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Verasus: Leading up to our ‘Pivot Point’

“Pivoting” is a familiar word in the start-up world. When your business model isn’t working (and this is suppose to happen often!), the team must adapt, change and start to test again asap.

The first month of working on the Verasus start-in was nuts (but in a good way)! Time FLEW whilst focusing on the key activities described below…

1. Customer interviews: With the help of our colleagues, particularly the sustainability experts in UK Assessment, we set up and conducted six in-depth customer interviews. We spoke to the sustainability manager within these companies, and asked them open questions to get them talking about their business, their roles and their problems and pain points. This set us up with a good understanding of the process they go through to collect data, produce sustainability reports, engage their stakeholders and decide on initiatives to drive performance.

2. Networking internally: We have met with over 50 of our DNV GL colleagues! There is so much going on in our own organisation!! We have met with colleagues who have worked on innovation projects (some that have failed, some that have been a great success) to get tips from them and understand what they have learned. We have met with digital experts to understand the barriers of integrating Verasus with DNV GL’s big data platform Veracity and data security, and how we can overcome them. We have met with many customer-facing sustainability consultants who know the market and customer needs. We have met with researchers and academics who have authored famous thought leadership pieces on sustainability and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. We have met with colleagues who are particularly hot on commercial models for digital solutions to get us thinking about what could work best for Verasus.

3. Networking externally: We are in dialogue with a number of large NGOs who are interested in the Verasus concept. If we could partner with one or more of them this would be fantastic in raising the profile of Verasus and getting it out there to a large number of companies.

As you can imagine, we felt OVERWHELMED with all this information!! Everyone we met, internal and external, was really excited about Verasus and they all had their own opinions and ideas about how Verasus should develop. We called upon our mentors to help us unpack all of this information, isolate the most important bits and opinions. In doing this, we had to remember that it is the customer opinion that matters the most and second, the opinions of our colleagues who are customer facing.

We realised we had to re-define our problem to be more relevant to the market and customers and this sparked our pivot! We felt a renewed sense of energy once we had made this decision…

In the words of Nathan Furr, Professor of Innovation and Technology Strategy at INSEAD, you have to ‘pivot with one foot on the ground’. This fits, as not all of our original Verasus concept changed. With the re-defined problem in mind, we then set out all the solutions that Verasus could be and decided on the best one to test first! Our next step was to sprint, design and build a prototype. Now we are ready to start testing it on customers…

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