Old Spitalfields Trade Fair, Bright Ideas Final… and alternative facts


It has been an incredibly intense week, with two high-profile events such as the Trade Fair in Old Spitalfields and the Bright Ideas Final. Congratulations to all the students and the teams who participated! Here’s some pics.

Old Spitalfields, Team Bright Light (credits: Young Enterprise). Lovely pics of the team in action!



Old Spitalfields, Team Facile (credits: Young Enterprise). What a pity – we do not have an audio of this conversation!



And some more pics which I took at the Bright Ideas Final. Here’s Team Univeau with a leaner stand and a greatly improved logo. From Travelunique to Untangled!


And new materials for Runeasy:


Check out also their news on Twitter. It’s great, really. It’s alternative facts:


The reader’s digest – Postcards from the trade fair

It’s been great to see how much effort and enthusiasm all teams have put into their trade fair! The products, the stands and the pitches revealed a great deal of creativity, passion, and hard work. While some teams were ready with their products to sell, other teams had the chance to gather additional data from potential users, and to further test their prototypes through informal conversation or semi-structured interviews. A ‘lesson learned’ reported from all bloggers consists of putting a great deal of attention into details, and in verbal as well as nonverbal communication. The colors used in packaging, the attire of the stand, and the dress code of teams all communicate – and there is a need for consistency in the message. Here’s some ‘postcards from the trade fair’.

Alex’s post speaks of enthusiasm and pride for their work: https://alexsadat.wordpress.com/2017/01/27/the-tradefair-day/

Celina’s post offers very interesting reflections on exploring senses, emotions and storytelling – along with some amazing pictures that show how the product logo was conceived from a graphic design perspective: https://business4creatives.wordpress.com/2017/02/01/exploring-senses-emotions-and-stories-to-sell/

Mick has learnt a lot from looking at other stands and speaking with other teams, and he is laying out the next steps for the development of their Homebrella: https://mickmace16.wordpress.com/2017/02/02/hugh-manatee-and-a-trade-fair/

Helene is sharing her most important learning point: “Additionally, we found that our product isn’t necessarily only for sleep-use. Many people watch Netflix and movies, and listen to music just for the entertainment value, in bed.” Read the full post at: https://macereflections.wordpress.com/2017/01/30/masterly-attends-the-first-trade-fair/

And Kirsty is also doing what, in business terms, would be called an ‘after action review’ – but her post is that of a ‘design thinker’ who is trying to re-frame the problem and look at materials, processes, as well as the future: https://itstheideathatmatters.wordpress.com/2017/01/28/the-first-trade-fair/

Thanks to all of you for sharing your thoughts… and keep blogging!

Trade Fair photos

A few photos from the day taken by the university photographer Ezzidin Alwan.

Many thanks to all teams for a fantastic day of learning and excitement!

The prizes on the day went to:


Congrats, teams! 🙂

If you have any photos from the day, please share them in our Facebook group – thank you!

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The Reader’s Digest – A pick of January blog posts

– This selection of blog posts provides an overview of your ongoing work and reflections as you have entered the second term and started selling your products in trade fairs.

The LEGO Serious Play activity has been extremely popular among MACE students, with some interesting reflections on the role of play to enhance creativity; as well as on the challenges and the enjoyment encountered in ‘thinking with hands’. How can you apply this design thinking technique to your business context? How would you materialize the vision of your company with a LEGO artifact? Here’s are some interesting reflections:



Others have enjoyed Yannis’ lecture on crowdfunding and learnt about how to fund a start-up. The next step is thinking about how you can actually use this in practice in order to fund your start-up and reach a break even point. Some nice summaries:



And finally, the start of the new year and the beginning of a term rich of new and exciting activities has spurred a lot of reflections, reviews, and propositions for the future. Some interesting lessons learned:


Thanks for sharing your posts!



28 start-ups preparing for Trade Fair I

Kingston University Trade Fair
Kingston Business School Atrium
Thursday 26 January
12:30 set up
13:00 – 17:00 Trade

Let the fun begin! Next week, on Thursday 26 January, you will be presenting your products to the public for the first time. 18 undergraduate and 10 postgraduate start-up teams be participating in the trade fair. This trade fair is compulsory for all students.

The purpose of the trade fair is put you in front of your first real customers who will test your product assumptions, your skills and your entrepreneurial attitudes. Of course, we want you to sell your products too.

On the day, I will collect £10 from each team. The money will go towards cash prizes, awarded in 4 categories:

Best Product – £60 prize
Best Sales Team – £60 prize
Best Trade Stand – £60 prize
Best Overall Company – £100 prize


3 judges will be present on the day: Best Product judge, Best Sales Team judge, and Best Trade Stand judge. They will be visiting your stands and talking with you, and at the end of the day, they will decide on the winner.

So, it will be an exciting day with lots of learning to take on board, so make sure you prepare:

  • Have you got your product ready? Packaging? How will your customers take your product away? If your product isn’t ready – what will you do on the day?
  • How much is your product? Bring plenty of change, and a money box too. Who will look after the money? Make sure you are recording your sales and keeping your books in order. We will be recording your sales week by week.
  • Will you make a team trip to assess and consider the implications of the venue? Each team will be given two small square tables (as in room KHBS0027) but how your stands looks and what it does is up to you.
  • Your stand helps communicate your story. Whatever you put on your stand will communicate something to your visitors – you need to understand and control that communication. You need to delight your customers.
  • Unless you are a party company – you should have no balloons on the table. Unless you are selling sweets and soft drinks – you should not have any on the table. Over the years, we have seen sweets, cans, dead branches and even dead goldfish on trade stands. You do not want to advertise poor decision-making to any visitors.
  • Pinterest is a good inspiration resource – start with a simple “display design” search. Please THINK about what you want and need to communicate and TEST if what you are planning is telling the right story.

  • Do not pay for banners and similar products – this is not a corporate trade fair and what the exercise is about. However, think about business cards as items visitors are willing to take away to remember you even if they don’t buy from you on the day – what else could you use?
  • Do not spend lots of (company) money on your stand. Instead, search for smart ideas that cost little and can be delivered with effort and imagination. If you spend lots of money at this point, you will not be able to redevelop and improve. On Friday 27 January, we will be analysing your display design, packaging and branding in class and you are expected to improve based on this feedback and learning. We are in an iterative process – your learning from this trade fair will inform your next trade fair.
  • P.S. think about different sides, perspectives and heights of your stand (tables). Don’t forget that jackets and bags under the table will show (and communicate) unless you think about this part of the stand in advance too. The solution is not necessarily a tablecloth.

  • Be there on time – as you need to set up. If you are late and not already trading when our judges start their rounds, you are sabotaging yourself alongside looking unprofessional in comparison to every team that made it on time.
  • How will you dress to look the part? What is ‘the part’? Will your entire team stand at the stand the entire time? Will you be waiting for visitors to come to you or will you make an effort to go and get them come to your stand?
  • What will you do between now and next week to let everyone know there is a trade fair going on? Where will you promote? How? To whom? Promoting your own business? Promoting the trade fair?Consider how MACE team effort could benefit you all. If you don’t promote – who will you sell to on the day?
  • Talk with mentors and students from previous years!Use their knowledge and experience…
  • Don’t forget to smile.

We are starting off in the safe environment of the Business School, but you have just over a month to build your confidence and skills for the Kingston Market Square Trade Fair in March.


12:30 Arrival, set up

13:00 Start selling

14:00 Judges start judging

16:00 – 16:15 Judges announce winners: Best Product (£60), Best Stand (£60), Best Sales Team (£60), Best Company (£100)

16:45 Clear up

17:00 End

As always, all questions are welcome. Please post them under this post as comments so that the whole class can learn from them.On Friday, we will also spend some time in class discussing your questions. There’s no such thing as a stupid question, so ask away!