Namitha’s Reflective Essay

In 2015, I changed my focus from business school to culinary school, dreaming of owning my patisserie and culinary school one day. Food is something I am very passionate about and I joined Le Cordon Bleu, London to hone my culinary skills. By the end of that course I realised how much I am intrigued by the world of food but felt I was lacking the expertise to commercialise that love for food and my ideas that revolved around it. Hence, I pursued my Masters in Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship to further enhance my business skills and to bridge the gap. Time is flying by so swiftly and with this journey coming to an end I am feeling a myriad of emotions at the moment, with a series of memories flashing by. On one hand I am feeling some emptiness knowing I wouldn’t meet many of classmates and suddenly it seems like I have nothing to look forward to; while on the other hand I am happy that this the final blog post I will ever have to write and there are no more weekly assignments.

The crust of Design Thinking comes down to product development and the incubation process of a start-up. This process consists of the following steps, namely, empathize, define, ideate, prototype and test (Stanford, 2017). Due to some visa issues, I was unable to attend the induction week but during the first class I got a recap of Ideo which was highly interesting and thought provoking. It highlights the vision, concept and novelty of a product encouraging us to think outside the box (Brown, 2008). These have come in handy for me and my team through this course, assisting us in our team activities and product creation (Ideo, 2017).

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(Gibbons, 2016)

The fundamental objective of this module was to develop a product that solves a problem and commercialize it. From brain storming to physically selling the product to customers, we had to see the whole process through. The early meetings with my team went relatively slow, considering we were all just getting to know each other and we were overwhelmed by all the guidelines we needed to follow. We came up with so many ideas, including carry-on slippers, an umbrella that never gets wet, bag organizers and many more, but once we started researching the ideas we discovered that most of these products already exist or there are close substitutes to them. One day I lost my home town sim card, so frustrated about it I discussed it with my team mates and Manal came up with the idea of a sim card organizer that soon became our superstar, SimTrap. We spoke to many international students who had faced the same problem and we could validate it as a product that realistically solves a problem.

At the very beginning of the course I was pushed outside my comfort zone, I was asked to write blogs and be a very active person on social media, only to realize that there are no comfort zones in this course. As the course progressed I started understanding the several dimensions this course underlines and new environments I was exposed to. Writing blogs is not my forte and I do not completely enjoy it, but somewhere along this journey it has been boosting my confidence and preparing me to present to the outside world. It has also been an avenue for me to accept criticism and has made me realize that I would never be able to please everybody. Forming a team to work with was probably the easiest part of this module for me, fortunately I ended up with some great people who have become my friends for life. Of course, we had our own minor disagreements and conflicts but always looked at the bigger picture and the goal we wanted to achieve.

Eric Ries’s The Lean Start-Up has been a template and a guide to initiate the start-up process. He explains the primary activity of a start-up is the transformation of an idea into a measurable product in coherence to the feedback received from the target customers. I could understand the role a customer plays in the development of a product which introduced the concept of prototyping and ‘Minimum Viable Product’. Being a chef, it is mandatory for me to constantly experiment with new ingredients and recipes to be able to present a dish that is not just palatable but enjoyable. I would not be successful if I only create dishes that I cherish but have to incorporate the customer tastes and preferences as they will be my end consumer.

Entrepreneurship is perceived differently by people; and an entrepreneur is defined as an individual who assumes risks in a business and is responsible for its growth (Knight, 1921 and Drucker, 1990). Thanks to Young Enterprise and Bright Ideas I have reassessed myself and have been able to interact with experts who have taught us and showed us what entrepreneurship is and how we can develop ourselves into being efficacious entrepreneurs. David Knull, Ashley Clark, Fazl are a few mentors who have contributed to my team considerably and their advice has been one of the major reasons for us being able to participate in the Bright Ideas Final and be chosen as a finalist for the Young Enterprise Competition.

We were constantly taught to think with our hands and come up with prototypes of even the most adolescent ideas we had. Through the initial weeks, we had numerous ideas but only when we got down to prototype it did we realize the practicality of it and how flawed most of the ideas were. The 3D workshop was a new opportunity for me to physically be able to create things and have an insight into the mechanisms of a workshop. I started paying attention to minute details following the workshop, small details can have a huge impact on the finish and presentation of the product. We had made so many prototypes for SimTrap using plastic and card stock to have an idea about the design and features of the product. We even used the prototype during the first round of Dragon’s Den where we received a lot of feedback regarding the aesthetics and design of the product.

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(BBC.co.uk, 2014)

Fazl, from Young Enterprise asked us to focus on the design and packaging of the product which attract customers and further add value to the product. This was reiterated by Yash and Omar who run a Design company themselves. It was during that lecture did I understand the nuances that goes into the logo and branding of a product and the significance it holds. I have taken down notes with respect to typography and the details that needs to be kept in mind while designing a logo. I would incorporate these pointers when I start my own food business in the future as what meets the eye is what customers instantly relate the product to. We took the next few weeks to design the logo and packaging for SimTrap. Our logo was inspired by the circuit lines on a sim card chip and we used gold foil to add some dimension to the typography.

Even today I shy away from sales people who try and persuade me into doing a survey or sampling out a product but I was put in the same exact spot of the sales people repeatedly during trade fairs. In spite of me not enjoying the process I had to do it along with my team to increase sales and acquire customer feedback. I have never been a part of trade fairs nor have I been actively involved in selling a product directly to the customer, this environment was completely new to me and gave my team and me the opportunity to engage with consumers and conduct market research. This has been a trial run in teaching me how to ask relevant questions in order to receive coherent comments about are product. I can further develop this skill which will enable to understand my target customers for my personal food business and keep me involved with the customers.

The prospect of interacting with peers from different walks of life and having mentors from the business world has made this module more engaging and has taught me how to network and widen my circle. Some of the mentors we met during the Trigger Weekend and Bright Ideas Final have been pivotal in steering Sim Trap into the right direction. These industry experts have motivated us to think big and have a larger vision to achieve more in the long run and to keep the flame burning. One significant point I have learnt is to have additional revenue streams, even though SimTrap is a simple organizer we were pushed to think about the future of the product and different revenue streams to broaden our horizon.

Coming from conservative backgrounds, it was rather challenging for me to put myself out there to share my experiences and be active on various social media platforms. Communicating with target audiences and bringing together a community to help travellers travel hassle-free and bring together like-minded individuals was not easy, perhaps the most difficult out of all the tasks given to us. It is easy to be enthusiastic the first few days but the key to a growing business and retaining followers is consistency (Cohen, 2014). To constantly be in touch and post relevant, yet unique and exciting content has kept us on our toes throughout the semester and even though we tried we failed miserably at maintaining active social media pages. I personally feel I have not put in my best efforts into this but will soon have to, as this enhances communication skills which is substantial in the success of any business. We have learnt important aspects of social media strategies and catering to a niche market rather than posting generalised content that is redundant.

This course has aided me in identifying my strengths and weaknesses as a team player and the contributions I bring to the table. It has been an opportunity for me to reflect on myself and develop new skills which I would otherwise never had the chance to. Creativity is the idea generation process that is unique and relevant (Hennesey and Amabile, 2010). I am not a creative person but through this module I have teamed with creative people and explore a little of my own creative side that has motivated me to think differently and along new lines. For example; in my personal business, I will be able plate dishes creatively and introduce new ingredients and flavors that are unique to the market.

In all, the whole journey has been a roller coaster ride with a myriad of experiences which was strenuous but extremely intriguing and engaging. The practical skills along with the theories has been a unique blend which has developed me individually as well as academically. It has given me significant insight about the start-up process and touched on various components that are essential for building a successful career; such as, advertising, marketing, creativity, team building and entrepreneurship. The entire course has been extremely valuable and has equipped me the knowledge and skill preparing me to step out of my cocoon and fly into the business world.

 

 

 

References:

  1. 2017. Bbccouk. [Online]. [28 April 2017]. Available from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/dida/multimedia/multimedia_prototypingrev1.shtml
  2. Brown, T. Harvard Business Review. [Online]. [28 April 2017]. Available from: https://hbr.org/2008/06/design-thinking
  3. Cohen, D. (2014). Using Facebook ads to boost brand awareness. Available from: http://www.adweek.com/digital/brand-awareness/
  4. Drucker, P. (1970), Entrepreneurship in Business Enterprise, Journal of Business Policy, Vol: 1.
  5. Gibbons, S. Nngroupcom. [Online]. [28 April 2017]. Available from: https://www.nngroup.com/articles/design-thinking/
  6. Hennesey, A., Amabile, M. Mitedu. [Online]. [28 April 2017]. Available from: https://llk.media.mit.edu/courses/readings/HennesseyCrRev.pdf
  7. https://www.ideo.com/eu
  8. Knight, Frank H. (1921). Risk, Uncertainty, and Profit. Boston, MA: Hart, Schaffner & Marx; Houghton Mifflin Company
  9. 2017. Stanfordedu. [Online]. [28 April 2017]. Available from: https://dschool-old.stanford.edu/sandbox/groups/designresources/wiki/36873/attachments/74b3d/ModeGuideBOOTCAMP2010L.pdf?sessionID=1b6a96f1e2a50a3b1b7c3f09e58c40a062d7d553
  10. 2017. Theleanstartupcom. [Online]. [28 April 2017]. Available from: http://theleanstartup.com

 

 

 

 

 

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Heads up

During the first few days of this module I hoped to read a blog post from the previous batches to help out the new students, like myself. Unfortunately, they all wrote about their experiences confined to an important day or about them pitching. Nothing in terms of how to sail through the semester or what to look forward to, so here I am, writing this post with the hope of helping the future batches and sharing my little experiences and thoughts. A little disclaimer, whoever is reading this please don’t take anything personally and this post is not intended to offend or please anybody in particular.

To begin with, this module is very time consuming so be prepared to work your butt out and wait that’s not the worst part, you wouldn’t be graded for a lot of work you do, for example the weekly assignments you will have to do but won’t be market for it at all. On the bright side, these little tasks give you feedback that definitely helps you in the long run to perform better in the finals. During the initial week I did get frustrated and pressured by every class but once you get the hang of it and understand what the professors expect, it’s not as bad. We did get constructive feedback that helped us better our pitch and product. Some of the tasks demanded a lot of effort and time but didn’t really help me as a business student, for example, preparing the video to advertise our product was not my game. I don’t have a creative background and I found it extremely hard to put together the video along with my team mates as we were all business students. This brings me to my next point, choose your team wisely. This is by far the most important aspect of this module, the people you choose to team with will determine your fate during this course. Fortunately, we never had any major fall outs or disagreements and all my team mates have been equally involved, very supportive of each other. Even when we did have some minor conflicts we looked at the bigger picture and kept our objective in mind which helped us look beyond some differences. One of the things I enjoyed during the course is mix of classmates that we had, people from different courses and backgrounds bring a lot to the table making the lectures more interesting. I had a lot of firsts in this module, things I have never done or experienced before. As much as I was uncomfortable during the start I enjoyed it as time went by. Writing blogs, pitching, participating in trade fairs and the whole process of developing a unique product from scratch were all new and exciting to me, constantly pushing me out of my comfort zone.

I had a love hate relationship with this module, just when I begin to think this module was a mistake, I would be proved wrong. So many instructions and procedures to follow and many professors to deal with giving slightly different instructions makes this course more challenging than it already but if you’re ready for the roller coaster, I promise you a fun learning experience. Personally, I would recommend everyone to go through this module as you learn to deal with people and work under pressure preparing you for the big bad world. Hope this post gave you a heads up and wish you guys the very best!

SF Baby !

The much-anticipated trip to Silicon Valley happened and I was extremely excited to be travelling with my class, something I have never done before. The picturesque city, palm trees, relaxed vibe and the tech culture was exactly like what we had heard of and 4 days was not enough to experience it all. It was surreal to visit some of the global giants and speak to many of the big names in the industry. To be honest, it wasn’t all interesting and thought provoking to me but it was a big learning curve and an insight to the tech world where I have observed so many things.

 

The core of Silicon Valley is constant innovation and they manage to be 10 steps ahead of the rest of the world, from altering DNA’s to self-driven cars they are working on it all. Personally, I learnt the most from our visits to the Reddit HQ and the Silicon Valley Bank. These two places gave us all a real picture of the working of their companies contrasting to the other companies who showed us around their offices and briefly told us what they do. 

 

From my observations and learnings, design has become a vital component of every company in Silicon Valley and the Founders are now investing significant time and amounts into making their product/service to look aesthetically pleasing and more attractive. Design was repeated at every company we went to, and this is further reiterating the importance of design in any product.

 

Companies like Google, Square and Reddit are able to still be a major player in their industry because of their ability to change continuously and adapt to the external environment and changing customer preferences. Most of the executives we met with explained how important it is to keep changing with the times and to not be afraid of the future. Personally, I don’t cope well with change because it disrupts my comfort zone, but all of them advised us to constantly explore new ideas and to never get comfortable even after experiencing success; because it is not too long till a new player knocks you off your own game.

 

Another important aspect I observed was Financial Planning, ultimately it all comes down to making money which is why it is essential to keep the initial costs low and be realistic when planning for the future. It was evident that acquiring the confidence of a venture capitalist is a challenging task in the Valley, given the numerous opportunities and start-ups that are being born everyday which is why networking and meeting new people can significantly help.

 

It is not just from the companies but also from my classmates and Professor Yazid that I observed and learnt quite a bit. The myriad of questions that was put across the table and the various ways in which my classmates were thinking and applying it to their situations were very interesting. For example, when one of my classmates asked Salesforce what exactly their revenue model was and what they look for in employees during recruitment reflected how the companies engage with people and how they achieve their goals. It was also fascinating to see how even the top most person in a firm is available and easily approachable to everybody in the firm. I thought this open culture is very welcoming and it’s what differentiates the companies in SFO from the rest of the world. 

 

These are little but very important and crucial components that their make or break the brand and its image. It was an exhilarating experience to just listen to the people there and the whole chilled out vibe makes it an even more tempting place to work in, but honestly I have a soft corner for London and I believe I would not fit well in the tech companies in San Francisco.

 

We had some time left on our hands and we managed to see the magnificent Golden Gate in all its glory and visit the Alcatraz and the Pier. The view from these places were breath taking, making the bay area look even more astounding. Professor Yazid and all my classmates together made the whole trip and experience so memorable making it something wonderful to look back to.

Dragon’s Den – Final

After weeks of brain storming, planning and some serious discussions we were prepared to present Sim Trap for the last and final time. The first Dragon’s Den went great and we were hoping for the same this time as well as we made the suggested changes and incorporated the feedback to the best of our ability. In spite of having disagreements and minor conflicts, our team has been immensely supportive of each other and we all have contributed significantly throughout the course of the module which taught me a great deal about team work and working cohesively towards a goal. To make ourselves look professional and unified we all wore black on black, not many teams had taken the effort to dress up which made us look even better. Hours before the presentation I was nervous and insisted on rehearsing our parts a couple of times, as our time was nearing we felt slightly comfortable and were ready to put our best foot forward.

Our presentation was not very long and we had more than a minute left even after completing it, I was constantly observing the judges to make sure we weren’t too bad. And fortunately, the panel appreciated our presentation and loved our product, we were ecstatic. One of judges questioned us about patenting the design of the product, something which we never thought of all these months. The most interesting part was when the judges actually wanted to help us out for real, Janja had an EasyJet magazine for us with some contact information to further pursue sales and even Mike exclaimed how he knew the executives at EasyJet and could put in a word for us. It was at that moment we knew we were doing the right thing and we were finally at ease. We did get a few not so positive comments about our approach of expanding the business and finding buyers and about out financial forecasts. The judges felt we were not aggressive enough and we as a team completely agree to that, we still sort of looked at this as a part of a module and it was a little difficult to detach ourselves from that feeling. In the end we were very pleased with our presentation and a little part of me was still hoping to get selected to pitch for the Young Enterprise competition. Manal and I sat outside the class preparing for a quick 2 minute pitch, in case we got selected. Many of the teams presented very well decreasing our chance of being selected, none the less we were very happy that the Dragon’s Den final was better than expected and we were confident of scoring high.

A couple hours later we all gathered in a lecture theatre for the results to be announced and for overall comments and feedback. Yes!! We got selected!! It was one of the best moments I had in Kingston, we were on cloud nine. We were overwhelmed by all the love and motivation we got from all our mace classmates, moreover Professor Yannis and Professor Yazid, two of my most favorite teachers were also there to support and encourage the entire class making it a day to remember. Manal and I pitched together and I answered the two questions that followed; I did mess up a little during the pitch but Manal covered up and it wasn’t too noticeable. The whole environment was so positive and it was very inspiring to see all of us hooting and supporting each other, our energies were so high, we out did the undergraduates.

I was so relieved that the final Dragon’s Den was over and I could finally concentrate on my other modules. We had mixed experiences, most of which was completely new to me, the whole concept of coming up with an idea and developing it into a product and seeing the whole process through kept me on my toes and we could put our best together only because of our team, I have been very fortunate that way.

Mock Dragon’s Den

We were totally unprepared and a little over confident thinking we can easily sail through the mock Dragon’s Den, but no! It was an eye opener and a much needed opportunity for us to reassess our team and review our goals for Sim Trap. The judges at the mock encouraged us to look at the bigger picture and treat Sim Trap as a real business, as opposed to a module we just want to pass. We had to change our perspective towards the team and product, and we had to think of a much productive way to present our product at the final.

The primary aspect we were asked to reconsider and change was our early adopters and primary target consumers. Initially, our primary customers were international students in the UK and the secondary customers were frequent travelers and businessmen. The judges highly criticized this point and we were asked to do more research and focus on frequent travelers and businessmen as they constitute for a larger market with high disposable income. Not much could be done in the business plan report as we had submitted it by then but we had some hope for the final. Secondly, the judges gave us valuable suggestions regarding the marketing and sales for Sim Trap; they encouraged us to approach massive companies such as EasyJet, Vodafone to use Sim Trap as a perk or to give away as freebies at their promotional events. This sparked a few thoughts in our minds and gave us ideas to think along different avenues to create additional revenue. We started thinking about contacting universities to give away Sim Trap during their induction weeks and fresher’s gatherings. Last but not the least, the panel motivated our team to think about the future and the improvements we can make to the product. Although we did have some alterations presented in terms of customization and different materials, the judges were more interested in knowing about how we would grow the brand and develop the business. This part of the questioning was challenging to answer and we had to think about a realistic method of expanding a product that is simple and basic.

We were so caught up in our own little bubble and couldn’t readily accept the criticism and suggestions that were put forward. Thankfully, as the judges continued speaking and putting forth their comments we began to see how the different components were linked to each other. The mock Dragon’s Den was like a breath of fresh air, that our team needed, to step away from the closed claustrophobic thinking and be more objective to see what was best for the product and business instead of letting personal agendas come in the way.

Social media buzz

The importance of social media has been re-emphasised numerous times during the time of this course and its importance in running a business has been continuously highlighted. Until I joined mace, I have only been using social media as a platform to share my memories and events in my life, on a personal level to a limited circle of friends and family. I have kept my circle small because of my conservative and protective upbringing; but this is soon changing. I am being taught to have a strategy and choose my audience wisely; The content I post on various social media platforms must target and specifically cater to this audience to make it interesting and relevant. In my opinion, the various social media platforms is like a train and one compartment is interlinked to another. The more I am aware of that, I can channel the content to link the different platforms to tell a well integrated story. Every social media platform focuses on a distinctive approach of communicating, understanding this will further enable me to reach out effectively.

Social media is a fun and interesting marketing tool, that takes a product directly to the target consumers. It conveys the background of the product and its working virtually, thus intriguing the consumer to get their hands on it . From videos and tutorials on YouTube to user experiences on blogs to images on Instagram and Facebook it all complements one and another. Every tweet, comment or post must be well thought through and should be directed towards the business goals to constantly attract new users and more importantly retain the existing network.

As a part of Facile, we have created a separate page and account for Sim Trap where we aim to attract frequent travellers and potential users of the product. Sim Trap encourages hassle-free travelling and this has inspired us to post content about the same. Posts that provide travelling tips and hacks to carry less things and motivate users to be a tad bit more organised have been on play. Images of the actual product and its features are being occasionally posted to reinstate what our product stands for. Hashtags have been useful so far and we have got a few more followers through hashtags related to travelling. It has been challenging to reach out to people outside the known circle but we are hoping to eliminate borders and connect to people worldwide.

To sum it all, social media content must be interesting, relevant and well connected, this will lead to a great story and the journey will be exciting. The strategy must be cohesive with the business objective across all social networks, the progress can be measured which will better the online presence taking you one step closer to your goal.

For a little inspiration watch this:-

Trigger Boot camp and Bright Ideas

It so happened that we scored pretty well on our Bright ideas application and got invited to the Trigger weekend. It was an opportunity for us to polish our pitch and go over our product ideas. I honestly was not looking forward to attending the workshop since it ran over the entire weekend until 5 in the evenings. But I decided to drag myself on a Saturday morning and it turned out to be very helpful.

The first half of the day went by a little slow, getting to know each other and going over the lean canvas – which I did not enjoy as much as we had done it many times in class. But post lunch we had a mentoring session with coaches from different walks of life which was extremely interesting. It widened my thinking and they tapped into vital things we had not thought about for our product.

The coaches had expertise in different areas so as we spoke to them one by one we had more clarity and a broader vision. David Knull and Ashley Clark mentioned a very crucial point about creating additional revenue streams, which is necessary for the long run. And this is what helps in taking the business to the next level. They encouraged us to provide additional features for the future and start preparing for the improvised version of the product. Rishi Chowdhary asked us our biggest problem, and we explained to him how we are finding it challenging to find buyers for SIM Trap. He gave us a new avenue to knock on, he asked us to contact to travel agencies and travel experts who organize backpacking trips and holidays. He even suggested for us to approach travel bloggers who can help advertise and popularize our product.

Towards the end of Sunday, the coaches gave us significant pointers to better our pitch and we had a trial run amongst other teams, this gave us an insight of the people we are up against. The mock round of questions the coaches asked us prepared us for what we should be expecting at the final, these small details fine tuned our final pitch. In all, the trigger weekend was a boot camp where we were exposed to numerous ideas and people with enormous experience.

Soon after the weekend, we received an email telling us we were one of the finalists for the Bright Ideas Competition. The idea of winning some real money is what attracted us the most and we started prepping for the big day with a lot of hope and tension. The big day arrived, and with mixed emotions, we pitched our idea to a panel of 4 judges. The judges did not like our product too much is what we felt. For some reason, they were not convinced that SIM Trap was a “bright idea”. Initially, we were disheartened and a little ticked off as we got such positive feedback and appreciation from the coaches during Trigger. But once the winners were announced we could see that some of the participants had put in their heart and soul into their ideas and they were so passionate about it. At the end of the day, this is a module for us but for some of them, it was their future. Some of them were so unique and their ideas were truly beaming, and this set them apart from us all and it was the reason for their win. This competition was a huge learning experience and a big dose of creative ideas for us all.

Trade Fair #1

We set up our stand with an air of excitement and butterflies in our stomach. I must say, the rest of my team was way more confident than me about our product and pitch. We did not practice the pitch too much but we had talking points and decided to go with the flow. And so Sim Trap finally hit its first customers at the Kingston Business School Trade Fair, and we began to get responses.

The product was appreciated for its functionality and simplicity. At the same time, we know we need to refine the product to make it look flawless and polish the edges. Unfortunately, we did not put in any effort into the stand and the presentation of the product in the fair was not too appealing. The stand failed to convey the product clearly and did not attract as many people; this is where we lost points in the end as well. We put in so much effort into the product and packaging but miscarried the importance of the stand and its presentation. This has really taught us a lesson, it is time we saddle up before the next trade fair and start designing better stands.

Another space we could really improve on is the pitch, people valued our idea but did not exactly know how it was used or what we were selling until we explained the whole concept and working,

 

to them. I believe that a strong pitch can persuade the consumer to purchase the product and they should be intrigued by it.

The first hour went by pretty slowly, and we had sold only two products. By the third hour, we gained a little speed and sold nine more. I know it isn’t a big number but this fair was more about the process and a trial before we enter the real world.

Soon we headed to the prize ceremony, my team and I were standing with fingers crossed, hoping to win something. And we actually did!! We won the award for Best Product! Yay!! It was a memory to cherish and a perfect end to a tiring day. It felt amazing and we are sure that we are on the right track and headed towards a big goal.

Even though we got a lot of positive feedback, many of the judges pointed out on the lack of attractiveness in our stand. We definitely need to jazz it up a little for the round two. In all, it was a fun experience and an interesting story to add to our journey at mace.

Recapitulate

It’s almost New Years, people are asking each other about their plans for New Year’s Eve and their resolutions for 2017. This got me thinking about how this year went by and the things I need to start doing in the coming year. The decision to pursue a Masters Degree in Innovation Management has undoubtedly been one of the best decisions of this year and this course has been very unexpected (in a good way) in so many aspects. Here I am writing this post right before the deadline about some of the things I was exposed to in Design Thinking.

  1. Think with your hands – When you have a product idea get friendly with some art supplies and make a prototype. It’s only when you start making something you realize if it would work and that rough and imperfect prototype will magically be the solution to the many problems you anticipated.
  2. Your Teammates are your best friends – Choosing a team of like-minded people and working towards a goal in unison is pivotal. Coming up with ideas that everybody agrees on and working on the process in a unified direction is not easy which is why it is important to team with people who are alike. Having said this, it would also be resourceful if you have different perspectives on ideas, this would bring in diversity into the team. So make sure you form a team with people you can co-exist, work and chill with together because you would be spending a lot of time with these people.
  3. Observe and talk – It is not until you start observing people that you start paying attention to fine details. Don’t be reluctant to go and engage in conversations with people, this is when ideas are stimulated and it also prevents you from coming up with assumptions. People don’t mind being approached and they like to talk and be connected.
  4. Limited Attention – Be crisp and precise about the product, don’t ramble and beat around the bush. Get to the point right away and clearly communicate the idea, it is challenging to get people’s attention so when you do make use of it.
  5. Be open to feedback – You are not the end consumer so be open to feedback and try to incorporate it into the product. Even if you don’t agree with the feedback and suggestions don’t shut it down, listen to everything – you never know when it might come in handy.

This post has only touched the tip of the iceberg and is in no way a complete breakdown on the infinite things learnt on Design Thinking so far. Thank you for your time and all the memories we’ve shared so far.

May you all have a splendid New Years, see you in 2017! 🙂

Dragon’s Den

At last, the big day arrived, we mustered up all the courage and faced our fears. After weeks of brainstorming, prototyping and planning we pitched our product to the Dragon’s Den. Our team presented the treasured “SaveMySim”, a sim card case that can hold up to four sim cards and an access tool thus preventing you from losing them.

Thanks to my team, our energy has been great and I was less stressed and sailed through the presentation comfortably. It was only because of the joint effort and commitment we were able to come up with a product idea and a reasonable prototype.

Being flooded with coursework from other modules, we did not practice much before the final presentation, unfortunately. Feeling unprepared but still pretending to be confident we began pitching our idea. And to our surprise most of the feedback we got was positive. Two out of the three dragons liked our product and I can’t express how great it felt at that moment. Like we anticipated, all the dragons asked us to pay more attention to the small details. They also emphasized on the need for creative packaging and suggested we changed the name of our product to something less obvious more intriguing. Since it is very easy for other companies to replicate our product we have to focus on creative marketing strategies to reach out to as many as consumers possible. Our primary target consumers were international students in central London but the dragons wanted us to rethink this and consider travelers and business people.

I have learned so much just from the 15 minutes we had with the dragons. The feedback we got was so helpful and has given us better direction and clarity. Various dimensions and perspectives have urged me to not to settle for less but do our best to deliver a kickass product at the end.

The journey so far has been wonderful but I’m sure it’s going to gain more momentum after the holidays. I’m so relieved that we managed to pull this off and I’m ready to fly back home and spend time with my family!