Hervorgehoben

A great place to explore your entrepreneurial mind

Science-Museum London

Introduction of myself

Hi I’m Dennis the author of this entrepreneurial blog. Before I start, I just wanted you to be aware of my way of blogging. You won’t find a lot of personal information about me in the upcoming posts. This blog is dedicated to help you to become an entrepreneur. Thus, I don’t want to talk about me here. Nor am I interested in selling you a product or seeing me as your mentor. This is rather going to be a story of a MSc Innovation Management & Entrepreneurship student who’s eager to share his well selected experiences with you. Thereby, you will find some of my most interesting stories posted in this blog. If I say most interesting, it doesn’t mean that you should exactly do what I will be writing about. It should rather give you an outlook of the world of design thinking and I’ll explain to you in simple words how you can easily boost your entrepreneurial mindset. 

Trip to the Science Museum 

You may ask yourself how to come up with bright ideas for your start up. It is often easier than you think. Just get out of your chair and discover the world around you. London offers more than 170 museums and each of them is worth a visit. You will find brilliant exhibitions of pretty much any topic you are interested in. You will meet people who have similar interests and it is a great way to get a first idea of how an industry could look like.

We went to the Science Museum in London to visit the exhibition about driverless driving. A perfect place to discover what is going on in the science world. From what I have seen, I can tell you, artificial intelligence will have a huge impact on us in the upcoming years. Just to mention a few names you should be familiar with, which invest heavily in AI: Amit Singhal, Uber; Andrew Ng, Baidu; Elon Musk, SpaceX & Tesla; Jeff Dean, Google and all of them see great potential in artificial intelligence.

Maybe a smart car park which communicates via AI with the car and sends information about parking duration and the needs of the costumer to advice the closest parking spot of the desired shop of the costumer?

A trip to a museum wasn’t necessarily my first thought of a place where I could come up with bright ideas. But the experience taught me better. The entire exhibition helped me to gain a first grasp of what AI is and how it will be capable of changing our lives. Further, I enjoyed the practical experience of the exhibition. It gave me a clear understanding of how AI will have an impact on our daily life in the future.

Now you still might wonder how on earth is a trip to a museum going to help you with your startup! Clear evidence why a trip to the museum enhances your abilities can be found in several studies.

Museums increase your wellbeing

If you are feeling overwhelmed by a stressfull situation such as coming up with a startup idea, or working on the next assignment, try to take a break. Take a breather at a local museum. It is not only a simpe way to relieve stress, according to a University College London study it is shown that cultural places like museums reduce social isolation, teach new skills, provide positive distraction and foster your sense of community. All of this will help you to balance your mind.

Further, visiting a museum inspires creativity. As the following movie explains to us, if you feel stuck in a creative rut, a trip to a museum can help you to get out of that tunnel.

       Dennis reflective essay

This essay is dedicated to my future self.

No matter how far I have come by now, how much I have gained since completing my Master and if I am holding my PhD title and running my own company. I will always look back on the lessons, I have learned and the skills that I have acquired in the module Design Thinking. 

On my first day in Kingston, it was a Friday and we had the module Design Thinking. We got a question to answer, what we are expecting to learn from this course and what we want to get out from it. These simple questions turned out to be more difficult than I expected. I remember myself thinking about the overall impact of design thinking related to business and came quickly to an easy solution. It might be important, but rational facts are more important.  

Before I started with the course, I rather based my daily life decisions on numbers and facts. Tendentially, I excluded creativity from me, because I described myself as uncreative and rather as a rational decision maker. In my opinion, design and creativity certainly accounted for business too, but if needed there would be people who I could hire to do the job. Hence, my answer to the question what I would expect to get out from the course was quite simple, in fact, too simple. How to either know the basic facts about Design Thinking to find the right people, I am uncreative anyways and won´t do the job myself, or I might find students who are really good in the design process and who want to join me. Also, my learning expectations weren’t too high, in my former opinion, creativity wasn’t as important as it is nowadays. 

Fortunately, right at the start of the course a colleague recommended me to read Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman and from this book I remembered the hypothesis that humans have two thought systems, “system 1” is fast in decision making, instinctive and emotional and “System 2” thinks slower but more logical and complex (Kahneman, 2011). This led to my assumption that my first attempt to answer the two questions about my expectations and knowledge about Design Thinking might be right, but in order to get a deeper and more detailed answer and not only scratch the surface of the question I had to think more about the impact of Design Thinking and what I really wanted to learn more about in this course. Backed up with some pre knowledge coming from the book the art of creative thinking, how to be innovative and develop great ideas by John Adair, I concluded that creativity and design thinking is important and that it not only provides a competitive advantage in business spheres, it also provides life changing opportunities in my personal life too (Adair, 2007). Nowadays, after I have finished this module, I can rely on my own experiences from this course and if someone would ask me again what I would think about the impact of Design Thinking I would answer it is more important than ever before for us, it shaped the basic principles of our society. 

Honestly, the Design Thinking lectures were exhausting, a waterfall of information poured down on me and for a Friday class with my mind wandering off an afterparty. I was not only surprised how much input of the classes remained; I was also stunned about the diversity of information that were taught to us. In the first lecture that I attended, we had to set up our wordpress accounts to publish a blog about our learning outcomes of the lectures and I hated the idea of writing posts. Something I would never come up with myself. Summarizing my learning outcomes for someone else wasn’t really the reason why I´d chosen this course at the first place, but I really enjoyed the structured and well delivered lesson. To my surprise, the blog posts helped me a lot to remember the theories and things I have learned in the module. Now, reflecting on this way of assessment I have to revise my first opinion and I have to agree on the fact that it really helped me.

Part of the evaluation of the module was based on a real business project. We were supposed to set up a real company and I loved this practical approach. Right in the beginning of the term, we formed groups and I met Abk and Ashutosh (my business partner) for the first time. Instantly, we became friends and once we started with the project, we realized that we had very good complementary skills for the project. My business experiences, the engineering background of Ashu and the marketing background of Abk resulted in a strong team. 

We had tons of ideas and it was difficult to select one specific idea. All of them had minor parts of improvement for the society but none of them seemed to have the perfect fit for us and most of the upcoming ideas already existed. I realized that it is very difficult to be specific in exact problem formulating and it is even harder to find a proper solution and form a business around the idea. The alternative usage of bio-plastic idea popped up when we visited the design museum. In the PriestmanGoode Exhibition multiple ways of alternative in-flight plastics were shown with a better biodegradability than regular plastic boxes for lunch and snack meals in planes (apex, 2020). We got inspired and tried to apply the concept of using bio plastic in different markets such as the smartphone cover market. This was how we came up with our product idea and our framework of RICO was born, after we applied the Lean Canvas model, we decided to extend our analysis of the needs of the target customer to foster our uniqueness and to design and create the product aligned to the needs of the customer. 

With the help of the Lean Canvas model (Lewrick & Link, 2015), we figured out our key problem for our business idea. We came up with environmental pollution from excessive use of plastic as our problem and our solution to it was an alternative material usage for a product without a second hand market, the smartphone cover market. We defined channels, formulated a USP and figured out potential revenue streams., but before we came up with this idea, we struggled with the solution process. 

After we had finally decided on our product, deadlines and an upcoming presentation put us on time pressure. The first Dragon’s Den was supposed to be two days and we had no viable product on hand, nor we had really practiced the presentation. Instead of stressing us out and spreading negative vibes among us as a group. We tried to do our best and relied on the pareto principle. Working on the key elements of the product and the presentation and improvise the last bit if questions would appear that wouldn’t be key drivers in our opinion (Sanders, 1987). Lesson learned; preparation is the key factor to success. The presentation was alright but, in our opinion, we had missed out a lot of things and even the judges concluded in the feedback that the product is great and sustainable but it would help us, to have our attention to details. It was good for us to hear that the basic product itself had a potential, because we knew that the presentation and our paper prototype were improvable. 

Deducting from a CB insight study we tried to eliminate as many reasons as possible why startups might fail. Chronologically, we analyzed the potential threats and formulated reasons why this couldn’t happen to us, or how to prevent certain outcomes. This was helpful, as this process of imagination enlarged our understanding of the smart phone cover market, our customer and about us and our potential in competencies. 

We carried out a small market research, asked friends and family members about their interest in a sustainable smartphone cover and found that there is potential need in this market. Thereby, it was a great life lesson to learn how theoretical knowledge of structuring surveys would lead to a practical and measurable outcome. Qualitative interviews as well as more surveys on SurveyMonkey proved to us strong interest from several target groups. Further, we received good feedback from interviewees about the idea of biodegradable and environmentally friendly smartphone cases. Whenever we had the possibility, we tried to hold the feedback loops as small as possible and we carried them out in small time frames with our potential customer and applied them, to quickly get an external opinion on our product changes (Ries, 2011). The outcome of the feedback loops was used and transformed into points of optimization for our product and then tested again. This also helped us to create a product designed to the needs of our potential target group.

After we received several inquiries for the cases, it was time for us to get the first prototype. We looked up potential manufacturers and quickly found a distributor in Poland. However, the poor product quality and missing information on the production process were unsatisfying and we decided to change the manufacturer as 17% of startups failed due to poor product quality. It took us a while until we finally found another potential manufacturer in China. The prototypes arrived right on time just before the first trade fair was about to start and we were happy with the quality of the product. Even the production side and manufacturing process were certified. They only used sustainable and eco-friendly materials for the production. Further, in terms of crucial concern of the feedbacks, the wages and salaries of the employees in the production side were higher than the average salary and the working conditions were good.

Something that really inspired me was a sentence from one of our judges on the last day at the final Dragon Dens:

“It is always about the story!”

He concluded that a very good product differentiate itself from good ideas just in the small detail of the story. The very good idea or product nourishes itself from the story behind it and consumer not only buy the product, they buy emotions delivered from the product and the story. They buy a story and identify themselves with the product, it is not only free marketing when the customer talks about your product, moreover you can create a strong follower base, which encourages even more people to buy the story. Even the process of unboxing and the shopping experience take part in the story telling.

In order to validate his hypothesis, I carried out a self-experiment. Whenever I had the choice between quite similar products, I asked myself what the reason might be why I would rather go with product A instead of product B. Most of the times I´d make my decision based on the design and whether I am familiar with the product. In context to the story behind the product, product A, Swiss cheese with the picturesque mountains in the background of its cover convinced me through the story it delivered to me. I associated the mountains with the cows in the background with fresh cheese from Switzerland whereas product B, a plain cheese with no design nor story couldn’t convince me nor build an imagination of a story of the product, it only served it purpose. 

Therefore, my final conclusion is that Design Thinking is and will always be incredibly important for the development of our society. It is one of the basic principles that determine our future. Further, it is a way of life and it is our duty as entrepreneurs to share that way of being so. 

TED Talks. The business TikTok and professional pandemic boredom killer

It’s corona time. Locked down and nothing to do, TikTok and Youtube received a hype like never seen before. Even I was pulled into the swamp of laziness and I found myself spending hours in front of my phone, watching puppies and dancing cats. In the beginning I got up at 7 am, motivated and full of energy but as the lock down went on, my sleeping habits changed. Going to bed at 2 am became my new passion and sleeping until 10 am was my daily standard. Laziness spread in all parts of my body. The gym was closed and online workouts couldn’t really satisfy my need.

Somehow I had to escape this downwards spiral. But how? The coziness of my bed seemed to be too powerful and apart from breakfast and some home office tasks I couldn’t really name any other things to do. After the fifth time walking with my dog in a quarter of a day, a flash of inspiration struck me. We used to watch TED talks in the last 5 min of class and I remembered that some of them really aspired me to dive deeper into subjects like behavioral psychology and future leadership.

Knowing myself and that I get quickly bored, I skeptically switched the platforms from social entertainment to something with more content, TED business talks. The first business talks really raised my interest and I started watching even more business talks. Writing down small notes for each of them on my phone and summarizing them to get the crucial message out of the ones that interested me the most, helped me to preserve the provided information. On the other hand, I started to become more motivated again. I got out of the downwards spiral.

Although, this seems irrelevant to my learning outcomes from my studies in the first place. It is stronger related to my educational endurance than I expected it. I often found myself in the middle of an assignment not knowing what to write and how to move on and then relied on the good old habits of watching TV, playing Playstation etc. in other words procrastination 2.0. The same happened to us as a team right in the beginning of our business idea. We lost track and got stuck being unproductive and lazy. It was hard to get out of this situation and find the right motivation to move on. But the little extra effort always pays off and It taught me a very important life lesson. Life is not always easy and there are many ways to become successful. But you have to try and repeat to reach it. It won’t come automatically from itself. Sometimes you will get stuck and you will find yourself demotivated and eventually you are about to give up. But always get up and try to find a solution.

I can really suggest you this book if you feel stuck or if you need a different view on your current life situation or if you have a spare minute and don’t know what to do. It sums up how to live a positive lifestyle and how to prioritize yourself and your ambitions. Further, it motivates you to take action and how do deal with pain and failures.

Final Day: Dragons Den Part 2

Interest aroused in the last blog post? Read the first part here again.

After we finished our preparations, the moment of the final presentation came closer and closer. We practiced together with another group and helped each other to improve stress-related mistakes. After months of working on the project, it was not easy to cut the presentation down to 5 minutes. At first we thought it would be hard to fill several minutes to talk about our project. But after the first moc presentation, we realized that we rather had to reduce the content.

But now on to the topic, the Dragon Den presentation. Each team had the opportunity to decorate a table with their product or product/presentation related parts. We decided to convince only with our product, the Smartphone cover.

The jury made a nice and yet very strict impression. But we felt that our presentation went very well and we scored especially well in the question and answer session. We noticed that a lot of questions were also asked in relation to the content and therefore the content was probably not completely understandable. However, we convinced them with our strong product and furthermore, during the questions we managed to answer them properly. We learned a lot from the questions and the feedback was really good for us to identify issues such as clarity.

The next few hours until the winner was released felt like ages. The two potential winners were supposed to get mentors to participate at the UK start up finals. Although, we did not believe to win, we prepared the requested two minutes pitch.

Just before the winners were announced, I received a call from my family calling me home the next day in the morning due to a pandemic and uncertain ongoings. I was shocked and totally blacked out. When the winners were announced and I heard our name, I couldn’t believe it and I was really afraid to hold the two minutes pitch for the next competition. My mind wandered off and I was stuck in the thought of packing my luggage and leaving the UK for an undefined amount of time. In this moment I really have to say thank you for my great team. They took over my part and presented my parts of the two minutes pitch. We connived the jury and won with another team to join the UK start up finals.

The excitement was written in our faces and we were really happy. One of the judges and potential customers came up to us and told us that he really believes in the product and gave us the hint that the story behind any product is even more important and appealing to customer than the product itself. Especially in a market with strong competition.

Watch this movie and fire your imagination and stir your emotions. It explains very well how business storytelling works and how you benefit from it.

How do you like your turtle, a Design Question

Have you ever had a five-hour conversation about designing a turtle? If so, welcome to the club.
I’ve probably never talked about such small details in my life and that’s probably not just because I’m a man and tend to make rational decisions.

The reason for this conversation was a comment from one of our mentors: „Why did you change the design of the turtle, it was so cute before and now it looks like a robot turtle“

Suddenly a passionate conversation started in us. Why did we change the turtle in the first place? Oh, yeah! The previous design was difficult to sketch and the conversion into a format-free file would have taken days!

But our initial customer feedback has shown that our current design does not meet the requirements of our potential customers. Rather, they can no longer identify with the brand! So what is the perception of our brand by our customers?

We realized how important product design can be for the whole company and a problem was born that we had previously recognized as not so relevant

Product Design

If you think that designing a product is as easy as making a drawing, then you should be prepared to know the difficult but interesting process that product designers and developers must go through.

The goal of product design is certainly not just to create an attractive design for an upcoming product. Rather, there are different things we have to go through to create something great for everyone.

We divided the task to design our turtle into 4 stages.

  1. Perception of the product

When designing a product, the very first thing you need to do is to fully discover the project. You can only find a flawless solution if you are thoroughly aware of the problem. Half knowledge of the project will not enable you to design something unique and creative for the client in question.

The first step you must take here is to acquire a comprehensive knowledge of the target audience. Once you know the audience, the more you will be able to design something that matches their interests. You also need to get first-hand information about how the audience will react to a particular design. You can use interviews and online research to get to know the audience.

2. Share outcome

Following the adequate, fairly detailed research about the audience, we at Geo Rico will have an official discussion about the project, considering all possible ways and practices. There are three things we keep in front of us during the discussion: information about the audience, analysis of the competitors and the audience’s current problems.

3. Gathering together to find one solution

When we have finished with the findings and appropriate discussions about them, the next step in our product design process is to find the solutions. Our entire team brainstorms about solutions so that we can come up with overwhelming ideas.

We look for features that can solve the audience’s problems, we look at the market, we experiment with different first drafts with a few small groups of people, and we do anything that can help us create a perfect product design.

4. Final Step

The last step refers to the prototype and iteration. Starting with the first hand-drawn sketches, we use Photoshop to create a final result.

In this final step, we also test the designs and modify them accordingly. Finally, the final design is created.

Some examples of our initial logo design
Our Initial logo on the left side and our new logo on the right side

As you can see above, the logo on the right side might look a little bit like a robotic turtle. Thanks to small feedback loops of our customers we identified the problem and got back to our old design.

Your outtake from this blog post

never underestimate the complexity of the product and logo design. Although it seems very simple but it can take few hours until you will find a proper design. Further, always get feedback from your potential users, as they will be the future peer-group.

Final Day: Dragons Den Part 1

The day of days was upon us. Dragons Den and once again it showed in what a fast moving world we live in. Hardly started, the theoretical part of the project was coming to an end. Each of the teams was very well prepared and ready to present their business idea to the jury.

In all the preparation we as a group often tended to forget the basic principles of our idea. For this reason we made a kind of cheat sheet before the presentation to be prepared for possible questions from the jury. As it turned out later, it was a complete success for us.

But now to the questions on the cheat sheet. As we learned in theory we asked ourselves questions that can also be found in the Lean Canvas Model.

Product

  • What is our product?
  • What is the mission?
  • Which problem do we solve for the customer?
  • Sales figures ?
  • USP?
  • Which channels are used?
  • Customer lifetime value?
  • Scalability of the idea

Founder

  • What motivates us to sell our product?
  • Are we willing to stand behind the product 100%?
  • Personal Story so far?

Team

  • Profile of the founders
  • Necessary skills on board? What do we need
  • Team player skills?

Market

  • Market size?
  • Target Group?
  • projected sales?
  • future strategies?

After we were able to answer all questions from the catalogue in a matter of seconds, we felt more than ready to hold the presentation.

However, remembering from class we had in mind that one of the most important points for the judges is the team. Problems with the product are easily solvable but a weak team spirit is dangerous for the future of the company. According to a study this is even one of the likeliest reasons for startup fails:

Deducting from our market research we knew, that there was demand for the product and our cashflow projection showed that cash wouldn’t be our problem. Therefore, we focused mainly to perform as one unit.

This eventually separated us from some teams as they faced problems within the group even before the presentation began.

Thus, a crucial outcome of the course for me and for us as a group is that team spirit and efficient and productive problem solving among team members are the most important things to achieve any success story.

Here you can find a great example of how to form team spirit also in larger cooperations such as PwC:

Preparations for the final Dragons Den

After almost 6 months of preparations the final day got closer. Dragons Den and judging time. The tension among the teams became stronger and it was visible that each team was extremely motivated and hard working. Team work was key to success now. With strong pressure coming from other exam due days, we had to work on a businessplan as well as our business pitch.

Work harder than you think you worked yesterday.

Alex Elle

With this quote in mind, we spent nearly two days in the library and worked almost 40 hours straight. By then we realized how valuable a good relationship among team members is and how valuable it is to benefit from a very diverse team.

We divided tasks into our special fields of knowledge and got together for a quick briefing after each task was done.

3:06 am working on product design.

In this picture you can see me doing the final review of work from Abk. He reshaped the design and adapted small features such as a thicker front layer to protect the screen from scratches.

After our marathon of work, we celebrated the outcome with a dinner together. Looking back on the entire process, I would always recommend any team to celebrate milestones with special group treatments such as a dinner together. It not only brings you closer together it also reduces the tension among group members and allows a neutral zone for critical feedback.

I really suggest you to take a look at impraise blog, The benefits of Recognizing your Team Success and the 3 Rules of Celebration to understand the importance of celebrating milestones and achievements as a team.

During the dinner we talked about our mistakes and how to improve. However, most of the time we just enjoyed being together. Reflecting on it, I tend to say it was a really good boost for the final presentation as a team. We supported our confidence and cheered to the future success. We learned that it is incredibly important to believe in yourself. We clearly believed in our vision and were ready to pitch in front of anyone.

Science Fiction the new way of Strategic foresight

Past – Now, but where’s the Future?

We live in a fast evolving society and it seems like it has never been more difficult to come up with a new idea which hasn’t been invented so far. We optimize existing products and try to go with the flow. We use our knowledge of the past to find new ways of optimization. Now and then, a new product pops up and you tend to ask yourself how did the inventor came up with this simple but genial idea, but in general you’d only see the use of the product and enjoy its purpose.

Design Thinking should help us to look behind the curtains and it should help us to discover new ways of thinking. Still, as a Design Thinking / Entrepreneurship student it is quite hard for me to find these hidden routes and I often find myself exploring already existing paths.
The surface question is, how do we come up with something that might changes the world. After you’ve thought a little about that question, you will realize there’s so much more behind that question and most of the time our narrowed capacity of thinking limits our thoughts to what we already now.

Our brain is stuck in the now and even more in the past. With a little research everyone could have foreseen the financial crisis in 2008 provided by data which we have nowadays in 2019, but is there anyone who can predict the next crisis? Future is always alined with uncertainty. This is what makes entrepreneurship so interesting to me. Big companies don’t leave their Safe-Haven and swim with the stream. They are successful in what they’re doing and from the past they have learned to stick with it. Kodak is a great example of how big companies can out of a sudden lose all of their status. Kodak believed in the analog photography and underestimated the uprising competition of digital photography. The management claimed that this hocus pocus is soon outdated and that there’s no evidence for real competition. However, they were wrong and digital photography proved to be incredible successful.

Entrepreneurs see their chance in the opportunity and try to participate in the market. Still, most of the entrepreneurs are only early adaptors of the innovation and only jumped on the train of uncertain success.

How do we become as visionary as one of these crazy developer?

Most of you should’ve heard of him, Elon Musk. His mission to make spaceship rides affordable for everyone seems very unrealistic and crazy to most of us. However, taking a deeper look into deeper his vision we must admit that he’s not totally wrong with his assumption that someday we will be sending people to the mars for as much as a flight ticket today. Why do we have the feeling that this will be possible in the future? Because we have seen it already in so many Sci-fi movies. This is the point where the loop of entrepreneurship and science fiction closes. Only 50 years ago, Sci-Fi authors talked about smart devices which would revolutionize the world. Today we call them Smartphones and they „help“ us through every situation in our daily life.

A Harvard Study found that Science Fiction ideas and the current status quo are becoming closer together. Our craziest technology dreams might come true in a few years. Hence, some design thinking offices work with sci-fi authors to develop new ideas for companies. Even big companies such as Nike tried this new way of thinking.

How does it work?

Interested in trying it yourself? It is easier than you think. Only follow the task posted below

Imagine the future in 100 years of Fire Brigade in London UK and write a short story that incorporate these 3 questions: 

  • Smart Homes and Buildings: How can process optimisation and smart technology (such as cameras, sensors, smart meters,…) in buildings help the fire services with fire prevention and detection?
  • Smart Mobility: Which new challenges in the field of mobility (such as increasing traffic and the emergence of electric cars) impact firefighting?
  • Smart Fire Service: How can smart education and emerging technologies (VR, AR, drones, wearables,…) be deployed in the field so that the fire services can carry out their work even more efficiently?

Your story should have a plot with a: a protagonist, an antagonist, a scene, an unexpected incident and a resolution.

Protect what is yours

IP in the entrepreneurship environment

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) can be used to protect your brand name, the technology, design and creativity behind your idea. It grants you the sole ownership of the idea and can be regarded in a similar way of owning a physical property.

What does this mean?

To gain a competitive advantage it is necessary to protect your business otherwise keen competitors will copy your work or even protect the idea themselves. This could result in you paying license fees to them because they own the rights. Especially in the UK this can be dangerous because the first person who registries the patent always counts as the owner of the idea.

Without protecting your brand, design or technology you put yourself in a dangerous zone and it might hold you back from focusing on the important strategies when it is needed. Thus, IP should always be included in the first steps in a start up.

It is no rocket science to register a patent and you will find a lot of information on governmental websites such as European IP Help Desk. However, it can be costly to register a patent. Especially in the start up phase cost reduction is very important and the application cost for a UK patent start at £230 and can range up to £10,000 for an international license. Furthermore, only because the process to register a patent is easy, it doesn’t mean that coming up with the correct formulation of a patent is easy as well. Although you will have a lot of governmental support it will take a while until you fully understood all the important parts.

What can I protect?

As mentioned in the introduction, there are several properties which can be protected through IPR, each of them have different ways of how to be protected.

Patent

A patent that is legally enforceable in the United Kingdom is a right granted by the British Intellectual Property Office or the European Patent Organisation. The IP right has a maximum life of 20 years from the date of the patent application. To maintain registration, variable renewal fees are payable from the fourth anniversary of the filing date.

Trade Mark

Legally enforceable trademark rights may be issued by the UK Intellectual Property Office or the EU Intellectual Property Office. These are granted for 10 years and can be renewed every 10 years.
The United Kingdom is a country where it is possible for trademark rights to exist without registration, although this is difficult to prove. These are common law rights and they are based on significant use that has been made for a long time and require the party claiming the existence of such rights to prove that the mark is so well known that much goodwill and reputation is now attached to the mark.

Design

Like trademarks, legally enforceable design rights can be issued by the UK Intellectual Property Office or the EU Intellectual Property Office. A design registered in the UK is protected in the UK for up to 25 years, renewable at variable rates every five years.
In the case of unregistered designs, they are valid for up to 15 years in the United Kingdom and up to three years in the European Union.

Copyrights

The copyright is granted automatically. There is no register in the UK and exists for the life of the author plus a period of 70 years from the end of the year in which the author died. In the case of computer-generated works, these 50 years will start at the end of the year in which the work was done.

This small movie explains you why IPR is important all over the world and gives great examples of IP applied in the business world and also even for smaller companies.

Dragons Den, a new business idea within two days.

This week we had to present our start-up pitches in front of a jury of specialists, called the Dragon’s Den. It was not only our first time to present our pitch to strangers, we also changed our business idea a few days before the presentation and felt very uncomfortable to deliver a professional pitch. However, we prepared our speeches and divided the work among us three. Doing so, it was really beneficial that all of us had different specialized backgrounds and we managed to come up with an entire new business idea within a day and created the presentation for it also in less than a day.

Challenging was not only to create the presentation. We were supposed to present a prototype to the Dragons. In our case a sustainable smartphone cover. After a quick chat with a 3D printing agency it was clear that we won’t create a working prototype in the time given. Hence, we decided to be as creative as possible and designed our prototype with only one sheet of paper, a pencil and one accessoire of our choice. To our surprise, the outcome was better than we expected it and we were able to use it as an explanatory tool in our presentation.

We were the first group which had to present and apart from the nerviness in the beginning, the entire presentation went smooth. In the Q&A phase, critical questions were raised and we realized that we need to work on the presentation as we couldn’t include pricing of the product in the 5 min pitch and the Dragons had to ask about the price afterwards. Further, they mentioned important points such as finding the proper manufacturing company, sustainable production chain, production and shipping ethics and advised us to dive deeper into these procedures and to deliver a final and tangible prototype until the next Dragons Den event.

Outtakes for you

Ever heard of milestones? Most tasks in the entrepreneurship environment seem to be too big, complex and sometimes overwhelming in the beginning, but as soon as you divide them into smaller goals and set yourself milestones you trick your brain and the task will be perceived as more realistic and achievable.

Book Smart Goals made simple

Even S.J. Scott and some studies refer to the positive impact of setting milestones. We have never been surrounded by a more success driven society around us than nowadays and it is vital for us to celebrate small achievements. Not only in business and work life but also for your personal development it can be helpful to divide goals into smaller milestones. You want to become healthier, set yourself the goal to eat at least one healthy meal a day in the beginning and start to expand that. You want to enhance your fitness goals but going to the gym 7 times a week is impossible? Set yourself a smaller goal, like going twice a week and it will be likelier that you achieve the longterm goal.

This 6 min video explains very good how important milestones are and why we should apply the rule of setting milestones to achieve our goals.

The power of a team how to successfully launch a start-up

„If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.“ –Henry Ford

No doubt, we all know group works from back in the school. The one lazy guy who always promises to get his work done and then the rest who tries to keep up with the tasks. Certainly, you remember these days and how annoying it could be if someone’s not with the team. In business environments you’ll also find teams. Some as inefficient as the ones with the lazy guy and some which are really efficient.

But what makes the difference, how can you form a team of experts who are keen to work in the same interested and create something valuable?

You need to have management and even more important leader skills. As a team you can achieve more than you believe and very complex tasks become bearable when you work in a team.

It is often not easy to come up with the same thoughts and it is sometimes very hard to restrain from your own opinion without arguing against the points of the team members. Therefore, it is very important to learn how to manage your own temper.

In our team, we examined that it is easier to work together if everyone has a specific task. All of us came from different backgrounds with different experiences. Engineering, Finance – Management and Marketing. Arguments were inevitably foreseen. Somehow we managed to address roles to each of us, per se not the topic we used to be doing in the past, but rather something we were interested in. We created an atmosphere which enhanced our participation in sharing our knowledge to others. We also addressed a time keeper who would inform us about due dates and who always kept an eye on the watch. You won’t believe the benefit of it without trying it.

Team meeting in a booked room at Kingston University

We used different channels to communicate with each other and once in a week we delivered our outcomes in a meeting to the rest of the team. Although, the usage of instant messengers was declared as not being useful for achieving the tasks, we experienced great results with it. Especially, before presentations we used the voice recording function to present our parts to the rest of the team. However, sometimes clarification was needed and phone calls helped to explain the individual concern.

Recommendation: How to win friends & influence people

We mutually benefited from the outcomes of the book How to win friends & influence people. As already mentioned, arguments were foreseen in our group and a quick solution to deal with these problems was necessary for us to stay efficient. Dale Carnegie explains it very well in his book how to avoid negative criticism and how to convince others about your ideas without hurting their feelings. Our thinking as a team allowed us to stay very flexible until the last minute and we were able to maneuver almost impossible tasks like create an entire new product within one day without an effort.

3 Reasons why teamwork is important for entrepreneurship

In this movie Dr. Ali Beba, Management Innovation & Entrepreneurship Professor at AUS summarizes the importance of a team in the entrepreneurial environment. He emphasizes that team members should have complement skills and should respect each other. But most importantly they need to be capable to work under pressure.

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