The final assessment for the Acara Challenge pilot teams is rapidly approaching. It’s worth spending some time on what the assessment criteria is. With High Tech Kids, I spent quite a bit of time in the last 10 years, thinking about how you use competition, and competition criteria, to drive behavior that supports your philosophy. Everything about the competition has an impact: The challenge itself, the rules for team organization, the rules for the competition, and the judging criteria all have an impact.

For the Acara Challenge, we have tried to take our philosophy into account. The challenge (clean water in Mumbai slums) is a socially and technically challenging problem that needs a multi-discipline approach. The organization of teams (cross-university and cross-global) is part of our belief that only global, multi-organization teams can solve these kinds of challenges.

How do the rules and criteria fit? We want to emphasize a number of things. First we really want the teams to learn that you have to spend time in the field with the customer, learning what the problems really are. This is where design thinking comes in. Many marketing people also talk about voice of the customer and this is a similar concept. Many products solve the “wrong problem” and we want the students to get that first step right, because if you don’t everything else is a waste of time. Business schools and business development groups talk about the concept of Real, Win, Worth, which is essentially: Is the market real? Can we win the market with this product? And is it worth winning (is it big enough financially)? Finally it is very important that the proposal is going to be financially sustainable. Profit is not the only thing being measured (as would be in a pure Venture Capital assessment), we also want to see the what the social benefit.

So this very simple framework drives the scoring criteria:

  • 25% – Problem Statement – What is it, how did you get it?
  • 25% – Solution Description – What is the actual solution, assess how it addresses the problem
  • 25% – Market description – This is more market segmentation the student develops based on their research, how they address it, include size.
  • 25% – Sustainable business model – How will it work?

These are then broken down further as shown below. As a pilot, there is no question that this criteria will be further refined after (and maybe even during) the Acara Challenge assessment. We want to make sure we are measuring the right things.

This is a pretty cursory description but hopefully you get the idea.

Problem Statement
There should be a clear and definite problem statement that is backed up by research

  • Clear and real problem definition
  • Research quality to back up problem definition
  • There was validation of problem with customers
  • Clear tie in of solution proposed to problem statement

Solution Description
There should be a clear description of the solution, how it works and how it addresses the problem statement

  • The solution works (is it real)
  • The solution is technically feasible
  • Team shows a good domain understanding of {water} issues
  • There was validation and/or testing of concept/prototype

Market description
Market segmentation, how does the solution address the market, is there really a market there.

  • There is market segment definition
  • Did the team show they can win this segment (will people buy it)
  • Is it worth it (are there enough people affected to make it worth it)
  • The solution is compared (and how does it compare) to next best alternative

Sustainable business model
What is the business model, how will work.

  • What is the measurable social value
  • What is the profit model, how large is it and is it believable
  • Operations defined – who, how, etc.
  • Supply chain is defined