify with the experts.
  2. Decide the goal and prepare a set of questions for the interview.

About Us

Hi! This post is made possible by a collaboration of Yosef Winatmoko, Nemania Borovits, and Hameez Ariz. We are master students of Jheronimus Academy of Data Science (JADS) currently taking Data Entrepreneurship in Action III course. In the following weeks, we plan to continue to publish our weekly journal about what we go through and what we learn. Hopefully, you can also learn something from our story.

Find me in your nearest Ramen stall.

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