What I’ve learned about applying the tool/technique

by anonymous

The first interesting observation I had from my project is that unlike an internet startup that the host of an A/B test is the website itself, finding a suitable host for my hypothesis test (film projection technology would attract more eyeballs) is important. In other words, in addition to the design of the test, the subjectivity of the testing venue matters.

Unlike many of the other internet related projects with focuses on A/B testing and usability tests, my key takeaways actually involve many of the soft skills, such as how to make cold calls and how to conduct interviews. When I was trying to get in touch with the retail mall owners, I had a difficult time overcoming some of the inhibitions about cold calling initially. Hearing “nos” multiple times in 10 minutes could be discouraging yet a necessary step to achieve epiphany.

When I positioned myself as a company trying to sell a product / service, the person on the other end often gets defensive. I found helpful to make a good first impression by positioning myself as a HBS student working on a project and would like to get their feedback. However, this approach might not work well after we graduate from HBS.

I also made the mistake of trying too hard to sell the concept and technology to the mall owners, and they simply shut me off by saying that they don’t work with 3rd party advertising companies. A better way to start is to inquire – to learn about how they currently handle the indoor advertising and understand the pros and cons of various advertising options. This is a much better way to open an interview.

Finally, I question when to quit. As I made my cold calls and received unpromising feedbacks from the mall owners, should I quit, pivot, or keep trying? Are the results only false negatives simply because I have not designed a mutually beneficial partnership structure? Maybe my sample size is not big enough, i.e. I should call up more mall owners? My thoughts are the followings. The project is more a business model play rather than a technology play although I want the retail mall owners to believe the tech entry barriers is high. However, the reality is the entry barrier is not the technology but rather the agreements with the mall owners. Thus, I will have to share the significant upside with the mall owners in order to enter the market. Nevertheless, if significant profit sharing can’t even attract the mall owners, the business model would not work, and I should withdraw.


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