Last week we co-facilitated the Hack Utilities event at Brussels, a 2-day innovation event for the utilities sector organised by Hack Belgium Labs. During these two days we guided the participants from brainstorm to team formation, business model validation and finally pitching their ideas.
Why Hack Utilities?
The goal of this event was to come up with new viable solutions for challenges in the utilities sector. To achieve this goal, people with different backgrounds from inside and outside the sector were brought together around 3 themes (Resilient & future proof infrastructure / Data, market & consumers / Collaboration in the water- energy – mobility system). In each theme companies like Elia and De Watergroup presented several challenges that needed a solution. To inspire the participants technology startups and companies did a series of inspiration sessions.
Ideation to pitch
After the challenges were presented and everybody had a good understanding of what needed to be solved, it was time to ideate. We helped 10 teams to come up with 55 big ideas. Every team picked an idea on which they could “hack” a whole day. This meant building a Lean Canvas and validate their assumptions. After a day of hacking, we helped the teams to build a pitch of their validated business model.
Clear challenges help inspire: explaining the key challenges clearly helped the attendees think about issues they hadn’t thought of before. Being flexible as a facilitator made sure that they had ideas that were bigger than the challenges, sometimes covering multiple challenges with one idea.
Validation doesn’t come naturally: everyone knows the value of validation, yet for most it is not a natural step in their thinking process. We often noticed teams in endless discussions which could easily be solved by defining assumptions and talking to experts (who were in the room!).
Reaching out to partners in you ecosystem works: the Hack Utilities event provided the perfect opportunity for Utility players to learn from the experiences of other parties in the Utilities ecosystem. Forming multidisciplinary teams helped to come up with out of the box and viable ideas.
If you have a challenge of your own and need some guidance in the process of finding a solution, we are here to help: https://sethanddunn.com.