Thinking Creatively, Innovatively, And Entrepreneurially

Thinking Creatively, Innovatively, And Entrepreneurially

The challenge

A few years ago, the US School Superintendents Association indicated that schools had acquired a new role of providing the members of the public, especially parents and guardians, with social service related information. Amid the rapidly changing students needs and demographics, most of the schools in the country responded by providing the members of the target community with information related to mental health care, food distribution, housing and medical care among other social services. However, a closer look at the issue shows that the schools do not provide the services in an efficient manner (Staron & Meding, 2018). To help the schools focus much of their attention on students’ needs especially the academic ones, a team of five members proposes to develop a business known as Pathways App Inc to address the need. The proposed business will provide the target customers with a one-stop-shop for their social services needs with a view to enabling them to improve their lives and students’ lives.

The business’ mission and goal

The Pathways App Inc’s mission will be to become the K-12’s education system most preferred software for providing parents/guardians and other stakeholders in the education system with personalized services at the time of need. In line with this mission, its goal will be to meet the school districts’ needs with accuracy based on target audiences’ personalized needs. This will be intended to provide the members of the target community with a platform that can connect them and contribute to their personal development.

The company and management team

The Pathways App Inc. whose headquarters will be in Atlantic City, NJ, will be a partnership business of five members namely Lina, Sue, Mary Lou, John and Alice. Lina, Mary Lou and Alice are highly experienced K-12 educators whereas Sue is an experienced business developer and marketer. On the other hand, John is an experienced software developer with many years of experience in software development. In line with this, John will be responsible for developing the app and determining most of the attributes that should be incorporated in its development to enhance its functionality. The three K-12 educators on their part will be responsible for advising John how to develop the app to ensure that it meets the needs of its target audiences whereas Sue will be responsible for marketing the app once developed. In addition, Sue will be responsible for advising the team how to develop the business idea and implement it (Pride et al, 2015). In line with this, the five founder members will contribute the capital required to develop and implement the proposed app and business. The proposed business will be managed and run using the following management structure.

 

Figure 1: The Pathways App Inc management structure

In line with shareholding, the five founder members will be the members of the board responsible for making critical decisions relating to the way the business should be managed and run. The CEO will be an experienced business manager whereas the four managers who will be responsible for running the business’ four main departments will be experienced in their respective fields of the study (Pride et al, 2015). However, before the business generates sufficient revenues to maintain its business practices, some of the five founder members will be involved in running the business. Accordingly, because Sue is an experienced business marketer, she will act as the business’ CEO and marketing manager. As a CEO, she will be responsible for making important decisions relating to the way decisions made by board members should be implemented (Isoraite, 2016). In contrast, as a marketing manager, she will be responsible for implementing marketing-related decisions made by the business’ management team, which will consist of the CEO and the four department managers.

On the other hand, John will act the business’ manager for the Research and Development (R&D) department. As a manager in this department, he will be responsible for implementing research and development related decisions made by business’ board members and management team. The three K-12 educators namely Lina, Mary Lou and Alice will not be involved in direct management of the business because they will be in schools most of the time. However, they will be critical in providing valuable information relating to the direction that the business should take at various stages of its development.

The proposed business will consist of four major departments namely; human resource, finance, research and development as well as the marketing department. The Human Resource (HR) department will be responsible for determining the types of people to be recruited to help in running the business whereas the finance department will be responsible for handling finance-related issues (Pride et al, 2015). The research and development department on its part will be responsible for enhancing the functionality of the app once developed whereas the marketing department will be responsible for promoting the app to the target audiences.

Business Case

In line with the need identified by the US School Superintendents Association, the proposed app will focus much of its attention on enabling local schools to provide the members of the target community with personalized information they need for their lives and students’ lives. Accordingly, the Pathways App Inc will partner largely with K-12 schools to provide them with a new path for providing enhanced services to the members of its community (Nasir, 2015). This will be particularly useful during this time that most of the members of staff in the K-12 education system cannot be in their offices to deal with emerging issues due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. The beauty of the proposed app will be that the members of the staff especially those in leadership will not be held to account for the referrals they make using the app because it will be a stand-alone project.

Products and Services

The Pathways App Inc. will offer a one-stop platform that will be user friendly to parents, guardians and other members of the community to connect them to local support, training and resources in seven different areas namely;

  1. Academic support services
  2. Adult wellness
  3. Local mental health and behavioral services providers
  4. Social-emotional development opportunities
  5. Relationships with local communities and community-based services such as food distribution centers
  6. Federal, state and local social services
  7. Language translation

Other services will relate to medical centers in the neighborhoods, family success centers, youth and adult counseling services, food and diaper distribution centers, and department of family and community development among others. Most of these services will be provided as additional services for the people who need them; as such, they will not be the main focus of the app.

The Implementation Process

The process of implementing the proposed business will entail developing the app and launching it into the market once it will be ready for use. Once implemented, the app will provide target audiences especially school districts with an efficient and affordable way of providing parents, guardians and community members with local information relating to health and social service resources in their neighborhoods. The key milestones and outputs are summarized in Table 1.

Table 1: The project’s key milestones and outputs

Time line Milestone
1. First month Developing the app
2. Second and third month Making the necessary arrangements to launch the app including setting up the business
3. Fourth month Launching the project
4. Five – eleventh month Evaluate the progress made in terms of marketing the app
5. At the end of the year Evaluating the business’ deliverables in terms of achievements

 

The application of Cynefin framework to the app

From a theoretical perspective, the app falls in all the quadrants of the Cynefin framework because of the following. During the complex and chaotic times, it will provide target audiences with proactive means for addressing their challenges whereas, during the simple and complicated times, it will provide them with the information they need and a resourceful means for getting what they want. This simply means that during chaotic times, it will provide them with emergency-related information they need to address their various needs (Kurtz & Snowden, 2003). For instance, during natural disasters when they need to identify emergency services in their neighborhoods and safe places for their shelter, the app will provide them with such information at their convenience. During a complicated time when they will not understand what will be going on in the target areas, the app will provide them with a mechanism for finding solutions to their immediate needs. In contrast, during the simple times when they will be aware of what will be going on in their target areas, they will turn to the app for the services they need. Lastly, during complex times when they face competing hypotheses about things happening in their lives and neighborhoods, the app will provide them with solutions. In this respect, the app will be developed in a flexible manner that will be easy for audiences to navigate through it. This will allow them to get what they need as soon as they need it.

Target audiences

The target audiences and customers for the Pathways App include the school districts, government agencies, doctors/therapists, agencies offering prisoner re-entry programs, and rehabilitative services. Others include religious institutions and organizations offering social services throughout the country.

Marketing strategies

Different online marketing practices will be utilized to market the app. The main ones will include placing the app on the business’ website and affiliate websites for target customers to download it. The affiliate websites will include social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, school districts’ websites and community-based websites (Kingsnorth, 2019). Other methods will include using community-based newspapers to advertise the app and using Quick Response (QR) codes to allow target audiences to download the app to their mobile devices.

Competition

The apps competitors include Heard, OneDegree, InCare, Community and ParentSquare. Most of these apps provide similar services, but they do not provide multiple services at ago as the proposed app intends to provide them; hence, they leave a business gap for Pathways app to fill. The ParentSquare app on its part focuses much of its attention on engaging parents in the communication process whereas Heard focuses much of its attention on providing families with a tool for sharing resources and communicating with parents. The Community is largely an information hub for resources provided at society level whereas the OneDegree app focuses much of its attention on empowering the members of the community to find the resources they need from their localities. Lastly, the InCare specializes in providing the members of the community with referral health systems in their neighborhood. In contrast to this, the proposed app will focus much of its attention on providing target audiences with information from diverse fields and backgrounds. While this might appear to be a weakness for the proposed app, it will be its strength in the sense that once target audiences acquire it their needs will be addressed in totality (Tanwar, 2013). As such, they will not bother themselves looking for other apps to address their unaddressed needs.

Benefits Analysis

The best thing about the proposed app in comparison to its competitors is that it will provide target audiences especially parents with a higher level of transparency (Porter & Kramer, 2011). In addition, the fact that it will provide target audiences with basic information related to their health and social services in their neighborhoods, then it will play a critical role in their survival. In so doing, it will meet various needs for its different stakeholders, which will extend beyond the academic-related issues (Altahtooh, 2018). Furthermore, the app will be updated on a real-time basis to ensure that it provides target audiences with relevant information and even inform them of new developments in their areas of interests. More importantly, unlike most of its competitors, which do not allow target users to access information in different languages, the app will have a language translator to allow its target audiences translate information into different languages (Laketa et al, 2015). This will be critical in retaining users and ensuring that they acquire information in languages convenient to them.

Financial costs

The apps’ total cost will include labor, material and travel costs. The labor costs related to the expenses that will be incurred in the process of designing and implementing the app and hiring employees whereas the material costs relating to the expenses that will be incurred in the process of developing the app and setting up the business. The travel costs related to the expenses that will be incurred in the process of marketing the app: it includes the cost that will be incurred hiring and fueling cars that will be utilized to market the app and meet target customers especially the school districts, which will be critical in the success of the proposed business. Table 2 breaks the costs down into their various components for a simpler explanation.

Table 2: The project’s projected financial costs

Items Costs
Labor costs
Salaries and wages 80,000
Sub-total 80,000
Material costs
Internet 1,000
Website 1,500
Webhosting 1,000
Business permit 7,000
Equipments 180,000
App 150,000
Sub-total 340,500
Travel costs
Transport 10,000
Sub-total 10,000
Total cost 430,500

As Table 1 indicates, it is expected that the process of developing and implementing the proposed business will require about $430,500. The bottom-up cost analysis method was applied in estimating the costs because it was the most elaborate one. Accordingly, it enhanced the accuracy of the estimates by taking into account the details of each business activity.

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