Archive for February 2012
On Saturday, we hosted an open session in the Children’s Creativity Museum’s (CCM) innovation lab for two hours. Parents and kids were free to wander in and out. A few of the parents mentioned they had seen us announced through the CCM’s mailing list or website. Others were just at the museum for the day.
We used the session to talk to parents and gain insights into revenue hypotheses and presentation of our website.
They hypotheses were as follows
- Parents are interested in 1 time purchase and paying subscription for additional content.
- Good, better, and best product offerings increase sales.
After interviewing 12 parents, which included asking direct questions and letting them interact with the website, we came to the following conclusions:
- Parents want subscriptions! Take the work out of it for them.
Opportunity for partnership with the museum store. We can train teens to host these events in the future, driving parents to the museum store to purchase our products.
As we’ve found that experience trumps product, we are working on learning about new channels and different methods through which the experience can be made more scalable. Multi-level marketing (MLM) is a possibility, with a slight Colorwheels twist to it. MLM is a person-to-person marketing strategy that runs off of relationship referrals and word-of-mouth. In other words, salespeople can use their connections to make sales.
Our idea on how to use MLM is to train high school girls to run these workshops that have been successful for us. These workshops will replicate the experience and can be held in museums, after school programs, summer camps, etc. This also follows a previous learning that girls like teaching others. These workshops would then provide an outlet for sales to take place by having our kit on hand for parents to purchase after the sessions. Furthermore, this would be cost-effective as we could even have this be an extracurricular activity for girls to fulfill volunteer hours on top of padding their resume.
Another possibility is to find moms who share our vision and would be interested in running these types of groups to follow the girl scout model. It would be similar to having a girl scout system except the girls learn STEM instead! In a previous session at the Children’s Creativity Museum, we have already seen girls love the idea of receiving badges for reaching certain milestones.
We are still determining the scalability of these ideas. We have started by talking to a couple teachers about our idea who we hope will recommend some students they believe would be interested in this type of work.
One of the ways we have been investigating our business model is by going into toy stores and seeing what people buy. We visited an awesome toy store in Los Altos that also sells teaching supplies to see what they had. Their science kits section was very well stocked, and the employee I spoke to was very proud of the fact that they carried toys that were hard to find in other places.
- Science kits frequently bought as default gifts for birthday parties.
- The age range is usually somewhere between 6 and 10 years old
- Parents judge kits based on their packaging and whether they look too cheap (see attached photos for and example of popular packaging)
- Generally teachers just buy stencils, workbooks, and art supplies from them. Some science kits that they carry can be used for classroom activities but not that many.
- Some popular toys are gearations (see attached photo) and building sets with magnets in them (magnatiles, tegu)
- The Science kit area is very crowded and it will be hard to differentiate our product.
We had a meeting this morning with the Silicon Valley Education Foundation. The foundation is focused on getting children, right now mostly middle school but expanding into elementary school, ready for college and careers. They are doing this by running several programs, the most notable of which is the step up to algebra program. An intensive multi-week, 4 hour a day, program that brings kids up to speed in algebra and raises their confidence in their own abilities.
One interesting aspect of their organization is that they measure the attitude of the kids before and after the program and find very positive gains. This will be an interesting direction for us to explore for use as a metric. They’ve obtained good results using this metric. The tests were designed in conjunction with a professor at Santa Clara University.
Additionally, they’ve invited us to an event for middle school teachers to work on design thinking in designing math/science curricula. We’ll also, hopefully, be able to connect with more elementary schools through them.
It was a great visit and very nice to hear about an organization that is working on helping prepare kids for college and getting them excited about their abilities in STEM.
Is it a single childhood experience? A revered role model? How can we combine these experiences into the experience we are providing?
We surveyed 61 people, 44 of whom were women, between the ages of 18 and 59. The majority were engineers. We found respondents through posting to social media groups (Facebook and LinkedIn), sharing from our own accounts, and emailing old classmates.
We asked 6 questions. The first 4 were multiple choice and intended to collect general information (gender, age, field in STEM, and # parents in STEM). Surprisingly, more than half our respondents had neither parent involved in STEM and about a third had only their father in STEM.
The last two questions were intended to gather information about formative childhood experiences that pushed these people into STEM and the decision to stay in STEM in higher education.
We chose to focus on the answers from our female respondents. Some common themes/responses:
- Introduction to STEM by parents at very young age.
- Playing with their dads.
- Middle school and high school classes that they excelled in.
- School science competitions, museums
- Childhood curiosity got them hooked at a young age – connections to the real world.
- Provide STEM involved role models to the kids without parents or close family friends involved in STEM.
- Pursue involvement with schools. Target science classes and competitions and get higher female involvement.
- Provide the opportunity for more girls to have those discovery moments and experiences.