1. List five compelling take-aways from the Art of the Start. 


  • 10 slides:20 minutes:30 point font rule
  • X is the desirable place in the graph where it’s a unique product that only you can make and it is of great value to the customer
  • Have specific business models; metaphorically ask “who is my customer” and “how do I get their money”
  • Innovate on technology, service, etc. not on business models
  • How to create meaning: increase quality of life, right a wrong, and prevent the end of something good


  1. Articulate your value propositions for your diverse customer segments. 


For small farmers who cannot produce enough copra to make a bigger profit, our fast and cost-reducing copra oven is the copra farming equipment that saves valuable time from the drying process and increases copra production.


  1. Discuss your Total Available Market and Total Addressable Market. List all your assumptions and hypotheses.


Total Available Market:

  • Both men and women are coconut farmers who have to support their families with the income received from copra farming
  • Over 15 million Filipino farmers rely on coconut farming for their livelihood
  • Low-income, small coconut farmers
  • NGOs like Catholic Relief Services Philippines and others who want to help coconut farmers expand their market
  • Coconut is one of the most important crops and major exports of Philippines – making up 3.6% gross value-added in agriculture
  • The global coconut oil market revenue is worth $5.9B
  • About 25 million Filipinos are directly or indirectly dependent on the coconut industry – roughly 9 million of those who are directly involved live in poverty


Total Addressable Market:

  • 3.4 million copra farmers suffering from income cut from the 64%  reduction in coconut price
  • Proper drying of Copra takes around 4 days for farmers
  • Farmers from Samar only have an annual income of $620 from copra production

GSIF Post #7

  1. Summarize and report out on the results of the SKS exercise. 
    1. Start: Begin to communicate with each other better and with the engineering copra team. While the transition to another project has been difficult, if our team begins to collaborate more with the engineering team, this will help us not only with our research but with moving our project alongside with theirs. Having constant communication with their team can also help us to not have overlapping research on both ends. 
    2. Stop: Leaving things for the last minute has been a difficult challenge for our team to overcome. We tend to think we have more time than we do to meet deadlines or to perform our own research. A way for us to stop leaving things for the last minute could be to hold each other accountable for the work they are in charge of for the week, or even check in and make sure the workload they have for the week or reasonable for the time they have to dedicate to the project. 
    3. Keep: weekly meetings. Our weekly meetings are important because this is where we share the research that we have done for the week and we also have the chance to get feedback and ask each other clarifying questions if we do not understand something that is going on. Apart from research these weekly meetings allow us to build a relationship with the others on our team both socially and academic, which in the long run help move the project along because it is easier to work with people that you enjoy being around and trust. 
  2. Develop a detailed Collaboration Plan for your team clearly articulating your goals (Small g and Big G), Roles, Procedures, and Relationships. 
    1. Small g: 
      1. Create an informative presentation that shows the importance of the work our team is attempting to and to effectively work alongside the engineering team in order to support the process they are taking to change the system that we are also attempting to change.  
    2. Big G: 
      1. Find a way to preserve the color and texture of the copra as well as prevent aflatoxin formation by the end of the fellowship and leave the necessary information for the next team to get started on either refining our process to preserve color and texture in a more efficient way or work on more methods that prevent aflatoxin. 
    3. Roles: 
      1. Michelle: As a biology major, I have found my role on the team as looking for a way to better preserve the copra. I have researched that the main reason why people don’t buy “bad” copra is due to the appearance of it. However the copra is perfect fine to use and eat.I have found that if we are able to find a way to stop the copra from turning “brown” copra farmers would be able to still make a profit on copra that people would not have previously bought. 
      2. Rozhin: As a Molecular Biology major, I want to research ways to stop the breakdown of the enzymes that create browning in the copra as well as methods to preserve its texture and prevent aflatoxins from forming, which are carcinogens found in molds that can be very dangerous to living organisms if consumed.
      3. Bri: As an International Relations and Economics double major, I will be focusing on researching about the business process of the copra trade and determine the best ways we can market the copra oven that the engineering team will be designing as well as how we can spread this oven to other countries’ farmers who also want to excel in copra production.
      4. Larissa: As a cognitive science major I want to focus on how the current processing system is affecting the farmers that use it and then compare how much better or worse off they will be with the product that both the engineering team and our team will come up with. Apart from the effective the device will have, the device will require some new education on how to properly use it to its full potential and this is also a role I will play, finding the best ways to educate the farmers who will be using the device in a way that is easy for them to understand but also efficient as they may not have the time to take a long course to use the device.  
    4. Procedures: 
      1. Since everyone has different majors and focuses in this team, decision making will be depending on each person’s expertise and a final decision will be made by the person that the subject relates most to. If questions arise or a consensus is not determined then a majority vote or the involvement of the faculty will be made.
      2. In order to have effective meetings, we will be having status updates on each person’s focus and each person will be writing a brief summary of what their update is on the meeting notes section in OneNote before the meeting and can add more notes to it if any more research is needed, etc during or after the meeting.
      3. We will be meeting twice a week: once with the advisor and once with just the team members. Meeting times will be determined on a group decision every week since everyone has different schedules and we will be having meetings on Google Docs and Zoom/Facetime.
    5. Relationships: 
      1. The Engineering Copra team is one of our relationships because we are working on different aspects of the same problem. 
      2. The University in the Philippines who will help us better when we are conducting research. They are more knowledgeable of the area and who we should speak to if we need certain data. They can also help us as our translators if that is necessary.

GSIF Post #6

Does your work require IRB approvals?
If Yes, articulate your detailed IRB strategy.
If No, explain why you don’t need IRB approval and
identify situations when you might need IRB approval.Our work with copra farmers does not require IRB approval. The only thing we need to perform our research and project will be a letter from officials in the Philippines which states what we are doing and that it is okay for us to do our project. A situation that would need IRB Approval could be a project where we are directly working with the farmers and doing research on their direct lives, collecting identifiable information from them. This would require IRB approval because we would collect this information and then have to make sure it won’t be accessible to others who could identify the people that we have surveyed.

Develop an outline for your mid-semester presentations.
What supporting evidence will you provide for each point?
How will you boost your credibility every step of the way?
An outline of our mid-semester presentations will first start with an outline of what the copra project is. The project that professor Jedlicka’s team is doing and how this will then impact our project. We can talk about how we are collaborating with the engineers on the team to see what the needs of the people are. We could also use their team to learn about what vendors look for when buying the copra product. From our side of the project, we will be researching many articles regarding the best ways to design and what to include in the copra project creation as well as how the business process of copra in and outside of the Philippines, so that we can make the most efficient item for the farmers.

GSIF Post #5

  1. List ten things that make you feel human.


  1. Ability to show empathy
  2. Being able to make calculated and individualistic decisions
  3. Ability to overcome my fears
  4. Sense of morality and values
  5. Ability to think philosophical questions
  6. Ability to think about long-term goals and aspirations
  7. Ability to design man-made creations and use them effectively
  8. Ability to understand others’ feelings through their spoken and body language
  9. Ability to grow as a person and try to become a better person
  10. Ability to define who I am and my preferences as well as wear personalized clothes and other items to distinguish myself from others


  1. Articulate your philosophy of engagement as it pertains to your work with the GSIF / LVSIF.


Specifically discuss

  1. Why should I engage?
  2. How must I engage?
  3. With whom must I engage?
  4. What kinds of challenges, opportunities, and approaches should I care about?
  1. What might my epitaph read?


I should engage because the copra method that exists as of now is inefficient and is withholding the farmers from making more money than they would with a faster and less time consuming product, which is also a great way to tackle female empowerment in the workforce as most farmers are women. I must engage by researching in depth through reading and analysing various scientific and cultural articles as well as engaging in interviews in order to gain more information about their challenges and how we can efficiently help them. Once I get to the Philippines, I prepare and organize my questions and interview many farmers, specifically female farmers, and the market around copra to see how we can design a culturally appropriate copra machine for the farmers and a business model to help them sell more for their valuable cost. In order for this project to be successful, I need to focus on the challenge of how to convince the farmers to use this new technique instead of the traditional one as well as look for opportunities to be able to improve the new device and for it to be culturally appropriate to their traditions. I hope for my epitaph to read that I was a hard working person who was determined to achieve her goals and was able to achieve them.

GSIF Post #4

  1. *Based on your life experience, skills and interests, what would a design process that is both uniquely yours and effective look like? 


A design process that is both uniquely ours and effective would look like first doing a thorough and deep research about the needs of the patients and making sure that they are culturally appropriate according to Philippine culture and then going to do fieldwork in the Philippines to do interviews of our stakeholders and making sure that we are fulfilling the appropriate needs and wants of the patients and healthcare staff that are involved in the process of birthing. Afterwards, we will be coming back to create a business model for our product since the other birthing team in the Philippines will be creating the design for the birthing chairs this year. 


  1. *Identify your three most important stakeholders and list five UNIQUE attributes for each one of them. 


  • Region of Country
  • Social Class
  • Health
  • Religion
  • Income

Healthcare Network

  • Money
  • Region of Country
  • Partnerships
  • Need for new birthing chairs
  • Amount/number of staff in hospital (under/over staffed)

Doctors/ Physicians 

  • Education Level
  • Region of Country
  • Skill
  • Understanding of different cultures
  • Teamwork


  1. *Identify three ways in which you will validate your project concept, technology, usability, and business model. 


  • Help decrease maternal and infant mortality
  • A durable and comfortable birthing table
  • Affordable


  • Technology/ product platform
  • Technology is not usable in our product however infrastructure is
  • Sizing ability (ability to change to different sizes for the mothers)


  • Durability
  • Comfortability
  • Sizable (able to withhold mothers of different sizes and adjust accordingly)

Business Model

  • Helps alleviate potential risks when women give birth
  • The Philippines is a developing country so the birthing chair will have to be an affordable cost
  • A culturally appropriate birthing table design
  1. Give three examples of something very interesting you learned from a friend that was a completely alien concept to you.
  • That some African tribes would style and design their hair in a way that would describe their age, marital status, tribe that they are a part of, etc all in just one style of hair.
  • That the way that an Indian woman would wrap their garment and its design can show what village they are from and their status, similar way to what the African tribes would do
  • That Americans hold and eat their forks differently from other parts of the world. In the US, people will cut their food with a knife and fork and then set them down before picking the fork again to eat it with their dominant hand, whereas in other parts of the world you cut and eat with the same hands and you do not set them down until you have finished your meal.

GSIF Post #3

  1. List the top 20 questions your team needs to answer to advance the venture forward. Categorize the questions if necessary. 


Cultural:  Financial:  Aftermath:  General Impact 
  1. Will this impact affect religious or cultural beliefs? 
  2. Do they want to be impacted? 
  3. Will the government accept this impact? 
  4. Will there be backlash on our impact? 
  5. Will others adapt to this impact? 
  6. In what ways does in impact benefit people and communities? 
  7. Will this impact indigenous cultures? 
  1. Will this impact be costly? 
  2. Where will we get funding for this impact? 
  3. How will we continue to get funding after we leave the site of impact? 
  1. Will this impact change birthing practices directly? 
  2. Will this impact benefit people besides mothers and children? 
  3. Will this impact be world wide? 
  4. Will others be inspired to create more impact? 
  1. Will making this impact be 
  2. difficult? 
  3. In what ways can we impact? 
  4. How can we measure this impact? 
  5. Can this impact be negative? 
  6. How can we look at this impact in a broader sense? 
  7. In what ways does our help impact? 


  1. Develop and Visualize the Theory of Change (Logic Model) for your venture. 


Stakeholders Inputs Outputs Outcomes
  • Mothers/Children
  • Healthcare workers
  • Healthcare Network
  • Money
  • Product
  • Hospital/Vendor partnerships
  • Work and Time that the team puts into the project
  • Decrease in number of non-violent births
  • Mortality rate of mothers and infants at the time of childbirth
  • Number of birthing chairs bought and successfully used
  • Better connections with field professionals and mothers who are willing to participate.
  • More knowledgeable about birthing practices and how they are different within the US. 
  • Less birthing complications
  • Less suffering for the mother and faster recovery time
  • More comfortable births that are aligned with cultural norms

Our Stakeholders will be the mothers and newborns, healthcare workers, and the overall healthcare network, who we will try to satisfy all of them in terms of our birthing chairs being culturally appropriate and comfortable for the mothers, easy access for the healthcare workers, and a greater value of material and patient satisfaction that is worth the investment of the healthcare network.

Our Inputs are the money invested in this project, our birthing chair product, hospital and other vendor partnerships, as well as the time and effort put in by the birthing chair design team.

Our Outputs are the amount of non-violent births, decrease in mortality rate of both mothers and children, and the number of birthing chairs bought and successfully used by the patients and healthcare centers.

Our Outcomes are the overall increase in success of non-violent births, less suffering for the mothers and faster recovery time after giving birth, and more comfortable as well as culturally appropriate births provided by our birthing chairs.


  1. Develop a M&E plan for your venture. – Clearly list all assumptions. – Identify short-term and long-term success metrics. – (Optional) identify specific methods to measure the metrics.

Long Term Metrics

  • An decrease in complications while birthing
  • Spreading our birthing chairs to other East Asian countries
  • Our birthing chairs being available in most hospitals and health centers
  • A great decrease in infant and mother mortality


Short Term Metrics

  • A deep understanding of current birthing methods / practices in different areas of the Philippines (ex: rural, suburban, urban) 
  • Connections made to the people for the Philippines (doctors/ nurses/ physicians/ mothers)
  • A better understanding of the religion such as is there any restrictions that do not allow people to do certain thing

We will measure our metrics by doing surveys of one asking the mothers on how culturally appropriate and comfortable the birthing chairs were for them and the other survey will be asking hospitals and other health clinics on how many mothers preferred using our birthing chairs instead of the regular ones or other traditional and cultural birthing chairs (like the bamboo-made birthing chairs of the Austronesian people in the Philippines). Other forms of measurement would be gathering statistics on how much less birthing complications were able to occur because of more comfort and easier access that our birthing chairs provide. Then we can gather data on how much birthing chairs we have sold as well as in how many hospitals and health centers they are provided.

GSIF Post #2

  1. Give three compelling examples of how cultural issues affect your project.

Three cultural issues that can affect our project are:

  • Cultural priorities and dimensions
  • Communication
  • Trust and negotiations


Each culture or religion has their own specific rituals or practices that our birthing chairs might not be able to respect all of them, which can be problematic since we are trying to create a more comfortable and culturally appropriate birthing chair. Each culture prioritizes different things, so we cannot be sure that the American culture of viewing our priorities will be exactly the same as Philippines’ culture until we do a more thorough research and interview the residents there when we visit the Philippines. Furthermore, we need to understand their cultural dimensions such as hierarchy, directness, and more, in order to have impactful communications and negotiations with the people we are collaborating with in the Philippines as well as the negotiations we will have with the buyers of our product.


Communication is very important because if misspoken words are said or the misunderstanding happens because of cultural differences and misunderstandings, then it can be very problematic and can be possibly the termination of our project. Therefore, the correct form of communication is needed to be understood in order to not cause any cultural issues and misunderstandings that could have been easily avoided. 


Lastly, in order for our products to be able to be sold, then we need to be able to gain the trust of our buyers and consumers through our negotiations since it is often harder for foreigners to trust each other if they come from different cultures. For this reason, it is very important for us to be able to learn about how to properly create and sell our products during our projects, in order to be able to have a more effective result at our negotiations.


  1. Have you experienced or observed any of these social situations at home? Describe at least three such situations. 

As someone who immigrated from Iran to the United States, I have experienced some of these social situations in America because of cultural misunderstandings like:

  •  Being spoken to with words that would be considered rude in my culture that were considered normal in the United States
  • Not being able to effectively negotiate with others because of language and cultural barriers
  • Having different cultural priorities from Americans


Firstly, communication differences between natives of a country and foreigners happens frequently, however, as a foreigner, I was taught by my family and through observance of the culture, that I should be as careful as I can be with my attitude and bad communication skills in English, in order to not offend others. However, my experience with natives of the U.S. turned out to show that natives have not been taught to be careful of their tone of language when speaking to foreigners, which almost caused a big misunderstanding between my classmates and I, with what they thought to be a helpful order and what I conceived as a condescending command. This was most;y because of their tone and choice of words, that I later learned can have many meanings, which is why communication is an important aspect of understanding other cultures. 

Another example is when I was given a role of a bank teller at my elementary school’s Happy State Bank shop, which students routinely rotated in schedule, so when it was finally my turn to sell something from our school’s shop to the kid’s parents, it was much more difficult for me to be able to explain to them the products that we were selling because I could not speak English fluently and was not skilled enough to understand what kinds of marketing strategies and negotiations work on Americans, due to that difficulty I was not able to sell as many products as my peers.

Finally, as I continued living in the U.S., I became surprised when I found out that family is not considered the first priority in American culture. Although money is important, my Iranian culture believes in prioritising family before anything because they are the ones that you will have for the rest of your life. However, I can understand how this might not apply to Americans as it is common in their culture to move out of their family’s home by the time they reach the age of eighteen, which does not exist in Iranian culture. 


  1. Give three examples of cultural practices that can be leveraged to address community / market problems.


Three examples of cultural practices that can be leveraged to address community and/ or market problems could be childcare practices, medical treatment practices, and religious practices. If childcare practices in middle or lower income countries are not on par with childcare practices in high income countries, then they can be used as leverage to address community/ marketing issues, which can also be applied to the medical treatment practices. Religious practices could be used to address community if only one religion is dominating a country and restricting more minor religions to be persecuted or simply given more attention than the rest of the religions, which can signify that all of the community is not treated as they should be treated, which causes many problems and can be used as leverage as well.

GSIF #1 Post

Why did you enroll in this course (motivation, prior interests)?

I enrolled in this course because I wanted to learn more about how to properly do research and gain more research experience while also being able to see my work actually being impactful to others. I knew I wanted to do this course after reading the description of the Culturally Appropriate Birthing Practices project because I come from Iran and I am also a part of an ethno-religion that is heavily discriminated against in Iran, so I felt very sympathetic towards the women in Philippines not being given the culturally appropriate birthing beds that they deserve. So I am motivated to do this research to hopefully be able to help in the construction of these beds and give these women what they need and hopefully make it available to many hospitals throughout Eastern Asia. I was previously interested in doing the Iacocca Program Internship of doing research abroad, but I stopped my application after I found out about this great program because it has great team building, making an impact, and being a year-long research program all wrapped into one amazing program, so I am very excited to be one of the first students starting this research and to be a part of this wonderful program.


 How do you envision this course making you a better (your major) student?

I envision this course making me a better Molecular Biology major student by teaching me about how to stay dedicated to a research no matter how good or bad the results of the test runs are as well as how to properly do research, which I believe are very important for a student aspiring to go possibly into the research career field. I also believe this course could make me a better student by teaching me more about how to properly interact with people in their respective countries and to be able to learn how to effectively ask interview questions in order to get the best data possible for our projects. This teaching makes this an advantageous course as I am also minoring in Marketing and Psychology, so acquiring experience in how to effectively understand others and meet the needs of the people, are also great at making me a better Psychology and Marketing minor student. Therefore, from the goals of this course, I can envision myself succeeding in gaining meaningful experiences and information that can help me succeed as a student with a Molecular Biology major with minors in Psychology and Marketing.


The World Health Organization estimates that over one billion people who need eyeglasses do not have access to them. The vast majority of these people live in developing countries like Kenya where there is barely one optometrist per one million people. Given the high poverty levels, access to eyeglasses is almost nonexistent. Lack of proper eyeglasses severely impacts people and their livelihoods by decreasing their productivity at work, limiting or eliminating new opportunities, affecting their quality of life, deteriorating their general health and possibly leading to (preventable) blindness. What solution do you propose to address this problem? 

The limited amount of optometrists and lack of proper eyeglasses for millions of people in Kenya is a serious problem. A solution I propose would be to become partners with eyeglass charity organizations that aim to distribute eyeglasses to developing countries and we could help with setting up multiple free eye clinics worked by trained volunteers to examine who needs eyeglasses and who does not. We could begin by becoming partners with charity organizations such as Eyes on Africa and Vision for a Nation, who distribute eyeglasses through donations,  and Lions International, which is an organization that can train volunteers and provides grants to eye care projects. By using the resources provided by these organizations, we could create eye clinics in which trained volunteers can examine patients and could put the patients in a waiting list of those who need eye treatments and glasses the fastest, in order to be able to help those in dire need of vision treatments in the quickest way possible. The project could begin by first becoming partners with these organizations, then gathering data on which regions have the most visually impaired residents, and creating a trial eye clinic in the area with the most visually impaired people by square miles. The goal would be to help as many residents get eye exams and gain their prescribed eye glasses through the charity organizations and if the eye clinic is successful in helping the residents’ health, then more eye clinics can be created with the help of grants from Lions International in more low-income and densely populated areas with visually impaired individuals. Furthermore, the goal of the project would be to also teach the public about how to take care of their eye health and how to perform simple eye exams at home during the time that they are at the eye clinic. This will help more people become aware of taking care of their eyes and will hopefully be able to spread to others through word of mouth or other ways of spreading news about properly taking care of their eyes and going to the eye clinics for eye check ups, which can help many who did not know that they needed treatments to take care of their eyes and go to the free eye clinics or prevent them from worsening their eyes’ health in the future.