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How did you make sure that your idea actually fits the needs of the users?

A crucial step before initiating your project is to define your market and identify your users. You need to be certain that your idea thus your product/project has a target group that really needs what you are about to offer. Our Team has asked 8 successful social innovators from different fields, sectors and countries to explain how they made sure that their ideas could meet user needs in social innovation fields they were targeting. Here is what we’ve learned.

‘We ran focus groups, we did surveys we ran pilot events. We constantly sought and seek feedback in everything we do. We asked our community what is it that you want to see from what we are building, what are your needs, how can we help? Our door has always been open to hear new ideas and adaptation is key when you are shaping something new.’ says Effie Kyrtata, the co-founder and CEO of Reload Greece, a UK registered charity which enables a new generation of entrepreneurs to start businesses that have a social and economic impact in their home country.

Effie Kyrtata, Reload Greece

`This was done with the help of interviews (face-to-face as well as remotely), and this process is ongoing. It is critical to realise, however, that there are two kinds of needs: (a) expressed, and (b) unexpressed needs. The unexpressed needs are very challenging to uncover and rationalise, but they need to be addressed because many of them are actually fairly common.’ says the co-founder of Care Across, says Thanos Kosmidis who runs a digital start-up company focusing on cancer.

Thanos Kosmidis, Care Across

‘We did it through countless e-mails, ‘manually’’ says Konstantinos Politis, founder of Socialinnov, a non-profit endeavour with a mission to eliminate the digital skills gap and high unemployment rates by educating individuals and connecting technological talent with the private sector.

 Konstantinos Politis, Socialinnov 

‘We did not start with an idea, we started from the needs and based on those we developed the idea, tested and validated it multiple times in face to face interactions and then we decided to take it further to the platform. The needs are not the problem, we know the needs, the problem is the business model that will fit those needs across different countries and cultures.‘ says Toni Staykova, co-founder of the UKeMED Platform which works as a single open operational space to support the development and deployment of telematic services for the management and sharing of knowledge and experience among healthcare professionals in all operational aspects around the world.

Toni Staykova, UKeMED 

‘Human Grid wasn’t a ‘take it or leave it’ project. After the launching we asked for users’ proposals and transformed the initial idea according the users’ feedback and proposals’ says Stathis Haikalis being responsible for the Human Grid Project which is about connecting social initiatives and volunteer groups in Greece.

Stathis Haikalis, Human Grid Project

‘We put together a Theory of Change, which is what we advise all the entrepreneurs who come through our doors to do! This tool helps to define if your business model is contributing towards achieving the impact you have set out to achieve and if there are changes you will need to make to better achieve it. It allowed us to connect the nuts and bolts of our work to the bigger mission (to help social entrepreneurs in MENA become financially sustainable) and by specifically measuring and contextualizing results and ultimately impact through touch points in the journey our entrepreneurs went on, we have been able to refine and redesign our program several times to better suit the needs of our users. We have always used lean methodologies both in our business planning and in our impact measurement and design. This has helped us create value for our entrepreneurs with very few resources.’ says Anna-Liisa Googs, Co-Founder and Partner at C3 Partners – Executives on Demand (C3P), a UAE-based advisory firm providing senior executive support services to businesses needing temporary management solutions.

Anna-Liisa Goggs, Consult and Coach for a Cause (C3)

`Well, the first platform created gave us a hint before further hints corroborated it. In all the events that have taken place, we had to carry out survey and get feedbacks from participants. After we began this initiative, we have received messages from other regions asking when we would be coming to their locations which shows that there is value in what we are doing.’ says Adetunji Adeniran, co-founder and Executive Director of Hopefield Network.

Adetunji Adeniran, Hopefield Network

The immediate engagement of the people made us believe in our initiative right from the start. says Nicholas Protonotarios who is in charge of “The Hub Events” series of lectures in social sciences.  

Nicholas Protonotarios, The Hub Events

Would you like to learn how inspiring social innovators answer other important questions such as how to start your project from scratch or how to change systems and perceptions?

Check out the Social Innovation Academy – the first fully online management training programme focusing exclusively on social innovation.  If you are interested in keeping up with this project, you can subscribe to our newsletter, become one of our friends or follow us on social media (LinkedInTwitter and Facebook). We welcome all requests for collaboration here.

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