We’re less than four weeks away from the 2016 Innovators Program Raleigh finale! In this week’s Q&A feature, we’re getting to know the three internal innovation teams from Citrix who are developing new cloud, mobile, and workplace technologies.
RecapIt organizes audio, photos, and notes captured on a mobile device into structured projects for easy sharing across clients and collaborators. The team includes Ben Robbins, Tarun Goel, and Nicholas Madariaga.
MediFlow is a mobile app and cloud portal that provides a range of patient intake options for medical providers, resulting in more secure, timely and accurate patient information and communication. The team includes Joe Saponaro, Domenico (Domo) Matteo, and Brian Stengaard.
Cloud Service Broker simplifies the startup process of service setup eliminating the complexity in managing and delivering services to end customers. Citrix Service Providers will be able to reduce their transaction and service delivery times from 90 days to a matter of hours. The team is powered by Nizar Tyrewalla, who is based at Citrix in Fort Lauderdale, along with a team member in Raleigh and development in Nanjing, China.
We asked each team about their experience in the Innovators Program thus far.
It’s a unique opportunity for a full-time, corporate employee to participate in a startup accelerator. What has that experience been like?
Ben Robbins: The energy around the team is amazing and we have been able to focus on quick solutions as we learn more about how our customers will use the product in their typical workflow. The opportunity to focus on a specific customer and a specific need has greatly increased the pace at which we can move and the progress we can make towards building a new offering for Citrix.
Joe Saponaro: It has been life changing and a testament to Citrix’s commitment to wanting employees to “become the most remarkable version of” ourselves. I completed the part-time version of the Innovators Program, and [gained] added insights and skills that [helped me] perform past my highest sales volume to date. The full-time program has allowed me to dig deeper into the many facets of a successful startup. The organized training is perfect, from the nuts and bolts tools and process building, to the presentational elements critical to conveying a pitch.
Nizar Tyrewalla: The experience has been amazing. I participated in Citrix’s Lean Innovation Challenge, and from there, we got selected to take our idea to the next level and build a product that customers love. The Innovators Program has really given our team an opportunity to collaborate across the globe and bring a new product to market.
Successful businesses are ones that build products people want. What is an example of learning or insight you received from the customer interviews that helped you stay focused and avoid wasted efforts?
BR: Intuitive use is the most crucial aspect for all users, regardless of vertical or segment. If a product isn’t intuitive, then it won’t get used, and if your product isn’t used then all profits will be either not existent or very short lived.
JS: Using an InVision prototype, we completed interviews with medical practices to learn customer needs and interest. Those interviews led to 9 medical practices agreeing to a product trial [once it’s ready]. This in itself revealed interest and also guided us to create our next targeted prototype using Podio and Globiflow.
NT: Customer interviews were very enlightening and a crucial part of our journey. These conversations gave us a better understanding of our customer’s problems and helped us build our product with that at the forefront. We discovered that certain things we thought were problems weren’t, and vice versa, helping us focus the direction of the product faster than we could have without doing customer interviews.
What are some skills you have learned so far in the program that you feel will be useful to your day to day job at Citrix?
BR: As a group, we’ve each expanded our customer empathy and we’ve learned a lot about how particular verticals really operate. This will definitely help us as we continue to build products for various customers in the future.
JS: We’ve gained significant vertical knowledge critical to selling into Healthcare. We’ve also gotten a greater understanding and appreciation for the customer’s workflow needs, which helps us think beyond just offering features or functional tools, and focus more on the experience and solution. The customer interviews also increased our listening skills and customer focus, which will be directly transferable to a ShareFile sales call.
NT: Learning how to validate our hypothesis and understand the customer’s problem before building a solution will be useful in our day to day job. Another important learning that I would like to try out at Citrix is not to build for scale at first. If we let customers test our solution sooner and provide feedback, we can see how they use our solution before spending a lot of time on getting the product out of the door.
What is a typical “day in the life” during the Innovators Program?
BR: The typical day is that there is no typical day. Some days we are speaking to 3 customers on the phone and others we are out in the field watching customers use our product and uncovering needs that we’ve never identified. Some days we are celebrating what a great iteration we’ve made to the product and other days we’re finding out that the build isn’t so great. This is part of what keeps the creativity and the energy so abundant while in the program. Each day presents its own new challenge.
JS: There is no “typical day” except to say that every day is exciting, challenging and will fly by. We find focus and structure in weekly learnings and applying the defined process of the program, which follows a typical – dream – select – test – document and dream again cycle. Most days, I was more “customer facing” due to my sales and consulting background, but I was also selected to build the final prototype using Podio and Globiflow.
NT: A “typical day” depends on the phase we are in for the Innovators Program. We met bi-weekly to share our progress and get feedback, and between those meetings, our activities varied from customer calls, gathering feedback on our prototype, designing or making changes to the workflows, and getting together to make code changes.
See these teams in action during the Innovators Program Demo Day in downtown Raleigh on December 12th.