Today Jackie and I found out that one way to answer yesterday’s question is to, well, redefine the problem. We had the opportunity to meet with Sorin Grama, Co-Founder of Promethean Power and Greentown Labs. He was very helpful – and patient with us, too – as we reviewed our problem and our model with him.
Something that both Jackie and I have a tendency to do is overemphasize Essmart’s social value of getting technologies into the hands of people who benefit from them. We stress this because we’ve both been involved with D-Lab, have traveled to rural areas of developing countries, and wrote/are writing our Master’s theses on rural dissemination strategies. However, for the purposes of running a business and giving customers their value propositions, this problem that we’ve defined as the problem isn’t really important. Of course, that’s not to say that the problem of rural distribution isn’t important in general. It is super duper important, which is why we’re even working on Essmart. But for our model to function, we have to recognize a different pain in our customer and offer the proper economic incentives to address it.
Anyway, talking with Sorin was quite the revelation. It was like when Jackie and I talked with “the Sears guy” at a MIT poster session. The Sears guy helped us redefine our customer, thus clarifying much of our prior thought.
Tufts was for learning; we’re looking forward to HBS next week!