Considerations – startups

A module that challenges and encourages creativity in various ways. Starting with designing a simple hypothetical shoe to resolve an existing problem, to coming up with a realistic design for glasses case.

Throughout this entire experience one important thing we had to consider was being empathetic that was the key to successful design. In a general sense, empathy is our ability to see the world through other people’s eyes, to see what they see, feel and experience things as they do.

A small exercise on empathetic design, was the Shoe design project. We were asked to form groups and go out to talk to people about their shoes, in particular, what kind of problems they faced with their shoes, what were their favorite pair of shoes and why they prefer it. A set of simple questions designed to help us come up with an uplifted shoe design to resolve some of the issues we came across. However, despite the simplicity of our questions we found that people were usually having a hard time giving precise answers as to why they prefer one pair of shoes over the other, or even define a problem they have with their shoes.

There was an important lesson here, which became a main learning outcome from the project. It is the fact that, in many cases, people are unaware of what they want exactly and do not recognize a useful product when they see it or hear about it unless they have the chance to try it out and see it’s clear benefits, which leads us to the importance of ‘lean startups’ and the benefits of releasing an Early MVP to test the consumer’s appetite to your business idea.

Screen Shot 2017-12-21 at 2.23.13 PMWhen it comes to an MVP it is all about speed, the faster we release your MVP the more we’ll be able to collect simultaneous feedback, recognizing problems with our design and our iterative process will be more fluid. All of this leads to increasing our chances of success. It is also important to understand that we must be flexible while running a lean business, and a key factor is knowing when we need to pivot and change our path when we are required to do so.

Over 50% of companies fail after 5 years, and over 70% fail within 10 years time. As an aspiring entrepreneur. The statistics are frightening I think we can all agree on that. However, there are many things you can do to help us prepare for the transformation of our idea into a business that is run in a stable manner and has potential to up-scale.

We started building our business by defining a problem for Boxie the glasses case the journey began with glasses users, 4 out of 5 members in our group wear glasses or lenses on a regular basis and one of the key issues we faced was that we couldn’t find a case that can hold all of our eye wear equipment in one place: the glasses; the contact lenses; the glasses case; the glasses cleaning cloth; the liquid and a mirror.

people tend to get quiet forgetful when everything is scattered all over the place and that causes tension and stress. another issue was that most people had to carry two different glasses cases with them at times one for their sun glasses the other for their reading glasses which is quiet inconvenient consumes space and time. So, we asked ourselves How can we make people’s lives easier with our product? what can we do to resolve this problem?

After defining the problem we started coming up with alternative solutions until we reached one. A trendy glasses case that can provide extra space without being bulky and without consuming space in your bag when the case is empty.

Business Model and Value proposition

After coming up with a solution, we can start building our business model by identifying the key basic factors that will help us recognize the odds of survival of our business, and they include (Value propositions, customer segment, channels, cost structure, key activities and resources and partnerships, and most importantly the revenue streams) together these elements work coherently to help us define our business.

For our Dragon’s Den submission “Boxie” The business model “gives you the structure of a business plan without the overhead and the improvisation of a ‘back of the napkin’ sketch without  the fuzziness” and the Value proposition “Your value proposition should focus on the superpowers, not the product. Rarely is your value proposition the product itself or its features.” canvas were crafted as follows:

Boxie-business-model.jpg

 

Value-prposition.jpg

Making of Boxie

Creating an MVP for our idea was the easy part, we started out with cardboard and tape and started demonstrating our MVP in class outside of class and to everyone we meet.

Screen Shot 2018-04-27 at 9.44.47 PM.png

The feedback was unbelievably useful, we can see the product is receiving a-lot of attention people were asking questions and giving advices on how we can improve the product and we were quick to comply, iterate and implement every possible upgrade we can do with the resources and time we had on our hands.

We were so excited to take Boxie to the manufacturing stage, but unfortunately we faced a lot of problems in that stage, one of which was the Chinese new year, which left the Chinese manufacturing market closed for 3 consecutive weeks. We only had one and a half month to finish our product and that was not going to work.

After reconsidering our options we tried to reach out to the Turkish market and find manufacturers there. Finding a manufacturer in Turkey was another issue that involved lack of communication due to the language barrier and intellectual property rights.

After weeks of searching for the right manufacturer, we finally found one, But, there was only one problem, he refused to sign a confidentiality agreement (NDA), an NDA is part of protecting our IP rights. IP rights “are Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce”.

For more on IP rights visit my post at this link: https://maiscreativedesign.wordpress.com/2017/12/06/165

This had put us in a tough position and we were forced to make either one of two decision: Take a chance and continue with manufacturing at risk of being robbed of our rights or step back and make the product by hand until we can find an alternative solution.

with so little time on our hands, and the risks being too high, we decided to make Boxie by hand, and the results were beautiful vintage cases that target a specific market which is: The Vintage market.

Screen Shot 2018-04-27 at 9.42.39 PM.png

During this entire process of back and forth decisions and multiple discussions, we were also working on the strategy of Boxie; How we intend to introduce the product into the market.

Marketing Boxie

For the marketing campaign of Boxie we will be working on many levels one of which is relation ship marketing. It is very important to us to build strong relationships with our customers and keep them happy, costumers who love a brand tend to spend more money on it. This will be done through personalizing and customizing Boxie according to the preferences of the users. We will also make sure to collect feedback and implement whatever possible suggestions we receive from the costumers to make them feel like they were part of building it.

We will also market Boxie through social media channels such as instagram, twitter and facebook. which is already in process and pages have been established for this purpose and are already gathering response. This is a low cost approach to marketing our product as we already have the skills within our team to carry on such a process.

 

 

What to consider when building a strategy:

  1. Who is our client?

2. How we are going to make my client happy in a unique way?

3. Make sure to update our strategy.

Short-term Strategy

Our primary Focus is the UK market, specifically London. We decided to start selling Boxie as a B2C product in order to test the consumer appetite, this will be done through various channels such as Amazon, E-bay, and Etsy.

Making the decision to produce Boxie by hand will protect our IP rights and help us test the market at a lower cost. We will be able to collect feed back on what kind of pricing and features to add to the manufacturing stage of Boxie. Of course, this decision is quick to burn out as we would not be able to meet the demand of the market based on hand-made product. so once the demand exceeds our hand-making potential we will quickly move Boxie to its manufacturing stage.

Long term strategy

As for the long term strategy, once we reach the manufacturing stage we will be able to upgrade the features that Boxie holds one of which will be adding a mirror which is a key component of our product.

We also want to evolve and modify Boxie iteratively with time this can involve adjustments made to the materials, design or any additional features that can be useful to the costumer but still serves the purpose of the company.

The more developed Boxie becomes, the more funding it will need to reach it’s full potential, we intend to meet this funding by raising finances through crowdfunding or through an angel investor. One of the platforms we intend to use for our crowdfunding campaign is Kickstarter or Indi-egogo.

A crowdfunding approach is appropriate for us at this stage as acquiring a bank loan is quiet difficult for us, it is also a good way to avoid giving away any equity at this early stage of the product. If the crowdfunding campaign is a success, then we can also conclude that the demand on our product is quiet high which will prove the viability of our solution and strengthen our position in the market.

Our second option: an angel investor is also an appropriate solution to gather funds. We are quiet confident that we can get an angel investor as we have already received interest from a few people who want to be a part of Boxie’s Journey.

Perhaps one of the most important parts to a successful business is the team that is working behind the idea. Our team does not fall short from skills and abilities so we hope to attract the right investors into our business by demonstrating a strong skill set and a motivated spirit.

After acquiring the right funding and finding the right investors, we will begin our manufacturing stage. our long term vision for Boxie is to start selling as B2B product. we consider approaching Opticians, travel product stores and supermarket.

Expanding our horizons

Our target market begins in the UK, due to our current geographic location. Acquiring a patent in the UK

However, we intend to take boxie globally within the next 3-5 years, this includes countries such as the U.S, Canada and Australia. In order to be able to do that we need to consistently register a design right for Boxie in every country we get into to avoid having our product replicated and to protect our business.

We decided to up-scale our business through introducing a series of foldable multifunctional products such as pencil cases, travel bags, and bags for swimwear. despite the majority of our target costumer being aged 14+ we also consider creating a kids version of Boxie which they can customize themselves by drawing or writing on it.

These are a few of the factors that need to be considered while starting up a business,  and a general overview of what needs to be done. However, there is one key factor that can cause a successful business plan to fail if not considered correctly, and that is the FINANCE of a business. It is nearly impossible to find a successful business that does not run its finances correctly.

Running a startup has definitely taught me to see things from multiple perspectives at the same time, all these elements need to work together coherently to insure a safe environment to grow a business.

 

References:

Clegg, S., Schweitzer, Jochen, Whittle, Andrea, & Pitelis, Christos. (2017). Strategy : Theory and practice (Second ed.).

Design, V., Interdisciplinarian, T. and Me, A. (2018). The 20 Minute Business Plan: Business Model Canvas Made Easy. Alex Cowan. Available at: https://www.alexandercowan.com/business-model-canvas-templates/ [Accessed 27 Apr. 2018].

Dall’Olmo Riley, F. (2016) ‘The roles of brands revisited’, pp. 394-414 in: Baker, M. and Hart, S. (eds.) The Marketing Book 7th Edition, Routledge. ISBN 9780415703772

Format.com. (2018). 5 Ways to Fund Your Personal Project. [online] Available at: https://www.format.com/magazine/resources/photography/crowdfunding-personal-project-photography [Accessed 27 Apr. 2018].

 

Jeffrey, B. (2018). 52 Types of Marketing Strategies – cultbranding.com. Cultbranding.com. Available at: http://cultbranding.com/ceo/52-types-of-marketing-strategies/ [Accessed 27 Apr. 2018].

Jeroen De Flander. (2018). Business Strategy I 7 Strategy Principles Every Leader Should Know!. Available at: https://jeroen-de-flander.com/business-strategy-principles/ [Accessed 27 Apr. 2018].

Ries, E. (n.d.). The lean startup.

Site Title. (2018). Intellectual property. [online] Available at: https://maiscreativedesign.wordpress.com/2017/12/06/165 [Accessed 27 Apr. 2018].

Shopify’s Ecommerce Blog – Ecommerce News, Online Store Tips & More. (2018). Value Propositions: What They Are and How to Create Them (with Examples).  Available at: https://www.shopify.com/blog/value-proposition [Accessed 27 Apr. 2018].

Wipo.int. (2018). Available at: http://www.wipo.int/about-ip/en/ (Accessed 27 Apr. 2018).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

How we advertised Boxie.

The nature of Boxie as a fun and trendy product has dictated it’s branding, it had also had a huge impact on how we decided to advertise boxie to the target costumers.

While preparing Boxie’s advertisements we decided to approach the product from two perspectives one: The fun perspective the second: Trendy. We created two different advertisements for Boxie to demonstrate the functions it can offer as well as the technical and aesthetic aspect of it.

We decided to make a video ad for Boxie by our selves, because video is the number one method to reaching out to consumers it also is a very low cost method that can help us cut down our loses, and it has a very strong impact if shared through the right social media platforms.

After researching methods of creating video advertising we found that including a meme or an emoji in our video production can be a viral factor and help promote our video faster, it will encourage people to share, like and comment on the video in a humorous way, which is part of the identity of Boxie.

In addition to our video’s we regularly created posts and teasers to keep the consumers reminded of our product and to build a fan base on the basis of the unique features of Boxie. We included hashtags such as #multifunctional, #Foldablecase, #handmade.  Which seemed to attract a unique target market that is interested in handcrafts.

 

 

Branding of Boxie

When it comes to branding a product, understanding the personality of it is very important. as branding is the voice you want to give to your product and it builds the image you want to come across to your target audience. Boxie is a trendy, smart glasses case that can expand and retract according to the needs of it’s user. It’s made unique due to it’s foldable and playful structure.

These features have set the guild-line for the image we want to give about boxie, a smart playful, and cool image, this has inspired the following approach to Boxie’s Logo:

Screen Shot 2018-04-26 at 1.29.23 PM.pngThe Logo was inspired by the purpose of the box which is a glasses case that is playful and cool. However, the Font was chosen to show the Trendy and modern edginess of the design.

Screen Shot 2018-04-26 at 1.29.16 PM.png

The company is a creative product design company that aims to provide smart multi- functional designs. The logo was inspired by the ambition of quintet, we move forward as a team and want to constantly develop (Indicated by the Arrow) and the enthuseastic spirit for creativity (Indicated by the yellow color) used in the logo.

 

 

I’m a Perfectionist.

I’m a perfectionist, or so I’ve been told. I never noticed that about my self until someone pointed it out and then everything made sense. Since my days in university, I was always not satisfied enough with my work, and even after handing in a project I would go back and adjust it more and blame my self for not noticing the imperfections in my work, it was a struggle to let go and have faith in what I do because it simply never felt like it was enough. but I can’t help but think; is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Did I Embrace change too much? was that a confidence issue or an ambitious trait?

When it comes to my work, I always felt the need to iterate and adjust and enhance it  but sometimes that led me to missing on the right opportunities that came my way, simply because I did not know when to STOP. and let go. perhaps this is one of the biggest issues that Agile PM has helped me to resolve.

Agile PM is the ability to change quickly and deliver a product in a reduced timeframe, it relies on the method of delivering requirements iteratively and incrementally throughout the project life cycle.

To overcome my obsession with iterating my work, I have learned to timeframe myself and force my self to release my progress at specific dates regardless of my satisfaction of them, the great thing about this, is iteration doesn’t have to stop, instead it is now managed more properly and by that I mean; instead of spending too much time adjusting the wrong thing being able to collect feed back helped me focus on the important issues that required adjustments, and pointed out the missing factors of my work.

For my D & AD project, I was not capable of seeing all my mistakes on my own however, the continuous meetings and feedback loops have allowed me to work out the right requirements for my campaign the meetings were short and fruitful which was motivating and pushed me forward in my difficult search for my cause which a lot of times made me feel alone and depressed.

Dealjumbo - Tshirt - mockup.jpg

Another benefit was the diversity of ideas and suggestions, which allowed me to reach to a solution faster than it normally would in an individual project this has allowed for continuous development.

My meetings were with my class mates who are possible targets of the campaign, have helped me develop an insight on what kind of reaction the campaign might harvest. “If you can get five people in the room to talk about your campaign, you can definitely get more” one of my project supervisors told me. It was some kind of motivation for me continuously showing my work to my class mates and supervisors has somewhat built a circle of trust and empathy it also built accountability. In someway this was a source of empowerment for all of us to give us the will to move forward and let go of what needs to be let go of.

With changes being incremental instead of evolutionary, the project has helped us build a strong engagement as teachers and students. We were given feedback every meeting and the feedback was either implemented or considered in a way or another this has established trust and kept us all excited to see the final results of the “baby” which has become our “baby” which we evolved together.

It was difficult to make a decision sometimes and being able to test the decision and receive rejection or confirmations early was a definite upside of agile PM. These tight feedback loops are not found in an evolutionary project.

The D and AD project was not entirely Agile PM run, as Agile PM is mainly focused on team work and this was an individual project. However, despite the fact that I made all the final decisions as an individual, I had benefited from allowing my self to process feedback in a collaborative approach, and focused on achieving success through engagement and collaboration.

One of the main deliverables in the Agile PM process is a minimum viable product (MVP) this helps the team realize the opportunities and benefits of the project that they may not have initially recognized.

Dragon’s Den – Would applying Agile be good for Boxie?

During our Dragon’s Den project “Boxie” we were required to demonstrate our products regularly in an event, the “Trade fair”. In which we were able to demonstrate whatever stage of our product we had to the people to collect feedback to improve our “MVP” or even possibly sell our product if we had a final version of it.

Screen Shot 2018-04-23 at 10.01.26 PM.pngFor us, the trade fair had a great advantage due to the feedback we collected, we were able to realize a new selling point for our product which we had not recognized in the first place. Boxie was designed as a case that can contain all the eye wear equipment in one place and that was ourinitial selling point. However, after showing our MVP to many people we received feedback about the structure of the product rather than the purpose it was meant to serve.

Boxie is a unique glasses case that can fold into a completely flat structure and be expanded into a fully stable and protective structure, a feature that not many glasses cases offered. So we changed our pitch, Boxie became the smart, flexible and foldable glasses case that can fit in anyones pocket. Changing the focus of our pitch was one of the main success factors of Boxie, the product was smart and attracted many customers however, was that enough to win the Dragon’s Den competition? The team started throwing in ideas and words all of which evolved the impression we wanted Boxie to give.

As for the product it self, the progressive adjustments to the structure and build of it was a truly insightful process. we started with card board and tape and ended up with magnets, PVC plastic, and a fancy velvet interior. All of which, was inspired by the feedback loops we had during our discussion sessions on our product and our trade fair events.

Because in most cases the customer doesn’t actually know what he wants not only that, but many times costumers do not recognize a problem in existing designs or products. developing an “MVP” was the best approach to releasing our idea and reaching out to the costumer as quickly as possible. We can help them see a more suitable solution for an existing problem by quickly envisioning and visualizing the solution as an MVP only to create an impression of what we are doing for the costumer here, this is very useful to collect feedback and develop quickly on the success of the idea.

Despite all the successful and positive feedback we collected, we did not manage to manufacture Boxie. I can’t help but think would employing an agile PM process to run Boxie have been a more successful approach? what if instead of our two hour meeting once or twice a week, we held a 15 min meeting every day to regulate the progress process of Boxie.

Perhaps this is one of the key factors I consider to employ in my upcoming business startup experience along side developing iteratively and collaborative team work.  alongside studying the potentials and to what extent I can scale the use Agile PM tools in any upcoming project.

Since I’m a perfectionist, traditional project management did not suit me so well. Every project was the definition of a nightmare. A continuous series of decision making to be made on a regular basis with limited feedback. Agile on the other hand has helped me establish two main things: The resources and the time. These are the main drivers for any project.

I enjoyed being a student, and putting all my opinions and thoughts aside for this course. It was never about what I already know, and what I want to say. It became strictly about what I can learn from my colleagues and instructors. It is not an easy task to disregard my previous knowledge and own believes and thoughts as I am a very opinionated person, however, for me to get the best out of this experience I had to learn to be flexible, open minded and able to process negative feedback in the most positive way possible.

 

 

 

D & AD – Syrian Child Refugees

I was unable to submit my work to the D & AD, It was too emotional for me to take this step and no matter how hard I worked it still didn’t feel like it was enough. I had chosen a very simple brief but approached a very difficult cause for it.

The Syrian Refugee crises has been going on for the past 7 years, and most my family members are either located still in a war zone or have been displaced through difficult journeys around the world. It was one of the most difficult topics I have approached and researched in my life, The brief had requested that we be in direct contact with the cause and half way through my research I began doubting my choice, this was too emotional and too personal and many times I was left depressed and agitated by all the suffering and difficulties the Syrians have gone through in the past few years, I’d shutdown my laptop and tell myself I can’t do this, I need to change this topic. but I’d come back to it with a stronger passion the next day.

Screen Shot 2018-04-19 at 5.53.40 PM.pngThe Refugee crises in general had a lot of shocking content, however the most shocking for me, was the situation of the children.  More than half of the refugees across the world are children. A very large percentage of these children are un accompanied children and each day hundreds of them go missing. So far the recognized number of missing children is 22,012 with no one there to even look for them or claim them these children are left to face devastating destinies.  This was going to be the scope of my campaign which focused on creating an agitative response and follow it up with an Action button which demanded change and progress rather than a simple donation.

What makes a project successful?

Principles of Agile PM simplified.

One of the most important features to a successful project is having a strong business case, that aligns with a specific time scale. How can that be achieved? by making sure the priorities of the business are clear to the team and make sure every step is delivered on time by time boxing the work and focusing on business priorities,

In order to insure the success of implementation of the project it is important to pay attention to the project team and make sure that the team is strong and coherent to carry out the project, on the other hand one of the key factors to keeping the team strong and insuring it’s motivation remains asserted is by developing strong and continuous communication amongst the members of the team.

When the the team is strong and well connected that facilitates for a high quality product, that is run under a clear schedule and kept under control. However, that is not the best part of Agile PM. It is the process of incremental and iterative development which allows for quick feedback loops that instruct the path of development for the project and facilitate the decision making process. It allows for the product to be developed in the right direction and brings the focus of the team to the main aim of the business.

 

MOSCOW

Must have, should have, could have, Won’t have for now: How to prioritize your Requirements for a product/ Service.

We should be able to recognize the hierarchy of the features and requirements of our product/ service. This is helpful in case problems occur and we are forced to drop some of the features or requirements but still maintain a high quality product, that is delivered in the right time.

For Boxie our Moscow requirements are as follows:

Must (Minimum Useable subset) is the multi-chamber foldable glasses case that expand and retracts according to the users needs. The functionality of the case is vital and should be comprehend-able by the user even at the MVP stage.

Should Have: At an advanced MVP stage we look at improving the materials and presenting a clearer image of the product and the purpose it serves. In order for the case to function properly we need to apply magnets to the infrastructure and make sure they close properly, another should have requirement is the soft interior “Material” which is an important point of sale for the product as it is intended to contain glasses and protect them. Another important point of sale of Boxie is the mirror (Specially for lenses users) which we were not Able to add at the MVP stage but definitely consider to add in the manufacturing stage of Boxie.

Could have: Boxie Could have a clip on, to attach it to the interior of the bag to stabilize it’s location, However that is not a priority for our product.

After defining our key features of Boxie it was easy to create a hand made product and bring it out to the market to collect strong and clear feedback, in the trade fair we were able to sell approximately 9-10 Boxie cases and have received lots of inquires regarding the product after it’s manufacturing stage. This was a great success for us, as we have not yet manufactured Boxie and sold it as a handmade product which yet has a lot of work to be done and lacked a few features which ultimately can improve the value of Boxie as a product in the market.