Ideation 12: Project Canvas

Project Canvas

Ideation 12

This lesson can help you stay on track to submit on time.

In this lesson, you will…

  • Create a project canvas
  • Identify any partners who could help you complete your project
  • Set a timeline and a plan for your project

Key Terms

  • Project Canvas -  a tool that will help you and your team organize your  work
  • Partners - people or companies who can help you create your project
  • Timeline - a schedule that will help you finish your project
  • Milestone - a big piece of your project that you want to get done

Project Canvas

In this lesson, you will create a project canvas.  A project canvas is a tool that will help you and your team organize your work and get ready to submit to Technovation Girls. You will use your project canvas as a guide to help your team plan and stay on the same page as you create your project. Below are the parts of your project canvas that you will complete. There are a couple of things that you haven’t learned yet: partners and planning. Don’t worry! You will learn them now.

  1. Problem Statement

You wrote your problem statement in Ideation Lesson 8. Look back at your work. Has your problem statement changed at all?

  1. Users and People Affected

In as much detail as you can, answer these two questions. Use the work did you describing your community in Ideation Lesson 1 and your market research from Ideation Lesson 7.

  • Who does your problem affect?
  • Who will the users of your project be?
  1. Product Features

In as much detail as you can, answer these two questions. Use your work from Ideation Lesson 9.

  • What features will your app or AI invention have?
  • What will some future features be?
  1. Project
  • How will your app or AI invention meet your user’s needs? (Ideation Lesson 7)
  • How does your project solve your problem? (Ideation Lesson 5)
  • What will your project look like when you submit to Technovation?
  • What will your project look like in 1 year?
  1. Partners (Optional)

You will learn how to answer these questions in this lesson.

  • Who will you ask for help?
  • Who could help us complete the project?
  • How can we help our partner’s members?
  • Can the partner help us get people to use our product?
  1. Planning

You will also learn how to answer these questions in this lesson.

  • What are your next steps in completing your project?
  • What do you need to do to get the project done? 
  • What technologies will you use to create your project?
  • Who will be responsible for doing what? (this can change each week)

 

There are a couple of things that you haven’t learned yet: partners and planning. Don’t worry! You will learn them now.

Partners

Sometimes technology can serve as a connection between different services.  For example, Uber connects drivers to people who need a ride. Uber isn’t an expert in buying cars and hiring drivers, so instead, they partner with drivers who get paid for each ride they give. The partnership is a good idea for both the drivers and for Uber, because, without drivers, Uber wouldn’t be able to exist, and the drivers get to make some money for their work.

Sometimes, you can work with a partner, instead of building everything yourself. Partners are people or companies who you work together with. A partner is more than someone who is helping you with your project, such as a teacher or parent. A partner can help you meet your goals and will also get something in exchange. Sometimes they get money in exchange for helping you, but they might also get other things, like the ability to use your app or invention for free or publicity. In addition to them helping you, you and your team might be able to help them. You might want to look at organizations that are already working on the problem you are solving for your project. You might be able to work together to solve the problem! Here are some examples of how Technovation teams have partnered with members of their communities to help meet their goals.

Partners who can help get your product to people who you want to use it

You may be able to find partners who are well connected to people you want to serve. For example, if you want your app or invention to be used by students, you might be able to partner with a school district that can tell students about your project. In exchange, you’ll be helping the school district better serve its students.

Partners who can provide a service to use with your project

You may find that your business needs a service that is beyond what you can build as an app or invention. For example, imagine you want to create an app that lets people call a garbage truck to pick up large items left on the street. Instead of buying the garbage truck and driving it yourself, you could partner with a local company that has garbage trucks and drivers. In exchange, you could pay them a certain amount for each pickup they do.

Can you think of any people or organizations that you might want to partner with? Try googling to see if there might be partners who could help with your project, or organizations that could use your help! There could be several organizations that are focused on the problem you are working to solve. You might be able to collaborate with them to get the job done!  If you find a partner you might want to work with, ask a parent or teacher to contact them for you. Otherwise, you can send an email or make a phone call. If you found your partner on the internet, look for a contact page.

Here are some tips on what to say.

  • Explain who you are and why you are contacting them.
  • Explain that you are working on a project for social good.
  • Explain how you could benefit from a partnership
  • Explain how your project will benefit them

If you contacted potential but didn’t hear back, that’s okay!  It still shows that you are an entrepreneur who is determined to make your project possible.

 

Planning Tips

Here are some tips that will help you plan out your project and stick to your deadline!

  • Set a schedule
    • Assign tasks to team members, and set deadlines and goal reminders on your calendars!
    • If you are using the 12-week curriculum, your team should leave at least 5 weeks to program your app
    • Make sure that your digital prototype is done and ready to be shared a week before the Technovation Girls submission deadline. This will save you a lot of stress in case there are connectivity issues. Remember that you can start submitting any part of your project in January!
  • Break the tasks down and divide them up
    • Have everyone on the team work together in pairs and tackle different tasks simultaneously. This can help move the project along faster.
  • Prioritize
    • Make sure your app or invention is functional first, and then it can be made to look better afterward. Remember, you are submitting a prototype and the judges will be interested in knowing that it works, gets the job done, and is easy to use. You can use your demo video and your business plan to let the judges know what your future plans are for the project in terms of new features you would add. Remember to focus on your MVP from Ideation Lesson 9.
    • Ask your mentor to help you if you are having a hard time prioritizing your tasks
  • Focus
    • Turn off all devices you are not actively using during your team meeting or your programming  or building time. You can also mute notifications and anything that will distract you.
    • Make sure you finish one task before moving on to the next. Multitasking doesn’t usually save time.

It is a good idea to document your process and save everything (back up). You will be able to access things like different versions of your app, your flow chart, or your prototype in case anything gets lost, so you don’t lose time. You can also use these when discussing any hurdles you come across to more clearly state the issue with your mentor.

See what techniques some past Technovation participants used to plan their project.

Activity: Making your own Project Canvas

Your project canvas will be your guide for the rest of the Technovation Girls season. It will help you remember what the most important parts of your project are and what you want to accomplish. Remember, although it is important to have a clear idea of what your project will be,  parts of your project can always change. However, you have worked hard to get to this point, so try to avoid starting over or picking a completely new problem. Keep your project canvas as a guide for your team to remember the most important parts of your project.

What you will need:

 

  • Pens or markers
  • Paper to write on or this worksheet

 

What you will do:

 

  • With your team, fill out the project canvas
  • Look back at the work you’ve done so far
  • Brainstorm to fill in any sections that are blank

 

This activity was inspired by open Austin

Reflection

Now that you have your project canvas, do your best to stick to it. Remember that you can always change parts of your app idea or the problem you are solving, but don’t completely start over. There will be rough patches to work through with your team, but you have worked hard, gathered research and spent lots of time getting to where you are right now. Use your project canvas to help you keep faith in your idea and the problem you are solving.

Additional Resources

Pair Programming

Pair programming is when two programmers share a single workstation (one screen, keyboard, and mouse among the pair), and either work together or take turns “driving” and “navigating”. In this scenario, the person sitting at the keyboard or touchscreen is the driver, and the other person is the navigator. The navigator is also actively involved in the programming task but is focused more on the bigger picture, answers questions that the driver has, and keeps her eye on the code to check for bugs. The driver and the navigator swap roles every so often.

There are advantages to pair programming, such as:

  • Better quality of code since the navigator can check the work of the driver.
  • Better communication between team members because the driver is providing a running commentary on what she is doing (or programming out loud), and the navigator is able to respond or ask what is happening if the driver is quiet.
  • Knowledge can be shared and transferred to your team, especially if one person is more of a beginner and others are more advanced.
  • It can help make your teamwork more efficient because the driver can attend to fixing a bug while the navigator can keep focused on the task and help regain focus afterward.

Don’t be afraid to say, “Let’s try out your idea first!” Sometimes when you’re driving, you need to know when to listen to your navigator. The goal is to use the best ideas and to arrive at them through collaboration and to avoid errors.

 

“None of us is as smart as all of us.”

–Ken Blanchard, author and management expert