Three go-to techniques for primary market research – Elaine Chen

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Elaine Chen

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Elaine Chen

From The Huffington Post

When Steve Blank wrote the book “The Four Steps to the Epiphany”, he brought a sea change in the way technology entrepreneurs do business.  Rather than plow ahead with a technology-led process, most entrepreneurs have embraced “customer development”.  Getting out of the building and doing primary market research has saved a great many startups from solving the wrong problems, and repeating the mistakes of projects like Google Glass.

You don’t know what you don’t know

When you are just getting started, the first thing to do is to admit that you don’t know what you don’t know. You have hypotheses about your target market and end users, but you don’t know if your intuition is right.

What you need to do at this stage is “problem research”. This is the phase in primary market research where you try to understand the problem. The technique that is central to the Lean Startup movement, MVP (minimum viable product) testing, is all about “solution research”, which I will cover in a separate post.

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MIT Sloan Experts Podcast: Uber, Lyft and Racial Bias

MIT Sloan Professor Christopher Knittel

We hope you enjoy the latest installment of the MIT Sloan Experts Podcast series!

The third in our series of MIT Sloan Experts podcasts features Chris Knittel, professor of applied economics at MIT Sloan, talking about his latest research on racial bias in the ride-sharing industry.

Knittel’s research focuses on how Uber and Lyft are failing black passengers and what to do about it. Listen to this brief podcast and find out how Knittel came to his conclusions, what his findings say about drivers who cancel on customers with names that generally indicate they are a person of color, and what takeaways Uber and Lyft can garner from these findings to improve.

This single act would help many Americans reach retirement savings goals — Robert Pozen

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Robert Pozen

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Robert Pozen

From MarketWatch

It’s true for everyone: despite our best intentions, we often fail to accomplish what we set out to do. When it comes to retirement investing, millions of Americans do not meet their own declared saving goals for retirement.

As a result, almost one-third of the U.S. population has no retirement savings at all,while many others will fall well short of what they will need for their Golden Years.

A solution can be found in the field of behavioral economics, which suggests ways tohelp Americans start saving. It seems that saving is a lot like dieting — small changes can help you reach your goal.

For example, many studies have shown that being automatically placed in a savings plan dramatically boosts participation by employees — even if they can opt out.

These studies show that when an automatic savings plan is introduced with an opt-out, 60% to 70% of employees remain in the plan. This may seem like a technical nuance, but there is a big difference between opting in by completing an application versus choosing not to opt out.

A plan designed to take advantage of this behavior is called an automatic IRA. In the same way that many people fail to start saving, those placed in an automatic IRA simply fail to stop saving by withdrawing from the plan. Automatic IRAs help people build their savings using the power of inertia.

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What can mother nature teach us about managing financial systems? – Andrew Lo

Read the full post at The Christian Science Monitor

Andrew W. Lo is the Charles E. and Susan T. Harris Professor, a Professor of Finance, and the Director of the Laboratory for Financial Engineering at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Israeli model holds the answers to China’s quest for technology and innovation — Yasheng Huang

MIT Sloan Prof. Yasheng Huang

MIT Sloan Prof. Yasheng Huang

From South China Morning Post

It is widely understood that China needs to move from an investment-intensive growth model to one based on science, technology and innovation. But before I take up this subject, let me take a detour to tell a tale of two countries.

Both countries are small. One has a population of 5.5 million people; the other has a population of 8 million. In both countries, the dominant ethnic group is about 75 per cent of the population and minority groups make up the rest.

Both countries are rich. One country has a per capita gross domestic product of US$52,000 and the other country has a per capita GDP of US$35,000.

Both countries have faced existential security threats from the outside and armies in both countries have mandatory conscriptions. One country was actually kicked out and evicted by its now much larger neighbour, because the union would have threatened the political dominance of the main ethnic group. The second country is located in a region surrounded by hostile nations.

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