Here we are in EPFL’s largest auditorium ready for Innovation Night’s 2017 edition. A quite radical change in comparison to last year’s event which was held is a small exercise room in the CO building (EPFL students will know how small that is). So what happened this year at the event which went from a 30 people room to a 300 people auditorium?
The event starts with a presentation from the co-founder of the company Lambda Health System Yannick Charrotton. LHS uses virtual reality for neurorehabilitation, mainly after a stroke. Their technology retrains the brain and helps it relearning how to work. Yannick explains it as « having to reinstall the software inside a well-working hardware ».
The technology works the following way: the patient puts on a virtual reality mask and plays a game. Yannick becomes more precise, saying that « when I move my arm, there’s a part of your brain that activates, even though you didn’t do the movement, I’m the only one who’s moved his arm ».
Focusing more on entrepreneurship, he then gives us his three main pieces of advice :
- Choose the right persons. When he was young, he always thought he had to choose his team according to the candidate’s profiles, their field of expertise. But it’s actually trickier. « Choose people who have the same values as you». You want people who are looking at the same direction as you are. It’s easy to test the values of your co-founders, there are many tests on the internet to help you achieve that.
- Don’t underestimate your hourly rate. Don’t lose your time with small tasks, you are worth valuable work time.
- Pass as much time as you can with your customers.
- Hire slow, fire slow. It’s really important to hire the right person for the task.
The event was then followed by three workshops. Participants would come up with a group of three or four people (friends or new acquaintances) and choose the workshop they were the most interested in.
The shared brain session
The first workshop, called the shared brain session, basically consisted in brainstorming a service/product idea. If you didn’t have one, the
Innovation Night team had prepared a long list of ideas and you could just pick one up and discuss it. The goal was to find the customers for the product. Who will buy? Who are our clients? People, companies, governments? And then, what are its strengths, weaknesses? Would it work? If not, what’s missing?
Of course, each workshop was supervised by someone in the field, an entrepreneur, an investor, an advisor.
Build your brand
The second workshop, called build your brand, was all about selling the product. It is indeed great having an idea, but how are you going to sell it? How do you prove your idea will make someone’s life easier? Or why should someone quit using their product and start using yours? This workshop reminded me of the RedOxygen startup from Panama that we met during the SeedStars Summit. The team told us that their main challenge was convincing people to accept the innovation and not being scared to change their habits.
Plan your business
Finally, the last workshop, Plan your business, was all about being sure and validating your hypothesis. For this purpose, the participants used a business model and the value proposition canvas provided by the Innovation Night team. This last step is about putting your idea out there. Is it going to work? Did you think it all through?
After these three workshops, all participants headed towards the buffet. Some of them were selected to present their business in front of everyone half an hour later. As a spectator, we got to hear some great ideas. One of them was about creating a mobile app where you would get paid in exchange for working out. A new way of incentivising people to go for a run. Would that make you practice more often?
Congratulations to the Innovation Night team, members of the student association Forum EPFL. The organisation was great and the whole team was full of energy and motivation. See you next year.
In the continuation of this big Night, the Forum EPFL team organized in the same spirit a whole day for the entrepreneurship. On October 10th will be held the 9th edition of the Start-Up Day, with 75 stands, workshops and conferences. We went there last year and are definitely going back this year.
Where: SwissTech Convention Center, at EPFL, see you there!
Last modified: 8 octobre 2017