Monday, February 20, 2017

Week 5: Rejection Challenge

Last week we did an exercise in which we received a little plastic box valued at 50 cents. The objective was to trade the box for other items with higher value. We were able to continuously trade for a big set of items. We changed the box for two pens, and those pens for a nice water bottle. We kept trading items until we got a set of color pens, a helium balloon, a box of chocolates, and some other items.

This was a good exercise to bond more in the team. It was a good way of being more confortable working with each other. We know each other better now. I also think that it is a good way of getting out there and start talking with the people. Soon, we will have to talk with potential customers.

Soon things will start getting harder. We still have some problems talking with the creators of the patent. I hope we get to work with it.

See you soon!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Week 4: Market Needs

As I mentioned in the previous post, our ideal patent is "Decoding Heard Speech And Imagined Speech From Human Brain Signals". The team is really excited about the idea. This post will help as a wrap up of the work mentioned during the last weeks related to this patent.

The potential market is huge and new, with a potential revenue of $500 million. We couldn't talk with the proffesor yet, so we don't have an estimate of the cost of the product yet, but that is something that will influence in this. The market is open to people with full paralysis (around 500,000 in the U.S.) and people with serious speech disorders (1.5 million people). This means a huge market.

Obviously, one thing is the potential market. Another thing is how things actually work. We need to carefully study the possibility of making it a non-implanted device. If it will be implanted, there might be a lot of issues that will clearly cut the scope of the MVP. There is no competition in this market, and this technology is really new. We will need to study carefully how to introduce this new technology to it because it.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Week 3: About Patent Selection and my Team

Hi everybody. This is our third week in the class, and, this time, I'm going to talk about patent selection. The good part is that I'm really liking my team. I think that the miscellaneous skills and backgrounds in our team, plus the high interest in the patent we selected (more on that soon), will help us bring a really interesting project towards the end of the semester.

We talked about different patents and discusses their possible impact in the market. Two of them sounded interesting to me: one was "Decoding Heard Speech And Imagined Speech From Human Brain Signals", which pretty much allows a device to decode what you're thinking into text. Crazy! The other patent that seems interesting is "Low Cost Highly Accurate Traffic Monitoring System". The problem with this second patent is that there is already a lot of competition and it would be hard to get a user base.

I think that Decode, the patent that allows to decode brain signals, has a lot of market potential, and can improve the life quality of the people. A thing that I consider that is really important is that every member of the team is really excited about this project, so I really hope that we get to use this patent.

Yesterday we had a meeting to go over the patents, and I like the team dynamic. It will be interesting to see how the team develops during the next weeks.

See you soon!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Week 2: About ideas for new startups and teams

Finding a good idea for a startup is hard. In my experience, you get an idea and build a startup around it. This time is a bit different: we need to find the idea based in one of the patents and build an idea around it. Our team chose to present a patent last week called "Methods of decoding speech from brain activity data and devices" (US20150297106 A1) , which, practically, allows to decode what anyone is thinking and translate that to text.

We did a broad market research with lots of assumptions, but found a huge potential market. The power of being able to translate what you're thinking, and show the output in any device is very attractive. We found two potential markets for our product: in medicine and in normal use. We found that 7.5 millions in US have a speech disorder. From that, we assumed that 20% have serious speech disorder. For example, 1 million people in US have aphasia, 60,000 have Parkinson, etc. In total, 1.5 million. Additionally, there is also people with paralysis (5.5m), but we assumed a 10% of full or facial paralysis. In total, this means 2 million possible customers, which is a pretty huge SAM for a medical product. We didn't think that all of this are part of our capturable market, so we did a positive estimate of 50%. We also checked the cost of aid devices in the market. Hearing devices normally are close to $500, so did other devices. This meant that this potential product has 1M customers and pay $500 each, for a total of 500M dollars. We also thought about the smartphone market and did other assumptions for a total of $900M.

The problem we saw later in the patent is that, even if they have experimented with non-implanted devices (and it actually worked), most experiments were with implantations, something that could seriously diminish the market.

For another course we talked about the cochlear implants. This simple, non-intrusive implant could allows a lot of deaf people to hear. When parents started to put this implants in their children, the National Association of Deafness criticised it for killing a culture (it was a "cultural genocide" for them). The cochlear implants stopped being distributed. This shows that there could be lots of resistance if choosing this patent.

I also want to talk about the kind of team in which I would like to work. I've experience managing teams, and I would like to have a team in which I do not have to tell every person what they have to do. I'm really proactive, and so I would like to see proactive people. I get really excited for education related projects. Combining education and technology can be incredible.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Week 1: The Beginning


My name is Omar Sanseviero. I'm a CS student in Mexico City, and currently I am in an exchange program in UC Berkeley. I always say that I have two passions: education and computer science. I strongly believe that education has the power to solve most of the problems that currently affect our world. Educating ourselves and our community means empowering the society. My second passion arrived some years ago, when I started programming. They say that programming is the closest thing there is to superpowers, and it actually feels like that. I've been able to work making websites, doing AR applications, and creating simple AIs, and it feels like pushing our knowledge further and further. Sometimes we put ourself lots of impositions: we say that we can't do some things because we don't have enough money or that the hardware is not advanced enough to do it. To be honest (and obviously money still is a really important factor), I think that the only limit we have is our creativity and how decided we are to get the things done.

So, being like that, I always try to combine both passions and work in technological projects related to education. When I started my undergraduate degree in Mexico City, I entered a hacker school named DevF. After that experience, I've been really interested in working with communities. Since then, I have imparted web development courses in my university, created (and failed with) a startup focused in offering high quality CS education to hispanic countries, and traveled to different cities with Microsoft to give workshops about Kodu, an educational technology to teach children how to program through gamification. All of this experiences are for a reason: I believe that education should have higher quality and be accessible to all the people. I think that a huge part of our current education system has a really wrong focus and fails in its primary intent.

I still don't know what I want to do as a class project, but I saw lots of potential in some of the patents. I'm really interested in the whole process of creating the startup, and I think that this might be a great experience to learn how to get the things done. I really hope that we get to get the minimum viable product, and to see all the class participating in this engaging experience.