Penn Center for Innovation

I-Corps Week 2: Interviewing Session

Posted on June 16, 2015 — Len Ward

Guest Post By Tomás Isakowitz

Scott Sill lectured on the importance of interviewing as a method to run experiments for startups. We covered techniques such as 5 Whys, open ended questions, and managing the conversation. We broke out into groups and had one-on-one practice interviews. The goal was to learn as much as possible from each other’s life. Beside allowing us to practice interviewing technique, it had the added effect of helping us get to know each other better.

Team presentations followed. Some of the teams had unfortunately not reached the required five interviews and were not allowed to present. LocalAventura, Lifecycle, and Cahoots did present.

LocalAventura is a service that matches travelers to tour operators and guides in Latin America. This week, they interviewed three tour operators, who identified “finding customers” as their biggest pain, and two potential tourists that ratified issues related to cash payment and reliability of guides. No surprises here.


LifeCycle, a platform to rapidly deliver emergency medical care using motorcycles interviewed four physicians in emergency care,  two firefighters in charge of ambulances, a lawyer, and an Uber employee. Dispatchers. They discovered big problems in transport, possibly more than in emergency care, as 50% of ambulance transports are deemed unnecessary because they are not for emergency situations. The culprit: inability of dispatchers (because of mandate or lack of expertise) to differentiate critical versus non-critical situations.  This led the team to include municipalities as a potential customer segment interested in reducing unnecessary ambulance use. A key question is who will pay?

Cahoots is a platform to enable student governance organizations to share resources and manage projects. At least, that is what it was until this past week. By interviewing student organizers they rapidly discovered that yes, those problems are real but student organizations do not have money to pay for a solution. They also uncovered that job placing is an important problem for graduating students for which there are currently no satisfactory solutions. Their pivot consists in turning Cahoots into a multi-market business model. It provides a project management service to student organizations, collects data on student usage, and then uses such data to find a match with recruiter needs. Recruiters would paying customers. This last bit is to be tested this coming week.

All teams progressed and some started to make small iteration on their basic ideas as a result of the Lean Launchpad methodology.

Category: i-corps