Sandbox: A Soft-Operation Environment in US market for Global Startups

PillPack, an online pharmacy that delivers medications in pre-sorted packages, which participated in the MIT Sandbox and raised $118 million in funding and was acquired by Amazon for $753 million.

MIT Innovation HQ

Program Description

Sandbox is a uniquely designed soft-operation(beta/staging operation) program for global startups and early stage companies who wish to launch their product or services in US market. The program allows participants to safely test their product-market fit, sales, and operations with a group of actual customers under the actual customer experience environments that we facilitate. The program also provides guidance and support from experienced program managers and mentors who have expertise in various aspects of launching and scaling a business in the US.

Program Objectives

The main objectives of the program are to help participants:

  • Validate their value proposition and business model in the US market
  • Gain feedback and insights from real customers and potential partners
  • Learn best practices and strategies for marketing, sales, and operations in the US
  • Develop a clear and actionable product launching plan
  • Build a network of mentors, peers, and stakeholders in the US ecosystem

Program Benefits

By joining the program, participants will benefit from:

  • Access to a curated and diverse customer base that matches their target segment and persona
  • A customized and flexible sandbox environment that simulates the real market conditions and customer behaviors
  • A structured and iterative process that enables rapid experimentation and learning
  • A dedicated program manager and mentor who will provide regular feedback, coaching, and advice
  • A comprehensive set of resources and tools that will help them optimize their product, business, and launch plan
  • A certificate of completion and a showcase opportunity at the end of the program

Program Phases and Deliverables

The program consists of four modules that span over 12 to 24 weeks, depending on the pace and progress of each participant. The modules and their corresponding deliverables are as follows:

Phase 1. Design and Environment Setup:

Participants will define their goals, hypotheses, and metrics for the program. They will also work with the program manager and mentor to design and set up their sandbox environment, which includes selecting and recruiting the customers, creating the landing page and the feedback mechanism, and establishing the communication and reporting channels.

Deliverables: A goal statement, a hypothesis matrix, a metric dashboard, a sandbox design document, and a customer recruitment plan.

Phase 2. Running Iteration:

In this module, participants will run multiple cycles of testing, measuring, and learning with their customers in the sandbox. They will also apply the feedback and insights they gather to improve their product, business, and launch plan. They will work closely with the program manager and mentor to monitor and evaluate their performance and progress, and to identify and resolve any issues or challenges that may arise.

Deliverables: A testing plan, a feedback report, a product improvement plan, a business improvement plan, and a launch plan update.

Phase 3. Change Management:

Participants will learn how to manage the changes and transitions that may occur as they prepare to launch their product or service in the US market. They will also learn how to communicate and collaborate effectively with their internal and external stakeholders, such as their team, their customers, their partners, and their investors. They will work with the program manager and mentor to develop and implement a change management plan that covers the key aspects of change readiness, change leadership, and change support.

Deliverables: A change management plan, a stakeholder analysis, a communication plan, and a collaboration plan.

Phase 4. Product Launching Plan:

Participants will finalize and present their product launching plan, which outlines the key activities, milestones, and resources they need to successfully launch their product or service in the US market. They will also receive feedback and suggestions from the program manager, mentor, and other participants on how to refine and improve their plan. They will also have the opportunity to showcase their product or service to a wider audience of potential customers, partners, and investors at the end of the program.

Deliverables: A product launching plan, a presentation deck, and a showcase pitch.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • The innovation is ready to be tested in the live marketplace with real customers and data.
  • The innovation faces regulatory barriers or uncertainties that prevent or limit its full operation in the market.
  • The company is willing to comply with the rules and conditions of the Sandbox program, such as reporting, monitoring, and risk mitigation.

The possible KPIs:

A Sandbox program is a type of program that allows companies to test their innovative products or services under a modified and frequently lightened regulatory framework for a limited period.

  • The number of customers, partners, and investors attracted by the companies during or after the program
  • The growth and scalability of the companies in terms of revenue, market share, business partners and team size
  • The amount of funding raised by the companies after participating in the program

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