Entry #6- The Building Begins

Thursday’s class marked the start of the construction of the hydroponics models we have so long been discussing and blueprinting. Ironically, our model once again changed as we started building due to the lack of materials we had needed for our original design. Without a lid for the bottom bucket or 2L bottles to put the individual kale plants in, we were forced to rethink our design. After finding an extra tray that another team ended up not using, we adapted and placed it on top of a large rectangle container that we also found. This structure looked very different than the setup we initially intended to create, but the overall wick-system process was still the same. We also decided to scratch testing two different kinds of soil medium (we were originally going to put two plans in sand and two in dirt to test the effectiveness of both). Instead, due to a lack of dirt, we decided to put three plants all in sand and test the effectiveness of different wick materials.

By the end of class, we had arrived at a system that looked and operated quite differently than we had planned. But that, in essence, is entrepreneurship. Planning, preparing, researching, but then finding the act of creating and testing a wholly separate process that necessitates change and adjustment. I’ve seen and heard of many entrepreneurs who lose their business because they either refuse or are unable to adapt to their circumstances. A danger in entrepreneurship is getting too attached to the product (or the intended product) and failing to be open to change. At the heart of open-source design is a desire on the part of the creators and entrepreneurs to change and modify their product/service based on available resources, customer feedback, and successes or failures in the market. Already on this first day of putting together our hydroponics system, we experienced this on a small level.

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Entry #5-Our Business Model

This week, we began developing our Business Model Canvas, which helped my team start thinking about the resources, partnerships, and steps we need to make this system a reality among refugee camps. As we talked, I realized how vital customer feedback would be to us and to the open-source design community over time. I think that developing positive and strong customer relationships would be a key aspect of getting this project to work in the long-run. In OSD, because so many communities are adapting and changing the same concepts, communication is crucial. Without communication and sharing of information between the relevant actors (such as the designers, manufacturers, and users), progress cannot be made as effectively or efficiently as it would otherwise.

When we put together our Value Proposition, we were considering mainly the ways which our hydroponics system could benefit the refugee camps and the refugees themselves. But, as Professor Bevin pointed out, we should have included the ways that value could also be created for the businesses and OS designers we would partner with. For example, partnering with us by supplying our project with some of the resources we need to build the systems could booster a business’ CSR. We would also be creating value for the open-source hydroponics community by contributing to the innovation conversation and by offering firsthand feedback from the refugees on the effectiveness of different types of hydroponic systems across varying climates and landscapes. Thus, value would be created for not just our team and the refugee camps, but also for our partnering businesses and the OS community as well.