Fall 2022 Capstone Projects

Challenge Statement: Our company is interested in a fail-fast approach to beverage innovation (e.g., product and brand launches).  We are interested in learning how we can best position our market tests for success through distribution, pricing, and promotional approaches. We are also interested in learning about metrics and trends that would indicate market test success.

Company Overview: Keurig Dr Pepper (NASDAQ: KDP) is a leading beverage company in North America and the first to bring hot and cold beverages together at scale. Formed in 2018 with the merger of Keurig Green Mountain and Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Keurig Dr Pepper has annual revenue in excess of $11 billion and nearly 27,000 employees. Our wide range of 125+ hot and cold beverages are designed to satisfy virtually any consumer need, any time, while our powerful sales and distribution network enables us to deliver our portfolio to nearly every point of purchase for consumers.

KDP is committed to sourcing, producing and distributing beverages responsibly through our Drink Well. Do Good. corporate responsibility platform including efforts around circular packaging, efficient natural resource use and supply chain sustainability.

Advisors: Trevor Mackesey, Chris Li

Deliverables: At the end of the semester, students will deliver a report that highlights trends indicative of successful product launches and recommends product launch strategies. This report should include:

  • A segment analysis, including sizing and growth rates for segments, breakout brands, and key competitors
  • Profiles of distribution, pricing, and promotional strategies for the breakout brands, including a comparison against key competitors
  • Recommendations on:
    • Metrics and Trends that indicate product success
    • Distribution Strategies
    • Pricing Strategies
    • Promotional Strategies

Challenge Statement: While PCR-based assays may become less common, there are new technologies that are being developed in the IVD and MedTech spaces that will provide opportunities for large programs to fill the void.  For example, Next-Gen-Sequencing (NGS), Exosomics, and BioProcessing are all examples of technologies that may require the type of complex hardware Key Tech is well-suited to develop.

Currently, the majority of IVD products Key Tech has developed include PCR as a core portion of the assay and pathogen detection method.  With the advance of CRISPR, diagnostic devices are expected to become significantly simpler while maintaining the accuracy and specificity of PCR-based assays.  While good for humanity, this is a threat to Key Tech’s revenue stream since large complex PCR-based products may be replaced by simpler CRISPR-based products. In order to strategically position Key Tech to win development projects associated with these emerging technologies, we would like to have a better understanding of various market trends and potential competitors.

Company Overview: Key Tech is a product development firm that focuses on the development of complex medical and life sciences devices. Projects range from targeted concept development and subsystem derisking to full-scale product development under ISO 13485 design controls. Staff disciplines include Mechanical, Electrical, FW/SW, and Systems engineering, as well as Industrial Design and Project Management.

Advisors: Trevor Mackesey, Chris Li

Deliverables: At the end of the engagement, students will deliver a final progress update before compiling a report to include:

  • Trends in IVD technologies
  • Trends in MedTech technologies
  • Competitor capabilities
  • Potential market opportunities
  • Threats concerning the impact of CRISPR on large PCR-based development programs

Recommendations for how Key Tech can position itself to win development projects associated with these emerging technologies

Challenge Statement: Given the limited resources, and time, in an early-stage venture, should Voomer broaden its provision to applicants further to enable them to ace the hiring process, or shift gears and attempt to connect corporates directly with applicants taking the broken hiring process head-on?

Company Overview: Voomer offers job applicants AI feedback and advice to prepare for and ace their one-way video interviews. You can watch some of our users talking about their experience with Voomer here. Voomer was founded on the belief that we should be able to express our authentic self as fluently on video as we do as a person. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come naturally. During the early days of COVID we were surprised by how our energy, enthusiasm, and personality seemed to disappear as soon as we were no longer meeting in person.

Alongside meetings, video is increasingly being deployed in hiring. One-way video interviewing tools, like HireVue, have seen growth of 50% year on year as companies attempt to juggle increasing numbers of applicants with less and less interviewer time for review. For many of these interviews, AI decides which applicants will be reviewed by hiring staff, and AI can have a massive effect on who will progress to the next stage and who will fall at the first hurdle. Voomer uses advanced video analysis to pull back the curtain on how job applicants are being interpreted by those tools during the interview process. From the trivial, such as camera angle, to the complex, such as your confidence, timing, and eye contact when answering questions.

Advisors: Trevor Mackesey, Shubhankar Kulkarni

Deliverables: At the end of the project, students will deliver a report that evaluates the relative potential of the options and comes to a thoughtful and provocative conclusion as to the right path forward today. This report should include:

  • Competitor analysis
  • Identification of barriers to entry
  • Timescales of sales cycles and potential risks of both options

An approximation of the corporate decision-making unit for hiring teams, and the willingness to adopt new technology in different industries.

Challenge Statement: Earlier this year, EcoMap launched the VFA Connect Hub for a customer named Venture for America. For this client, we ended up creating a “one-stop shop” to help make the connection between their fellows and the company partners that hire those fellows. For this customer, EcoMap ended up building a brand new feature that we now call the ‘Connect Hub’ more broadly.

Upon launching this platform and feature for VFA, we have started to have additional conversations with organizations who are interested in a similar use case, such as Girls Who Invest and Youth Jobs Connect. Our EcoMap team has a feeling that this is a potentially valuable market segment, but we have not yet had the bandwidth to focus on it.

Company Overview: EcoMap leverages automation to create data-driven platforms that enable people to navigate ecosystems, spanning entrepreneurial communities, industry groups, corporate networks, and beyond. Our proprietary algorithms enable us to quickly aggregate information about assets within a given ecosystem – including resources, businesses, and people – and keep that data perpetually updated, enabling our community platforms to be real-time reflections of what’s going on in any given ecosystem. Typically, our customers are organizations who are looking to support their business ecosystems, such as Departments of Commerce, local entrepreneurial support organizations, or non-profits focused on a certain demographic/region/industry. The traditional value proposition is we help them accomplish their mission of being a well-equipped resource provider for their stakeholders and saves the staff time of having to manually update the data/platform. But earlier this year, we brought on an intriguing new type of customer, which leads to the project at hand.

Advisors: Trevor Mackesey, Kenneth Crittendon

Deliverables: Your role in this project will be to use EcoMap’s existing platform and technology to develop a “Go To Market” strategy that focuses on attracting more customers such as VFA, Girls Who Invest, and Youth Jobs Connect. The ideal deliverables for this project are as follows:

  • Establish an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) for this segment
  • Create a Competitor Analysis matrix based on this feature
  • Provide feedback on the current feature specs and make recommendations for improvement

Develop a “Go-to-Market” strategy that utilizes EcoMap’s available resources

Challenge Statement: This project is  to  evaluate  the  total  costs  and  benefits  for  each  of  the  approaches (single use versus reusable).  This should include calculation of the actual costs to the healthcare facility, the overall costs borne by the healthcare system (including public or private insurance) and an estimate of the externalized environmental costs for each approach.  For  example,  what  are  the  costs  created  by  the  additional  waste  generated  by  the  disposable approach that are not necessarily captured in the direct disposal fees.

For  this  project,  we  desire  to  evaluate  logistics  required  and  the  potential  economic  impact  for  the different types of healthcare customers as well as medical device manufacturers for this type of program. This will  include  an  evaluation  of  the  potential  differences  in  the  requirements  and  parameters  for  a  variety  of healthcare  customer  settings  including,  large  academic  medical  institutions,  smaller  hospitals,  and  surgery centers.  Each  of  these  institution  types  are  expected  to  have  differing  needs  and  cost  structures  that  would affect the financial considerations for this type of effort.

Company Overview: Frequently, disposable medical devices are used during operative procedures to help ensure that each patient receives optimal care. There are many advantages, for the patient, hospital and institution to single-use, single patient devices. These include a reduction in processing costs, inventory flexibility and the elimination of cross contamination concerns. However, this type of device drives an increase in procedure costs, medical waste disposal fees and the overall environmental impact of surgical procedures. For many surgical procedures, the traditional approach for the use of fixation or total joint systems is to have non-sterile instrument trays processed and sterilized by the health care facility prior to use. In recent years, medical device companies have offered pre-sterilized, disposable instrumentation as an option. These systems eliminate the need for sterile processing at the facility and may reduce the chance of patient infection due to cross contamination. As  the  healthcare  systems,  especially  those  associated  with  academic  institutions,  increase  their sustainability  efforts,  an  evaluation  of  the  overall  costs  associated  with  the  traditional  approach  vs  the  pre-sterilized instrument systems.

Advisors: Pam Sheff, Prabhu Akhil Minumula, Elena Sanchez

Deliverables: At the end of the project, students will deliver a framework that evaluates both single use and reusable devices. This report should include:

  • Competitor analysis
  • Identification of current market trends

Potential risks of both single use and reusable device options

Challenge Statement: Danfoss ends an exclusivity contract with a large OEM in 2025, and they are attempting to launch the Onboard Charger publicly. They need a fact pack that will assist their sales team in conveying the value that this product brings to the market.

Company Overview: Danfoss Editron is currently developing an On-Board Charger (OnBC) that includes electric power take off (ePTO) functionality for a large OEM. Once exclusivity ends with this customer in 2025, Danfoss will be free to sell this to the general market. The current OnBC design offers an industry high 44kW of charging power for Level I & II AC chargers, which allows vehicle owners to get more charge in less time. By also including ePTO capabilities, this product is intended to support specialty utility vehicles that require power to be directed to auxiliary functions. Examples of these specialty utility vehicles include transportation refrigeration units (TRUs), garbage trucks, cement mixers, boom trucks, etc.

Advisors: Pam Sheff, Hanna Fadhila, Vyshnav Menon

Deliverables: This project deliverable will be broken into two parts. First, the group will gather research and build a fact pack that clearly outlines the product’s target markets with applications & regional hot spots. Then, you will use this information to help develop a launch strategy that covers the following areas: Sales & Channel, Promotion, Training, Service, Migration, & Customer Involvement. Each launch area will include a clear launch plan with any action items/ next steps outlined for our team to implement. You will then present your findings to key members of our on-highway team.

Challenge Statement: After several mergers & acquisitions Dynata has been working to develop a centralized sample system/platform. Currently we have a number of different separate components that are integrated together in various ways. However, there is a lack of understanding within parts of the business (particularly with internal users) on how all the components fit together.  This means that projects are not always delivered in the most optimal/efficient way to meet customer/Dynata needs, nor with the most appropriate quality control measures in place.

Company Overview: Dynata is a trusted partner for data-driven insights that power growth. The organization helps with every step in the research and marketing journey. Our dataset of more than 62 million consumers and business professionals, fully-permissioned with billions of verified data points, gives our customers access to a wide variety of audiences. We can connect our data with customer owned data and other sources, revealing the holistic picture of one’s customer and their market. Real people, ready to share their attitudes, behaviors and insights – the cornerstone for precise and trustworthy high-quality data. Dynata’s solutions and products serve the wide spectrum across market research including marketing activation, online research, advanced analytics, survey programming, data processing, advertising effectiveness, DIY research products as well as phone-based research.

Advisors: Pam Sheff, Paul Indraputra, Prabhu Akhil Minumula

Deliverables: The purpose is to provide a clear understanding for how Dynata’s sample systems interact for internal and external (client) users. This project involves mapping how all our different sample systems align including but not limited to:

  • NOVA
  • REX
  • Router
  • Samplify
  • Branded
  • Various APIs we have set-up, etc.

And how all the above connects with various project types (i.e. connected data only goes through A & B but not C, PII work only goes through B & C but not D, etc.) including what quality tools we have

available with each component.

Challenge Statement: Dynata has several development teams supporting different parts of the business (Panel, Product, Business Operations, etc.). Frequently teams are making requests of our developers to build or up-date various systems/platforms/tools. However, there is a lack of consistent understanding on how to produce good spec requirements for our developers. This means that some platforms/tools/fixes are not always developed properly OR take considerable time being developed. Students will need to determine the different phases of spec development (i.e. initial idea stage for high level time & resource estimates, detailed spec design for more detailed time/scope estimates, UI/concept examples, user stories, etc.) in conjunction with the technology team. Students should review previous examples of “good & bad” specs from various teams/departments to understand why some are useful or not, and why platforms/tools/fixes are impacted by these specs.

Company Overview: Dynata is a trusted partner for data-driven insights that power growth. The organization helps with every step in the research and marketing journey. Our dataset of more than 62 million consumers and business professionals, fully-permissioned with billions of verified data points, gives our customers access to a wide variety of audiences. We can connect our data with customer owned data and other sources, revealing the holistic picture of one’s customer and their market. Real people, ready to share their attitudes, behaviors and insights – the cornerstone for precise and trustworthy high-quality data. Dynata’s solutions and products serve the wide spectrum across market research including marketing activation, online research, advanced analytics, survey programming, data processing, advertising effectiveness, DIY research products as well as phone-based research.

Advisors: Pam Sheff, Elena Sanchez, Paul Indraputra

Deliverables: The purpose is to provide a template for teams to provide to technology when requesting new products/development changes.This project involves getting an understanding of what good specs should look like & developing a template that teams can use when working with technology.  For example:

  • I need to provide X to technology before they can give an initial high-level estimate of scope & timing Y is needed before a detailed estimate is provided
  • What does a user-story need to look like?
  • What mock-ups might be needed?
  • What can I expect the overall process to look like when I’m working with tech?

Challenge Statement: Intralox is looking for clear recommendations from the JHU project team on how to address the following areas and questions as inputs to the new Market Leading initiative.

  • Problems worth solving – The world is full of problems. How do we identify the ones that are worth our company solving?
  • Innovation strategies in established companies – How to invest in new innovations for the long-term when everyone’s busy capitalizing on existing technology?

With baseline Intralox knowledge, classroom learnings and market research, the JHU project team will provide recommendations for how to strategically identify new problems worth solving and how to prioritize them in the current company setup.

Company Overview: The Intralox business rests on several unique and innovative technologies.  As a result, the company has experienced continuous growth over the last two decades.  To continue innovative growth at the company’s scale, it recognizes the need to improve the way innovation is managed and those processes around it. A new Market Leading project has been initiated to drive market leading innovation efforts which are separate from business based on existing technologies. Two clear weaknesses in the current setup are around identifying new problems worth solving and how to separate those efforts from our existing, everyday business.

Advisors: Pam Sheff, Hanna Fadhila, Vyshnav Menon

Deliverables: The project team will investigate the current Intralox innovation strategy to identify how new products are created and prioritized across the organization. Key functional areas to interview:

  • Research & Development
  • Product Engineering
  • Product Management
  • Business Development

This will be presented to Intralox at the end of the semester in PPT format.  The presentation will address both areas above and are expected to be proposed in the context of the current Intralox business.

Spring 2021 Capstone Projects

Students were asked to provide policy goals NATO should consider to recommend at the UN Climate Change Conference in November 2021. Their challenge, understanding that military innovations and policy changes are typically measured in years and decades, is what tangible environmental goals should NATO allies adopt to foster innovation in green technology that can positively impact climate change

Dynata Voice Services provides computer assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) and offline sampling by conducting millions of outbound phone surveys each year. This figure doubles during US election years. CATI generates most of the revenue for the Voice Services division. The student challenge is to propose additional revenue streams Dynata can explore using its CATI technology to provide additional services.

Dynata uses external vendors for some of their offerings, including but not limited to survey translations, back-end data processing, and survey programming. The internal vendor management platform is inefficient, complex and not universally used, even by Dynata employees. The challenge for the students is process improvement where they must reimagine the process and functions to provide Dynata with a useful tool that is faster, simpler, and increases efficiency, not add an additional cumbersome workflow bottleneck as it does in its current state.

Danfoss designs and manufactures parts for commercial rooftop cooling units. Primary sales channels are through OEM manufactures as components and also through wholesalers as replacement parts. Danfoss is constantly innovating their product line and wants to provide more down stream value for the contractors charged with diagnosing and repairing these rooftop units. The students have been tasked with identifying the contractor pain points and recommending opportunities Danfoss should explore to make their existing and new product lines  more value add to commercial HVAC contractors.

The Maryland craft beer industry has seen significant growth over the past 20 years; however local brewers market share of sales is still under 2%. The dominant leaders are Anheuser-Busch and Miller Coors who boast a 90% market share. The students have been tasked with developing a wholistic branding and marketing strategy to increase the Maryland craft breweries collective market share to 25%.