Note to future self

First weeks experience

 

During the first week, we experienced and experimented a draft experience of the design thinking process. During the two days dedicated to develop an innovative opportunity for the university, we gathered in groups. The experience was magnificent, and we got to know our classmates during the event.

 

Figure 1. Utilizing different tools to brainstorm in team

Figure 2. Prototyping our group idea

Along the following classes, we learnt the theories involved in design thinking. The general concept is to differentiate between analytical thinking and design thinking. According to Dorst (2010), there is a simple equation “What + How = Result”. The author describes when the how or the result is missing, it is analytical thinking, and when the missing concept is the “what” we utilize design thinking.

 

The professor Keers Dorst also states many companies do not integrate design thinking properly and deeply into their processes, and I found there is a possible competitive advantage in the future to learn about it.

 

Applying these concepts into practice, we did a practical exercise involving shoe buying patterns in students. After several interviews, we found a pattern; women struggle more with them. The core difficulty is related to heels, and therefore we brainstormed around this problem and prototyped a solution.

 

Figure 3. Prototypes about how to solve this heels problem

 

On a personal level, interiorizing design thinking and analytical thinking has helped me through the different stages of our startup. Being a non-organized person having such a simple structure to follow is essential to create a process to achieve a desired goal in any field.

 

During later classes, we have applied other theories such the graphical representation from Engeström (1987).

Figure 4. Utilizing Engeström (1987) graph to understand a university structure

 

Brainstorming

 

Once the startup module took off, we had several meeting brainstorming for the company purpose. This was an amazing experience, where we learnt how important is to welcome every idea and add value to those of other members. Being a group with no specific knowledge in any industry, our best approach was to listen to experts into different areas. During different stages of the company, this same process was needed to come with new ideas.

 

Figure 5. Initial group brainstorming

Bodystorming

 

Following the brainstorming activities, we also had a class delivered about bodystorming, and its importance to understand better our customers. Though this activity, there is a chance to feel the problem of the customer, and therefore understand the problems they may face. During class, we used a chair to understand the problems faced by a disabled person around university.

 

I can personally state how these two tools for the generation of ideas are magnificent, and a team member may polish the most stupid ones you may have. For this reason, brain and body storming is a powerful mechanism to understand better your team members and obtain synergies working as a team.

 

Business modeling

 

To understand how our company is going to work, we have utilized two different business model canvases. Firstly, we used the traditional business model canvas to understand the structure of the company. Through using this model, we understood who is our market segment, and how are we going to deliver value to them. Also, it helped us to understand the revenue and cost streams to face, helping to understand the future cashflows of the company.

 

On the other hand, we have used the lean canvas model. This model is more focused on startups, and hence has been more helpful to start a company. By using this canvas, we have understood better our unique value proposition and our unfair advantage, also known as competitive advantage. To be aware of this advantage, the competition must be studied too.

Figure 6. My PA lean canvas

 

We have used the business model canvas during the whole year in many situations, and it has resulted an amazing manner to understand the structure of a company in a single piece of paper. However, the lean canvas model has been an essential tool for My PA and Tyton (the two ideas our company One Minute went to Dragons Den with) to know the strategy to enter the market for our startup. Although it is true we do not carry this paper with us at every moment, having a mental image of it is a genuine way to know your market, how are you delivering value to them, your competition and why areyou better than them between other factors.

 

Value proposition

 

Focusing on the previous value proposition discovered in the previous section, we studied how were we going to deliver this value to customers.

 

For this purpose, the customer wants, needs and fears must be studied. With these three variables, we understand what are the internal mind processes that drive customers to the action of purchasing or not. According to these three, our company must adapt to deliver benefits, experience and features that help the customer.

 

Together with many other tools described later, these canvases are a mechanism to create a company´s strategy from scratch.

 

Idea validation

 

At this point, we had a structure and a strategy organized for My PA, the app we were decided bring to the market. However, we did not go to the market to test our idea with the public. We delivered the research in Kingston centre, Penrhyn road campus and Kingston Hill campus. After a market research, we discovered there were many people (mainly students) interested in being the labor force, but not so many customers willing to use the app. Apart from the willingness to use the app, it was really hard for them to overtake the fears presented previously.

 

First Dragons Den and Idea Pivoting

 

In December, we attended our first Dragons Den, and we had our first chance to discuss our startup. It was a great experience to get feedback even before investing money into it. Together with our market research, the judges suggested us to pivot the idea, and for this reason we used Christmas to consider new ideas.

 

Thanks to this quick failure, we were able to pivot our idea and change the whole structure of the company without investing money. The pivot was towards a gym case, after finding a market gap where customers were facing a need.

 

At an initial point we focused on the features and design of our product, and prototyping as soon as possible to be able to show to the public.

 

Trade fairs

 

For the first trade fair we printed a 3D model to show to the public. For technical reasons in the printer, the material got stacked and we only had one copy to show. This simple fact changed the whole sales strategy of our company and decreased efficiency. However, we could manage to implement our market research about the willingness to pay of customers. For our company, this was an invaluable market research delivered for free. As we implemented this research on a qualitative basis interviewing people interested, we found there were many other fields our product could be used into.

 

Figure 7. One Minute at our first trade fair

 

The second trade fair was unfortunately in one of the coldest days of the year, and it was performed outdoors. For this reason, it was quite hard to interact with customers. Our strategy with this trade fair was to handle as many business cards as possible. During this event, the most satisfying part was seeing our classmates finally selling their products to walkers on the street.

 

Finally, the last trade fair was performed in Penrhyn road campus. During this trade fair it was complicated to attract students to engage with us due to celebrations and our position. However, we managed to move around and introduce ourselves to students. The most important part of the trade fair was having a last chance to gather with the whole class for a last time.

 

Canvas templates

 

Throughout the module, we have used plenty canvases to take strategic decisions of the company. The most highlighting case was on February the 2nd, when we used four different templates based on decision-making strategies and risk calculation.

Figure 8. Different canvas templates used in class

On the top left corner, a ”radar” identifying the most likely and most dangerous risks our company has to dodge.

Our main risk was related with the marketing strategy, as focusing on a niche market (weight lifters) inside an already existing market segment (gym goers) was quite risky.

On the left bottom corner we have the journey for the following months, with the milestones to be achieved. The most important milestones to achieve are having the product manufactured soon and executing properly business-related activities.

On the right top corner we have a major risk analysis situation. We decided to focus on the lean startup approach we are focusing on, and the costs already incurred. Analyzing this situation, we understood we could have minimized some of the existing costs.

Finally, the bottom right picture is a decision-based chart analyzing the pros and cons of a given decision. By targeting a small niche market, we can capture more value added in customers and attract them for future products. However, a coming company competing on price imitating our product could easily take away our market. On the other hand, focusing on a broader market makes easier to achieve a higher volume of sales (more income), but having to compete in price and value to customers for different niche markets.

I have not only enjoyed using these tools during the year, but also found them really useful for the modeling of the startup strategy.

Bright Ideas and final Dragons Den

After many rehearse in pitching, we could finally face the judged in both competitions. Although we were quite confident after a long time of hard effort, we knew there is always floor for improvement. For this reason, we have always been looking forward for the feedback from judges.

 

In the case of Bright Ideas, we came the second in the product category. This was a huge success, as there were many ideas introduced to the judges.

 

The second competition was Dragons Den, where judges made questions to us after our pitch in private. From a team perspective, achieving successfully these events is arecognition of the hard work, and strengths the connection as a group and motivates us to keep going and achieve our best.

 

From a personal point of view, I consider both competitions essential for the module, as preparing for them are both a great opportunity and a path to learn through own experience.

 

During the YE event held after the last trade fair, we had the pleasure to be selected for the national competition in Loughborough on May the 9th. We are currently working with Fazl and Gerry for the competition, and enjoying the process.

 

Talks

 

Related to the learning structure of the module, we have had the pleasure to get to know professionals in different business areas. From the different ones I have attended, I highlight the talk from Shed Simove, whose entrepreneurial approach was really interesting. Also, I enjoyed the talk from Tony and his company fifty3. He talked to us through his career in the field, and gave us many practical examples about what to do (and avoid).

 

Special thanks

 

There is no manner to end this post without thanking their effort to our university professors and members of the staff, who made this journey possible. Also, to the YE members and judges for their help through the process of the startup. Finally, to the different speakers who were willing to give us some of their time, and every other person who has supported us through the journey.

 

What I have learnt: note to future self

 

First of all, I have learnt many theories. During the module, we have studied many different fields of the business, from design thinking to branding, strategy or risk dealing. Apart from learning the theory, we have used tools such as the canvases to put them into practice in our startup. As a future note to myself, the usage of them has been really useful for One Minute. Therefore, using them in the future has been essential.

 

Also, I have found really useful the experience of working as a team, and it will be essential for the future to lead other people if I have the chance. It has been great to learn how to encourage the flow of ideas, have an open mind to hear the rest and add value to the ideas from the rest.

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Norway trip

To end the academic year and classes in Kingston University, we had a final week of classes in Norway. The experience was great, not only because of the country we were visiting but also because of the quality of the classes we were lucky to assist.

During this week, we learn about the current transformation of the Norwegian economy from oil dependency to industrialization. Also, we learnt the theories about the Regional Integrated Systems (RIS). Although we had studied during our masters the influence of the environment to the entrepreneur, this was a different approach regarding how do entrepreneurs affect their environment.

Personally, the topics I enjoyed the most are regarding the circular economy and the Industry 4.0. The circular economy stands for sustainability and waste reduction, and industry 4.0 is the terminology for the current trend of technology towards automatization and robotization.

Apart from attending lectures, we also had an amazing opportunity to enjoy as a group and get to know our classmates better.

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final trade fair and YE event

To finalice the year, we had a final trade fair in Penrhyn Road campus. Apart from dealing with the trade fair as usual, we had a last chance to gather with the rest of the class.

After the trade fair, we enjoyed a magnificent closing event for Young Enterprise. The enterprise held also the handling of the prices regarding dragon´s den prizes and for the trade fairs.

During the handling of the rewards, we have the pleasure to announce the classification of One Minute for the national competition in Loughborough on May the 9th. For this reason, we look forward to meet our mentors Fazl and Jerry, and work with their help to win the national competition.

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After the event and as usual, we could enjoy a networking session with other assistants to the event, which resulted in being a great experience.

2nd trade fair

In such a cold day, One Minute did a great effort to attend the trade fair. Although we had no product for sale, we attempt to extend the brand Tyton through these opportunities and let the public know more about us. For this reason, we intend to handle as many business cards as possible, so people knows about us and has a reminder to check our media.

Taking into account the weather, we must thank the judges and Young Enterprise for coming a Saturday to be part of the event, and a special gratitude to the organizer for staying with the teams during the whole event.

The most satisfying experiences of the day were seeing our colleagues selling their product and fighting together the snow.

For future events, we expect to have an MVP for sale and do the most for the experience. Actually, we are currently entering this stage, and we expect to have a product for sale soon.

Also, and as the weather seems to hate our trade fairs, as the next one is indoors in Penrhyn road campus, we forecast a lovely spring day outdoors 🤦🏻‍♂️. However, if we move outdoors it will probably snow 😜.

Final Dragons Den!!!

After a long journey of pitching, One Minute finally faced the judges pitching the Tyton case.

Although we felt confident with our work after a hard effort to stand with a consistent seed startup in front of the judges, we knew there is always floor for improvement (and a huge one in our case!). Therefore, we were willing to hear the judges´feedback and motivated to implement these ideas into our business.

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After our 2 minutes pitch and the Q&A, we felt the day was really useful for us in terms of feedback. Also, operating on a lean way, we attempt to benefit from these events to let people know about our product.

All in all, we enjoyed such an amazing experience and had a lot of fun. From a team perspective, the satisfaction of a good performance strengths the connection as a group and motivates us to keep going and achieve our best.

To conclude, we will be looking forward to the event on the 22nd, and hope to be in the national competition!

Design Thinking class 02/02

Although this blog post is quite late from the original date, I personally cannot skip this topic.

During February the second, we used some templates based on decision-making strategies and risk calculation. On the top left corner, a “radar” identifying the most likely and most dangerous risks our company has to dodge to succeed. Although our company is not a “high risk startup” from our point of view, the execution of it and the initial strategy we chose had some risks we had to tackle.

Our main risk was related with the marketing strategy, as focusing on a niche market (weight lifters) inside an already existing market segment (gym goers) was quite risky.

On the left bottom corner we have the journey for the following months, with the milestones to be achieved. The most important milestones to achieve is having the product manufactured soon and implementing and executing properly business-related activities, such an updated accounting and a guerrilla marketing strategy to optimize our costs.

On the right top corner we have a major risk analysis situation. In this case, we decided to focus on the lean startup approach we are focusing on, and the costs already incurred. Analyzing this situation, we understood we could have minimized some of the existing costs, and we are already taking this into account for current decisions.

 

Finally, the bottom right picture is a decision-based chart analyzing the pros and cons of a given decision. As explained before, we have focused on the target market approach. By targeting a small niche market, we can capture more value added in customers and attract them for future products. However, a coming company competing on price imitating our product could easily take away our market. On the other hand, focusing on a broader market makes easier to achieve a higher volume of sales (more income), but having to compete in price and value to customers for different niche markets.

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Trade Fair!

Amazing experience at the trade fair! We had the chance not only to introduce Tyton to the public, but to get feedback.

At the beginning of the day, our first prototype got stacked in the 3D printer. For this reason, we only had one available sample to introduce. This fact changed radically our sales strategy. This one was based on finding out the willingness to pay (price) of customers who heard of the idea for the first time. For our company, this was an invaluable data to research and collect.

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To engage customers and receive their contact details, we agreed with David Lloyd gym to sponsor a couple two weeks passes for their gym in Kingston.

To conclude, we had an amazing experience with this fair. Furthermore, we once more coordinated and worked and a team. For future presentations, we will do our best to have advanced in our product after out late pivoting of the business.