Evaluating Market Opportunities

Many promising inventions never achieve commercial success because their creators fail to identify a viable market. Or they hastily enter the wrong market. Or they find the right market but don’t adapt their technology sufficiently to meet market needs.

The Deshpande Center helps grantees avoid these pitfalls by giving them the skills, guidance and confidence to evaluate potential markets, choose the best opportunity, and shepherd their innovations from the lab to the marketplace.

An ongoing dialogue

Grantees “learn the ropes” in structured settings, such as the collaborative i-Teams course, and in mentoring relationships, through our Catalyst network. The annual IdeaStream conference provides an opportunity to showcase their work and connect with other grantees, successful venture investors, and executives with startup expertise. An ongoing dialogue—between what a technology is capable of and what a market is hungry for—equips grantees to pursue winning technical, commercial and competitive strategies.

Quick lessons on finding your market

  1. The obvious market is not always the best one: A discovery may have many potential uses, but early success comes from identifying a receptive market and then focusing on a single, high-impact application. Some grantees have explored 30 or more applications before finding just the right match for their invention.
  2. Get out of the lab: Once you have identified a promising application, talk to experts in the field to determine what technical, usability and cost attributes are highly valued by your target market. That knowledge will guide you in evolving your product for commercialization.
  3. Develop another side of your personality: Even the most academically minded researchers want to see their inventions put to practical use in the real world. The Deshpande Center experience helps grantees develop the kind of market-oriented mindset and skills that are essential to creating successful products and ventures.