Did you know much of what The SearchLite does is based off of Alex Osterwalder and Steve Blanks foundational models for lean startups? We follow their lead because quite simply it works! As our main goal is to help inventors and entrepreneurs commercialize their inventions and startup solutions we focus on Customer Discovery and Market Validation. Since customer discovery is the very first step, developing useful customer interview questions is one of the first things we must think about and learn how to do effectively. In a blog titled “A Quick Guide To Asking Good Customer Questions,” published by Kavi Guppta for Strategyzer, Guppta presents 8 fundamental rules to keep in mind while conducting customer interviews including:
I-Corps™ Energy and Transportation is a customized curriculum to help teams of participating researchers discover the commercial potential of their technology, build a business model, and garner insights from leaders in the energy and transportation industries. This is the second year in a row that Next Energy has teamed up with the CFE I-Corps Program, a program offered by the University of Michigan Center for Entrepreneurship. CFE I-Corps is a region-wide program designed to foster, grow and nurture an innovation ecosystem. Through partnerships between the National Science Foundation (NSF), Michigan universities, Midwestern universities, Michigan SmartZones, and venture capital and entrepreneurial communities, the program has created an opportunity for teams throughout the state and region to turn technology into commercial opportunities.
Jonathan Fay, Clay Phillips and Dan Radomski led the Trasportation Track of the I-Corps Program. As the primary instructors, they gave constant feedback to the teams regarding their value propositions, target customers and other aspects of their business model hypothesis.
Visha, Scott and the The SearchLite had the privilege of working with Alternative Fuel Containers, LLC (AFC). AFC is developing Natural Gas storage tanks for a range of motor vehicles that will minimize refuelling time and maximize miles driven per tank. The AFC tank design uses MOF (metal organic framework) adsorbent to capture Natural Gas at the molecular level. This means an AFC tank will store an amount of fuel comparable to CNG technology but without the limitations of tank shape, compression costs and safety concerns. Visha and Scott enjoyed working closely with Dillon Fuerth and Joong Lee. Dillon is the Business Unit Manager, is responsible for guiding the company from proof-of-concept to commercialization. Joong is the Development Manager, is creating alternative natural gas tank systems using technologies developed by framergy Inc. and Texas A&M University.