Quick Failure is a crucial day at the end of Week 2 of the Innovation Workshop. It is the first day that the students meet with the 21 international mentors and present their ideas. The mentors in their turn offer constructive feedback based on their extensive experience and expertise. For many of the students, this was their first time speaking in public, let alone presenting an idea before a panel of experts, the latter being a rather intimidating prospect even for those with public speaking experience! However, this was all conducted in an atmosphere of opportunity and positivity, and students were encouraged not to take criticism to heart, but to see its use in developing their project ideas even further. We caught up with some of the students and mentors to hear their first impressions.
“This day for me is the most interesting so far, because we finally have a vision of what we have to do and we’ve had some great feedback from the mentors and other students. Our project idea is based on estimating people traffic for small- and middle-sized businesses. We have decided that we have to change the sphere in which we wanted to apply our product. Now, we would like to estimate the number of people around a vending machine, the goal being to gather information for vending machine owners to show them what design customers prefer the most.” – Andrey Kudriashov, Photonics and Quantum Materials
“We are developing a speech device that can be used for prosthetic arms to help amputees type for work and communication in general. Some of the mentors mentioned that it’s similar to APIs that already exist, while others saw the idea as a new option for amputees.” – Nourhan Aly Abdelzaher, Space Engineering Systems
“It was great to hear the feedback from the mentors, because there were certain aspects of our project that we didn’t consider. We didn’t think about particular cases where our project might be useful to our customers.” – Vladimir Gogorian, Data Science
“Today I saw diversity, a lot of motivation, and that the students are open to the different ideas in the feedback they received. They are also willing to work with it, which I consider to be the most important factor, because I have seen a lot of startups where people resist if the original idea doesn’t impress the mentors. What I really appreciated was that all the groups were open to criticism and they tried to be more solution-focused rather than idea-focused, which is the best outcome you can get in a startup competition.” – Arpi Karapetyan, Founder and General Manager of Cascade People & Business
“I am happy to be here to assist the students, but that does not necessarily mean to help them come up with new or better ideas; the ideas we heard today were very good. We tried to give them better background and practical skills that you need in order to survive with good ideas long-term, to find a market and to find a good business model. I think that is what we are doing here as a team. Today we saw a group that is still nervous to communicate with the mentors and to pitch in front of them; it’s very important that they get rid of that nervousness. I have already heard many great ideas, with are not fully formulated due to the short space of time students had to prepare, but they are ideas that we can work on. What differentiates this year’s Innovation Workshop from last year’s is that it is all located at this new campus, which I think, given the campus design, offers the right atmosphere for students to work and encourages inspiring ideas. You can really see what this kind of setting can do to facilitate the students’ accomplishments. In terms of the mentors, I think bringing people of such a caliber here to Skoltech is pretty exciting; they’re really cool people, there is a lot of knowledge and wisdom, but also a lot of fun.” – Max Rapp, Ernst & Young, Skoltech Adjunct Professor
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