A Blue Glimpse Reflection

 

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The Beginning

         In January 2012, I did not have sufficient professional experience and believed that by studying a postgraduate course will enable me to attain diverse skills and knowledge. I accepted to do the MA Museums and Galleries, and the Creative Economy, as I thought that by gaining knowledge from both areas, museums and the creative industries, would be highly beneficial for a future career. The Museum and Galleries course expanded my interest in art institutions; taught me how art organisations are operated, how they stay connected to the community and visitors, and how to use scenario planning to predict uncertain scenarios and events. The Creative Economy course taught me about creativity and innovation, creative leadership and management, how to be an entrepreneur, the importance of leadership and managing creativity and innovation, how to start a small business and among many others. This two-course master’s has given me the opportunity to gain practical knowledge and experience that will hopefully benefit my future career in the creative industries, either a position in a Museum or in a Cultural District.  

      Before deciding what Master’s to accept, I had little knowledge on what entrepreneurship entailed and I only had a vague understanding what an entrepreneur was. Interestingly, it is argued that by learning entrepreneurship at school did not necessarily result to the fact that entrepreneurs will be more successful than those who did not study entrepreneurship (Ronstadt, 1990: p.69). The main appeal for doing this particular Master’s course was that I was given a chance to not only learn about entrepreneurship but also be given the opportunity to practice being an entrepreneur. The idea of forming a company and to function as a small business was nerve racking and also fascinating at the same time. However, not all people believe that entrepreneurship can be a career for others it is just a temporary career or project (Ronstadt, 1990: p.75). As this entrepreneurial experience was just part of the Master’s course I do not think I will pursue an entrepreneurial career. However, perhaps in the future I will want to start a small business of my own and then I will be able to apply what I learnt during my 8 months with Blue Glimpse.

       For my leadership assignment I designed a future high school class timetable where I replaced boring traditional classes to creative and practical life skill classes, for example I included an entrepreneurship class. I was inspired by a speaker on Ted Talk, who was promoting the notion of educating entrepreneurship skills to children as early as possible (Herold, 2010, Video). I am a true believer of entrepreneurship being taught in schools. These important skills will give children the confidence to be creative and innovative when finding solutions to problems, teach them to fail, and give them the skills to tell a story. Overall, I am highly grateful to of had the opportunity to gain and put into practice useful entrepreneurial skills over the last 8 months.

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Blue Glimpse (2013) Kingston Market Trade Fair 

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The Company

      Blue Glimpse is a start-up company running under the Young Enterprise programme, as part of the MA The Creative Economy. Blue Glimpse consists of four team members, including Celia Small, Manager, Karin Szerencsits, Head of Sales and Marketing, Sean Hearson, Finance Director and I was the Operations and HR Manager. Each role was considered important, however by being the manager there were a number of important leadership traits that Celia needed to implement. For example, the various traits leaders were expected to acquire included the ability to motivate people, evaluate, reward, and show support (Reiter-Palmon and Illies 2004). Being the Manager, Celia had the responsibility of being our leader and successfully managed to keep us motivated, rewarded us by suggesting non-business social events to attend, and supported our opinions and our input.

      So, how did we get together to form Blue Glimpse? Celia, Sean and Karin were Advertising MA students and invited me to join their team to become a young enterprise company. In the beginning, we were excited and eager to start the business together. On the other hand, if we had to repeat the course we would of socialised with our fellow master’s students more thoroughly to discover people’s experiences and backgrounds. This process of forming teams would have been ideal for the whole class, since some students were forced into groups and some were formed by friendship. Ideally, in the real business world employers do not get to choose who they work with. It is also suggested that teamwork is highly important as it encourages people from different skill sets, knowledge, and experiences to work together. Teamwork is beneficial to the success of a business (Leung, 2013: p.4). As Blue Glimpse consisted of only four team members, teamwork was a vital work policy. In any business teamwork is an important work policy as it encourages the sharing of knowledge, experiences, and ideas. It is thought that positive teamwork ethics gives team members a positive key position and voice within the team (Dasgupta and Gupta, 2009: p. 207). Personally, the whole company experience has been a learning curve, however I would argue that our product has been quite successful as Blue Glimpse has managed to sell 200 Jabels. Furthermore, Blue Glimpse has won two awards, such as the Bright Ideas 250 award and Best Product Pitch at the final Young Enterprise trade fair and awards ceremony. Blue Glimpse also had the privilege to meet the Prime Minister’s advisor on enterprise, where we had the opportunity to promote our business, our product, and our entrepreneurship in practice module. At trade fairs we were interviewed and photos were taken of our stall and company, which lead to our exposure in Newspapers and online News articles. Most importantly, the success of our business is a result to the collective success of the team. On the contrary, it is assumed that it is not ideal for creative people to work alongside other creative people (Chamorro-Premuzic, 2013). Fortunately, Blue Glimpse did not have this problem as over the 8 months we have worked well as a team and have respected and supported each others input and opinions. Each Blue Glimpse team member was part of the decision-making, which gave each of us an assertive role and voice within the company. Blue Glimpse was a strong believer of working in flexible and stress-free working environments (Chamorro-Premuzic, 2013). Our main office was in Celia Small’s family kitchen, which meant that our office meetings were in a comfortable environment. Our meetings outside the office would be located at various restaurants and cafes including Byron burger and Starbucks.

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Jabels (2013) Hong Kong

 

 

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The Product

      Our Design Thinking module taught us that the best way of coming up with a product is to find a problem in society first. Once you find a problem you need to find a solution, which is the product or service. After a few days of observing the public and searching for problems, we had a meeting and it was Sean who suggested that we design a product that will help people to stop throwing wasteful amounts of food away. Sean identified the problem of people constantly throwing away half empty jars as a result to people not keeping in track with their food products expiry dates. People were also forgetting when they had opened certain food products and what the content was in containers in the fridge. We all agreed that this was our problem and the next step was to come up with a solution, our product. After a few sessions of brainstorming ideas Blue Glimpse came up with Jabels, which are reusable labels that allow the customer to manage their food products more efficiently. The Jabels are made out of silicon rubber, they are sustainable, and there is a slight stretch to them. Jabels fit around various sized jars and also a range of small tupperware boxes and they are freezer and dishwasher proof. What makes Jabels unique and different to its competitors is that customers can write on the surface with a white board marker pen and simply wipe the text off with a cloth and water. Jabels help customers avoid wasting their food by labelling jars and tupperware boxes with dates of expiry or the dates of when the container was opened, which also allows customers to keep a track of their food. It is believed that a good design has ten recommended qualities (Riley, 2013), and out of these qualities Blue Glimpse believes that the Jabels design is innovative, makes a product useful, aesthetic, makes a product understandable, honest, long-lasting, thorough, and as little design as possible.

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Blue Glimpse Website (2013)

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Marketing and Communication

      Jabels were mainly sold at the trade fairs we attended this year, such as Kingston University and Kingston Market Square, as well as strong personal selling to friends and family. It is commonly thought that word of mouth is time-consuming and today facebook and twitter are more efficient as one can quickly upload news to vast amounts of friends instantly (Qualman, 2013: 1). Karin also set up an online store on our Blue Glimpse website where customers where able to order Jabels via email. Unfortunately, it is uncertain how many people visited our website and no one contacted us to buy products. We have a facebook page, which we knew was not going to generate any selling of Jabels but it would help publicise our company’s journey, recent activities, and achievements. We were talking about making a video advert and having it posted on Youtube. We thought that it would be fun to create but we decided it was not a necessary marketing tool as it would not reach our target audience. We created a twitter account but found it difficult to remember to constantly tweet updates. The team also thought Jabels targeted audience were not twitter enthusiasts. At trade fairs we handed out flyers to our customers and anyone else interested in our products. I was quite surprised that most customers asked if we had business cards. I thought business cards would have been a beneficial move for the company but the rest of the team disagreed, so our card designs were never produced. The biggest benefit of social media that is has global qualities that enable users to remain connected and reconnect with people who are all over the world (Qualman, 2013: 2). On the other hand, some argue that facebook is not necessary for small businesses due to the fact that even if a business facebook page gets roughly 5,000 likes, this only means that only 1% to 5% of the visitors will receive, on their feed page, the businesses updates posted. Businesses will then have to pay facebook from £3.00 to £198.00 in order to enable their posts to reach roughly between 500 to 50,000 people (Dekel, 2013). Perhaps, if Blue Glimpse decides to continue running the business then the team will have to decide on either to continue with facebook or to delete it. Personally, I think a facebook business page is unnecessary.

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Blue Glimpse’s Regrets

“Fail, Fail Again, Fail better” Beckett, S.

    The main regret Blue Glimpse has is with our target audience research, we should have listened to what our first Dragon Den judges told us. Since the beginning we were targeting the wrong customers. As a team we did not research our target audience thoroughly, we sent out surveys and found that it was the older generation and mostly females that were going to use our Jabels. It is thought that the businesses that have a correct understanding of their target audiences develops faster and more efficiently than those who do not know their target audience properly (Dizik, 2013). Clearly, knowing your target audience is one of the key factors to a successful business. Furthermore, it is believed that there is ten major questions businesses need to ask before determining their target audience (Dizik, 2013). Moreover, if Blue Glimpse were to repeat the experience again the main questions we would ask ourselves before determining our target audience will be who would pay for my product or service? Am I overestimating my reach? What does my network think? Are we making assumptions based on our personal knowledge and experiences? How will we sell our product? How will we find our customers? And is there room to expand our target audience? I believe that if we had asked these questions before deciding on a target audience then Blue Glimpse could of targeted the correct audience and could have been more successful.

    We mainly focused on jar food products such as jams and condiments but soon realised from our trade fair customers that people are more likely to buy our products if we offered a range of different sized Jabels to fit around larger tupperware and jars. It occurred to us that more and more people are cooking their own food and putting their leftovers in tupperware and putting them into the fridge or freezer. I believe that if Blue Glimpse had produced larger Jabels as well as the original standard sized Jabels we would have been able to sell more products.     

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The End Is Nigh

        We survived our final Dragon’s Den session and have now sold all of our products, unfortunately we did not win to go to the National competition but we have enjoyed running a small business. We are extremely proud of our company and our product and believe that there is a need for Jabels. At the moment, it is undecided if Blue Glimpse and Jabels will be continuing. If we were to continue our business we will look into a more environmentally friendly material that will be recyclable, expand our product to multiple colours, contact manufacturers to inquire if we could produce a range of different sizes, and start targeting our correct target audience of first time parents and people with babies. Overall, I have learnt many skills and gained memorable experiences from this project including teamwork, co-creation, creative management and leadership, sales skills, and presentation competence.

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Bibliography

      Chamorro-Premuzic, T. (2013) Seven Rules for Managing Creative-But-Difficult People, Harvard Business Review, Weblog, (Online), 2 April 2013, Available at: http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2013/04/seven_rules_for_managing_creat.html?utm_source=Socialflow&utm_medium=Tweet&utm_campaign=Socialflow Accessed 13 May 2013

     Dasgupta, M. and Gupta, K. R. (2009) Innovation in Organizations: A Review of the Role of Organization Learning and Knowledge Management, Global Business Review, (Online) Vol. 10 No. 2, p. 207, Available at: http://gbr.sagepub.com/content/10/2/203.full.pdf+html Accessed 23 May 2013

    Dekel, E. (2013) Facebook Pages Are a Bad Investment for Small Businesses, Forbes, (Online), 22 January 2013, Available at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/elandekel/2013/01/22/facebook-pages-are-a-bad-investment-for-small-businesses/ Accessed 24 May 2013    

      Dizik, A. (2013) 10 Questions to Ask Before Determining Your Target Market, Entrepreneur, (Online), 15 April 2013, Available at: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/226360 Accessed 13 May 2013

     Herold, C. (2010) Cameron Herold: Let’s raise kids to be entrepreneurs, TedTalks, (Video), June 2010, Available at: http://www.ted.com/talks/cameron_herold_let_s_raise_kids_to_be_entrepreneurs.html, Accessed 24 May 2013

       Leung, M. M. (2013) Managing Creativity and Innovation, MA The Creative Economy, Kingston University, Essay, p.1-11   

       Reiter-Palmon, R. and Illies, J. J. (2004) Leadership and creativity: Understanding leadership from a creative problem-solving perspective, The Leadership Quarterly 15, p. 56-57

      Riley, W. (2013) Startups this is how design works, Available at: http://startupsthisishowdesignworks.com/ Accessed 24 May 

      Ronstadt, R. (1990) The Educated Entrepreneurs: A New Era of Entrepreneurial Education Is Beginning, Chapter 5 in Kent, C. Entrepreneurship education: current developments, future directions, Greenwood Publishing Group, p.69 -75

     Qualman, E. (2013) Sociolnomics: how social media transforms the way we live and do business, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Second Edition, p.1-2

 

 

Blue Glimpse Survived the Final Dragon’s Den

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On Friday 3rd of May, 9 MACE business groups arrived at Kingston University eager and ready to impress the final Dragon’s Den Judges.

At the end of the day there could only be two winning teams. These teams were then awarded and given the privilege to represent London and Kingston University at the Young Enterprise National competition.

The week before, end of April, we had a Mock Dragon’s Den at Kingston with three friendly but critical judges. The Mock Dragon’s Den gave us the opportunity to test our speeches and see if we could deliver the presentation within the 8 minute time slot. 8 minutes isn’t a long time when four people have to talk, we managed to go one minute over. The judges told us we needed to work on our finance section, we needed to make it flow better. We were told that the best way to present finance is by telling a story. Because we were the last to present on the day we had a 3 hour wait in between our morning class. So when we got into the mock dragons den apparently we had no energy and spirits. Our Design Thinking professor told us that when we walked into the room we looked like we were going to kill each other. That was definitely not the case, I think we were a bit tired from the long wait.

We had a break over the weekend and thought if we just dedicate one day, thursday, to perfect our presentation we should be ready and confident for the Final Dragon’s Den.

Blue Glimpse spent the day before the final dragons den at Celia’s house (Blue Glimpse Manager). We had a delicious lunch out on the terrace in the sun then we spent an hour practicing our presentation. Our tactic was to keep doing it until it we were sick of our speeches. We also managed to deliver our presentation under 8 minutes. We got more confident with our parts and so it started to flow better.

D-Day. Blue Glimpse team dressed the part, we were simple but stylish. We wanted to look professional yet simple to match our product, Jabels. We met up an hour before our presenting time slot to give us time to print out our business report and practice our presentation three times before heading to the allocated room. There were two separate Dragon’s Den judging rooms, so our 9 teams were separated. Each team had time slot of 20 minutes with the Dragon’s. This meant we had 1-2 minutes to set up, 8 minutes to present and 10 minutes for feedback and questions from the judges.

Our presentation was perfect, we were energetic and kept our smiles throughout the whole presentation. There was no hiccups and no mistakes, we were really proud of ourselves.

The advantage of being one of the first teams to present was that we were able to celebrate the end of our presentation with a bottle of wine outdoors under the warm sun. Gradually, our fellow classmates started to join us after finishing their presentations to celebrate and relax.

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Some of the MACE business teams celebrating their Final Dragons Den
Blue Glimpse: 42: Easthetic: Buttons

At 5pm the overall winners were announced. The winning teams had to present their 1-3 minutes pitch to the entire room and answer two additional questions.

The two winning MACE teams were…………….

 42 and Ferox

Afterwards, we were approached by two of our Dragon Den judges congratulating us because apparently Blue Glimpse was very close behind Ferox. The reason why Blue Glimpse did not win was because we were targeting the wrong audience. The judges also said that our presentation was outstanding but only if we had the correct target audience.

It was a shame that we were not one of the teams to go to Nationals but we are extremely proud of our MACE teams 42 and Ferox in winning.

Jabels… JABELS… get your JABELS!!

A few weeks ago, despite the freezing wet weather we faced the Kingston Market on a Thursday afternoon.

One major problem we were faced with.. who is going to go to Kingston Market on a Thursday between 3-5pm??

Surprisingly, we had a few customers and we sold about 4 packs of Jabels. We are proud to say that we only have limited stock left. We have one more trade fair at Kingston University, Kingston Hill Campus at the Business School on the 9th of May.

Towards the end of the fair it started to rain so we had to take shelter in the hall in the middle of the market.

We didn’t win any of the awards on the day but we had fun and are proud of our fellow MACE students who managed to win all the awards that day

Here are a few photos from the day

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Blue Glimpse: Kingston Market Trade Fair

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Blue Glimpse: Karin

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Navigator

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42: Tabli

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42: Tabli – Ivo and Anca

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MACE students and Undergraduate students stalls at Kingston Market

Blue Glimpse’s first ‘Dragons Den’ session

This was the day we had to put our pitching skills and our product, JABELS, to the test.

We met up earlier to practice our 5 minutes speech. Through our first three practices I found myself laughing during my teammates speeches. The laughing caught on and one other teammate started to laugh with me. It was a nervous laughing and I was worried I was going to start laughing in front of the dragons.

Nervously, we headed towards the den. As there were 9 business groups we were spilt into two different dens. Pinned on the doors were the allocated business groups for each den and the order of presentation. We were last to present.

Each room had 7 dragons. The panel of dragons were people from different professional backgrounds. Each group presents for 5 minutes then there was time for questions and feedback from the dragons.

Dragon’s Den begun and I couldn’t stop shaking.

It was our turn. My stomach flipped. We stood up and positioned ourselves in front of the dragons.

Phew… No mistakes and no random laughing fits, our presentation went well.

We got good constructed criticism from the dragons. They weren’t convinced about our target audience, women over 30 years old. It was suggested that we could aim at a younger demographic group like university students living in shared houses or carers looking after elderly people. A dragon asked us if we were going to look into producing different sizes and look into producing Jabels that will fit over tupperware boxes. (My team and I had already had the discussion and we understand that more people use tupperware to store food in the fridge) In response we said that we our main focus right now is jar sized Jabels but we are interested in looking into producing larger sizes.

A dragon suggested that we could make stickers instead. I was a bit taken back. I had already explained in my speech that the problem with sticker labels is that the sticky glue gets stuck onto the jars surfaces and it takes a lot of effort to get rid of. Jabels are efficient and re-useable, after writing on the Jabels you can wash the text off with water and soap.

Towards the end a dragon admitted to us that he would not use the product but one another said that he was very impressed and that he would buy our products.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have our final product with us at the dragon’s den but we made prototypes. We bought charity bands and sheets of whiteboard. We cut the white board into pieces and stuck the pieces onto the rubber bands.

Here are photos of our Jabels prototypes

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The final product of Jabels are made out of rubber.

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P.s Blue Glimpse have their final product, JABELS, and are ready to sell

* More posts about JABELS will appear over the next few weeks.

Blue Glimpse: Jabels

This semester we got involved with Young Enterprise London with Dwain Reid, British business mentor.  Young Enterprise gives young entrepreneurs a chance to get an early start in learning skills and vital techniques for starting up a business from scratch. Young Enterprise hold workshops every month where the entrepreneurs can discuss their ideas and pick up vital skills in relation to starting up a mini business and coming up with a product. We got into small groups to form our mini business. In our group we have Celia our Business Manager, Karin our Marketing director, Sean our Financial Director and me the Business’s HR and Operations person. Our Business is called Blue Glimpse. It took us a while to come up with this name, it was only an hour before we went on the computer to register our business did we agree on the name. I did wonder if it took this long to come up with a name would it take us longer to come up with a product.

The next task was to open a bank account with Santander and come up with a product. The product can be anything except from a food and drink product. We could come up with a new product or a better version of a product that is already in the market. Our business group had to go back to basics and use the skills we learnt in our Lean Start Up two-day workshop with Eiwei Chen (my first blog post).  As it was hard to meet up during the week we had to observe the public as much as we can and try and look for a problem.  I went to St Pancras and Kings Cross Station, observed people on the buses, bus stops, Clapham common, on the trains, on the streets, in the gym etc.  I went to a house party and asked the people there. Two people suggested I come up with an umbrella that was made from quick dry material. I told them that it had already been done, I was sure we had those umbrellas in Hong Kong. I still couldn’t find a potential problem we could use for our business.

It was coming up to the product deadline and I was starting to panic. I told my group and we finally found time to meet up and discuss our ideas. We all liked Sean’s idea about a fridge system allowing people to know when their food was going to go off, I definitely have that problem in my house we tend to forget what we have in the fridge and it goes mouldy and we have to throw it out. We all then had a few days to try and come up with a product that would help people organise their fridge and allow them to know when their food product will be out of date.

We all agreed on rubber band labels to go over containers. I thought the best idea was to have a tag attached to the rubber band the labels will be erected allowing people to see the tags at the very back of the fridge. I also thought that the rubber bands were going to go on tupperware containers, I thought we were going to aim to target young people who like to cook for themselves and use containers to put their left over cooked food in and who forget when they cooked it. I thought our product was to help people avoid wasting their food in the fridge. However, my team had already decided on Jars.  Jam jars then narrowed our target audience but with the limited time we had we all thought it was a good idea. People usually use jars for home made jam, chutney, sauces, and salad dressing.  Then if the jar labels are popular then we thought that we could extend our product to different size labels, which could then fit over different size jars and containers.

We had to come up with a product name. Sean coined the word ‘Jabels’ by putting the words jar and labels together.

When trying to come up with a product name and a company name we had the problem of coming up with names that had already been done. Once we came up with names we would google search the company or product name. We were lucky that Blue Glimpse and Jabels weren’t taken.

Ideally we want our product to be a rubber band with a white board tag attached allowing people to write on the tag, wipe it off, and write on it again. We want our Jabels to be re-useable.

We needed to make a prototype before our Dragon Den session, 5 minutes to pitch our product to 7 business professionals. Celia managed to buy rubber wristbands (2012 London Olympics) for our prototypes. We found out that we could write on the rubber band directly with white board markers and wash it off. However, we need to test this more when we have our final product and see if this can be done.

Sean and Celia researched and contacted potential UK rubber band manufacturers. We wanted to ask the manufacturers if it was possible for them to embed a white board piece into their rubber bands. But the manufacturers were a little confused on the idea. So we thought if we could test our idea of customers writing on the rubber band directly more thoroughly then it could potentially be our final product. Celia found an online rubber band website where you can customise your own band. However, we thought it was a good idea to play it safe for Dragons Den and so our prototype had the rubber band with white board cut out pieces glued to the bands. This allowed us to demonstrate the writing and wiping away of the texts.

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More blog posts on Blue Glimpse, Jabels, our Dragon Den session and our trade fair experiences will be posted in the new year.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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