So both my idea for “On Tap” and my team’s “Tyton case” moved through to the Bright Ideas finals!
There was a lot of build up to this event, and a lot to memorize. I went first to pitch for “On Tap”. Unfortunately, I finally had one of those moments where my mind went completely blank… about 30 seconds into my pitch. I had to stop and ask if I could start over. This had never happened to me before! So, LESSON LEARNED – practice, practice, practice.
I then had to overcome that hurdle to move on to pitching with my team, and not let the morning affect my afternoon’s performance! Luckily I had a much shorter script in the group, and the delivery went well. In fact, our whole team delivered a very nice performance, and smashed it in the Q&A. We were feeling pretty confident leaving the room.
The rest of the day we got to relax. We went on to the awards ceremony that evening and were happy to discover that we had been awarded runner up for the Tyton case in the product category! We were happy to accept this award, and it was a great boost of morale for us as a team. (And not to mention a recovery of 70% of our total spending thus far!)
Now we are back to the grind. It’s fun and games in these competitions but much more of a hassle finding a manufacturer to actually make our product!
Tyton pulled it off and had everything ready that we could in time for the Trade Fair at the KU Business School. It was an interesting event, over 5 hours, where we explained our product to visitors and were judged in 4 different categories for a prize. In preparation for this event we ordered promotional materials (hoodies, the banner, business cards), and even teamed up with the David Lloyd’s in Kingston to provide a raffle for people who gave us their e-mail addresses. We are using these e-mail addresses to start our database and update potential clients about the launch of our product when we are ready!
The prototype we brought for the event was actually 3D printed using the printers at Knight’s Park campus (KU). We had a 3D model made and it was printed for about 12 pounds! (Definitely taking advantage of the resources provided to us by the university!)
We also used this event to discuss product pricing. We asked passersby what they would realistically pay for our product and recorded their responses. (Ultimately we understand that our product will be made differently and with more premium materials, so we don’t feel this data is quite accurate and we may need to adjust once our more developed prototype is made). We also got some feedback regarding our target audience and our channels for distribution which we are taking seriously and trying to research and refine at this point.
In the end we didn’t take home any prizes, but we were proud of ourselves and received some good feedback along the way!
Our team decided to participate in the Bright Ideas competition, which also meant we must attend the KU Trigger Weekend as a preliminary part of the competition process. We spent two full days at the business school over the weekend going over business plans, our strategy, guest speakers, and meeting with professional entrepreneurs before delivering a two minute pitch.
Some of the information was repetitive because we had already covered the models in our courses, however the biggest takeaways I found were from the guest lecturers.
Raj Anand is a digital media specialist and introduced me to the idea of “Growth Hacking”, (personal fan of any and all “hacks” over here). He showed us the marketing funnel also known as the “Pirate Funnel”, which can be used to figure out where to invest your time on marketing, and where you are getting the best results.
He stressed the amount of resources out there for startups to use for FREE. For example, Zapier, to connect your accounts together; Yamm, free mail merging to send mass e-mails to contacts; AYTM is a website where we can send out surveys for free to conduct market research; SEMRUSH can be used to check competition for the price of keywords on Google Ad words and other marketing agencies pricing as a part of SEO; and Upwork to hire cheap support often internationally such as website design.
His other tips included
Making a list of entrepreneurs that I know and their e-mail addresses in Google Drive to then e-mail and ask them all if they have suggestions about what to start a business in or for other questions
Join entrepreneur facebook groups for feedback and networking (ie. “London Entrepreneur Group”)
Use Facebook ads to test out the sellability of a product before producing it
Start presenting! E-mail to EventBrite groups, “Can I come speak?” tell them you will bring your Twitter followers, etc. Presenting = becoming a leader
We did some other networking exercises and I probably made at least 10 new contacts over the weeekend, and on the last day we pitched our ideas in small groups, and about 50 were to be chosen to move on to the next round to pitch in the Bright Ideas finals. I pitched for my own idea “On Tap”, and the guys pitched for Tyton case, and both were chosen!
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!