So, we reached D-Day, the last day of our internship. This was the day where the final showdown would begin. D-Day, or Demo Day would be where all us UNI.CORNs would have the chance to present our work over the past 12 weeks. We were going to be judged by a panel made up of DBS senior executives as well as external business leaders who would be critiquing our findings and propositions.
Every team tried to put in their best shot to impress the judges but ultimately, only one team with which got the most votes would be crowned king of the UNI.CORNs.
How did we get here?
Before Demo day, we’d interviewed close to 100 interviewees. We got rejected almost half of the time. But despair not. This helped us generate more than 500 ideas (we used up more than 1,000 Post-It notes in doing so), test out more than 10 solutions on the ground before identifying what we felt was the UNICORN solution. While the journey was intense, it was strangely fulfilling.
Initially, we assumed it was the bank’s role to solve our problem statement. However, there was no breakthrough as the ideas we developed had already been adopted by DBS. We needed to pivot and so we came up with the idea of creating a business unit as a start-up to partner with DBS. This was to enable us to detach ourselves from the bank’s point-of-view, so we could break out from traditional views.
However, there were many questionable areas relating to our sustainability plan which we could not justify. Even though we felt that we had a unique proposition that would solve customer’s pain points, the solution was unsustainable. We realized that our business proposal would not succeed without the bank’s intervention and support. Eventually, we decided to disengage ourselves totally from DBS to create our own business model and so as to look at our blind spots. By disengaging ourselves with the bank, we were able to break away from being reliant and be free of any systems that the bank adopted.
Three Feet from Gold
With only four days before our Demo-day, our presentation had many obstacles to overcome as our solution did not include a business model. We turned to parallel worlds to study business models in the existing market with solutions closest to ours. Then, we had re-visited our insights from our interviews and brainstormed about the possibilities of a business model that would fit in with our solution. This helped us to identify whether the technology existed in the market and to determine whether Singapore was ready for the disruption. Our group persevered and worked together towards a common goal. We constantly questioned ourselves about “how can we offer value to our customers with our solution?” and “what can we do to attract customers onboard?” With these in mind, we had regular meetings with both of our business and DBS Innovation Group mentors to keep ourselves in check of our progress to avoid escalation of commitment and groupthink.
It was just a day before Demo-day and we finally hit our “AH-HA” moment. After discovering a gap in the user journey of a customer using cash where there was no existing solution, we found a business model to fit in with our solution and validate our idea. Our main pivoted around the use of cash as the circulation of physical currency was not optimized fully. In order to extend the lifespan of cash in the community, we proposed to integrate our solution with the help of a community partnership programme which includes banks, merchants and consumers to provide a holistic banking experience to benefit everyone. Our business model would around the ecosystem that improves the banking experience of all the three stakeholders. In the end, we presented on a solution with a business model as well as a sustainability plan that will make banking joyful for everyone. With the thirst for perfection, our last mile had ended well where we were awarded to be the king of the unicorns.
King of the UNI.CORNS
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Benny dropped out of school with the intention of starting up his own company when he was 18. Learning from the failures of his first venture, he returned to school to broaden his horizons. Today, he’s double majoring in psychology and strategic management (entrepreneurship) because of his passion in change management and corporate entrepreneurship. He graduates next year in 2017. Working with SMEs has inspired him to help local businesses grow and achieve their fullest potential.