Helping social ventures discover their best market opportunities: The story of PowerDrip
- Case studies
Dora Marosvölgyi is a certified ‘Where to Play’ consultant, and manager of the Jumpstarter Program for early stage startups at EIT (The European Institute of Innovation and Technology). In this post, she shares with us her experience and insights from helping PowerDrip – a double-bottom-line venture – identify their first market using the Market Opportunity Navigator and the recently developed Social Impact worksheet.
PowerDrip: a double-bottom-line venture
Francesca Pizzi is a co-founder of PowerDrip, an Italian start-up that wants to improve hospital treatment and recovery of children by developing a compact, mobile infusion system embedded in a wearable super-hero vest. The team plans to launch a double-bottom-line business, gaining healthy financial returns while positively impacting the health of the European society.
This is why they joined the EIT Jumpstarter – where I met them – to validate the need for the product, build up their business model and get connected to the EIT Health family, the largest healthcare network in Europe. EIT Jumpstarter program is a safe environment for innovative research teams where industry-experts and business mentors support them navigate through the first risky steps towards commercialization.
I helped the PowerDrip team identify their first market with the help of the Market Opportunity Navigator and the recently developed Social Impact worksheet.
The beneficiaries: Empowering hospitalized kids
One of the main issues in case of young patients receiving infusion is that drip-stands are bulky and heavy, and must be carried everywhere by the child during the entire period of the treatment. The other challenging angle is emotional: the pole is ugly and often scary for the kids.
PowerDrip wants to solve this problem by making the treatment more enjoyable, while facilitating the movement of these young patients.
“What kids can see is a superhero vest they need to wear, which empowers them to fight the disease with the courage and strength of a real superhero; the product is a compact and mobile infusion system allowing to monitor the real-time status of the patient remotely, control the system and collect data for further analysis” – describes Francesca.
Clearly, the beneficiaries of this innovation are its users: 3.5-16 years old kids in need of infusion, but who will be paying for it? What should be the first target market that the startup should focus on? The team identified three potential segments: private hospitals, public hospitals and home care (treatments done at home by a team of professionals).
Selecting the target market
As a first step, we analysed each of the three market opportunities against the potential gains and challenges to place them on the Attractiveness Map of the Market Opportunity Navigator. On the potential dimension we analysed, among others, the need for the solution and its effectiveness, the market size and its expected growth rate, and the economic viability. While the challenge dimension covered the implementation obstacles, sales and distribution difficulties, funding challenges, the product market readiness as well as some external risks.
While hospitals – both private and public – presented an overall high potential and medium-challenge and have been identified as rather Gold Mine opportunities, homecare was positioned in the Moon-Shot quadrant representing a bigger potential, but a higher challenge as well.
This analysis was very powerful, yet given that the startup’s vision is to empower kids to heal faster and make a positive impact on the European society, it was also interesting to check whether these three target markets differ in their social impact potential.
Using Social Impact as an additional selection criteria
The social impact worksheet of the Market Opportunity Navigator gives you an extra-layer of information that helps in selecting the market to focus on. Francesca and her team needed to assess each of the opportunities individually to find out about their ability to create impact for their beneficiaries.
The worksheet assesses the impact creation along three main questions:
- How severe is the problem you are providing solution to? this question captures the extent and the gravity of the societal challenge we are facing
- Do you provide the right solution to the right problem? Is your solution expected to cause any secondary harm or negative effect?
- Is the positive impact of your solution likely to reach the wider-society? And do you create a long-lasting effect?
Francesca and her team run the analysis for all three segments: private hospitals, public hospitals and homecare. And the result? Each opportunity scored similarly high (a score that is represented by the 3 heart-shapes on each opportunity).
This result is not completely surprising, since the end beneficiaries in all segments are similar. While the impact assessment provided clear reassurance to the team that they are on the right track for creating positive impact, it did not help them to significantly distinguish between the three target customers.
Therefore, they decided to focus where they can foresee less risks: private hospitals with general pediatrics, pediatric oncology or pediatric rheumatology, including those having a day hospital service.
Next question: Geographic focus
The EU cannot be seen as one unified healthcare market. Countries have different regulatory systems; however, two aspects are common: they share similar values about solidarity, healthcare is rather inclusive; and all countries rely considerably on public or not-for-profit providers with some degree of private for-profit delivery. Therefore, it is also important to focus geographically and select the initial target country. The team decided to start where they have knowledge and established connections, and selected Italy as their beachhead market.
In the coming months, the PowerDrip team should focus on validating their assumptions via interviews with potential customers and beneficiaries; In parallel, they are also working on delivering and testing a working prototype. They are not alone in this journey: as alumnus of the EIT Jumpstarter they can utilize the EIT Health network and get all the support they need for building a successful company.
Concluding insights: Applying the social impact worksheet
The new social/environmental impact worksheet of the Market Opportunity Navigator is a useful tool to give you an additional layer of information, and help you choose between different opportunities. While the existing process of the Attractiveness Map allows you to analyse your business from the customer’s angle, the social impact worksheet takes into consideration the beneficiary’s perspective.
Mentoring early stage startups like PowerDrip, I find the Social Impact Worksheet to be most powerful when:
- Your innovation can be applied in completely different markets and you are sensitive to helping the society. By filling out the sheet you will have a sense of the impact your start-up can potentially create for the groups of beneficiaries in each market. Different impact scores will help you decide which one to focus on.
- Your start-up is tapping into a social domain, such as healthcare, sustainability or cleantech. The impact worksheet can provide an unbiased compass in case your market opportunities include different groups of beneficiaries with slightly different problems. Examining problem severity and impact reach will most likely be the main drivers for differentiating between your opportunities in that case.
EIT Jumpstarter Manager and business mentor, EIT Health
Market Opportunity Navigator Certified Consultant