Currently, I work as a Student Consultant with a group called Discovery to Product (D2P for short). D2P is a resource for students and faculty with aspirations of incorporating a new business based on a product or innovation that entrepreneur has developed. We work with these budding entrepreneurs to build a business out of their new development, from initial value proposition through venture capital funding and ultimate incorporation.
My roll on the D2P team is to bring the “Voice of the Customer” to table for these innovators. A new product or innovation may be technically superior to existing alternatives, however if current products in the market adequately solve the customer’s problem, adoption is going to be an uphill battle. I get to help entrepreneurs research their market, talk to their customer and find out if their product creates value by solving a problem.
So far I’ve been involved in several projects dealing in industries I never imagined I’d research, from tech (virtual reality) to adhesives to food science. Each project gives me a new opportunity to use the skills I’ve learned at the Wisconsin School of Business to tackle real-world business problems. I’m using my marketing research tool set to help answer, where are these new businesses going to play (who is their target market/industry) and how are they going to win (what problem needs to be solved for these customers)?
Entrepreneurs need to start with a valuable problem to solve. Delivering a product that truly meets a customer need is how to start a business and how to grow a business. Ground breaking, disruptive products solve unknown needs and can be generated almost out of thin air by a talented few. However, for us mere mortals, we need to do the hard work and find those problems through research. That’s why I’m here at Wisconsin, to learn the skills necessary to understand why people do what they do. The Wisconsin School of Business teaches me these skills and my student consulting project allows me the opportunity to put those tools to work in real-world situations.
As far as a second job goes there’s none better than a student consulting job. If you’re looking to go back to school, and want help financially, no part-time job comes close to matching the benefit of a student consulting position. Each project has its own requirements however I have great flexibility I otherwise would not have gotten out of a part-time, hourly job. Mixing this flexibility and the real-world experience creates a winning combination and why the A.C. Nielsen Center is a fantastic place to earn your MBA.