A few weeks ago, legendary designer Jony Ive gave a rare public interview that was printed in TIME magazine. He may not quite be a household name, but if you’ve ever used an iPhone, iPod, iPad or iMac, you’ve experienced his iconic product design.
Steve Jobs went so far as to call Jony his “spiritual partner” when creating Apple’s game-changing devices over the last decade or more. The interview offers some great insights into Jony’s ideas, process and feelings on design and is a must-read for anyone in the design or technology industries. Also check out Leander Kahney’s 2013 biography “Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple’s Greatest Products” which I recently enjoyed, and if you have time, go back even further to design guru Dieter Rams where it all began.
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].
We attended the Celebrate Enterprise Awards Event to find out if we had won. So did we?
Unfortunately, we didn’t win the award not the money but we were chuffed to get this far. It was a rather good event, and I got to see what other interesting things other staff and students at the University had been doing and what they had achieved.
Le Petit Sac won, and it was very well deserved. Check out their website and see what they’re all about!
The networking event went down for me really well! I managed to secure two Logo design jobs! First, networking event where I actually got business immediately and I wasn’t even trying. Maybe that’s something I’ve picked up going to all the network events.
So although we didn’t win, I still went home celebrating :)
We had taken on board the feedback from the practice pitch and had included the financial statements into our pitch and slides. After practicing a few more times before the final pitch we fine tuned our individual bits so that we were more engaging and even more to the point then before as we had to leave ample of time to explain the financials unlike before.
Although we were all a little nervous we believed in our idea and we were confident about the pitch
It was time to shine baby!
We shook hands.
We answered their questions.
We thanked them.
We left feeling pretty good to be honest, it was a mixture of “yay it went well” and “thank God it’s over”.
The Dragons decided which teams were nominated to win £3000. The selected teams would have to do a 2 minute pitch in front of everyone without any slides. But were we one of them?
The answer is yes! They called out Hold-All! Although I had a good feeling about our pitch I didn’t think we’d get chosen as there was quite a bit of competition that evening. However, we did get through so that the judges definitely saw something.
We were given a few minutes to practice or come up with a 2 minute pitch….for us it was coming up with a pitch! We decided on what we should eliminate rather than what we should say which seemed to work. We got up to pitch and I was nervous, I’m usually good with presenting but the idea of winning the money got the better of me…luckily just for a for a few seconds. All of us were nervous and we were unprepared like some of the other groups. I think this quote sums up well as to how I was feeling during that time period:
“But it’s not because we’re afraid to fail. It’s because we’re afraid that we’ll succeed. That is what truly terrifies us.”
– Peter Coughter, The Art of the Pitch: Persuasion and Presentation Skills that Win Business
But we had pitched and it was over. I didn’t think we’d win the money but not because we weren’t prepared but more so because some of the other teams had really good ideas!
To find out if we won the money you’ll have to follow this blog :)
(Cheeky, I know)
One of the main lessons I learnt in the run up to the pitches is to know how important having confidence in your idea is. Believing and having confidence about our business plan is what the judges see before they even see your plan, its equally important if not more. We realised how important it was especially when we were questioned by the ‘Dragons’. They ask questions not only to find out more but to see if you know more too! If you respond back appropriately, they will see the confidence.
I found this interesting piece ‘How to be a smooth presenter, for those who are nervous’ which I think is worth reading before any presentation. I think we checked most of the things on the list except for resting well before the presentation. Unfortunately, I had a lot assignments due in that week so I had to burn the midnight oil.
Something to remember, looking tired is one thing but feeling tired is whole ‘nother level. You need to stay alert and be fresh on the day of your presentation. No one likes to listen to a presenter who is half asleep and tired. The enthusiasm might be there but if it doesn’t show your audience be it dragons or colleagues then no body will interested in even the best of ideas.
And lastly, don’t yawn! Your body language is everything and if you yawn especially when the dragon is speaking, that might just cost you.
We were given the opportunity to pitch Hold-All to the dragons to get some feedback on our pitch. This was great for us!
So we met up and practiced our pitch, we made a few slides to show the product and our even our pricing schemes. We all knew our product really well and we all pitched to a good standard and well within our time frame.
The dragons understood it and saw how feasible Hold-All is, which was really reassuring. They wanted to know more about our financial statements to see if it was a money making idea. They also asked about the manufacturing which thankfully we had done our research and our response showed that.
Overall, I think this was a great opportunity to practice our pitch, get some feedback on the our pitch, product and even business plan. After receiving their feedback I definitely felt more confident about Hold-All.
Hopefully, this confidence will show even more in the real dragons den pitch.
We decided to do some more research to find out whether people understood the product and the marketing campaign we created. Furthermore, we wanted to know peoples reaction to the product and their desired usage.
I knew this would take a bit more effort and time then the last time we did research and we’d have to do things a little differently to really check if people are just saying what we want to hear or if they really mean it.
3 methods were used:
We ran a drop box competition at Knights park. Entrants were asked to circle yes or no on a Hold-all post card to evaluate whether they would be interested and use the proposed product. Out of 100 postcards given to students, 68 postcards were posted in the box out of which 54 showed interest.
Posters were placed in the toilets at Knights Park campus. People exiting the toilets were asked whether they knew about Hold-All, the product and what the service offered. Out of 50 students asked, 38 students were aware of the brand name Hold-All, whilst 31 students knew of the locker concept. Of these 29 students were interested in the possibility of a locker system.
Participants wanted to know more about the availability of the lockers and how much it would cost to use. We realised even if the product is amazing and meets the needs of the tribe if the price is not appealing the product/service won’t really survive. So we decided that establishing pricing schemes had to be next on the list.
By using a bitlylink to direct students to the website we were able to track how many students visited the website during the day it was active on Study Space. 57 students visited the site using the bitly link.
Starting to get the hang of all this research!
After conducting the research at Knights Park and discussing our business idea with Corrine, we discovered that the scope of our tribe is limited in relation to our product as that there was a clear option for extending our tribe.
The problems our tribe experienced were also common amongst other artists, both inside and outside of education. Artists studios commonly have a severe lack of safe and accessible storage, which is a common problem when a large majority of studios are shared by a mixture of artists. In light of this information, we have decided to extend our tribe to serve all artists who need access to different sized storage systems. Our tribe will focus on artists based at art courses at universities, art colleges, private art schools and art studios.
This means we’ve gone from Kingston University art students to potentially artist all over the world, but for now we’ll start with London.
The main thing I’ve learnt here is that you may think your product works for X but in reality there’s also X1, X2 and so on.
Don’t limit your offering to a small tribe whatever you do.