Penn Center for Innovation

I-Corps Blog: Cahoots

Posted on July 17, 2015 — pennadmin

Week 1

The Problem: There is no way to see the whole story
No system captures the whole story of how ideas turn into action. When recruiters and advertisers look for clientele, they experience this problem first hand.

~97% of recruiters use online tools for recruiting purposes… Only 3.5% say it’s an effective measure for a good hire –Gallup

The static resume tools that exist do not capture the soft skills individuals have that make them effective in the work place.

Our Solution: Put people in Cahoots
Our solution is to build the ecosystem for users to share their ideas, connect and collaborate. Under one roof, Cahoots can tell the whole story about how people work together, what skills they possess and what strengths they have. We’ve been busy building our network throughout the country. Now it’s time to build our system to Get in Cahoots.

Week 2

Week 2 challenged us to consider the methodology we have used to conduct most of our interviews up until this point. The Cahoots team has done a good job of talking to and working with a diverse array of individuals from across many different sectors. But perhaps this isn’t always the most effective way to get the information we need. Cahoots has always been very heavily focused around university-aged students, particularly student leaders. This week it was suggested that we start pursuing the recruiters that could ultimately be the financial backbone of our system, and we’ve taken this to heart. Our focus for the next week (and inevitably beyond), will be to get some interviews with recruiters to see how viable this market of ours really is…

And on the note about markets, some facts that we’ve dug up recently:

~99% of business and non-profit recruiters use some kind of “online tools” for their recruitment efforts.

3.5% of recruiters say that “online tools” provide enough information for an effective hire.

Wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t need to rely on a static resume? Or do that last minute “linkedIn Crunch” just at the start of your job search?

Week 3

Week 3, and we have started talking to recruiters and people who have gone through the recent job hunt. So far our theories have been corroborated, the biggest takeaways we’ve gotten are as follows:
• Collaborations are super helpful, but only happen once or twice a year (Phd Student in Evolutionary Biology)
• The only way to see someone’s real capability, is if you can see how they work on projects
• The current online tools for recruiters are either jobs boards or static resumes

We’ve been talking with a lot of people, but the above three points were our trends this past week. One Non-Profit recruiter also mentioned their willingness to pay for a system that fully captured the experience of turning ideas into actions (what we hope to do with Cahoots).

Still, one of the most interesting stories we’ve ever gotten, came from a focus group we ran in which a student leader from George Washington University expressed their desire to use something like Cahoots to connect with fellow beekeepers… Evidently there is a community of apiarists (yes, that’s the name for beekeepers), and they don’t have an effective means to connect and share best practices… A potential value proposition for Cahoots.

Week 4

Team Cahoots had a breakthrough this past week in terms of customer discovery.  We conducted a number of very helpful interviews that helped us narrow our focus and remind ourselves how the idea for Cahoots came about in the first place.

We started our work with the one simple task of making it easier for like-minded people to find one another.  Since then, we’ve found ourselves expanding our goals at the advice of other individuals through our interview process.  This has taken us off track a bit, and we decided to get back to the basics of why we started with this in the first place.

To best describe this, we posed the question:

When you want to get into a field of your interest, a field that you’re currently not connected to, what do you do?

The answers we got from this were interesting…

  • You have to get your foot in the field in anyway possible
  • Find someone connected to the field
  • Talk to people at your university
  • Google search the field

Most of these answers came after some serious thought into how this process works, and how we can overcome the hurdles of not having any initial connections to begin with.  For example, not everyone is a part of a university network.  Cahoots can be used to fill this gap.  Act as a bridge between those who have no connection to their field of interest, and those already within it.  This is where we are headed with our product.

Week 5

This week Team Cahoots got to work in designing what the product would actually look like.  We’ve based our design and what the tools would utilize in our system off of the advice of what we have learned in I-Corps.  Taking for example, the lessons of the Clay Christenson’s milkshake example of market discovery, when people hire our solution, the solution they hire needs to do the following:

  • Be simple
  • Utilize the pre-existing tools
  • Provide a way to connect to like-minded people
  • Aggregate information
  • Adapt to different working styles

Based on this information from multiple interviews, we’ve decided on four primary tools within our system to accomplish these goals:

  Profile/Dashboard Groups Communities Network
What is it? You

Your dashboard and profile is created by syncing your other social network accounts.  It provides information about who you are, what you’ve done and what you are passionate about

Who you Work With

Your groups are created by users and are closed virtual spaces to communicate and share information with other users

The People You Haven’t Met

Communities are entirely user generated and represent interest areas to meet new people, share best practices, get ideas and connect.

Who you Know

Your network houses all of your friends and connections aggregated together by various other social networks.

What does it do?
  1. Aggregate information about user
  2. Sync other social networks into one place
  1. Creates a closed space to work with people you connect to.
  2. Manage communication and send messages through other synced systems
  1. Creates communities based locally, regionally and Nationally
  2. Facilitates first contact into a field or interest area
  1. Aggregates the people you know in one system
  2. Tells you who is online and who is not
  3. Provides a method to search in your own network


 Week 6

This week Team Cahoots started taking our designs to the potential users themselves, creating a “preto-type” with word docs to test how Student Government Presidents might react to different makeups of our system.  We start with Student Government Presidents for a few reasons.  First off, this is the basis of our network.  One of our co-founders has a network of over 500 student government presidents from across the country that we have an on-going connection with and daily interactions.  The second reason, is that Student Government Presidents are typically connected to the other organizations on campuses and other students as well.  Our network of Student Government Presidents is connected to ~6,000,000 students in total.  Finally, Student Government Presidents are our ideal initial users.  Their lives are essentially student connecting and student organizing.  As a result, they would use the full capacity of the tools within Cahoots, making them ideal candidates for initial users.

So far our feedback has been positive and productive.  While many of our Student Government Presidents agree they would use the tool we are designing, the design we have developed still needs work.  We will continue to conduct interviews, perfecting our design based off of the direct feedback from our SG presidents until we come up with the ideal “preto-type” that we can then begin construction on.



Category: i-corps, i-corps-team-posts