We had a brilliant idea, we were motivated, we did the research, surveys and discussed the idea with all of our professors. Adopting the “Go Big or Go Home” approach, we decided that we had a supportive environment to really create some disruptive innovation.
We entered KU’s Bright Ideas competition which helped us hammer out some of the finer details of our business idea, and submitted it with high hopes. A few days later was the mock Dragon’s Den for our Design Thinking course. We dressed the part and spent a good portion of time rehearsing our pitch. Feeling confident, we were happy to be first to present.
And the presentation went well! We covered everything we planned to, and didn’t even stumble. But what came next threw us for a curve. The judges were given time after each presentation for a Q&A, and they did not tread lightly. Approximately 20 minutes (what felt like an hour) of questions really questioning the plausibility of our idea. They questioned the logistics and the real manpower behind a project so big such as My PA, that hires independent contractors and really has to deliver on service. The dragon’s had a point, we were really trying to push a service that may have been a bit above our capabilities. We don’t have experience in app development, or business of this magnitude, so we would have been taking a big risk with a lot of people relying on us to develop this app and service.
FEEDBACK FROM DRAGONS:
Safety is an issue for both PAs and Users
Why is Uber having issues by the government – we are going to have the same problems
Unsure if people would use it
Don’t do our pilot with University professors if they are not target segment
Make it a more niche service, such as specialized service for disabled and use qualified and vetted care assistants
Self-employment issues with PAs
Safe transactions online (for example, the cards saved into the app needs to be 100% safe)
Babysitting / childminding safety
I didn’t really expect us to buckle down as quickly as we did, but in retrospect I think it is for the better. We decided after the presentation that we had possibly become naive by our optimism. Even though what we had was a great idea, for the purpose of our first venture we were probably attempting to bite off more than we could chew. We had an opportunity to pivot or persevere (Ries, 2011), and in the end we killed the baby.
I have been lucky to be a part of a team that does not get stressed too easily, and is very positive, so we quickly bounced back and came up with our new idea. Unfortunately we are a little behind with time now, but we have decided to do a product that we will manufacture in China and sell in the UK. As we are still in talks with manufacturers and prototyping our concept, I will leave the introduction of our new product for the next blog!
We finally have our idea! After hours of brainstorming and long nights at the library, our team has settled on our business idea, one which we are all very excited about! Following product approval with Young Enterprise, we are happy to announce our new business, an app/service called My PA!
Before finalising our service, we set out to take some surveys around Kingston town center to get feedback on our idea from the local market.
We surveyed in both Kingston town centre and in the library at the Penrhyn Road campus. We had a good amount of interest, specifically with the student and younger population, and a lot of interest in positions as PAs. The older population had no interest, and middle-aged had little interest, so our surveys were definitely helpful in defining our market segment.
The goal of our business is to provide personal assistants for our users on demand. My PA will provide help for unskilled tasks, something that a friend or family member may usually help you with but may not be available when you need them. Users post tasks that they need help with and suggest a rate that they are willing to pay a PA for their help. Personal assistants will be logged into the app when they are available to work, and notified when a new assignment becomes available in their area. PAs have only 5 minutes to respond if they are interested in completing the task, and may accept the offer terms, or suggest new terms by placing a bid. The user then has another 5 minutes to choose which PA they would like to help them with their task. We will host on-boarding sessions for people who want to become PAs to make sure they understand expectations and to conduct background checks on applicants. All PAs will be paid as independent contractors.
All transactions will be placed through our platform, the My PA app. Our model will generate revenue by taking a percentage of each transaction completed through the app.
We have divided our job roles within the team. I requested to be finance director, because I am keen to learn more about managing business finances since this is an aspect that I have the least experience with. Hector is the operations director, Divesh is the marketing director and Sanif is the managing director.
We are very excited about out new service, and plan to implement it first in Kingston-Upon-Thames before ultimately launching in Central!
Our team was tasked with the challenge to re-design a product or service that could be improved upon. We chose to re-design the grocery shopping experience, using Tesco as an example.
With a TescoToGo Scanner, you can scan and create your shopping list from anywhere when you come across things you need. Then before heading to the TescoToGo store you can send your list to store and it will be ready for pickup by the time you arrive.
We could turn the shopping experience into more of an Argos situation. A “take away” style operation.
What it is:
TescoToGo Scanner (keychain) linked with with Tesco app/online web account.
A keychain where you can scan items or speak into to add items to your shopping list
When you’re ready, you click “Pickup from Store” and your order will be bagged and ready for pickup in 20 minutes
When you arrive, you just tap your scanner keychain and payment is processed automatically through your account (credit card info saved onto account)
It is different than delivery because you can pick up your groceries on-demand, instead of scheduling for delivery in case you are not home, or you are picking them up in a different location. You get the groceries ON DEMAND, not like Tesco delivery which is delivered next day.
Problems that we noticed in store:
Overcrowding in the aisles
Refrigerator and freezer doors left open – costly to Tesco
Potential for danger – clients slipping / lawsuits
Benefits for Customers and Business:
No waiting in lines to checkout
Smaller spaces need to be rented by Tesco (they can have smaller aisles in the back)
Store can control expiration dates better (they have the control)
Quick and more convenient service for customers, virtually almost no extra time will be wasted shopping for groceries
Less congestion in the aisles
Less liability having customers in the store (slip and falls etc)
Speeds up the shopping process – less stressful and time consuming for customers
Less money spent on aesthetics/design of stores
Less employees needed because less customer service will be requested (Where can I find ketchup?) Saves money on pay checks and training
What we acted out:
Scenario 1: Running through the store, slip and fall, other customers come to help person get up
Divesh slips and falls
Hector helps him up
Sanif runs over and apologizes for the grease that Divesh slipped on
Claire comes by and offers her legal services to sue Tesco
Scenario 2: Waiting in line for the queue
Sanif is working the checkout, Hector is checking out and rambling on and taking a long time (two people behind get angry and leave because it’s taking too long)
Scenario 3: Customers asking worker where is the 1) Ketchup, 2) Beer, 3) Sugar
Sanif is re-stocking apples. All 3 of us follow him around the store asking for items we are looking for, and taking up all of Sanif’s time
Linked To Activity Theory
We are changing the rules the subjects follow, the instruments (TescoToGo scanner and app), to reach the objects, or outcome. The rules have changed from picking out your own items and going to the checkout, to now ordering from the app (or device), and picking up from a cashier at the store – bypassing the shopping in store experience as well as the checkout process. The instruments have changed to include a TescoToGo scanner keychain and an app/online portal.
This Thursday I spent the evening at Kingston’s Start-Up Fair, where the starring guest speaker was Shed Simove, serial novelty item inventor and news-maker! Known for products such as the sound machine, humorous knock off gifts, and notably his books “50 Shades of Grey” (a 50 page book of grey pages getting darker as you go) and “What Men Think About Other Than Sex”, a blank book of 200 pages that has now been translated into 7 languages and is a 9 times over best-seller.
Shed was a great speaker, I really enjoyed his lecture, and he mentioned a few ideas that I want to jot down to keep in mind for my future ventures!
Look at names of race horses to get your mind thinking about connecting those names to a product we could make
Mash random words from the encyclopedia with the yellow pages to generate new ideas
Twist an already existing product or service to create something new
Try to “hook” your idea to a holiday, then you can attract press (ex. “Shinder”, he had articles circulating around about him at Valentine’s day)
Give a product a new name – vacuum cleaner = cyclone cleaner
Stay away from “Negnets” – people who will always shoot down your ideas
Know your customers (for ex. the shop owner who boiled eggs every day for the men coming out of the gym)
Only choose Alibaba suppliers with a gold rating of a few years or more
NEVER approve a sample from a manufacturer via photo or video – always get a physical sample in your hands that is perfect before placing your order. You can use this sample prototype to raise funds on Kickstarter or to introduce to investors.
Use SurveyMonkey for free to do surveys
Create a video to promote your product or service
Keep a fund for experimentation, an amount of money that you can use that won’t put you out of your house or make you unable to pay your bills
When doing PR you have to talk about the STORY behind your product or service, why it is interesting or comical. How did you get there? This is important during a press release. Call up your local news, sometimes national news will pick up local news!
Make it easy for the word to be spread about you. Write up an article to share online yourself for bloggers to copy. Add photos (and videos) for them to use as well
Go to trade shows and see what is trending. Trade shows in your industry and ones NOT in your industry are helpful to get the creative ideas flowing
His information was very informative, and specific which was helpful. Definitely an entrepreneur who is willing to help others succeed as well!
So we have officially formed a team and signed up with Young Enterprise, who will be providing the insurance, bank account and business creation for our team’s company. We shall call ourselves, One Minute.
Because life can change, in just one minute!
So we don’t want that any more minutes to pass us by.
The team got together for an initial brainstorming session. We came up with as many ideas as we could, and of course stuck more post-it’s on the wall. We made some progress but we still feel that we haven’t quite come up with our “ah-ha!” idea just yet for our business, so we are still in the process of brainstorming. Nevertheless, it was good to spend the day with the team. We sorted out the name for our company, set up the e-mail account and made sure we were registered with Young Enterprise.
We also learned this week about “Bodystorming” in our module. This is the idea of physically using our bodies to fulfil certain tasks, and making note of the obstacles we encounter along the way. With these notes, we can then innovate by creating solutions to these problems. How we demonstrated this was by traveling around the business school in a rolling chair, acting as if we were in a wheelchair, to test how accessible the business school really is. Most of our class was surprised to find that it is not as accessible as it claims to be, some were even appalled. This exercise also proved the importance of doing research and getting client feedback before prototyping!
I’m really looking forward to getting our business up and going, and hopeful that these lessons will aid us in the process!
On Thursday night I attended the Enterprise! lecture, “How to get funding for your startup”, with the guest speaker Claudine Reid. She was voted one of the top 100 women entrepreneurs in the UK a few years ago, so it was interesting to hear what she did to fund their company. We have discussed a lot of in our Entrepreneurial finance course about Venture Capital, but I like how Claudine brought up other less involved ways of funding your startup.
For starters she thought outside the box.
Claudine brought up how she would tradeservices, or negotiate prices by offering her services to other companies. She spent a lot of time finding resources that did not cost her company, either through government offerings or local business resources, until her business grew so much that she had to start paying for premium services. This gave her the ability to get through the start-up phase and really grow to be the large company that it is today. Claudine discussed how one of the problems she has had in her company is being able to keep up with the knowledge and different branches as they continue to grow. She also emphasized, that if you want your business to grow, you need to do something that helps other people.
The networking session afterwards was also helpful. I finally introduced myself to Dwayne Reid, and have actually set up a 1-2-1 business meeting with him next week to discuss an app idea that I have and am interested in developing this year.
Being grateful that I am in an institution that fosters innovation and entrepreneurship as much as it does! Staying optimistic about what we will accomplish this year in our enterprises!
Yesterday I attended THE LAUNCH at the Kingston Business school for Enterprise! Looking forward to the competitions (Bright Ideas), the International Hackathon, workshops, Bright Futures boot camp, and startup weekends!
It was exciting to meet Kingston Alum and current CEO of Kyivstar (the largest mobile carrier in Ukraine), Peter Chernyshov! Previous students’ businesses and products were on display so it was great to see their ideas and ask questions about their products. It was also nice to spend time with classmates from both my course and MACE and to meet a few others.
It’s only the second week but I’m feeling very excited for what is to come!