Folklore Learns that Starting a Company is No Easy Task

Idea? Check.  Investor Day presentation?  Check.  Name, ticker, and logo? Check.  Team Folklore got all of the basics down.  Now it was time to move from the brainstorming to the execution.  For those unfamiliar with the Folklore story, team FOLK’s product is a phone app that provides travelers with free user-generated audio tours of locations around the world.  Following Folklore’s first post in the Harbus, FIELD professors encouraged us to move from idea generation to testing.  After basking in the glory of having the highest stock price following the first Investor Day, Folklore rolled up its sleeves and got to work.  The first thing to test was whether people would in fact want to use our product.  How would we go about this?  Surveys and focus groups were the most popular and logical answers to this question.  But how much of our budget would we spend on research?  Would we aim to reach demographics outside of HBS, arms length parties that might be more skeptical of our value proposition than our friends and classmates?

At the same time, Folklore was working on developing the actual product, the phone app.  One member of the team was in charge of this effort; he was busy collaborating with some current students of his alma mater in India who had volunteered to develop the program.  One issue with the Indian outsourcing was that the country didn’t yet support the iphone, so anything developed there would be for an Android.  The team was and still is concerned with how this fact limits market penetration.  Certainly the Android would be a good place to start, but we wanted to make sure that as many people as possible had access to our app.  How could we work around this obstacle, at least until more resources allowed us to fund an iphone app?  Initially we thought we might be able to support a website that would allow mp3 downloads.

Apart from the actual app, Folklore also needed to figure out how to incentivize users to generate content.  The team would need to create a few tours to kick things off and give users some strong examples.  FOLK was also toying with the idea of holding contests that awarded the highest quality audio tours with cash prizes.  But the question remained as to how the data the team produced would drive the team’s evolving product and strategy.

1 comment

  1. Kate Lewis,

    I was very excited to hear about HBS deciding to integrate real business innovation into their curriculum. However I wanted to know how you and your peers are responding to this experience. I myself have lived in four countries, and know traveling is priceless, but it must also be hectic and confusing as this program is relatively new? Which leads me to my next question, seeing that many similar institutions have had such programs implemented for several decades now, why has HBS been the last to do so? Other institutions’ programs also send out students for more than just one week of field work, with so many innovative individuals, how could seven days actually make an impact? I see that you guys are navigating through your first few hurdles, but I’m sure that took a decent amount of time out of your stay, how much time will actually be allocated to working in the Field? How much energy will actually be directed to constructively help the company that recruited you all in the first place?

    Hope all is well!

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