On the 17 February 2014, the Innovians were welcomed into the incubator at RLabs. What is an “Innovian”? Staff at RLabs are using it to identify those who have been accepted into the RLabs incubator where their ideas are developed into a product and sustainable business, at the Innovation Incubator and Accelerator (InnovIA).

Their journey to the incubator took  almost 6 months where they firstly attended the Grow Leadership Academy, and then an Entrepreneurship Bootcamp in a Mansion, for an entire week. The Bootcamp involved daily sessions and workshops with experienced Social Entrepreneurs from Cape Town. The individuals and teams with the best refined idea, that met the criteria of InnovIA, were selected after they have done their pitch at the Bootcamp.

At the end of the first week in the Incubator, they presented their business ideas to the whole of RLabs during the Friday Show and Tell Session. This was an amazing opportunity to introduce themselves, and the ideas to RLabs staff of almost 70 people.

In the second week, the four project teams started their customer discovery quest, that would expose them to harsh realities of their customer’s needs, wants, and thoughts on what they have to offer the customer. They used tools such as creating personas and empathy maps which helped them gain an understanding of who their target market is, characteristics of potential customers and how they behave. By this time, they were convinced that they know something about their customers, but got to realise soon, that much of it were simply assumptions. They had no choice but to get out of the building and start talking with potential customers, to test if the things they believe is really so. The first Trimester was really a time to discover and get very real about what these entrepreneurs believe is good for their customer.

It was great having Daniel Schulte-Hillen from Germany working with our Incubator Team and Social Entrepreneurs, providing great support in mentorship, workshops and training on the Lean Startup approach. Daniel spent almost the entire Trimester 1, as part of the RLabs InXchange Programme, with us, assisting the teams to get in touch with their audience, in order to learn from them.

The first Trimester ended with the various Startups pitching their MVP’s to a panel consisting of developers and mentors. We could see how these ideas took shape into early stage products, that should now be marketed, adopted by customers, and matured into complete products in the second phase.

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