Get to Know Peer Insight Ventures: Interview with Kathi Hendrick

I sat down with Kathi Hendrick, Venture Lead, to discuss Peer Insight’s new corporate innovation practice, Peer Insight Ventures. Kathi shares her experience designing and testing new service experiences and their business models.

What is Peer Insight Ventures?
Kathi: Peer Insight Ventures is articulating something we've been doing for a long time. It is really about the downstream work we do. By that I mean once we’ve gone through the more traditional design thinking and lean start-up activities, such as going out and doing needs-finding, and then formalizing a hypothesized concept through co-creation, we have to make a substantial leap from “say” to “do” data. We want to see that users will actually modify their behavior, pay for something, or interact with an offering…whatever the concept hinges upon, which requires us to remove as many hypothetical leaps from the equation as possible. To do that, we create believable experiences that potential users can engage with and respond to, which in turn enable us to confirm the critical assumptions that we attribute to the success of the business venture.

What do we mean by ‘Venture’ or ‘Venturing’?
Kathi: Ventures are those believable experiences that are really tests in disguise. What that looks like is bespoke, but generally, we’re referring to all the possible ways we can test the desirability, viability, and feasibility of a proposed new business offering. We refer to the earliest version of the Venture as the “MVX” – the minimum viable experience, which is informed by market feedback and evolves into an initial commercial viable offering. The feedback loop continues as it scales.

Why is it important to take an assumptions-based approach?
Kathi: When concepts are still fresh and nimble, everything is still a hypothesis until the market has confirmed that they want it, and they will buy it or exchange some value for it. So assumptions are just a way of flipping a hypothesis on its head and putting a stake in the ground. So you say, "This is what I believe and now I'm going to prove or disprove it." Then your evidence can be weighed against that stake in the ground.

How do we support clients in corporate venturing?
Kathi: I think one place where we particularly excel is helping our clients create the data capturing strategy to support their Venture. So determining, ‘Hey what are our KPIs that point to our assumptions and how do you go about measuring them in a way that’s robust?’ And on top of that, getting and making sense of raw customers feedback. Also, customer acquisition tends to be one of the trickier aspects of in-market experiments and launching new ventures - finding that early adopter. It's tricky. And so clients often come to us and say, "In the past, what has worked well? What hasn't worked well? What can we borrow from other experiences of companies like ours?”

What makes Peer Insight’s point-of-view on corporate innovation unique?
Kathi: I think it's not different so much as it's building upon established viewpoints in a really complimentary way. So there's a lot of great information and methodology and thought leadership out there on service design. And I think we've added to that with our own IP from ‘Designing for Growth’. Where we tend to really build upon it in a quite unique way is when we say, "Okay, now that you've come up with this service design that is been somewhat validated by customer research, let's think about the go to market strategy and how we’ll scale this thing affordably."

It’s really in how to design a really lean, off-platform, minimum viable experience that tests out the business model assumptions behind a new venture.

I often say to friends, there are a lot of great designers who can design amazing experiences, but if it doesn't make money, who cares? So the part about acquiring customers and then keeping customers and then finding out if it can make money, at scale, is where I think we add a lot of value.

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Go to peerinsightventures.com to learn more about Peer Insight Ventures and how we accelerate corporate innovation. Also, drop a line to Kathi at khendrick@peerinsight.com if you have any questions to keep the conversation going.