Matt Feryo: Blog Post #7-8

Ten non-obvious assumptions about your target customers (or organizations) that you need to validate:

  1. Children are not the only age group in Sierra Leone that are suffering from malnutrition. Most mothers have a very nutrient deficient diet and thus do not supply many nutrients to their babies when they are breast feeding.
  2. Most families in Sierra Leone live off about $2.00 a day and thus would be willing to spend about $0.15 on a nutritious product for their children.
  3. Rice is a part of almost every meal in Sierra Leone.
  4. Water is not readily available for families. Nor is it safe to drink/cook with, without boiling first.
  5. Most mothers travel to a market on a daily basis to acquire food for their families.
  6. Assuming that mothers like the product, they would talk about our product to other mothers and the product would become popular through word of mouth.
  7. Other products such as bennimix and plumpy nut are not widely used in Sierra Leone.
  8. Children would be willing to eat a pudding product.
  9. The taste of our bouillon cube is satisfactory.
  10. Families would report to World Hope the success of the product (i.e. are children healthier).

Ten hypotheses about your project that you need to test during fieldwork:

  1. Mothers are willing to travel to the market everyday or nearly everyday to buy our product.
  2. Children will enjoy the taste of our product.
  3. Mothers would be willing to use our product even though it is different from their traditional meals that they have been cooking.
  4. Mothers would be willing to start using our bouillon cube instead of traditional magi cubes.
  5. People in Sierra Leone would be able to make our product given the proper equipment.
  6. The ingredients required for our recipes are cheap and readily available so that the product remains at an affordable cost.
  7. In the warm climate, it will be important to test to see how long our products last before they spoil.
  8. Women would be available and willing to work and cook to manufacture our product.
  9. The packaging supplies could be easily imported to Sierra Leone at an affordable cost.
  10. Coconut milk can be easily manufactured from coconuts in Sierra Leone at a low cost.

What do you think you bring to your team? How has your perception of your own strengths and weaknesses changed over the course of the class? Please be specific.

I think that I bring positive energy to my team. Although cliche, I really believe that negativity is contagious and that nothing productive comes from a negative attitude. I try my best to maintain a positive attitude in meetings and in conversation. When it seems like we have come to a dead end in our project or something that we are working on turns out won’t be possible, it is really important to analyze that mistake and learn from it. I like to look at the positive side of every situation. I think that throughout my experience in this class I have developed better public speaking skills. Also, I think that most students, including myself, are used to problems being solved with a definitive answer. Something that I have found difficult in this class is that there is no correct answer to a problem. In fact, there is not even a correct way to go about addressing the problem! There are solutions and so many paths to these solution, but it takes a tremendous amount of time and energy to address real life problems and even still the solution you were hoping for may not come as you were expecting it. There are definitely areas that I hope to continue to grow as a member of this class as well. I have always worked very well with others and would consider myself an active member of every group that I am a part of. In my group currently, I think that we all mesh together very well and act as leaders simultaneously. Public speaking is something that I still consider to be one of my weaknesses and I hope to continue to grow in this aspect so that it becomes easier and more natural.

Blog Post #6: Matt Feryo

Overall, I think that my group’s first presentation went fairly smoothly. In order to improve my presentation skills for next month, here are ten things that I will do to strengthen my next presentation:

  1. On this first presentation, my group and I felt that since this was the first presentation, we had to present a good amount of background information for the judges to understand the purpose and importance of our project. In future presentations, this information will not be as necessary because the judges have already heard the information. This will allow us to touch on more of the actual research that we have done.
  2. Personally, I was very nervous for the presentation. I rarely present in large groups of people, so doing so was definitely stepping out of my comfort zone. I think that for the most part, I did a good job being confident in the information that I was presenting, but occasionally I noticed that I was tripping up on some of my words and stuttering. In the future, I would like to be more fluent in my presentation.
  3. Going along with the last point, something that I can do to fix this would be to practice more with my team. All three of us were very busy and did not have time to rehearse the presentation beforehand. Although we were able to pull everything together, some practice will only make the presentation smoother and more cohesive.
  4. During the questions part of my presentation, I noticed that all three of us tried to chime in and give our answer to the question. In reality, it may seem that we were stepping over each other. In order to fix this we will have to come up with a plan on how to address questions in a more concise manner to allow for more questions.
  5. That being said, I felt as if I could have answered questions that one of my group members answered. Once again just proving that we need to figure out a way to address questions and deliberate who is answering them.
  6. This last presentation, we had a question bank that we were prepared to answer. Unfortunately, none of these questions were asked. So, in the future we are going to have to think of new questions to prepare for and make backup slides for these.
  7. Something that I noticed was that a lot of the questions were about stuff that we had thought about, but was much further down the line than we are now in the project. Perhaps, the best way to address this problem so that it doesn’t occur again would be to put a timeline on one of our slides so that the judges no exactly where we are in the project.
  8. I think something that we did well as a team was bring a specific product to the meeting. This is definitely something that we should do for the next meeting.
  9. We got a lot of feedback saying that the judges really enjoyed seeing the graphs that we put on our slides. This is something that we will definitely include again in future presentations.
  10. Finally, in this presentation our group had a difficult time with the time restraints. Going into the presentation we had planned how long each of us would speak. Not all of us followed these restraints and we were forced to rush in some areas of the presentation. Again, this is something that will come from practice.


Our project does require IRB approval for our malnutrition product in Sierra Leone. We will be planning on working with some families to determine if our product is something that would be accepted into the diets of a typical household. Because this has minimal risk involved, we should qualify for the expedited IRB application. While in Sierra Leone, perhaps we will work with schools and distribute our project there because there are such a large number of children at school. Additionally, we will have to work with the Community Health Workers to determine if they think this product would be accepted in society.

For our venture, like many, there are many incomes that we will be putting into the model (time, money, and partners). The outputs that we are hoping for is that we have developed a product that boosts the nutrient levels in children in Sierra Leone and that families incorporate the product into their diets. The outcomes should improve the lives of children in Sierra Leone, by making them live healthier lives with healthier diets.