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How to Prototype Without Cow Poo

Photo of Jes Simson
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Now that we're at the pointy end of the challenge, it's time to prototype our ideas and build products and services that will really empower communities to become #RapidlyRenewable.   Prototyping is a great way to quickly (and cheaply) test the viability of your idea by testing your core assumptions in the real world ( check out these great prototyping tips ). 

One of the trickiest parts of prototyping is knowing where to start. Visuals are a great way to work out the basic assumptions that your idea rests upon.  They can also help you uncover potential sticking points or identify untapped resources.  

User experience maps  are also a great way to uncover and articulate your assumptions about your user behaves.   Each visual will help us uncover valuable  how might we   questions, each ripe with prototyping potential. 

In this post, we're focusing on  Sarah Rizk, Luke Raymond and Wei Liang's incredible  High-Tech Milk Pasteurization  by Cow Poop idea. Because we didn't have the time or resources (cows) to build a working prototype, we decided to dive into the nitty gritty of how the idea would actually work with visuals: a user profile, the supply chain, and the service design.

Image created using Piktochart and PowerPoint.  For more tips and tricks on creating better visuals, check out my previous post Let's Get Visual

High-Tech Milk  Pasteurization  by Cow Poop  uses the natural gases emitted by cow poop to generate electricity.  This electricity powers a super efficient milk pasteurizer, resulting in healthy, clean and safe milk.  Farmers can use the excess electricity to power their homes or farm equipment. The unit not only diverts potent greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere, but also creates green energy from waste.  


Image created using PowerPoint. 

User profiles are a great way to get to know your end-user. What are their likes and dislikes? How well do they understand the technology you might be using? How do they learn about this idea? Where do they live and how is this area relevant to the application of the idea? Why do they need this idea and how will they benefit?

How Might We ... 
  • How might we design a business model that makes the product accessible to Kamau?
  • How might we equip Kamau to transition from producer to producer and seller / wholesaler?


Current milk supply chain in many parts of Africa. 

How Might We ... 
  • How might we design a supply chain that supplies the pasteurized milk to end consumers?
  • How might we ensure that the milk remains safe throughout the supply chain? 
  • How might we build trust amongst end consumers that the whole supply chain produces clean and safe milk?


Image created using Piktochart and PowerPoint.  

How might we ... 
  • How might we enable the farmer to monetize all of the products of the system (excess milk, fertilizer and electricity)?
  • How might we ensure that poop is the only thing that goes into the biomass digester (or design the digester for misuse)?

Using this example as inspiration, jump on into the challenge and help our stellar 20 finalists prototype and visualize their way to #RapidlyRenewable communities. We can't wait to follow along!
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Community Champions , Renewable Energy Challenge

1 comment

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Photo of Daniel D'Alonzo

What's up Jes? Nice post. The most helpful part for me started at the customer profile section. I feel like that part is something we all understand, but then after the profile is complete we get easily sidetracked. This post reminds me to hold my excitement back just a bit longer. Focus. Finish the plan. Thanks!