Product Validation Bootcamp by Carnellia Ajasin

Automatic Summary

Welcome to the Tribe of Purposeful Innovators

In a world crying out for real problems to be solved, resulting in real and meaningful transformations into people's lives through human-centered technology, it's an exciting invitation to join the tribe of purposeful innovators and inventors. Together we'll create the kind of future we want for the next generation by allowing unapologetic transparency and fostering a sense of compassion in a world that requires bold creative thinkers now more than ever in our lifetime.

Transformations through Innovative Solutions

Hello, I'm Cornella Jason, the founder and CEO of mind catalyst, a technology and innovation venture studio. We aim to help ambitious organizations and founders leverage emerging technologies in creating tech-enabled meaningful products that improve life. I am on a mission to build a purposeful community of conscious innovators and inventors, looking to solve some of the world's most pressing challenges through the lens of Human-centered technology and with utmost intention and purpose.

Finding Purpose amid Challenges

We've all been there. Working for companies that enhance our career and look good on our resume. But what happens when those companies are causing more harm than good? This was my realization while working on a controversial project involving a global reputable company allegedly found to be increasing the amount of nicotine into their tobacco products intentionally. Realizing the implications it had, even on family, it pushed me to reassess my professional alignment and purpose.

The turning point led to the creation of a framework and a process philosophy for producing more purposeful products that solve real problems – those aligned with my values and principles, and those that truly do no harm.

Steps towards Purposeful Innovation

  • Strategy: It is key in setting goals and forming your mission to bring about meaningful change in the lives of intended users.
  • Roadmap: As technology advances, you and I need a roadmap that will help us define the features that serve users and their unique needs the best.
  • Execution: Once the roadmap is set, we then need to focus on building prototypes and launching the product.

Mindful Products Changing Lives

Innovative products such as the Owlet smart sock for newborns and preemies, Bot to help with cognitive behavioral therapy, and Aquality to assure the quality of your water are making huge waves in solving real world problems and improving lives.


As we use technology and innovation as tools to create solutions that impact the world positively, let's remember to uphold human needs, habits and experiences to help shape the direction and design of these products and services. The need is for purposeful innovators to rise, join the tribe, and change the world, one purpose-driven innovation at a time.

Video Transcription

Hello, I come to you today with an invitation, an invitation to become more purposeful in the work that we do and the products that we create.Imagine the difference that we could make if we solved real problems that bring about real meaningful transformation into people's lives through human centered technology. That's what it means to be a part of the tribe of purposeful innovators and inventors today. Let's create the kind of future that we want for the next generation and beyond. Let's create this world where we have unapologetic transparency and a sense of compassion for a world that requires bold creative thinkers more than ever in our lifetime. Hello, my name is Cornella Jason and I'm the founder and CEO of mind catalyst, a technology and innovation venture studio. We help ambitious organizations and founders leverage emerging technologies in the creation of tech enabled meaningful products that improve life. I am on a mission to build a purposeful community of conscious innovators and inventors solving some of the world's most pressing challenges through the meaning of Human centered technology and with intention and purpose. If you're like me, you've worked for companies that are really been uh career enhancing opportunities and look pretty good on your resume. However, in my case, it turned out that one of those companies I worked for was also doing more harm than good.

Let me tell you about my story. I was building my resume in the management consulting uh era and I love the work that I did until I was assigned to a highly visible, not a pres salee it project that made me feel really, you know, overwhelmed with ethical and moral dilemmas. I was working for this go global reputable company as news headlines on all major news outlets aired congressional hearings of testimony after testimony of shocking information, allegedly, this company had intentionally uh increased the amount of nicotine into their tobacco products to make them more addicting to add insult to injury.

It also became pretty apparent that my aunt Bertha a long time smoker at the time was also a victim of this company's worst practices. The company was Philip Morris. It didn't sit well with me going into their office every day. My personal comp was telling me to talk to my higher ups for an assignment change. Working on the implementation strategy for this company. I felt like I was contributing to the overall practices of this multinational corporation. The situation became a turning point for me on both a personal and professional level, I decided to make more conscious choices in the type of work that I involved myself in I subsequently requested to be re reassigned to another project. However, the incident was actually ripe for planting the seed of my framework and process philosophy for bringing about more purposeful products that solved real problems. This passion turned into an obligation to make products that are aligned with my values principles that truly do no harm.

But I have good news. I've come to you with good news that each and every one of us is the good news or at least we have the potential of being. So we all have free will to decide how we're going to show up in the world every single day with purpose and meaning this can also be a great propeller for success. I believe it is so strongly that I formed my tech company to help innovators and inventors who share my values. Those who are in the tribe want to make a difference through the tools that I advocate well thought out design a sense of optimism and a focus on impact that we can create to improve the lives of others. The first step on the journey of the purpose of innovator is strategy. This is an important first step here, you'll set goals and form your mission towards meaningful change in the lives of intended users and their unique needs, validating and refining your idea. Make sure that it's the right fit for the problem that you're solving. Every decision that comes next, will focus on just that taken away or easing the source of stress in the experience of your intended users.

Let's take a look at one inventor uh who defined a problem with an IOT solution and why many parents of newborns and preemies will be forever grateful.

The all new smart. So it's for every baby for tracking every heartbeat and for every breath she takes this smart sock is for every nap for every good night's rest for every. Is she ok moment for every night shift. This smart sock is for you for when your hands are full for a peaceful moment to yourself. For the opportunity to connect with your older kids. This smart top is for monitoring what matters when it matters most. This smart sock has helped over 1 million parents keep their babies safe. It's for every baby and for every parent introducing the completely redesigned outlet, smart sock, the all new smart hook. It's for Ed Martok.

When Kurt Workman and his wife decided to have Children, Kirk was was concerned and his fears went well beyond the average future father as an infant. Kurt's wife almost died of a heart condition that their future Children could possibly inherit. When her mother guided uh you know, with her, when her mother guided by intuition, checked on her daughter in the crib, the baby ended up being rushed to the hospital for open heart surgery. Kurt was also uh had had an experience where he watched his aunt after the birth of twins stayed up exhausted to keep an, an eye, a careful eye on her newborn twins who were actually preemies. Kurt is a really good example of what it means to be a purposeful innovator. I'll, I'll call, it's a, it's a call to think more strategically and to build products with a sense of empathy. The innovator behind Owlet Sock was a member of or is certainly currently is a member of the tribe, the o so let's talk about forward thinkers, forward, leaders and thinkers tend to look at products in a broader sense, starting with the problem and impact solution. If we want to make a bigger impact and take place uh with forefront thinkers and and add much needed change, we can't get there by playing small, we can't get there by working alone.

Are we ready to join visionaries in all ages and all various industries who share in the vision of sustainability and profound impact? Then? Welcome to the tribe of purpose of innovators. What sets the tribe apart is the human needs, habits and experiences that are needed to shape the direction designed at each phase of the product process. As technology advances, you and I are living in a challenging yet historical uh making times. But there are dangers. Also artificial intelligence, for example, can be a real game changer. There are new ways to do more and do it faster, but this kind of innovation can also result in greater greater distance between business leaders and also private and also public users as they serve those in the tech space. For that reason, must make a conservative effort even more than ever before to stay close to the users who are they after all, they're the reason why the company exists. If we don't have any customers, we don't really have a company, do we? So let's continue on the journey towards the purposeful impact and product with the Human Centered focus and strategy in place. The next part of the purposeful innovative framework is the roadmap.

This is where we define the future, the features that were best or are best served with the user's intent. Old solutions are no longer the best way to serve a modern user base whose preferences and habits constantly evolve as much as innovation to illustrate my point. Let's take a look at robot, an artificial intelligence bot that talks to patients or talks them through cognitive behavioral therapy tracks how we feel on a day to day basis through charts. And emojis robot is partially uh you know, given a pivot to the telehealth uh area where patients are limited to physically seeing therapists due to COVID related lockdowns. It's a product for today's world where anxiety, depression are rampant and the and the traditional means of help is out of reach for so many robot attempts to democratize access to mental health aid anywhere any time and within budget. But although, but although limited has shown to be helpful during the pandemic especially.

So my name is Masha Dee. I'm a writer, I write uh science fiction and fantasy and I also teach online, I teach graphic design and I live here in Cape Town in South Africa for the first part of the lockdown. It was just being here with my husband who's a school teacher and so we were here together and it was scary but special as well. But then he had to go back to work and that was very hard. I mean, obviously very hard for him also very hard for me because it's dangerous in terms of uh exposure to infection. I've always been an anxious person. Um And of course, the pandemic frightened me, but the fact that my husband who I loved so much is in danger, um it was just so difficult for me to process this. Um all the uncertainty I didn't know how to manage. So before I even considered seeing a therapist, I was kind of desperate for help. And one of the things I came across, um I actually heard about it in a podcast was the robot app. It's also just so accessible. It's on your phone. It's very light, it's kind of fun. And I really enjoyed interacting with this little app. Robot teaches you some basic principles of um cognitive behavioral therapy, you know, challenging your thoughts and all of those sorts of things. I've come a long way. I still struggle every day.

But um I've, I've learned a lot about how to cope. So a little bit by bit, I've been just iii I realized that often, what I'm anxious about is actually a hint at what I have to face. The anxiety wants me to turn away from it, but the opposite is true. So it's not easy. I'm an atheist. Um But I have felt this deep need to thank something or just to say thank you to be grateful for just even the simple moment when I'm not feeling anxious, when I'm sitting there next to my husband in the sun, and we're both quiet and things are ok right now. And it's just bliss.

In addition to maintaining a forward thinking mindset, it's important at this phase to match the features of the product to real human needs. Take time to consider the subtle differences in how various consumers might choose to interact with their, with your product or your service.

This is why it took so much time to develop robot and to really get the A I right, the tool offered to each user um building upon their responses to questions as they asked through the bot. Of course, this will vary widely which might also um allow for a lot of nuances for designers to take, take into account. However, iterative trials before the public launched, helped each member of the product team to strategize the UXU I design uh to to also strategize around the how the design will actually work and then run that over in terms of development. This robot product is a wonderful addition to mental health, particularly during this time. Continuing with our look in terms of the journey towards an impactful product with the human centered focus strategy in place the road map defining goals and features that will best serve our users' needs.

We are also now looking at um you know what other details that are important for building such a product. Although these needs and details are pretty set along the process. It's also important for us to understand users and their and their anticipated experience through our products.

Users today are more savvy and discerning than ever before and expect products that will make them better and, and make and help them to make more informed decisions. So when we, when the news broke about uh contaminant water in Flint, Michigan that was causing some cancer and causing issues around uh chemicals in the water system throughout the entire 50 states of, of this country. I was mortified. I don't know about you, but I know I'm, I'm not sure if any of you remember this, but um it was all over the news about Flint, Mich, Flint, Michigan and, and how it was impacting the water system there. Yes, many of us use water systems, but do we really know what's in our water. Do we really know if the water that we use to cook and bathe and drink? Is it safe? Introducing aqua genuity. Aqua genuity uses big data, artificial intelligence and preventive analytics to empower everyday people to test the quality of their drinking, bathing and cooking water.

Imagine a world without water, a world where you turn on your tap and nothing happens. And we're within 10 years of that, there are actually 3810 locations in the United States with more lead in their water than Flint, Michigan. So I set out to democratize water quality. Data entrepreneurship to me is 21st century active. What do you do when the March is over? If you're in the street after everybody has gone home, the cameras have left, what's left is the businesses that we build. It's the jobs that we create. It's the legacy that we need. And if more people that look like me get access to resources, we're gonna solve problems that other people might not solve. And I believe that's how we change the world. Water is something that affects all of us, but it disproportionately negatively impacts uh communities of color. So I think that my background has really informed my work though. I had no idea this is where I would end up growing up in Atlanta. I was always surrounded by leaders who look just like me. So I grew up really believing that anything was possible. My dad was an amazing person. He worked for NASA back in the Neil Armstrong days as a statistician. So he's my own version of hidden figures. I guess. So when I grew up, I was a singer songwriter, performer, model, but also a scholar and ended up going to Harvard. I didn't know that.

It was strange to use both sides of my brain that way later on in my life, when I started studying water, it was around the same time and my dad actually got sick. He had retired and moved to a new house, small town and you know, nothing had really changed his lifestyle and diet. But his zip code and all of a sudden, you know, they're like, oh, he has diabetes and all these other health complications. And we were really trying to understand what was going on. And it turned out just stumbled upon a report linking arsenic in a local water supply to the health outcomes that he was experiencing. But by that time, his health had taken a turn worse. So in 2017, he actually passed away from kidney complications related to water. And it made me think how many of us are being exposed to really disturbing health impacts uh because of our water and we don't know it. And so two weeks after his funeral, I started this company. And I, I think in a lot of ways I'm honoring my dad's legacy with the work that I do with opportunity. We are basically the Google search for water quality. This work started for me back in 2016 when Flint hit national and international headlines because 100,000 residents and their families are being poisoned by the water coming out of their taps. And most people don't realize how bad it was.

The amount of lead in that water was twice the amount that would be considered toxic waste. So everybody was, you know, rightfully so mad at the governor and marching in the streets and they saw it kind of as a political issue. But I'm a data scientist and so I saw it as a data problem and and a problem around inequity. You know, people that needed information about what was in that water didn't have it, but it was also about class, right? This, this community just happened to be predominantly black, happened to be a lower income community who just for some reason, we couldn't do anything about this infrastructure. I really set out to find out what was going on and why that was happening. And I discovered that there are actually 3810 locations in the United States with more lead in their water than Flint, Michigan, which is crazy. We just think somebody is monitoring that our water is fine, but actually our water is not fine. There are a few gaps in what the EPA test for Chromium six is not regulated by the EPA. And it's been found in water systems across all 50 states. I mean, this is something we know causes cancer. Right. And it's in your water and nobody's breaking the law. Like it's just, it's what it is. So we basically live in a world where humans are the sensors that are alerting us to water quality problems.

So we decided to figure out a way to make it as easy to check your water as it is to check the weather and make it possible for any citizen to safely answer the question, what's in your water? Even if you don't have a degree in chemistry or environmental engineering, young black female solving a really big problem. Um All of those things kind of came together to be what should have been a perfect storm as to why I shouldn't try to do this in the first place. I think just dealing with those perceptions. But knowing that whatever I'm a bad ass is I I can handle it hashtag humanity over everything. It's really this idea that we all have a right to know what's in the food, we eat, the air we breathe and the water we drink. This is not up for debate. It's not based on who's in office. Republican democrat, red, blue, black, white, none of that matters, elevate humanity over all those other factors. I see myself as leading a movement, what I call guardians of h2o like all of us do our part in big ways or small. I think we can shift the planet, tilt the needle a little bit.

If I'm able to build opportunity into a multibillion dollar multinational company, I can take those resources and reinvest it in these communities that are forgotten. Like I always say this is how we change the world by 2030. According to the United Nations, there will be a 40% greater demand for clean water than there is supplies for the first time in human history. And I'm really passionate about finding ways to solve that. To get ahead of that, those underserved communities will be suffering the most.

And I can't allow that to happen on my watch. So run a mission and make sure that people have the data, they need, get access to the resources that they need so that they can protect themselves, protect their family's health. And if we all work together as guardians of h2o, maybe we can help extend the life of the planet. Imagine a world

with the roadmap set. We take our clients to the finish line with the last phase of our framework which is execution. Things are starting to get real now with the building of prototypes and yes, your product launch. If you have a great idea that won't let you sleep at night, doesn't an idea deserve to take a place or take its place into the world this time to act is now without execution. And then the idea can for a problem can just be a, a mere dream, you know, but taking this last phase, an idea can become a world changing opportunity to actually help to improve and change lives. Even at this last phase, the most successful innovators understand that pivoting is part of the process. Flexibility is key testing, world events and ever changing consumer habits and statistics might point to a better way to make your product fit into the world's most evolving needs.

That's how one of our designers narrowed down her idea for a product. She focused her clientele on emphasizing, you know, housekeepers in hotels, uh who had been previously sexually harassed. Many of them desperately needed their jobs and these women are afraid or they didn't know how to report the problem with the guest. Many of them were afraid of exposing themselves to further abuse from the from guests at the hotel, maybe even losing their jobs. This designer created a wearable device with room specific tracking to allow um housekeepers to protect themselves in in the event that they came into contact with a guest who was in some way trying to exploit them. This is another wonderful opportunity to show to exhibit how a product can improve the lives of others. So it's your turn, do you share in the conviction that services and products should be sustainable, user friendly and serve a higher purpose? Now is the time to join the purposeful movement to build a better future. Today, we talked about how your, how your spirit of compassion and your creative talents can be a potent combination for solving pressing needs. We talked about what it means to work for a company that isn't ethical and not in alignment with doing the best, good for intentions of consumers. But what does it mean when we are truly intentional in developing products that solve real problems for our future clients?

What did the a so mean to parents? And what happens when you do not apply our talents and ideas towards higher and more worthy causes products like robot and other and other companies, you know, they're similar that are addressing issues around mental health, food waste, telemedicine, environmental and other challenges that we're facing.

What does this mean to pivot on focusing our ideas around execution? What happens if we don't execute and address issues that really, really matter

if there is something that you feel is good, something you want to do something that means something to you try to do it because I think you can only do your best work if you're doing what you want to do and if you're doing it the way you think it should be done. And if you can take pride in it after you've done it, no matter what it is, you can look at it and say I did that and I think it's pretty damn good. That's a great feeling.

Thank you.