Adopting a learning and experimental approach has been the underlying philosophy of the MITA Innovation Hub from day one. From one call for startups to the next we always tried something new.
In fact four new experimental features which we adopted throughout the application process of YouStartIT#2 programme were: (1) the F6S APPLY button widget, this is a piece of code in our website linked to the F6S Application (2) links to online Design Thinking material embedded in the application form itself (3) the adoption of a Facebook Secret Group to facilitate two-way communication (4) a “speed date your mentor” event.
Based on various methods of data collection – a questionnaire to all applicants, Google Analytics and spontaneous feedback – we have concluded the following for each of the above.
The F6S Apply button was a successful experiment. We only discovered its power late in the application process. This is because we were relying on the Facebook Secret Group for one-to-one and one-to-many communication (read my point 3 below). It has a good level of automation which helps with the evaluation process for the purpose of shortlisting and then communicating with the applicants. Having a structured application form helped applicants crystallise more concisely their line of thinking in describing their business idea. F6S does have some limitations of course, for example, the lack of an export feature. But based on the mostly positive outcomes we will most certainly retain and perhaps even expand on the F6S Apply button widget. We’ll decide later to what extent.
Feedback on the online Design Thinking material was largely positive by 18 out of 27 respondents, and only 4 saying it was not that useful. This is something we will most likely retain, though we may change the method of delivery. Perhaps not having the links to the online material actually embedded within the application form itself.
Feedback on the YouStartIT2 Applicants Secret Group was somewhat mixed with slightly more finding it useful and others not so useful. From our end we thought having an extra FB group tends to clutter an already complex social media landscape. One problem we encountered was that we could communicate its existence only to those who came to the “Speed date your mentor” World Café, or to those who happened to initiate the application process early. But few actually did. And there was a rush of applications in the last week or so. In addition, applicants seemed to prefer one-to-one channel of communication. In all probability we will dropping the Applicants FB Secret Group for our next call, and instead make exclusive use of F6S as the main one-to-one channel of communication with applicants and ideators.
The “Speed date your mentor” event, inviting six business mentors in a hall full of startup founders, each hosting a table for a discussion, got a thumbs up by nearly all participants. Everybody came out excited and giving us good feedback. So we will be repeating this activity, however, we might be giving it a different timing to ensure that bonding between seasoned entrepreneurs and budding entrepreneurs happens at the right time. We’ll obviously have to reflect on this.
We look forward to receiving your comments when we post this blogpost on Facebook.