Last week, we asked the question, “How might the Internet of Things (IoT) assist small business owners with their financial management to improve profitability and reduce bankruptcy?”
Further, we asked, “How might we make small businesses more resilient now for future extreme events like COVID-19?”
Our team of innovators, comprised of students and insurers, raced against the clock to create a solution to these challenges in 24 hours. The team was mentored by Cookhouse Labs China Partner Jason Alleyne, an industry veteran with over a decade of innovation experience. Our Head Innovation Coach Ibeth Ramos facilitated the virtual project, offering valuable tips and high-energy motivation to remain focused throughout the experience.
As our team set out to understand the effect of the pandemic on small businesses around the world, they were given a crash course in Design Thinking by Coach Ibeth throughout their journey. As they learned in the workshop, in order to solve the problem in a way that would be meaningful to the end user, they needed to first hear and understand the struggles of the end user. Thus, the team began their 24-hour journey with the interviews of business owners from China, Bermuda, and Canada.
After recording their insights on our digital whiteboard, the team created a persona to represent the end user – Fiona, a small business owner in Toronto. They mapped out her journey from launching a new product to cost-cutting as a result of the current economic impact, aiding them in understanding the thoughts and emotions that she experienced along the way.
Equipped with these data points, the team came up with over 20 “How Might We” statements to describe the challenge at hand. They worked together to narrow the problem down to a single statement focused on reducing the risk of financial impact of current economic events. In turn, this would reduce the number of staff fired as a result of cost-cutting.
Now that the problem was defined, what was the solution?
The team ideated many well-developed IoT-powered solutions to tackle this challenge and quickly selected the winning idea: a financial planning tool with elements of community and skill development. They were guided by our Senior UX/UI Designer, Adys Franco, who walked them through the various design tools they could use to prototype their solution.
As they began to build a prototype of their tool, the team collaborated on the design and content of the solution. They established a user flow to show how business owners could access each feature. Coach Ibeth delivered one final workshop on best practices to follow during the testing phase, and as the clock struck midnight, the team decided to call it a night.
7 hours later, they returned with a renewed enthusiasm – it was time to test out their solution! The team reconnected with two business owners from China and Canada, and carefully noted down the feedback they received. As some members continued to tweak the tool based on the feedback, others began to work on the final presentation of their solution to the insurance community.
Soon, excited attendees began to fill the virtual space, curious about the solution the team had come up with. In a fun and engaging presentation, the team took the audience through their exhilarating 24-hour journey and finally revealed their solution. As with all Cookhouse Labs co-creation projects, a discussion was sparked around the potential of this solution in the global economy, with both innovators and attendees adding fascinating insights from their own experiences to the dialogue.
We would like to thank everyone from the participants, in particular the group of young people for their interest and commitment to the insurance topics, to the facilitators and the audience for creating an invaluable virtual experience. Every Cookhouse Labs project is designed to Make Insurance Better, and thanks to such exciting collaborations from our community members, we know that we are making a shift for the better, one session at a time!
To learn about our upcoming virtual events and to get involved, please visit our Events page here.