The American Garage is Alive and Well

Former Student Startup gets a $1.5 million Phase II grant from National Institute
The Urbana/Champaign (IL) News-Gazette (8/8) reports that the National Institutes of Health has given IntelliWheels Inc. of Champaign, Illinois a $1.5 million Phase II Small Business Innovation Research grant to develop “multispeed geared wheels that will help wheelchair users get around easier.” The design “would give wheelchair users the option to shift into high and low gears, giving them the ability to independently maneuver themselves over hills, uneven surfaces and longer distances.” The piece notes that IntelliWheels was initially a student-led enterprise at the University of Illinois.

This story is a call to all entrepreneurs and those who are thinking about being an entrepreneur to launch their Best BIG Idea today! Yes! Today is the day to Build/Measure/Learn about the importance of your next big thing. What is the next big thing? The answer is; a better way of providing a product or service that people and/or businesses currently need, in an improved way. Ask yourself if your ideas quicker, cheaper, easier, better quality, or novel.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying it is easy or that you can take a magic pill. With that said, the global market place is a churning sea of good and great ideas. The difference between your and theirs is…The have a Minimal Viable Product (MVP)out in the world. The Lean Startup method encourages entrepreneurs to jump in the water as soon as possible so that you can fail early. The success of failure is the learning process. Build, Measure, Learn methodology is designed to teach the startup how to learn whether your idea has value to your customer, whether it has a growth potential for a sustainable enterprise.

The American Garage has long been a symbol for innovation and creativity. How you approach your startup venture, whether in a garage, at the kitchen table or in your local coffee shop will be determined by your organic success strategy. The Lean Startup™, Eric Ries is a way of thinking about your plan.

The Lean Start-up formula: Turn ideas into products, measure how customers respond, learn to pivot or persevere.

The Lean Start™ 5 principals:
1) Entrepreneurs are everywhere; They create new products and services under extreme uncertainty
2) Entrepreneurship is management (an institution ) a job title that depends on innovation
3) Validated Learning: Learn how to build a sustainable business ( test each element of the vision)
4) Build- Measure-Learn: Turn ideas into products ( MVP)
5) Innovation Accounting: measure progress, sets up milestones and how to prioritize work
There is no magic wand and as my business advisor once told me “It isn’t easy, if it were, everyone would do it.” Many entrepreneurs know this first-hand, but having a methodology designed around the uncertainty can be helpful.

Tips for your American Garage:
1. Lead with your strengths: Do what you know, are passionate about, or have an innovative solution for a known problem
2. Learn quickly: Get that MVP out as soon as possible and gather feedback. This will allow you time to learn what your customers think.
3. Adjust expectations: Keep your expectations centered around the test (Measure) to learn. Adaptive learning will guide your product/service development process more accurately
4. Be prepared to listen to the metrics (the facts) and act on what you learned. Entrepreneurs aren’t just building a product/service., are building a sustainable enterprise.
5. Pivot with speed, innovation, and creative solutions. Stay alert and agile as you cultivate valuable customer feedback from your Build/Measure/Learn loop.

Customized Empowerment is a thinking process that leads you to your Organic Success!


About robinmcdougal

I am a wife, mother of two daughters, soon to be a grandma, S.T.E.M. ( Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) Advocate for kids especially girls, and a photographer. I spend my free time watching cooking channels looking for new recipes I can share with friends and family. I love wine tastings and meeting with my friends at our favorite restaurants. Spending at least 1 hour per day working on photographic projects is part of my self-care formula. To blend my personal passions with my commitment to increasing women in STEM careers, I launched COBALT Magazine to tell the stories of women who leverage technology to live passionate lifestyles. Named for the natural element found in fashion-forward design and the ion-lithium battery industry, COBALT Magazine women live passionately while energizing their community. Entrepreneur, S.T.E.M. Advocate, and lover of digital design, I am committed to attracting and developing women/girls to pursue careers S.T.E.M., especially in aerospace by removing real and perceived barriers. I am excited about COBALT Magazine for women in technology being the world’s largest free digital format magazine focused on women in technology. We are proud that COBALT Magazine readers are the world’s most influential technology leaders, business owners, political decision-makers, the most exciting young emerging tech professionals.
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