Part II, Lessons to Be Learned
Recently, UR Ventures launched a crowdfunding campaign in support of further technology development for a project that may offer relief to children with autism (and their caregivers) faced with toilet training. We have done this in order to raise money for the project; obviously, but – more importantly – we also hope to test some assumptions.
First of all, are our assumptions about this project correct? We believe in the Quick Trainer System. We know that autism spectrum disorders affected 1 in every 68 children in the United States in 2012. Recent findings put that number at 1 in 45. All of those children need to be toilet trained. Our research indicates that as many as 35% of children with autism are not using the toilet for urination by the age of 5. We believe that frustrations surrounding toilet training – for the children, as well as for the caregivers – contributes to this delay. The developing evidence shows that our system, developed by Dan Mruzek, Ph.D. and Stephen McAleavey, Ph.D., reduces training-induced stress and achieves toilet training success as much as 30% earlier than traditional methods.
We assume that problems surrounding toilet training children with autism are self-evident. We assume that the public will understand those problems and will care as we do. We assume that they will want to help us to alleviate these problems by contributing to our campaign and by spreading the word. We’ll never know if we’re correct, however, if we don’t ask. What better way to test our assumptions than by asking people to give to the cause? If we succeed, we can consider our assumptions to be vindicated. Success can easily be measured by funds raised, by the number of backers, and by web traffic surrounding the campaign.
Second, can we advance the hardware of the Quick Trainer System to a commercializable state? We won’t know the answer to this question until the dust settles and we use the funds raised to reengineer/redesign the system components as described in the campaign.
Third, what if we fail to raise the requested amount? Some might consider this possibility a total failure, but we would see a failure to meet the goals of this campaign as a successful outcome. Not the outcome we wish for, of course, but a success nonetheless.
Low traffic to the fundraising page would mean that we have done an inadequate job of promoting the project. This will mean we need to reevaluate our methods of communication.
Heavy traffic, but low donations will give us an answer to our first question: are our assumptions about this project correct? If it turns out that the world at large doesn’t recognize a need, or sees the need but fails to consider our solution adequate, then we can focus our efforts elsewhere.
In either case, the outcome is a success in that it will provide us with valuable information.
Fourth, are we successfully getting our message out? We can use this campaign as a very real test of our various communication channels. Which sources will drive traffic to the fundraising page, and which will result in donations? Which message will work best to generate interest? We all have our opinions on these questions, but we will soon have data to support or refute our positions.
Our next post will address other questions raised and soon to be answered by our foray into crowdfunding.