Team:           Rowan Dixon   |   Gareth Jones   |   Anusha Sonthalia   |   Michael Hofmann   |   Fred Macher

Skills Developed 

Testing

User Research

Prototyping

Electronics

Design

About the Project

During our 4th year at university we are given a 2 term (20 week) module where we must form a team of 4 or 5 and create a startup/business. This modules aims to provide a platform to utilise skills learnt from previous modules such as research, product design, user testing and economic planning to create a company. 

My team, lead by Gareth Jones, decided that we wanted to help small charities raise funds as from personal experience we knew that this was very difficult. After spending 10-12 weeks of performing interviews, research and prototyping we settled on the final idea that became Ember.

 

Research(Charities)

The core to understanding how was could help charities efficiently was to research them by conducting interviews. We spoke to charities such as the RNLI, UK Scouting (on a national and local level) and Sportsable. This helped us understand their problems and how they operated. We also conducted research by looking at articles charities posted as well as research papers that looked into the economics of charities. We identified that a constant reliable cash-flow was one of the core problems that they had so we set about ideating and prototyping. We then took these ideas back to the charities to learn what they liked about them or why they thought they would not work. 

The Idea

After talking to many charities and gathering their feedback we realised that the best way to help them raise money consistently would be to tap into peoples daily habits. We identified people purchasing coffee daily as an ideal target as its is something a large proportion of the working population do regularly who have disposable income. 

The team set about interviewing consumers in person, as well as sending out surveys. The feedback was positive and suggestions of improvements were taken on board which started to lead to the general concept of integrating a way to donate into a reusable coffee mug

Research(Coffee Shops)

Now that we had identified purchasing coffee as the main area to target we started to talk to independent and small chain coffee shops around west London. Speaking to staff, managers and owners of these establishments meant that we could understand their needs and reluctancies that they may have with a product/service system that would operate in conjunction with their business. 

Over time these relationships developed and we were able to test prototypes within their establishments as well as testing hypothesise about how individuals would react when offered to donate along side their coffee.

 

Initial Prototyping

We initially envisioned selling a coffee mug with some embedded wireless communication chip such as a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacon, however after in depth market research we realised that the market was saturated with different product offerings from companies such as Keep Cup. This lead us towards insulation sleeves for coffee cups. When initially mocking up interactions I laser cut an MDF stamp that could be used to print onto cardboard sleeves. This worked well for initial prototyping and communicating the idea to the public.

Testing (With Hardware)

Now that we had identified purchasing coffee as the main area to target we started to talk to independent and small chain coffee shops around west London. Speaking to staff, managers and owners of these establishments meant that we could understand their needs and reluctancies that they may have with a product/service system that would operate in conjunction with their business. 

Over time these relationships developed and we were able to test prototypes within their establishments as well as testing hypothesise about how individuals would react when offered to donate along side their coffee.

© 2020 by Rowan Dixon

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