Blockchain Water

Manage the World's Water Through BlockChain and AI

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Overview

Product Concept

Blockchain Water is a comprehensive water management platform which provides easy access to real-time watershed models to all key stakeholders in a decentralized and distributed modeling ledger.

The stakeholders who can benefit from the use of the platform are cities, counties, states, planning agencies, EPA, FEMA, USGS, USACE, and insurance companies.

Aha! Moment

Elango Thevar is a civil engineer who has extensive experience within the water management industry which spans 15 years.

His inspiration for Blockchain Water comes from his work creating water models. He noticed that the communication and the collaboration between stakeholders in his industry were very poor and sought to find a way to solve that.

Founder story

Here is Elango sharing his story.

“I’ve worked in a lot of different cities on and creating water models. There were a lot of the challenges I saw in this industry, and then when I learned about the blockchain it was like a perfect marriage. The idea of blockchain water was created 2 years ago, by me and a buddy drew something on a napkin at a bar in Chicago. It felt like a great tech for my industry so that's how BCW was born.”

“There are lots of stakeholders in the water industry, but they are all so siloed. No one coordinates when they're creating the models or managing the systems. Blockchain Water is a platform that can simulate the models and publish them to make it more accessible for those who are working with those models. We are the Github for the planet’s water models.”

Client

Blockchain Water

Project Category

Web App

App Category

Industrial SaaS

Venture Phase

Early Stage

Client Highlight

$20,000 in proof-of-concept grant from Digital Sandbox

What We Did

  • tick UX/UI Design

  • tick Flowcharting

  • tick MVP Development

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Problem

Initially, Elango started executing on his idea by learning how to code.

Even with an engineering background, he quickly discovered that building a software platform would require extensive experience and expertise, not just in programming but also in product strategy, UX/UI design, and growth marketing.

Elango and the Blockchain Water team decided that to move forward with the idea and achieve their target speed to market, they needed to find a development partner who plays the role of their CTO, whose role is not only to code but to also advice on how to strategically prioritize features and systematically test the core business model.

In his search, Elango found Lean Start Lab; we were recommended to him by his fellow entrepreneur who was also building a startup in the smart city movement.

After a series of meetings discussing the vision and detailing the strategy to execute on the vision, both the Blockchain Water team and our team knew the partnership was a good fit.

In an interview, Elango shared his thoughts on our team:

“They are very nice people, they are willing to work with you, and are very accommodating. The communication is always there. They are very committed to your vision.”

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Solution

Strategy

Our process starts with getting to know the entrepreneur and scoping out their idea. When we first met with Elango, he had big plans.

In fact, his idea was one of the most ambitious our team has taken on. He wanted a prototype which he could use to demonstrate his idea to potential users and investors, but he also wanted a wide array of features as well.

Our team advised Elango to lean down on the feature list since it was not realistic to build too many features for the Minimum Viable Product (MVP), especially given the time constraint and the budget constraint.

From there, we worked together to define the main use cases for the platform, with the focus the value it can create for the target users. This was how we created a leaner feature list that only covered the essentials.

We then estimated the effort for the features in the leaner feature list.

Since the goal of the project is to only design and build just enough to convey the main value proposition of the platform and is not to build a fully functional product, we prioritized the features which were quick and easy to build which also clearly demonstrate to the key stakeholders how Blockchain Water would solve a well-known industry problem.

Design

With the finalized feature list for the project, we moved to the Design phase.

We started out with a whiteboarding session to sketch out the user journey. Fortunately, in the case of Blockchain Water, Elango was the target user: an civil engineer working in the water industry.

This made crafting a solution for people like him much easier because we had an end user in the room to guide the UX design process.

Throughout the whiteboarding session, we asked Elango guiding questions to help us envision what the user interface would look like and how the users would interact with the screens we sketched.

Using what we had learned during the session, we went to work creating the clickable prototype for Blockchain Water.

With the clickable prototype, we clearly visualized the main user flows:

  1. Inputting datasets on the interface to run a water simulation

  2. Specifying criteria for the specific simulation the user would run

  3. Viewing the results of the simulation

Not only did this help Elango better understand and explain what his app does, but the clickable prototype also acts as a guide for development. The clickable prototype clarifies the logic of the user interactions and the user flow, perfectly preparing us to move on to the next phase.

blockchain water design solution

“They are very talented folks and a great team to work with, very flexible and accommodating. All these things are great when you’re just starting out. They’re also very reasonable price wise, without compromising the quality of the product.”

Development

In our commitment to keep the project lean, we only developed what we had designed.

We held each other accountable so every team members would stick to the focus we set for ourselves, which was to quickly build a demo-able version of the platform for Elango to start pitching to target users and potential investors to gather feedback and gauge interest.

Preventing scope creeps also allowed us time to respond to unexpected setbacks during the project. For example, an open-source software we were leveraging to build the platform was written in an older programming language which our team was not readily proficient in.

In response to this risk, we hired a consultant who was proficient in the language and helped us compiled the code base into a more modern language which our team works great with.

Staying true to the lean strategy until the end of the project, our team delivered a functional prototype which could run 3 different water simulations while staying within the project timeline and budget.

Blockchain water website gif

“They are very committed to your vision. They have a very good skillset within the team. They even went as far as to hire someone because they needed to work with a specific code that no one they had knew.”

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Results

With the prototype, Elango began to demo his product concept to target users and potential buyers to gather feedback.

Not only did the demos generate interest in Blockchain Water, it also helped guide the next iteration of the platform by hearing from our target audience what they like and don’t like as well as what’s important to add and what’s not.

Using the traction and validation they gained from the demos, Elango and his team pitched Blockchain Water to Digital Sandbox KC, an economic development group who grants early-stage startups with proof-of-concept funding to build early versions of their product.

The pitch was a success!

Even though Blockchain Water is a rather technical and industry-specific product, the prototype helped clarify the product concept to the judges quickly, which gave Elango and the judges more time to dive deeper into other important aspects of the startup such as the revenue model, go-to-market strategy, and financial projections.

With a firm grasp on how the product works, who it’s for, and how it creates value, the judges saw Blockchain Water as a scalable, high-growth technology startup, which is exactly the type of startup they look to fund.

Digital Sandbox announced Blockchain Water as 1 of the 3 grant winners of Q1 2019. Blockchain Water will receive $20,000 to fund the development of their MVP.

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Summary

Within 3 months, here are what Blockchain Water and Lean Start Lab accomplished together:

  • tick Lean feature list

  • tick Feasibility research

  • tick Definition of demo-able prototype

  • tick Demos to target users and potential customers to gauge interest

  • tick Definition of Minimum Viable Product

  • tick Pitch to Digital Sandbox

  • tick $20,000 in proof-of-concept funding for MVP development project

“We have a product now. We can show people that it’s possible. We can do all this stuff just by logging into your web browser. You’re able to create models, run them, and see the results. This helps people see that it’s possible.”

3 Words to Describe Lean Start Lab:
“Ambitious. Realistic. Dedicated.”

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