- Spend time in educational settings to identify unmet needs. Through observing early childhood classrooms, Cognitive ToyBox founder Tammy Kwan shifted her focus to address the limitations of static and subjective assessments with a combined observational and game-based assessment platform.
- Plan for scale from the start. Early on, Kwan sought advice from an industry mentor and secured an NSF Innovation Corps grant to refine the product offering and develop a commercialization strategy.
- Take a strategic approach to research. In-house rapid-cycle testing can be useful for formative purposes, while efficacy studies are more cost effective once the market need is validated. Cognitive ToyBox opted to contract research to third parties due to the distinct capabilities and timeline involved.
- Advance equity by including diverse populations in product development and research. Cognitive ToyBox conducted user testing of early prototypes in natural settings that attracted children from diverse backgrounds. They later used third parties to validate the tool in different locations.
- Understand how your solution should align with other widely used products. Cognitive ToyBox recognized the need to offer an integrated curriculum and assessment bundle, leading to a strategic partnership.
- Recruit customers to advocate with local policymakers. Enthusiastic customers helped Cognitive ToyBox get on the review list with their state agencies.