NYU ITP Pitchfest 2015

Workshop Series: What is your concept. Your idea. Your project. Pitch your Idea  for support and feedback: Workshops, Practice Pitch Prep, and Pitch Festival.

Adjunct Professor: Jen van der Meer

Background: Over the past five+ years NYU ITP has organized increasingly successful Investor Pitchfest to showcase startup team ideas worthy of funder consideration and attention. Prior Judges for Pitchfest have included Joanne Wilson and Fred Wilson (Union Square Ventures), Andy Weissman (Union Square Ventures), Phin Barnes (First Round Capital) and Frank Rimalovski (NYU Tech Ventures), Amy Millman (Springboard) and a number of active Angel Investors.

This year we are augmenting with more super sub micron seed stage investors, project funders, and social impact angels.

We schedule the workshop series after Thesis Week and the ITP show.

In the past five years, there are now so many more opportunities to pitch.

The Stern Berkeley Center Competition, The NYU Summer LaunchPad Accelerator, the Dorm Room Fund, the application process for YC and Highway 1 and other accelerators in NYC, the Bay Area, and China.

But we know there are those out there that haven’t yet ventured into thinking about their idea, project, or concept as a venture.

We have also augmented the prep workshops for the range of potential ideas we’ve seen at ITP over these years:

  • The projects that just need to exist in the world.
  • The social impact idea that must find its home.
  • The high growth potential company that hasn’t yet gotten picked up by an accelerator.
  • We welcome all of you. We want to help you launch.

Submit your business concept ideas to be considered for the first workshop, and Pitchfest here, and reach out to Jen at jd1159@nyu.edu with any questions or for consultation. This workshop is open to anyone who is enrolled or has recently been graduated from NYU, and is designed for NYU ITP graduates specifically.

 

Workshop Schedule Overview:

Idea Submission: Friday May 22, 2015

Workshop 1: Monday June 1, 2015

Workshop 2: Monday June 8, 2015

Workshop 3: Monday June 15, 2015

Pitchfest 4: Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Idea Submission: Friday, May 22, 2015

 

Students will submit a 100 word description of their idea. Links to team member bios, early prototypes, presentations, blog posts, or video demos is welcome and encouraged. Professors van der Meer, Igoe and Hechinger will select top student ideas for the initial workshop.

  Continue reading

Favorite Lessons Learned from Lean at ITP Speakers

We just wrapped up our second Lean experiment at ITP last night with a Lessons Learned dinner party.

We had extraordinarily candid speakers this semester who humbly told us of their successes and failures, pivots and turnarounds, origin stories and the truth behind their funding and scale.

A few of my favorite wisdom pickings from the line up of guest speakers:

Britta Riley: Know the contours and flows of the dominant business model in your industry. Know the limits of direct e-commerce sales if you are selling hardware and how retail happens. Don’t deliberately limit your business by not understanding these parameters going in.

Albert Lee, All Tomorrows Lab who recently launched Emoji App:

Zero mental calories: users should have to learn nothing when they use your app. Nothing.

Toothbrush test: can you find a reason why they would use your app 2x a day, to create those reasons to engage.

Trojan Horse it: you can’t always give people what you think they need, especially if you are meeting a need they are uncomfortable talking about. So find out what their discrete top level painpoint is, and create the front door that meets that need. You can solve for deeper emotional needs not at the value proposition level, but in the product design. **** (This one gets extra stars)

Julie Berkun Fajgenbaum, Tweed Wolf. Come up with the 10 reasons why it won’t work and then develop tests to prove the contrary.

Chris Milne, IDEO: Design it so it looks unfinished – and people will give you more honest and useful feedback because they will not feel like they are hurting your feelings. They will truly co-create with you.

John Bachir, Medstro: Kill Features!

Christine Lemke, Evidation Health: Be comfortable with pivoting between consumer and B:B, and don’t get too attached to what the actual product is on either side – your strengths in one will benefit you for the other.

Angad Singh, Lolly Wolly Doodle: When you are in scale mode and hiring developers, learn to work together before hiring. Determine a project that you estimate to be about 20 hours over 2-3 weeks, and then assess not just coding skills but problem solving, decision making, and communication skills.

Scott Miller, Dragon Innovation and Bolt Ventures: Learn how to pick a factory, and validate that your project could succeed through crowdfunding or preording before you begin.

Lean at NYU ITP

Starting next Monday – (one week defer thanks to the blizzard) – an open invitation to any entrepreneur, funder, or advisor to startups to visit our Lean class at ITP.

This year we focus not just on lean but on the actual efforts required to develop a product to MVP – and the students will all launch a business while still in school.

Syllabus For Lean at NYU ITP

Instructors: Jen van der Meer, Josh Knowles
Days and Times: Mondays, 6:30 PM-9:00 PM
Location: ITP NYU 721 Broadway at Waverly, 4th Floor Room A/B
Text: Business Model Generation

We embrace a creative, iterative, and collaborative approach to making things — but launching a product out into the world takes a somewhat different set of skills. How does one make sure people want to use what they make? How does one create a business plan to support the idea? Is the idea strong enough to turn into a job — or a career? Enter Lean LaunchPad, at NYU ITP – the experiential course in entrepreneurship.

Based on Steve Blank’s Lean LaunchPad and the NYU Summer LaunchPad Accelerator, we are applying the curriculum developed at Stanford and Berkeley for the NYU community. This course has been developed with support from the NYU Entrepreneurship Initiative, and aims at mixing the best of the methods from the Lean LaunchPad methodology with the best of ITP’s methods. Over the spring semester, student teams participate in an iterative approach to startup development, a combination of business model design + customer development + agile development.

Alexander Osterwalder’s Business Model Generation is used as the basic framework for business model development, and we utilize UX methods and tools to ground students in an understanding of how to successfully move through the early stages of product development. Students work in self-formed teams of 3-4 to develop their business model and product/service over the course of the semester. The primary focus of the course is the work of customer development, speaking directly to potential customer to help define opportunities that the startup is designed to solve, and early stage product development. The ITP curriculum will augment the LeanLaunchpad method with additional approaches from design thinking, UX, and ethnography to accelerate the understanding of both explicit pain points and more latent or hidden challenges that people face, in their jobs and their lives.

Learn more on the class blog and contact me if you want to advise, mentor, or tell your story.

Biofabricate

Looking forward to the multiple disciplines being convened at the Biofabricate conference – and the chance to thread environment impact assessment, health impact, startup ethics, and the precautionary principle.

‘BIOFABRICATE’ is the world’s first summit dedicated to biofabrication for future industrial and consumer products. Biofabrication comprises highly disruptive technologies enabling design and manufacturing to intersect with the building blocks of life. Computers can now read and write with DNA. This is a world where bacteria, yeast, fungi, algae and mammalian cells grow and shape sustainable new materials.

My slides are here:

 

Lean at ITP Spring 2015

Apply as a team, launch an MVP in one semester.

NYU ITP is offering for the second time a for-credit Lean class designed to get your team to a minimum viable product launch within one semester. This course is open to all enrolled NYU students, and you are invited to join a team or submit a team for consideration. We embrace a creative, iterative, and collaborative approach to making things: software, hardware, and things in between.

Our method: we offer equal parts Lean Startup/Lean LaunchPad methodology, with a hands-on approach to learning user experience design (even if you have only sketched wireframes in your mind before taking the class). We have re-designed the course for Spring 2015 to get you to value proposition fit by the end of the semester. The course is taught by adjuncts Josh Knolwes and Jen van der Meer, and is supported by a tremendous network of mentors and advisors who are actively involved in the class.

2014 Syllabus

2014 Mentors and Advisors

Course text: Business Model Generation

How to apply:

Come to the Lean at ITP Team Building Info Session:

Saturday, November 15, 2015 at 3:00

We’ll introduce you to likeminded entrepreneurial teams who are forming to apply for the course, and give you an overview of the lean method as it has been adapted for ITP, and the mentors, and advisors signing up for the spring semester. We recommend team members with core skills of entrepreneurship and making including design, code/engineering, ethnography, and customer development/networking.  Come if you are an individual looking to join a team, or you have a fully developed team and are curious about how the course will be structured.

Apply as a Team by December 5, 2015

Requirements:

  •      An initial concept, well articulated
  •      At least three team members
  •      At least one team member with “making” skills – design, code, engineering, hardware (related to the concept)

Remember to Sign up for the NOVEMBER 15TH Info Session (Required):  http://lean-in-at-itp-info-session.eventbrite.com

Team Interview Day for consideration: Scheduled before December 19, 2015

Teams will be invited to present concepts and participate in an interview with the course instructors and mentors. We will curate a mix of concepts and teams for maximum diversity of ideas, skills, and collaborative team member experiences.

Contact Jen van der Meer – jd1159@nyu.edu to for questions about how to apply, or watch for updates on the class blog.

 

Bodies and Buildings: Paradigms, Anti-Oedipus, and Passive House November 3 2014

Last class we did a quick tour of Paradigm Shifts, Deleuze and Guattari, and Passive House vs. LEED.

Anti-Oedipus: A Thousand Plateaus. Capitalism and Schizophrenia.

We looked at Deleuze and Guattari as an exercise in mindset shift – there is nothing like Anti-Oedipus in the hands of a global group of makers who can manufacture their own means of communication and production.

It’s freeing to talk of Rhizomes and Assemblages vs. Arboreal thinking with students who naturally think and work this way, and who have no formal history with cirtical theory, Freud, Lacan, Marx, or even Oedipus, and how these concepts have shaped hierarchies of thought.

Haven’t heard of Delueze, Guttari? Skip it all, go to the French version of A Thousand Plateuas and play Marc Ngui’s images in the background as you sip Yerba Matte tea.

Paradigm shifts: always remember Dana Meadows’ wise counsel – the strongest leverage points are mindset and paradigm shifts. We spend our time tinkering with the measures, the metrics, the goals – but to see a better world we need to level up.

This lesson about mindshifts/paradigms is not yet learned in health, education, and building construction.

With architecture and buildings, we’ve recently witnessed the rise of LEED standards, with all of their metrics and platinum, gold and silver badges.

I shared what it was like to celebrate the very idea of the Bank of America tower which was supposed to generate more energy than it took from the grid. The tower won Platinum status, NYSERDA money back for energy savings, and praise from Al Gore. But in 2012, when asked to report their actual energy usage, The Bank of America tower was a mega fail. According to data released by New York City in 2012 (source NY Times partially restricted paywall), the Bank of America Tower produces more greenhouse gases and uses more energy per square foot than any comparably sized office building in Manhattan. It uses more than twice as much energy per square foot as the 80-year-old Empire State Building.

The USGBC, which operates LEED, similarly says it has no control over how the buildings it certifies are used. But LEED certifies new buildings before they are even occupied, basing its ratings on computer models that often end up overestimating a building’s performance. If you can model, you can’t necessarily manage.

The good news is the rapid rise of the Passive House movement, which shifts our mindset about the purpose of green construction. If the first wave of green was about bamboo flooring in giants homes with three car garages, then passive house is about economy in construction and operation, and the goal of the system: climate comfort for the humans inside.

When constructing a passive house, an architect and engineer can model the intended energy benefits. But it is not until the building is built and meets air and energy criteria that a building can be called Passive House. We are valuing measured energy (Passive House) over modeled energy (LEED).

We will take the advice of the late paradigm changing coach, Dana Meadows, paraphrasing Thomas Kuhn the paradigm historian:

You keep pointing at the anomalies and failures in the old paradigm, you keep speaking louder and with assurance from the new one, you insert people with the new paradigm in places of public visibility and power.

You don’t waste time with reactionaries; rather you work with active change agents and with the vast middle group of people who are open minded.

Homework next week:

1. Pick any one of the “Facsicles” from ArtFarm on architecture theory:
http://www.archfarm.org/en/ and build a system diagram about what you learn.

2. Start thinking about the final: What part of the system of how we make and maintain our buildings, interests you the most?
What are the anomalies and failures that irk you?
What possibilities do you see?

3. Extra credit: see a passive house this weekend somewhere in NY.

AIGA GAIN: Redesigning Commerce / Funding to the Pitch

Is your idea best suited for seed and angel funding, or should you launch on Indiegogo first?

What about the values of bootstrapping?

What’s a social venture, and if you think you have one, are you better structured as a for-profit, or not-for-profit, or B-Corp?

Or, perhaps your freelance design practice is ready to scale—what kind of structure works best, and when is fundraising appropriate?

How you choose to launch will determine your destiny.

And if you’re founding an organization, you’ll spend much of your time fundraising—and fundraising can be fun. 

Thanks all that attended the professional development workshop at AIGA’s GAIN conference – Redesigning Commerce – Fundraising.

 

 

The Transformative Power of Open Data

Repost from the Economics and Statistics Administration:

New York City – Under Secretary Mark Doms participated in a high level data discussion this morning at the Strata+Hadoop World Conference in New York City. Before an audience of 500 leading technologists and data programmers, Under Secretary Doms talked with host Jennifer van der Meer, Adjunct Professor at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program and CEO of Reason Street, to explore the Department of Commerce’s strategic data plan and Doms’ efforts to move the federal statistical system into the era of big data.

2nycstrata_hadoop_world

Doms noted that the US Department of Commerce has long been a powerhouse for government data, trailblazing the use of government statistics and analysis to help everyone make more informed decisions. Now, in the era of big data, with large volumes of data collected and analyzed by the private sector, by citizens themselves, the agency, with Doms leadership, is working to position itself as a leader in the federal data space. Jennifer van der Meer asked the Under Secretary about Commerce’s plans to hire its first Chief Data Officer, stand up a Data Advisory Council populated with private sector and academic data leaders, and ways the Department is looking to team with the private sector to better collect, disseminate, and analyze Commerce data.

Doms went on to highlight the fact that challenges facing companies and our society often do not fit neatly in the “buckets” represented by the various federal agencies. Commerce has data that, say, could be meshed with Department of Education data, to tackle our nation’s skills gap or help students determine which majors have the best return on investment. Doms noted Commerce’s involvement with the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy and their efforts to coordinate interagency discussion to share best practices and tackle cross-agency challenges. Doms pointed out this coordination is critical to unleashing the positive benefits of federal data, with the next step being to figure out how to incorporate private datasets and get greater corporate buy-in to the open data movement currently underway at the federal, state and local level.

Under Secretary Doms closed out the discussion by making the case that the federal government must remain a leader in data. Like our basic scientific research, the building and maintaining of our nation’s highways and water treatment facilities, and rural postal delivery, providing comprehensive data on our people, economy and the planet will continue to be a core federal mission. This information is critical to decision making by every business, government, and citizen, and the private sector simply does not have the financial incentive to fill this role. Doms thanked Jennifer and the audience for a lively discussion, one that further informed his efforts, under Secretary Pritzker’s leadership, to revolutionize data at the Department of Commerce.

Government Stats at Strata Hadoop

Tomorrow I look forward to a fireside chat conversation with Under Secretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs Mark Doms at Strata Hadoop’s Data Driven Business Day.

Government Statistics in the Era of Big Data
Mark Doms (United States Department of Commerce), Jen van der Meer (Reason Street)
9:25am Wednesday, 10/15/2014
Data-Driven Business Day

Location: E 20/ E 21

The US Department of Commerce has long been the powerhouse of government data, trailblazing the use of government statistics and analysis for all of us to make more informed decisions. Now that the era of big data is upon us, with large volumes of data collected and analyzed by the private sector, by citizens themselves, and sensors, how is the agency adapting to this new data environment? During this conversation with Dr. Mark Doms, the Under Secretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs for the Department of Commerce, we will discuss the value of data in the economy at a macro level and how data collection, aggregation and analysis methods are adapting in response to technological change. What does this mean for you and your company? Come to this fireside chat at Data Driven Business Day to learn more.

And on PR Newswire.

 

 

Bodies and Buildings Class 5: Ebola outbreak, the power to change the rules

The past two weeks in class we spent time first paying attention to the Ebola crisis, then trying to map out the system as we understand it.

While much of health technology has come to focus on in hospital systems, electronic health records, and chronic disease management, we wanted to see what we could envision for an acute and rapidly growing outbreak.

Students presented ideas for what to do about the crisis using their skills as creative technologists at ITP. It was a humbling reminder of how hard it is to be helpful when the core underlying technologies are not present – available internet, handheld devices.

Here are two sources students found that were hard to read and watch but gave more context than TV news sources:

VICE News: Monrovia in Chaos

WSJ: For Want of Gloves Doctors Die

We then shifted to talk about the power to change the rules in a system, and began the shift to “buildings” and how a much the less threatening but still pervasive problem of sick building syndrome was addressed through rule changes.

For midterms, students will write an OpEd – considering the format as if it were an interaction design to get you to do something, or change your mind.