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Innovation is for Everyone

Published on 1st February 2016

Ten teams of high school students proved that innovation is possible at any age when they created Minimal Viable Products (MVPs) that could potentially solve problems that plague society.

Incubation Engineering Manager Jeff Zias helped coach the teams during Intuit’s Incubation Week. He said teaching young individuals Design for Delight (D4D) — a set of principles that guides innovation to solve customer problems — can be less challenging because they have fewer bad habits.

“[Gaining] deep customer empathy, going broad to go narrow and the use of rapid experimentation seemed obvious and clear to the students,” Zias said. “There is something natural and true about design thinking and the students quickly embraced the principles.”

With the guidance of Intuit’s Incubation staff, team Viva La Sleep created a web app to help students spend more time on work assignments and less time aimlessly browsing the Internet. Student Varun Agarwal said his team developed the app after coming to the consensus that all students face problems with time management.

The process was similar for all teams. Each generated ideas, designed products and brought them to life. Some teams came up with physical solutions while others produced websites and mobile apps.

“It was clear that [students] were open to new thoughts and experiences while, at the same time, capable of bringing their own observations and expertise to the table,” Zias said. “Students brought true dedication to producing something of value to people; something that would help make someone’s life better. That is so admirable and it’s a great way to prepare for any profession.”

Viva La Sleep tracked how much time students spent on distracting websites, such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The collected data was used to create charts and displays. A poll also revealed that all students in the room wasted at least one hour on the Internet during a school day.

Since July team Viva La Sleep redesigned its website with enhanced features, cleaned up code to make it more readable and is working on its biggest barrier so far — gathering user history information and presenting it in a user-friendly way. The app has also been renamed TimeM.

Team member Abhay Varshney said the innovative environment enabled him to learn programming skills and the fundamentals of product management. Teams experienced hardships but used D4D to experiment, learn quickly and reach pivot points. Each student left inspired thanks to the help of staff as well as their peers.

“Help from everyone is accepted,” said Jon Vincent, a senior offering program manager who helped coach students. “It promotes the spread of knowledge from group to group.”

Arun Varshney, a manager of development, helped organize the event, coached students and hopes to continue inspiring creative, young minds.

“The most remarkable outcome is that some of these students are very clear about their career choices now,” Varshney said. “They gained confidence and are clearer about what they like and don’t like.”

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