It’s not an easy task for me to reflect on experiences of the past year, not because there is not much to reflect on but in fact the exact opposite. Unlike other modules New Venture Design (NVD) has been different, it’s been a journey that not only makes you ask “Why?” for everything but also makes you think outside the box.
As a marketing management student I have learnt a lot about buyer behaviour, managing brands, contemporary marketing amongst many other things. However, only NVD has emphasised the importance of starting with the consumer and understanding that they are not just the person at the end of the value chain. They are a co-creator now, and if utilised properly can help your company grow.
More lessons were learnt outside of the classroom and I think that’s the best way for a module like NVD. Unlike other modules that purely based on theories and case studies, NVD has been geared towards learning by doing rather than just studying. After all, a new venture is built on action and not just theory.
A question that I get asked a lot lately is “what are your plans after you finish University?”
As I have always been passionate about the creative side of marketing such as branding and advertising I’m hoping to get a job in an agency where I can gain some experience in the industry. However, working for even the best agency isn’t really what my goal is. For the last couple of years I’ve been doing a lot freelance graphic designing and recently have been focusing on bespoke wedding invitations. Whilst designing mainly for print rather than the web I have started to gain an interest into letterpress printing. So where I’d like to be in about in couple of years is have my own press and design studio. This is a bit a shift from working in marketing but I don’t see myself in the marketing field with my own agency anytime soon.
To have my own press and design studio I need to:
- Gain some experience in printing – although I know all the theory behind the various printing methods I’ve never actually worked with industrial printers/presses.
- Raise finance to start-up – to cover all initial start-up cost mainly equipment and material.
As letterpress is mainly used for items such as wedding invitations as it is costly I have to really be able to pitch my services to the customers as an investment into their wedding. However, printing and designing is a service that any individual or company may need at any given time, therefore it is important to decide if having a niche such as wedding cards will work best or not.
With the knowledge I have from studying marketing the experience I have as a designer I find branding fascinating. So whilst I don’t have my own printing press I will continue looking work in this area of marketing and also work on helping small businesses brand themselves.
A major component of the past year has been the opportunity to get to know and work with a very diverse cohort. This has helped in giving multiple perspectives of issues discussed in class and a chance for me to learn about more cultures. It is with these amazing people that are not just my peers but also my friends, that I have faced challenges such as Dragon’s Den to the fun moments in the drama hall making ridiculous (but helpful) sounds with the alphabets.
Outside of the classroom, it hasn’t been very difficult meeting new people and growing my network. I attended several Entrepreneurship events during the year and stuck around to network with guest speakers such as Levi Roots and other staff and students at the events. I even managed to secure two clients for some design work at one of the events just by overhearing the person next to me say, “I’m looking to get business cards made for my company I just need a logo”. I feel that I have understood the value and importance of networking more because of this. I have built relationships with many who will be graduates soon and will be working for themselves or in their chosen field, by connecting with them on LinkedIn I can know what they’re up to in the future. I hope I will always find some advice and help in them should the situation arise, just as they are welcome to find it in me.
NVD has helped me gain confidence when it comes to talking in front of an audience by giving us the opportunity to present our ideas in front of the class and even network with every peer. By asking us to talk to every student in the class individually and keep the conversation going. I believe being able to keep a conversation going is vital skill that one should have, and it’s not just the ‘gift of the gab’ but also 50% is down to listening to other person. In any business or personal situation being able to talk and listen appropriately can change how someone views you drastically.
The Bright Ideas competition was insightful task to say the least. I had my app idea, but the task required much more than just idea. It made me think about the elevator pitch, the need being addressed, the target market, the product itself, alternatives and competitors and even market entry. Something that I hadn’t actually thought about till this point was the range of competitors, for example, a car manufacturer not only has to compete with other cars but also other modes of transport such as motorbikes, bicycles, skateboards and even the option of just walking.
Both opportunities to pitch to the Dragons were a great experience as the first was done individually and the other with my group. Having a career in marketing will require me to pitch or present either on my own or with colleagues. It was beneficial to have the individual pitch first as it was the opportunity to have my skills judged and receive feedback on how to improve in the future. Based on the feedback I knew I could pitch, so it was important to make sure that I could pitch with other people and to make sure the team members could also pitch to same standard. I noticed one team member had very little confidence so we decided to practice and practice till it came naturally to all of us.
Going forward I would like to learn more about how I can bring the same level of creativity to selling my work as I did in creating it, Coughter (2012) talks about this in his book The Art of the Pitch: Persuasion and Presentation Skills that Win Business.
The number one lesson I have learned in NVD is to empathise with your chosen customers. If you centre your venture around their needs and wants your are more likely to have a product/service that will sell and succeed. To understand our customers we observed them, spoke to them and listened to them. In fact, empathy and observation are closely linked together and design thinkers observe the world in great detail in order to take a human-centred approach (Brown, 2008). It is only after we observed and empathised with them that we could start thinking about solutions to their needs. According to Wong (2010) there is an 85% chance a new product will fail when they come out in the market therefore it is important that we don’t just create something out of thin air that no one need but something that has a real purpose for a real market.
Lesson number two: Get feedback and more importantly use it. The feedback you receive can help you build something great (Innovation Management, 2011). That is exactly what my group did; we used the feedback gained from various sources to help make what could have been a possible failure a viable product.
This is the only module that I have had to blog for. I was a little worried at first mainly because I wasn’t sure I’d have anything to write about, I was so wrong. Week after week we learnt something new and had to take what we learnt and do something with it and then write a blog on it. Over the year, the blogs became longer and easier to write and I chose what I wanted to write about rather than just sticking to the topic of the class. The blog itself was a good way to reflect on everything that had been achieved so far and in some cases a reminder of what still needed to be achieved. I’m pleased I was given the opportunity to blog as I’ve now got the hang of WordPress and can put it down on my CV as a technical skill. I came to realise that I actually like blogging and using WordPress, which has lead me to create my own personal blog and a website for my freelancing work. Both sites are under construction but are using WordPress as the content-management system. I came across this great post on tips to make your blog stand out from the crowd by Rowse (2009) to make sure that when I launch my new blog it’s the best it can be.
To end, I’d just like to say thanks to everyone who has been part of my journey and that this is just the beginning.
Brown, T. (2008) Design Thinking. Harvard Business Review. Available at: http://hbr.org/2008/06/design-thinking/ [Accessed: 24 April 2014].
Innovation Management (2011) Asking the Important Questions: A Guide to Design Thinking And a Better Way to Serve Customers. Available at: http://www.innovationmanagement.se/2011/05/30/asking-the-important-questions-a-guide-to-design-thinking-and-a-better-way-to-serve-customers/ [Accessed: 24 April 2014].
Rowse, D. (2009) 13 Quick tips to Make Your Blog STAND OUT from the Crowd. Available at: http://www.problogger.net/archives/2009/02/05/13-quick-tips-to-make-your-blog-stand-out-from-the-crowd/ [Accessed: 24 April 2014].
Wong, E. (2010) The Most Memorable Product Launches Of 2010. Available at: http://www.forbes.com/2010/12/03/most-memorable-products-leadership-cmo-network.html [Accessed: 24 April 2014].