The TCU IdeaFactory supports students in advancing their ideas from initial concept to prototype or beyond by offering mentorship, providing resources, and building teams of TCU faculty and community members to offer support. Students are challenged to turn their ideas into reality by taking action on the principles of Design Thinking.
Students will first meet with Cedric James to discuss their idea and brainstorm a strategy to move their concept towards realization. Before the first meeting, students should have a rough understanding of who they are trying to help and what problem they are trying to solve.
After the first discussion(s), students are tasked with conducting market research by following the steps of Design Thinking. During this phase, students will gather information by empathizing with potential users to better understand their needs and concerns. This usually involves engaging users through interviews and observations to determine the scope of students’ ideas. After gaining a better understanding of users and their problems, students will begin working on additional solutions to meet the defined needs of their users.
As the idea continues to develop and a plan emerges, the TCU IdeaFactory will reach out to faculty experts across campus and outside community members of various disciplines to offer mentorship. This dynamic creates an environment in which the progression of an idea – or the inter-progression of multiple ideas – becomes a very natural and organic process.
To progress each idea, students are challenged to create prototypes with the help of the TCU IdeaFactory, faculty members, and external resources. By using the expertise of the new team and the resources provided by the TCU IdeaFactory, students are poised to create physical prototypes that address the needs of their users.
Upon building physical (or web-based) prototypes, students are encouraged to reach out to their prospective users to solicit feedback. By asking questions, collecting data and observing users, students are exposed to new insights that can refine the original idea.
Once students have developed prototypes and received market feedback, they are usually ready to advance their ideas through partnerships with other units on campus including the TCU Andrews Institute in the College of Education and the Neeley Entrepreneurship Center. At this phase, students are often coached through events such as the Elevator Pitch competition, Bill Shaddock Venture Capital Fund competition, or the Values & Ventures Business Plan competition.