|Karl Critz delivering the team's project presentation at the|
EnerNOC corporate meeting. Photo by Edoardo Cavalieri d'Oro
SLaM lab connects student teams with companies that want a fresh approach to a business challenge. Projects must span technological and managerial domains, represent real issues with concrete impact, and have strong internal support. Sassan Zelkha (SDM'10) identified EnerNOC's level of involvement as a key success factor: "The level of exposure and access granted to us by EnerNOC was exceptional."
|Sassan Zelkha, Swope Fleming, and Avi Latner prepare|
to answer questions. Photo by Edoardo Cavalieri d'Oro
The team concluded that as a standalone product for the desired customer base, demand response alone is not a sufficiently compelling value proposition. To connect with the new type of user, the team developed a hybrid product that delivered more value and addressed a specific anxiety common to the new customer base. The new product still allows EnerNOC to aggregate and deliver firm, reliable demand response resources to electrical utility partners and system operators. Hardware and installation represented a significant part of the product’s cost structure; the team specified a new equipment mix to reduce costs and generate a favorable rate of return. Finally, the team created a new sales strategy to facilitate the go-to-market plan.
This solution was presented to C-level executives and the Utility Solutions group at EnerNOC's 2010 corporate conference. The presentation was enhanced by the visual communication techniques emphasized in the SLaM course. EnerNOC's corporate culture involves in-depth questioning and rigorous assumption-checking, so the SLaM team had to be ready with quick and thorough answers. Product Manager Margaret Yellott was enthusiastic, noting that "I thought the presentation was snappy, your points and supporting data were well articulated, and you fielded questions effectively. And of course, the substance of the product was good, and we're looking forward to digging into next steps internally."
The process was just as important as the product. Throughout the course, the topics included leadership, teamwork, and group dynamics. Team members were able to apply these concepts immediately and improve their critical soft skills. Swope Fleming (SDM'10) summarized the experience well: "I thought it was an excellent project and EnerNOC's support was fantastic. Being able to work with 'live ammo' is something that just cannot be replicated in the classroom alone, and it was an invaluable experience."
The MIT project team consists of Avi Latner, Swope Fleming, Edoardo Cavalieri d'Oro, Sassan Zelkha, and Karl Critz. We thank the EnerNOC project team of Lee Garf, Mark Foreman, and Margaret Yellott.