My daughter and I have an awesome little game in which I guess “DRAGON!” at every opportunity. What’s under this blanket? A DRAGON! What’s in her lunch box? A DRAGON! Unfortunately, it’s never a dragon.
Then, somewhat out of the blue, I was invited to be a dragon. Or, at least, to come up to the excellent Schulich School of Business at York University and be a Dragon’s Den judge for the Innovation through Technology and Design class’s final pitch session. I jumped at the chance and made the trek up to York (related: someone should really build a subway up there) and got to see seven teams present everything from personalized mass media ads to brain wave dating to holographic sports. The course is all about:
Managing innovation, technology and design is key to success. This cross-functional course provides students with understanding and hands-on “innovation lab” experience applying the latest thinking in technology and design to innovation strategies. Suitable for all students, the course emphasizes the balancing of 21st century management skills of creativity, rigor, and intuition in the end-to-end management of customer experience.
It’s a great topic and clearly something that energizes the students. I was really impressed by the diversity of the class and to learn that there are contingents of students from India and China who complete parts of their MBA at local York affiliates before coming here to finish their studies. I was glad to see that the teams had all prepared their business plan using Alex’s Business Model Generation Canvas that I played a very small part in bringing to life. It was also pretty cool to see Jason Pottinger, linebacker for the Toronto Argonauts diligently presenting for his school team only days after winning the 100th CFL Grey Cup with his football team. Here’s a video summary of a previous course session:
The teams had been mandated to come up with a business pitch set sometime in the near future (i.e. not restricted by today’s immediately available technology but within the realm of the possible). Their ideas had to leverage the 5 Es of Usability: efficient, effective, engaging, error tolerant and easy to learn. A quick run down:
- Athena: an NFC/smartphone transit pass for accessing TTC transit that would then personalize the ads seen within the station.
- InstaCare: a FaceTime/smartphone powered doctor-on-video-call service available 24/7, with the ability to send photos and connect diagnostic devices for diagnosis.
- Energize: a new gym concept that generates electricity from all of the machines, yoga mats, etc. and uses it to power the community.
- Life-Like: holographic telepresence for conference calls projected from smartphones.
- Soul Mate: an online dating service with virtual dates in a 3D simulated environment, built on the InteraXon Muse head band for thought controlled computing.
- E.Z. Rider: a futuristic personal transportation device part motorcycle, part spherical robot.
- Hol0-Sports: injury avoidance and revenue doubling in major league sports by having local teams play holographic representations of the visiting teams.
In addition to the Kelly Parke, the course instructor, there were three dragons: myself, Dan McPhee (TV director), and Rob Pearce (packaging designer). Kelly had printed up some piles of “Schulich Bucks” featuring the face of Seymour himself, which we ultimately got to divy up and invest. Here’s the Dragons hard at work:
In the end, we crowned the first ever tie between Energize and InstaCare, whose members will all enjoy a one grade bump in their results (e.g. a B+ becomes an A-). This is the power of the Dragons. Thanks to all the teams who presented!