Guest Author

Laura Sampath, National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA)

“Entrepreneurs with great ideas are often told to have unwavering conviction in their own beliefs and innovations,” said Xcelerator instructor James Barlow, “but there’s a very fine line between confidence and delusion.”

Barlow was leading a session to challenge Saving Lives at Birth innovators to think like investors about their products and services. Each team was asked to consider the risks associated with their innovation and identify which would be the most concerning from an investor’s point of view.

Barlow gave this advice for going about the process of risk identification. “When you are developing your innovation,” Barlow said, “seek out every perspective you can, especially from the people who you expect will be the least friendly to your ideas. Think of all the things that can kill your idea and then speed-date them!”

Here are some of the risks the teams identified:

·         Cost of product creation and manufacturing

·         Price point

·         The competition

·         Distribution channels to reach the end user

·         Is the product or service acceptable to the end user?

·         Change communications (Even if the product or service is acceptable, is a change in end user behavior required to ensure its uptake?)

·         Policy support for the product or service in the target environment

Barlow urged the teams to think of market development and product development as “two strands of a double helix” constantly informing one another and “driving the ultimate solution”.

The team left the session with the assignment to think about the criteria they might set for making a go/no-go decision, or when to pivot in a new direction.

This blog has been cross-posted from the Saving Lives at Birth website. Follow the Saving Lives at Birth blog at