Travelling during the Summer

The summer is coming. It has already arrived, but for me it did not start yet. At the moment I am working day and night on my dissertation in order to finish it as soon as possible because I need desperately a holiday. A real holiday.

Next week my boyfriend is coming to pick me up and then we are going to travel by car downwards, towards the very south of Europe: Sicily.

First of all, before leaving, I have to see a place important for me (and my childhood): it “Platform 9 and three-quarters” at King’s Cross Station, I have grown up with Rowling’s Harry Potter, and its my duty to go there and see it. Next, the other two things that I really want to see before leaving England are Stonehenge and the Isle of Wight.

After leaving the UK, we will stop in the Netherlands, precisely in Lisse. Lisse is a tactic place: ts half an hour from Amsterdam, it 15 minutes away from the North Sea, its 40 minutes awaya from The Hague, 2 kms from Keukenhofbos Gradens, and 3 hours away from Bruxelles.

Amsterdam View

Me in Amsterdam 2009

In fact, the next stop will be Bruxelles. I have never been to Bruxelles, so I really do not know what to expect, but I have done my reading, and it sounds pretty interesting! On the way to Bruxelles we will also stop in Bruges, a small town near the North Sea. The medieval old town was declared World Heritage by UNESCO in 2000. In 2002 the city was European Capital of Culture together with the Spanish city of Salamanca. So, since I am there, why not go to have a look?

Obviously, the next stop before arriving in Milan, will be France. I wan to go to Paris because its ages I don’t go, and everyone knows that Paris is the romantic city! I want to see again the Tour Eiffel, Notre Dames, go on the bateau mouche sur la Senne, visit Versailles garden and if there is time: Disneyland Paris! Yey!

The next, but not final stop will be old, grey, humid and hot Milan, which, on my good days I miss.

Castello Sforzesco and Parco Sempione

Arco della Pace

After staying a bit with family and friends back home and completing my dissertation, we will leave again for our sea-side trip. First of all we will stop in my summer-house in Liguria, in this place where I spent my childhood: Alassio.

After a couple of day there the real Italian South is waiting for us, with all its food, beauty and warmth! First we will go in Calabria, where my boyfriend was born, and then we will go to Sicily.

Taormina, Sicilia

The best Granite of the World

Last year we went to Taormina, where they have the best granite on earth (I am not joking! When you eat them, you can hear angels singing!) A very beautiful place, but there are too many people and too many tourists, so this year, we have decided to go to San Vito Lo Capo.

San Vito Lo Capo is paradise. Italian travel all over the world, and never realise that they have the best places in front of their eyes.

San Vito Lo Capo

Now I am in grey rainy London, and the only thing that I can think is of throwing myself in the picture above. Oh! I can’t wait for the holidays to begin!

PS.

16th of September is relatively near, aaaaah still more 68 days to go!

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End of Academic Year Reflections

Since middle school I already had in mind what I wanted to do when I ‘grew up’; in 11th grade I already knew in which university I wanted to go for my under grad degree; and since after my exchange programme in the second year of university, I already knew that I wanted to go in a foreign country to study for my master. So, here I am, at the end of it all.

It has been a long year with new interesting challenges that we had to face as an individual and as a group. Design Thinking and Entrepreneurship in Practice has been a very dynamic module where we learned “by doing”, “by observing” and sometimes “by failing”.

Empathy

Empathy has been the first thing that I have learned in Design Thinking module. It has been defined in the dictionary as:

1. The intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.

2. The imaginative ascribing to an object, as a natural object or work of art, feelings or attitudes present in oneself: By means of empathy, a great painting becomes a mirror of the self.

So, empathy is very complicated to explain, but easy to feel.

In a few words, we could say that empathy is understanding others, because maybe we had a similar experience or feeling. I have learnt that empathy is important in many aspects of life: from family, to friendship and down to business. In my opinion, understanding others, many times is crucially important because your communication skills, social awareness, ability to relate with people will only become better. In addition, it is a good emotional experience that can connect designers with customers, especially through prototyping.

Observing

At the Frieze Art Fair  was my first real attempt in concentrating to observe the surrounding environment, people and objects. London was still a new city to me and everything fascinated me. The fair experience taught something about the job of the arts: think about things under a different perspective in order to create… creativity. Moreover,

“The art we buy is as much about who we are as it is about the artists who create it” (Klonoski, 2010),

so observing what was around me in a new city taught me to keep always my eyes open because:

“Things that seem for the moment meaningless or irrelevant, using the twists and turns of the creative process, lead you back to an important encounter that at first seemed quite neutral or even something that made you feel repelled or exasperated” (Smith, 2008).

User Model

In this module I have learnt that a system is a set of interacting entities forming an integrated whole, in our case creating the User System Model.

“By visually mapping out the relationships in this way, it becomes easier to identify which aspects of the system may or may not be included in the solution or considered by the designer. This ‘USER’ system model acts as a framework that identifies first, the people involved in an activity and secondly, how objects, roles and rules can be adjusted to improve the overall experience for the user and people involved” (Beaumont, 2010).

Comparing two different but similar systems so important to todays society, such as the public transportation, made me realise how important is to think about the end user when designing a product or service. The main thing that a designer has to do is to look closer and ask him/ herself a few questions that will help realise how efficient and beneficial his or her innovation and creativity will be to a few people or to the world. In life, and in business, we all have a common goal: make things right, and analysing the surrounding environment with the USER model, helps us to understand that everyone has an important role.  

Design Thinking

Innovation and creativity are the hot words in today’s conversations and discussions. In the module, we learnt that creative design is everywhere and puts the end user at the centre of attention. However, design is not just about beauty and coolness, but it tackles a whole range of creative business issues. In fact, Design Thinking wants to create value in the world through an innovative approach.

An interesting thought that I have learnt in this module and that I want to bring with me in my future is that “…great creativity…” (Hobsbawm, 2009) could save the world  and a very effective example is the Do The Green Thing website.

In fact, during the entire MACE course we tried to define creativity. The best definition that I found comes form Bilton and Cummings (2010), who define creativity as a

“temporal system with three levels,”

which are the content, the outcome and the process. The content of creativity should be new and valuable to society or surprising in a social context. The creative outcome transforms the surrounding environment, opening up new possibilities for future creativity. Lastly, the process of creativity describes the interactions through which creativity occurs (Bilton and Cummings, 2010).  Moreover, the main outcome of creativity must be change (Bilton and Cummings, 2010) and it occurs through the organisation of existing elements into a new useful solution (Testa, no date).

Storytelling: Blogs

Before starting this course, I have tried to set up a blog, but with no success. Since I missed the first class of Design Thinking, the day that I got there I already felt that I had so much to catch up: WordPress blog, Twitter, Delicious, KU email account, check weekly MACE blog, ect. and I did not know where to start.

One day I got my MacBook, and with the company of my favourite radio channel, I started to struggle setting up all these new things. Things that later during the year started to have a shape, meaning and where of real help with my studies. The funny thing is that once I realised how delicious was helpful for my studies, yahoo decided to shut it down  (Heals, 2010), but fortunately Corinne told me about Diigo, which I recommend, especially for dissertations or other projects for the ‘useful websites’ section.

However, now I feel that I have become a good blogger and actually enjoying it mainly because I blogged more than I have been asked to. In addition, I see my blog as a sort of portfolio for my job seeking, since many firms have the norm to google your name. At the end of the day, the blog is telling a story, and in my case it tells the story of my studies, of my passions and interests, see it as a very long and descriptive personal business card, because that is what it is.

Always concerning story telling, I told to Federica Postiglione, GA Manager for pazienti.org and my mentor for this module, the story of my dissertation in oredr to help me to join the dots. She told me that accessible information and transparency is the key behind healthcare communication. The lesson that I learnt is that patients are not just medical record numbers, they want to feel understood and, at the same time, they want to understand what a doctor is saying to them. That is why healthcare communication is very important: ordinary people want to be sure to whom they are giving their health and doctors should communicate their skills in a clear and direct way. So, what Brown (2006) argues:

“…choose a problem, tell a story, offer a solution…”

which is very important concerning many aspects of communicating with people,such as consumers.

Business: Innovate Group

Setting up and running a business was entirely a new challenge for me. At the begging I could not think of what it could be done as a business, because I wanted to be creative and innovative as possible. One night, while I was watching the finale of Ramsay’s Best Restaurant and I saw two young chefs dealing with innovative Italian food. At the end of the meal they served a lemon sorbet accompanied by an artificially created lemon vapour, so that the consumer could use all its sense and try a 360° new eating experience. So, I thought, why not create a 360° experience also for university life?

At the end of the academic year the Innovate Group managed to give this possibility to the students, helping to create and develop the BizBoard. The main experience that we managed to give to out target audience is a touch of real life and this happened in giving them the tools to set up and run their own business, and in a way to create their own future. The main challenge faced in running a business was obtaining the critical mass and create awareness about the service. As I wrote:

“To make popular our business: we have to make sure that we are well-known. We will tackle this goal firstly giving out leaflets at the different university campuses and hopefully with word-of-mouth.”

Unfortunately it was easier said than done. I realised that people still do not take me enough seriously, and probably this is due sometimes to my lack of confidence, which is something that I am trying to overcome.

In addition, and in my opinion very important, an important thing that I did not manage to overcome very well was the fact that I did not feel the BizBoard as my own, and it is know that many entrepreneurs see their firms as their “babies”. I participated in implementing it because I thought it was a good experience and possibility, but still it was not my idea and I could not do what I wanted with it: I did not have the freedom to try out, experiment and maybe sometimes fail as much as I felt it was necessary, since it was not 100% mine, and above all since I was working for Kingston University.

As a student in Advertising, the best part of the business for me was the inventing the advert for our businesses. I am not an animator or computer geek, but I am happy with the prototype that the Innovate Group has developed.

Team Work

Learning how to set up and run a business has also been a challenge concerning teamwork. Setting up a business is a big amount of work, so you cannot do it by yourself, especially if it is your first experience. It also can be more challenging doing it with people whom you just met. It can be challenging because while you have to intensely work and commit, at the same time you have to bond with them and have get to know them. However, it is great to get to know many different and interesting people who have something to share with you: their passion and culture.

Unfortunately, teamwork does not always work out as best as it could. Concerning my group different people put a different kind of effort in it, and I found myself being an ‘experimenter’, a ‘director’ and a ‘set designer’ (Kelley, 2005) and sometimes I also felt left alone and I had to run after members: in my opinion is not a professional way to act.

The February and April fairs have been two very good occasions to publicise our work has a team. I consider myself a shy person, but I have managed to overcome these difficulties by “getting out there and talk to people” as Corinne always advised to us in class.

Compassion2One project has been a very interesting and stimulating. It was a good feeling knowing that we were helping to find a solution to how to create awareness about sex trafficking: this is an example of how “…great creativity…” (Hobsbawm, 2008), again, could save the world. 

Future Goal

When I applied for Advertising and the Creative Economy I hoped that it would help to prepare me to the ‘working world’. I still do not feel ready, but as someone once said: “learning is a never-ending process.” I decided to use the ‘Design Thinking’ methodology also in my dissertation, which is investigating the effectiveness of integrated marketing communication in order to inform healthcare patients. I think that what we learned in this course is essential if you want to succeed as an entrepreneur and problem solver. I already have a small job offer for when I go back to Milan in September, widely connected to what I have learned in this module. It is exactly want I want to do: inform people about how looking after their health can benefit them, and my dissertation will be my perfect business card.

To conclude who cares about the unfairness of life, bureaucracy, technology, studies and fate: I have learned that what goes around comes around, so if you are a good person, you will always find your way on the curvy roads of life.

I want to leave MACE with this thought from Woody Allen (2009) movie Whatever Works:

So remember, the real genius is the one “…who sees the whole picture…”

Good luck with the future.

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The unfairness of life

Yes, we all know that by now that life is unfair. Unfortunately I feel this unfairness on my skin every time I put real effort and commitment into things I do. I do not know why there is always someone or something that tries to block me about going forward in my life. It seems that society wants to keep me still where I am with no chances of moving towards my goals.

What have I done wrong to deserve this? I have always been a good person, always willing to help others and be there for others if they needed me. I have always been on time concerning everything in my life, also studies. I have never bullied, insulted, treated badly another person. I have never cheated in my life, not even in dumb games, such as Monopoly. I do not know how to cheat, how to tell lies…. I am 100% transparent.

There have been a lot of people in my life who tried to “f**k me up”, but in some ways I have managed to get out of it with my head up high, because I know that I am a good person and I deserve going on with my life. I want to do great things with my skills, but I need the chance to go forward, not stand still. Bureaucracy, technology and the universal unfairness of life is not helping.

I just hope one day to re-read again this post and say to myself “well done Ilaria, even if some people tried to stop you, you have managed to arrive until here.” This is what I think now of me when I look back in my past, and I really hope to do the same in the future, even if the real battle of life is just at the begging.


Final Business Report for INNOVATE

The Innovate Group

Ilaria Cacciamani

Ilaria Cacciamani graduated in summer 2010 in Communication Sciences and Technologies and currently is a MA student in Advertising and the Creative Economy. Her role in the Innovate Group was of marketer and graphic/web designer. She likes to observe the environment that surrounds her and offer new solutions to everyday problems, giving a small contribution to this changing world.

Arinola Nnatuanya

Arinola Nnatuanya is a student at Kingston University in MA in Music and the Creative Economy: a combination of music business and production. She has a first degree in Computer Science and a few years ago decided to change her career part. She has a Higher National Diploma in Music Performance and has a passion for developing people musically. Arinola enjoys singing and is part of the choir in her local church. Her hobbies include drawing, DIY and swimming. she is responsible for PR within the group.

Camilla Dickson

Camilla Dickson is taking an MA in Management and the Creative Economy. She also has a first degree in dance. Camilla hopes to own a dance agency in the near future. She is responsible for market research within the team. One of her roles was to deal with questionnaires and interviews.

Jide Onikoyi

Jide Onikoyi studied Business Administration at the University of Hertfordshire. The aim of studying the M.A in International Business Management with Entrepreneurship is to build on his existing knowledge base, increase his career prospects & experience the practicality of running of a business enterprise. His passion for experiencing different cultures and customs was the primary motivation for coming to study in the United Kingdom. His role in the Innovate Group was of Financial Adviser.

1. Description of Company’s Product/Service and what made it unique compared to its competitors.

Innovate Group provides a networking platform for Kingston University, especially for its students, Alumni and faculty members. The platform is available on the Internet anywhere at anytime. It can be found at the URL www.kingstonuni.biz and the official name is BizBoard (BB). The inspiration for this business comes from observing Kingston University lifestyle and trying to understand what is missing. Moreover, in todays economic environment, that is still dealing with the recession, it is very difficult to find a suitable job, so the idea that the Innovate Group is forwarding is “if you can’t find a job that suits you, invent it!” The aim is to help students find each other, work on projects or run businesses together, and seek assistance where required. This would hopefully create a 360° experience university life.

The initial page of the platform will look very similarly to this one:

Image 1: Initial Page (index) of kingstonuni.biz

Browse Calendar will be useful to keep yourself updated with what is happening in the University.

Use the Job Board is useful to find interesting job opportunities in order to pimp up the students CV, to share skills or make a little extra money.

Get Advice from entrepreneurial professionals that can help students to set up and run their own business. The world is full of people who can inspire and give advice, like mentors.

Get credit or training in order to find out about other modules and workshops that are available from other faculties within the university.

Find Funding can help students to set up their businesses.

Be social will help students to look for interesting clubs; students can read stories from other students and professionals who have become successful in their industry; competitions and opportunities will be available for students.

The service that Innovate is providing is unique because it is designed to bring Kingston University creative people together, by providing an environment where students, lecturers and Alumni of the university can meet others with similar passions or interests. Moreover, members can take advantage of job opportunities and various resources. It differs from all the other social networks today available because is specifically for Kingston University students and since it is exclusively for them, this will make them feel special and unique. 

From our observations and surveys to Kingston University students and lecturers we realised that the university has a problem: Kingston University Campuses are all scattered around Kingston town and there is no space for students to find each other and share their knowledge, passions and interests outside the classroom environment. Right now it is very difficult for students to identify potential key partners in ambitious projects, help in academic work, job or internships opportunity, or just new friends. We are offering a solution with the BB online networking platform where students can find each other, create their own business, meet new people to work with, and stay updated with entrepreneurial events, competition and job opportunities.


2. Describe your customer segment and how you researched their needs. What was your value proposition to them?

Target Audience

There are over 21 000 students, and over 2 000 professors at Kingston University. In fact, the primary target audience are Kingston University students who are interested in entrepreneurial skills and events, but above all, it is for students who want to challenge themselves to set up and run their own business. Professors, who can also post requests for research or project assistants, are our secondary target audience.

Moreover, there is a tertiary target audience who are Alumni’s, who can post job opportunities that are available in their industries so that students are aware and can make use of the opportunities, or just keep updated with what is happening at the University even if they have left.

In a few words, the Innovate Group is targeting a market niche that requires special needs.

Moreover, the platform can benefit the University by improving its reputation thanks to the student relationships and the entrepreneurial skills that can be created and developed through the platform.

Research Techniques

Innovate Group main research technique was of observing and talking to students about their university experience. In addition to this, we felt empathy with our end users, since we are students just like them. Our perception of things can be altered simply by the angle we choose to look at something and creativity arises from our ability to see things from a different angles.

We did different types of market research, which include questionnaires and brief one to one interviews and we found that:

  • 85% of the Kingston university students we spoke to considered themselves to be creative individuals.
  • 65% felt there were not enough opportunities for creative individuals to share their work and interests.
  • 80% said that if there is an opportunity made available for creative networking and learn how to set up and run a business, they would participate.

 

Value Proposition

We, as creative students, have found that there is a need in the Kingston University student experience: an opportunity for creative and passionate students to communicate, network and develop ideas into real businesses together. The value proposition is the unique value a business offers to its customers, and networking is the wave of web 2.0 and it will continue to be in web 3.0 and mobile web. In general, social networks are “connections with other people” and for Kingston University students BB will be a way to find partners and network if they want to set up their own business or just develop entrepreneurial skills.


3. What were your key activities? Key partners? Key resources?

As apart of coming up with the idea to create an entrepreneurial platform for students and faculty at our university we had some obvious tasks that we had to undertake.

Activities

Designing the website

Our whole idea and service is based on a website so this was obviously a fundamental part of the Innovate Group activities. We were involved in designing the website and orchestrating how it would look and the content that would be included in it.

Finding and building content

The whole premise of the BizBoard is to provide information that would allow students and faculty to gain access to knowledge and insight that would allow them to sufficiently create and run there own enterprise, so naturally the content of the website would be a very important part. We needed to create and find content that would be beneficial to our users and incorporate that into the website. We were able to do this through reaching out to different faculties, groups and societies around the university, such as Kingston Entrepreneurs, in order to find out what each section can offer to our users in the shape of events, workshops, mentors, contacts etc.

Marketing the website

Image 2: Poster for BB


Innovate Group main task was to find a strategic way to advertise the BizBoard to our potential users. Due to the nature of our service, publicity is crucial to its success because if we cannot create up enough buzz, no one will know about the platform and no one will manage to enjoy and benefit from it. According to our target audience, we used particular marketing strategies that we felt would be the most effective for each audience, i.e. if were targeting students, being attractive a colourful would be our main route. The main messages of the marketing strategies have been sent to the target audience through effective communication channels.

Partners

Kingston Entrepreneurs

We have teamed up with the young entrepreneur society to create this service and they will continue with the service after we leave.  They have been a great resource, allowing us includes some of their events and services into our calendar and site.

Resources

Kingston University

A key resource for the Innovate Group was the Kingston University, which decided to fund the work of the group with £5,031.00. Due to the huge benefit that the platform can bring to students, the university agreed to help us with the development of the service in terms of financial backing. One of the biggest assets of our website is that it allows for the easy communication between faculties and that is a huge benefit to the university reputation and its students.  They provided all necessary funding that the group needed to create and continue to run the site, but above all to market it among the audience.


4. Describe your Branding and Design Strategy (logo, packaging, style, product, etc), what channels did you use to reach your customers? Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of what you did.

Branding and Design

The design of the platform was outsources to a designer, one of the reasons for this was to allow creativity with the design. We decided to outsource it because no one in the group had the skills needed to implement the platform.

However, within the group Ilaria was the designer, and she dealt with the branding side, concentrating more on the Innovate Group, rather than the BizBoard.

The Innovate Logo

Image 3: Innovate Group Logo


The logo is divided up in three different parts. The essential part is the group’s name: Innovate. This name means literally “I am innovation”, “I am change”, but above all, “I want to be part of this innovative network”. The message that we want to send is that the person participating is part of the change process through innovation; you and what you love and know are the innovation.

The letter “i” with the circular blue background emphasises the fact that the group is a sort of information centre. This also sends the message that there is more than the site. The colour of the background shows that the group is connected with Kingston University, since the colour used is very similar, even if not the same, due to copyright policies.

The Slogan Kingston University Networking was originally Innovation by you, This was changed to make the give more clarity about what the business is about. Kingston University Networking is quite straightforward, moreover it leaves many doors open: the group can work on Internet based networks, but also it can deal with networking events and PR that are held at the university.

Kingstonuni.biz

Image 1 shows how the website is. In this case colours are essential and an important part of the branding and design in order to be eye catching and appealing. Another fundamental aspect of the design of the website was its user- friendliness: we decided to make it easy and fast to use. In order to reach our goal we made a few prototypes and tested it out with some students. In addition, we asked students what was missing in the platform and what could be changed to meet more their needs.

Communication Channels

Facebook 

Our biggest target audience are the students and one of the most effective ways in today’s society to reach out to them is through the use of Facebook. We created a Facebook page about our service, in hopes of getting it seen by more people and were also able to get it sent to friends and have friends pass it on and so forth. We also put a link to the Facebook page on the business blog, so that we could see how many of the page visitors actually felt that this was a good idea, so we could better determine if there was a strong enough market for it.  A major strength of using this method is the amount of traffic that Facebook has and its potential to reach a magnitude of people. On the other hand a weakness is that in order to reach the multitudes you need to create a following and that can be difficult when not many people know who you are.

YouTube

We created a video advertisement for the publicity of our service, which was short depiction of what our service does. We put a copy of this video on YouTube, which is used by millions of people everyday. The main strength of the BB advert is its tune: it sticks easily the viewers mind, thus making it memorable and effective. On the other hand, just as with Facebook, reaching the critical mass can be difficult.

Word of mouth

We have on many occasions advertised our service around the university by talking to students and faculty and personally telling them what it involves and the benefits it has, especially through the two fairs in which we participated. This is a good way to advertise because you have the opportunity to personally speak with your potential customers and explain the personal benefits that the site can give to each person. On the downside, word of mouth can be limiting in terms of how many people it can actually reach.

Faculty email

We wanted to personally let the different faculties know about our website, so we wrote a short letter explaining the service and highlighting the uses that it has for each faculty. We felt this would be a great idea because by letting the heads of each faculty know about our service, they would be able to let there faculties know how they can correctly use our service.

 Trade fair

The trade fair gave us a chance to set up a stall and “sell” our ideas to students and members of the public. The trade fair is a great way of practically demonstrating our service to potential customers and we were able to gain a lot of interest from students who gave us there details so we could contact them with further information. Though, trade fairs cant be done every week, so its not a regular advertisement method.

Business Blog

We also keep a business blog (http://kuinnovate.wordpress.com), which we regularly update, in order to keep our customers and potential consumers updated about what is going on with our business and its content. This is good resource for our customers so that they can be kept updated about the service and how we are nurturing it.


5. What were your company policies, IP and other legal considerations?

Innovate Policies:

·               The Data Protection Act (1998) applies to all users of this social network.

·               Offensive or unauthorised comments or materials are not allowed on this site.

·               No illegal activities or businesses are allowed to trade via this network.

·               Innovate reserves the right to carry out regular security check on Kingstonuni.biz to monitor the activities being carried out on it.

·               A member’s account will be disabled once the member has made a request to be removed from the social network.

·               We always appreciate your feedback or other suggestions about Kingstonuni.biz.

Disciplinary Procedures:

·               Failure to comply with these conditions of use for this site may result in the withdrawal of access to the social network site.

·               Any breaches of the policy may result in disciplinary action being taken. In cases where criminal law may have been breached the Police will be notified.

6. Describe your cost structure, listing expenses and Income (includes number of sales or contracts, uses YE worksheet of Profit & Loss Statement and a photo of your product/service with details of how it was costed for each element)

The service provided by the Innovate Group, is free to its customers who are Kingston University students, lecturers and alumni.

However, Innovate Group was able to secure funding of £5,031.00 from Kingston University to design a central, social website that would encourage cross faculty collaboration between students looking to start their own business.

Corrine Beaumont, (University Lecturer) is an associated partner who worked closely with the company in networking, design & branding stages of the service development.

Below is a brief financial summary of the costs incurred.

Revenue

Contract from Kingston University  = £5031

Company Fund = £400

Total Revenue = £5431.00

Expenses

Website Installation

Website Design = £49.40

Website contents  = £98.80

Website Hosting= £25 per year

 

Marketing & Advertising Cost

Promotional Video Design = £197.60

Leaflets = £80 (800 copies)

Posters x 25(A3) = £40.00

T- shirts x 4 = £40.00

Pop up x 1 = £89.00

Prize Draw

Winning team = £500.00

2x Second prizes of =  £250.00

 

Labour Cost

Trade Fairs = £98.80

Branding/design of website & Content added to the website = £1002.00

Wages for the directors of the company = £494

Future website developments= £2,216.40

Includes wages for animation, graphic and marketing students, and materials.

Total Trading Expense = £5,431.00

Innovate Group achieved break even during the trading period. Innovate Group will not have to pay the required 20% corporation ax as the company did not make any profit during the trading period.


7. What were the key challenges that you faced and how did you overcome them?

Time Management

Managing and optimizing time has posed some challenges to the Innovate Group, as most of the directors have work and academic schedules. Allocating sufficient time to the business especially toward the beginning of the year has being somewhat problematic. This is largely due to other factors that compete with the directors time, these factors include – family matters, course work, dissertation, work commitment, social life and religious obligations.

Covey’s time management matrix has been applied by Innovate directors, to help identity and organise tasks according to their level of importance and urgency. This has produced some improvement in the company’s effective use of time.

Gaining critical mass 

Gaining the critical mass necessary for the website has been a key challenge. Although the company was able to create awareness about the service and sign up interested students at the trade fairs, much work still needs to be done to get the required amount of traffic.

Critical mass will determine if Innovate, will get future funding from the University for further development of the business. This shows the importance of creating awareness and getting a large number of students to use the website. Getting the heads of departments and lecturers interested in the service could help alleviate the problem. They could make Biz Board part of the curriculum, were lecturers could post relevant information on the website that students are required to access. This should help overcome the challenge of getting critical mass.

Kingston University Bureaucracy

The Universities bureaucracy and administration had an impact on the group’s creativity. Since Kingston University was our main and only client, it was important to keep to the regulations of the university and their and needs. The university gave the team essential funding, but the group had to give enough time to allow for their ideas to be processed inline with the Universities regulations. This made the process of delivery slow.


8. What would you have done differently?

First of all, the Innovate Group would have done the market research in a different and deeper way in order to understand what the target audience really wanted. These could have been through questionnaires, interviews or focus groups to gain better understanding of the end users needs.

Firstly, the marketing strategies could have been more intense, in order to create awareness about the BizBoard and easily reach the critical mass. Secondly, a deeper market research would have helped us to create our marketing strategies around the end user, to demonstrate how BizBoard solves the problem of networking and how finding a business partner within the University can be of benefit to them.

We should have networked more with Kingston University administration and other companies outside the university. This would have helped a lot in order to understand exactly what we had to do, in terms of running a business and implementing the website.

Another thing that we could have done differently was to fake the networking platform more through prototypes, so that we could have the clearest idea possible for the website.

9. What was the most successful part of your business?

The idea of setting up a business network that forges collaboration between the four campuses, alumni’s and an other entrepreneurial bodies within the university is in itself a successful venture based on its relevance to the University.

The most successful part of our business was the creativity within the team. The ability to make something exciting and different without holding back played a key role in the formation of the Kingston University Business Network.

Our idea started off as a social network for students to advertise their skills as well as network but a few weeks into the into the project, we found out that another team had a similar business idea which pushed us as team to come up with something new and different.

Another successful aspect of the business was getting Kingston University to fund the project. These funds have made it easier for the team to explore various ideas that would other wise have been a limitation due to financial resources.

10. How did running a business prepare you for future entrepreneurship?

As a team, the setting up and running of a business was relatively new to us individually. It has been an exciting venture for us, and the wealth of knowledge and expertise that we have acquired through this experience is priceless.

Through the setting up and running of Innovate, we have gained more insight and understanding into the dynamics of how a successful and sustainable business is setup and run. The various processes involved that act as boundaries to ensure sustainability and the crucial role that the consumer plays in the creation and sustainability of a business idea. The emotional, cognitive and physical aspect of meeting the needs of the consumer has been very insightful and enlightening.

Looking at the Kingstonuni.biz social network project, there are a few main points that we all agreed was a learning curve for us towards our future aspirations. These points are listed below.

·               Thinking but also doing something about those thoughts. Putting ourselves and our ideas out there.

·               Dealing with real life scenarios and having to apply practical steps to those scenarios. Coming to terms with last minute changes that made need to occur for the success of the business.

·               The importance of teamwork and the dynamics of working within a team of people with different personalities and views. Learning how to manage each other’s expectations. Showing consideration for each other and the business project.

·               Being open to other people’s ideas and to be willing to take risks by trying something new and different.

·               The importance of creating the right image and perception of a business when branding.

·               The awareness that a business idea can change and take a different form from what it started off as. As a team, we had to modify our initial ideas slightly to meet the needs of Kingston University. We started off with the idea of providing a social network for students to advertise their skills as well as network but the end product has been the Kingston University Business Social network that forges collaboration between the four campuses, alumni’s and other entrepreneurial bodies within the university.

Through exposure and networking, we met and communicated with various members of out partnering companies and we wouldn’t have ordinarily met or made contact with due to the difference in faculties and areas of study and professionalism. We met with members of young enterprise and communicated with the deans of faculties within the university. We also got to meet a diverse number of students through the fairs.

Thank you very much to the other members of the Innovate Group for this year great work: Arinola, Camilla and Jide


Belated Fair n° 2 Feedback


Innovate booth from the fair that took place in Kingston Market Square on the 7th of April

It was a beautiful sunny day, so not a lot of people got inside the building to see our booths, but fortunately our target market was all inside with us working: entrepreneurial students.

However, the fair went really well. We managed to make a lot of students sign up on the kingstonuni.biz website and we had a really good feedback from the students. Many of them thought that it was a great idea, especially the under grad students. With my IPad we went around the building explaining to students what our service was and asked them to sign up. I don’t know if they were more excited to sign up or to use an IPad -.-‘  !!!!

It could be said that it was a pretty successful fair!


I need a break!

It’s now a couple of days that I am working non- stop on my MA dissertation proposal. I am finding it really interesting and I really hope that it will teach me something useful, especially for the future. At the moment I don’t want give anything away about it, but I’ll be kind and share the provisional title of it. I really hope that this is not so provisional, because if I change it (again) it means that I have to review all of the proposal again, aargh!

The effectiveness of service marketing strategies for Medical Practices in terms of attracting and retaining new patients.

Some of you will think: what??? this sounds so boring… well, I think that it is subjective and I really hope to do it well so that one day I can save those small- medium independent practices from the evil in franchising clinics. I really feel as if I am in the movie “You’ve Got Mail” (one of my favourite movies ever!) and I am saving the small book shop on the corne, but in this case they are medical clinics.

Well, I said that I was having a break, but I am still thinking about it!

However I wanted to share with you a really good video that I have seen on social media. It is done well, but the message that is sending is a bit scary in my opinion.

Social media isn’t a fad, is a fundamental shift in the way we communicate.

Welcome to the world of SOCIALNOMICS.

I don’t really agree with this, but if you can’t destroy them, join them! So, I think that one day I will buy the book because it will be essential for my future job (hoping to find one, maybe through a social media?????)

 

I just wanted to make you notice: in “You’ve Got Mail”, where do Tom and Meg meet??? On a sort of social network! and it was 13 years ago!! Just like the video say, couple now meet on social networks… the script writer and director got it all right! WOW!


Compassion2One

Compassion2One is a non-profit organisation that rescue lives of children and young people from sex trafficking. A few Fridays ago we had the chance to meet Jerry Leisure the regional director for the United Kingdom of the organisation.

He asked for our innovative and creative ideas in order to raise the awareness about this important and unethical issue during the Olympics period in July – August 2012. I am really proud to say that me and my team, composed by Juliet, David and Arinola (a really international team) managed to win, even if all the ideas were amazing! We are a really thoughtful and creative class :). As you can see from the video we had many ideas, in order to try to reach EVERYBODY, from the student, to parents and old people.

I feel strongly about this issue, probably because I am a woman, and since I was a little kid, my parents always told me to not trust adults that I didn’t know… and I have been very lucky, no one ever payed attention to me! But thinking about these young girls, and boys, and thinking that it could have been me, or my little sister or my future kids, it really breaks my heart. I can’t understand how some people have the courage to these things. First, how can someone, who is him/herself  a son or daughter, or maybe he or she has kids of its own, do something like this to innocent children, meaning taking them away from their family, but above all abuse them sexually and pay for it. You people really disgust me. The only thing that you deserve is that they would do it to you in your next life, and lets see how you feel.

I just think that this is one of the most horrible things that are happening in our modern world. I do not know if this ever happened in the past eras, but now the world is really crap from this point of view. When I think about these things the idea of one day having my own children, just does not feel right. I would just be a mean and selfish person to give birth to a child in this dangerous and crappy world. People say we should see the positive side of things, but when child sex trafficking or issues like this come up, there is really nothing positive about it.

I will state Jerry Leisure himself, in order to give us hope:

I genuinely believe the intellectual horsepower of tomorrows generation is going to make the difference today and onwards. I am committed to taking all of your ideas and put them into action in the UK and globally.  I am really excited about what each of us can do to save “one child at a time!”


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