Working with a diverse group of students during my Junior year, we started by observing a problem: during my sophomore year in college while working as a front desk monitor for the fitness center, I noticed that people kept misplacing their student IDs (called the “UD One Card”) and couldn’t get into the gym. This resulted in tense conversations where either myself or a coworker had to deflate their dreams of feeling the burn and resulted in an angry walk back to their dorm or apartment (or attempting to sneak through the back door). This wasn’t the only place that I observed the problem, though. It was happening all over campus; the dorms, the library, the dining halls. Anywhere students needed their IDs to get inside.
Observations – We scoped out the library and the gym and watched how many students were turned away.
Interviews – we, forgive us we were young, started with a survey but realizing it was inadequate then turned to talking to fellow students face to face to dive deeper.
What we learned – students hated carrying around their IDs. The ones who’d misplace them the most didn’t frequent the gym or the library and didn’t think it necessary to carry at all times. We learned that professors had the same issue! We even spoke with the library who told us that 1/3 students entering forgets their ID. What found to be true was that each of the people we spoke to had a smartphone, and they carried it everywhere. So we brainstormed a bit and came up with a major assumption — what if you could carry your ID virtually on your phone, like apple pay!
Assumptions that had to hold true: students lost or misplace their IDs often enough and would be willing to pay for a premium service ($0.99 on the App Store)
We tested this assumption by going back to the same people who angrily professed to have the problem and conducted a sort of solution interview. We brought with us this MVP:
I took a picture of my student ID and simply pulled up that photo onto the screen, making sure the screen wouldn’t timeout. On the back of my phone was one of those phone wallet things. You simply pull up your card on your phone, tap on the NFC turnstile, and are granted access to eat all the food, read all the books, or burn all the calories.
We learned that it’s difficult working . The executives in the Student ID Office professionals were so excited about our project that they even came to our class to view our final pitch. They let us know that the university is already headed in that direction and that they wouldn’t pay for a student created solution, and we learned that it’s incredibly difficult with a university to get your solution sold. But not impossible.
Looking back, we could have tested the solution with more people. In theory, wouldn’t the phone wallet itself solve the problem?
What was really exciting about the whole things was working with fellow undergrads who majored in totally different fields from marketing and finance, to political science and exercise science.
Watch our promo video for our MVP here: UD One Card Plus Promo (It’s funny, but it truly does represent the real life scenarios we observed in the library.)
The business model canvas below was our attempt at a BMD, it has it’s flaws, but it was a start: