Meet the Participants: Taking stock on two weeks of IACT20

It has been another exciting week for IACT20. With teams building their confidence and consolidating their ideas, the excitement and motivation of IACT participants can be felt, even through the walls of Zoom.

In Week Two, participants worked on Value Proposition and refined their 1-minute pitch. At Tuesday’s event, some teams used these well-rehearsed skills to connect with potential mentors, who will work with them for the remainder of the program. 

Capturing this atmosphere, our Marketing Officers, Suhaib and Anika, took the opportunity to interview two teams on the nature of their progress so far, and their hopes for the rest of the program.

Heba describes the moment that she new House of Words was the perfect name for her team: ‘We were in a café, we were talking, and I interrupted someone because I suddenly got the idea and blurted, “House of Words!”’

Along with their teammate Charlotte, Rucha and Heba from House of Words aim to ‘create an online platform where people can publish their written work from different languages.’ They specifically want a platform which is not Anglo-centric, allowing people access to different sorts of content.

Over the next few weeks, Heba would like to further concrete their idea, and bring it further into reality. ‘I can already see that we’re starting to do that, especially after today with putting our ideas together, and being concise about what we really hope to do,’ she says. Rucha hopes that after this program the idea will be ready to go. More personally, she thinks ‘[my goal] would be that we get a platform for our own writing as well, and improve our editing, and skills like that.’

They both admit that so far, finding customers to engage with has been tricky. While a customer survey has been designed, Rucha has been talking with other students, these being their target customer base. She says these interactions have involved ‘going around and talking to people. Sometimes when I’m talking to people I just bring up the topic, not as much a formal interview but just in the middle of a conversation.’ 

When asked about their IACT experience so far, Rucha responded with enthusiasm. ‘It’s dynamic, even though it’s online. You have to do a lot of work and it helps you think. We met before the start of the program and found our ideas were a bit vague, we just really narrowed them down and have a clear vision now.’

Team House of Words with Suhaib from the IACT Committee

For Heba, it was ‘a little bit intimidating the first time, especially being put into breakout rooms, and then having people pop in out of nowhere and listen to your conversations. But I think that’s been really helpful and has helped to build our confidence. It’s good to get immediate feedback and to share our ideas with other people.’

Elsewhere in the program, Team To the Left, consisting of Siri, Marshall and Tianhui, aims to create a platform which provides verified, curated fashion products, while ensuring that all supply chains are ethical and sustainable. While online platforms are not necessarily novel, they hope their advantage of carefully curated and consistent sustainability will be an advantage that can win over customers.

In wake of this week’s customer challenge (where teams were asked to talk to as many potential customers as possible), the group seems positive about their idea. For Siri, ‘my interaction with them was quite reassuring, because they were worried about eco friendly clothing, reaffirming the issue we are trying to address.’ Tianhui adds that their own group members are among the target customers, giving them an advantage in relating to other customers, and better purposing their idea this way.

While progress has been slow to begin with, all members agree that the program has reinforced their enthusiasm and beliefs behind the idea. Their biggest challenge so far is finding evidence that convinces people of the need for such a platform. Marshall says they need to ‘justify or prove that this is something that people want. There is a status quo of not doing this, so we need evidence that there actually needs to be this product.’

In the next few weeks, Siri would like to find more clarity. ‘I’m really looking forward to getting a mentor’s advice on how to make this idea more convincing, and to materialise it.’ Similarly, Marshall and Tianhui want to refine the vagueness of the idea, and determine how it will fit into a market gap. But at the same time, they are all confident in their ability to be totally honest with themselves. As Tianhui says, and the rest agree, ‘we are very confident about what we want from this.’ With this kind of passion, we are excited for what is in store. 

Behind each team’s effort is undoubtable motivation and purpose. And this is only the beginning. Best of luck to all of our energetic teams as they take on the challenges of Week 3. We are excited to bring you more updates!