Interview with SkyLab Accellerator
We had the pleasure of being a part of the DTU SkyLab Ignite program, that helps students develop their start-up businesses. After a successful program we were able to interview the project manager, Ben Cahill, about the course and his experiences.
Q: Hello and welcome. Please introduce yourself and your position.
A: My name is Ben. I am project manager and innovation officer at DTU Skylab, which is Denmark’s Technical University’s innovation center where we turn student ideas into viable business propositions.
Q: What is the SkyLab Ignite?
A: Skylab Ignite is a 10-week program for students where we have a focus on customer-driven innovation. The students are trained in pitching techniques, writing business propositions and getting their idea tightened up so they can present it to someone that may be willing to give them funding.
Q: Can you tell us how Peaqs integrates to the SkyLab Ignite program?
A: The phases of Peaqs correspond to the phases in the Ignite program and it represents each time the students develop more of their idea and add additional information to the Peaqs system. The gamification aspect opens up something new for us where we have a peer review system, which has until now not been the case. Normally in these programs the students’ projects are evaluated by a panel of experts and we think it gives a great deal of value to the student projects for them to be able to look at each other’s ideas and provide criticism and support to each other. From the perspective of the coordinators of the program, we use Peaqs to get a remote view into the students’ work and to see their progress from afar.
Q: What are the basic needs of an accelerator to become successful?
A: From the point of view of the coordinators of the program, Peaqs allows us to get a structured view of the students’ work. It allows us to put time boxing on phases and their deliveries and it allows the students to see each other’s work and really track each other’s progress. What we find is that the investment mechanism allows us to pool in other coaches and experts that are not necessarily a part of the program and get an insight in to what is actually happening on the program, without having to make a large time investment.
Q: How does the Peaqs Funnel play into this?
A: Typically in an acceleration process the students are very much into their own projects, and it becomes difficult for them to share information or to see the other participants’ projects, so we think that Peaqs really allows them to do that, and also gives them a motivation in terms of the gamification aspect, to go in and look at the others’ projects and to evaluate them.
Q: What is the advantage of using Peaqs?
A: Where we see entrepreneurship now and in the future is towards data driven products and services, and we think that having a digital platform with which they can share their ideas is a very strong component of this program. So one of the things that Peaqs allows for is to have a common and consolidated platform for pitching. That means that not every group will have a different PowerPoint presentation for example. They are all going to be pitching from the same source material. In the same way that the students are going through an innovation and iterative process we are also doing that, that is us that work at Skylab. So the thing is that it is very important for us to be able to evaluate data and to share data with other people around the students’ process.
Q: What is the next step for you?
A: Going forward we would very much like to gather data from our users about their process and performance. We think a system like Peaqs could allow us to do that by providing data, for example about the stock market performance of a given product.
Q: Why did you chose to incorporate Peaqs into your program?
A: We chose Peaqs for a couple of reasons. Number one is that it is itself an innovative product that comes from a start-up, so it is a very good way for us to show our students that here is an example of the real world start-up with a real product that can be deployed into a real scenario. We chose it because it is a way to consolidate all of the information from the student teams, and particularly because we think the gamification aspect of it gives an inspiration and a motivation for the students to actually engage with the platform.