Our student entrepreneur of the month is Shelley Feil, a sophomore at UWM pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Information Sciences and Technology. Get to know more about Shelley and her current product idea in her interview with MJ Pratt-Tooley (Horinek), Innovation Intern at the Lubar Entrepreneurship Center.
MJ: What idea are you currently exploring? How did you develop your idea?
Shelley: I am currently exploring the idea of a transportable sharps container! I developed the idea through my own experiences with Type 1 Diabetes. Before I began a pump, I used pen and lancet needles, which I struggled with keeping in a secure place without poking myself in the future from used ones. It proved a challenge when I started college and had to limit what I carried from class to class.
MJ: What steps have you taken to explore the need for your idea?
Shelley: So far, I am committing myself to the customer discovery process to explore the potential need for my idea. This involves in-person or zoom interviewing, where I ask a series of non-leading questions to gain truthful insight about peoples’ experiences. My questions change every couple of interviews depending on what I learn. The book “The Mom Test” and everyone at the LEC has really helped with developing these questions. Then, when I finish the interviews and watch the recordings, I take notes on a Spark page, so that I can reflect on the discussions.
MJ: What advice would you give to others who have the seeds of an idea and are looking to get started?
Shelley: Look at the market and see if any other ideas exist like yours. If they do, then reflect on how you could make their experience better through reviews and informational interviews, for example. If your idea doesn’t already exist, then see what people are currently doing to solve the issue or experience you are trying to cater to. With this information, you can learn a lot about your customers and how to even improve your idea!
In addition to working on customer discovery around her current sharps container idea, Shelley is also designing a mental health app with UWM’s SURF program at the Peck School of the Arts.
“I am learning how to apply gamification and stories toward mental health interventions, so that it is not only motivating and engaging, but valuable for the people who are using it.”
Future projects on Shelley’s list include further development of the mental health app and coding a portfolio from scratch.
Shelley Feil is an empathetic and passionate go-getter who is determined to explore the problem space around her current idea and proceed or pivot as she discovers new information with each customer interview. She has overcome her own health issues to stay in school and is now working to help others as well. To help support Shelley’s growing work check out her LinkedIn, or if you know someone who has diabetes and would be willing to have a coffee and a short chat with Shelley about the experience, email her at email@example.com.