The Science of Customer Discovery: DOE Lab-Corps
What makes a new technology compelling enough to transition out of the lab and become a consumer product?
That’s the question Berkeley Lab researchers Samveg Saxena, Nihar Shah, and Dana Hansen plus industry mentor Russell Carrington set out to answer for MyGreenCar, an app providing personalized fuel economy or electric vehicle range estimates for consumers researching new cars. A six video series follows the MyGreenCar team’s experience through the ups and downs of the customer discovery process. Will the app make it to the marketplace? You’ll just have to watch.
DOE’s Lab-Corps Program
The MyGreenCar team participated in DOE’s Lab-Corps program, an EERE-funded program based on the National Science Foundation’s I-Corps™ model for entrepreneurial training that provides tools and training to move energy-related inventions to the marketplace. During Lab-Corp’s intensive six-week session, technology teams interview 100 customer and value chain members to discover which potential products based on their technologies will have significant market pull. Berkeley Lab’s Innovation and Partnerships Office provided pre-training and support throughout the six-week program. Interested in Lab-Corps or other entrepreneurial training? Contact IPO.
Episode 1: The Adventure Begins
One key difference between a great technology that stays in the lab and one that reaches the marketplace is customer interest. In Episode 1, the Lab’s MyGreenCar team gets ready to step outside the lab and test their technology’s value to consumers in a scientific way.
Episode 2: Painting Motor City Green
The Lab’s MyGreenCar team kicks off its customer discovery process in Detroit with a business boot camp designed for scientists developing energy-related technologies. Customer interviews lead to late night discussions and insights on less-than-receptive consumers. Back in Berkeley, the team decides to fine tune targeted customer segments.
Episode 3: Taking It To The Streets
The researcher team finds enthusiastic consumers at familiar Berkeley hangouts. Then Industry Mentor Russell Carrington pushes the group to consider who will pay for the information the fuel economy app provides.
Episode 4: Analysis Paralysis?
The team crosses the halfway point in Lab-Corps’ six-week program. Will more interviews yield more information? Or is it time to zero in on the most lucrative markets?
Episode 5: Pivot Point
At some point, most entrepreneurs wonder if they should pivot and consider alternative avenues to commercialization. That point arrives in Week 5 for the MyGreenCar team.
NEW Episode 6: Is It a Wrap for the App?
New options emerge as the six-week Lab-Corps Program comes to a close. Which path will the MyGreenCar team take?