Building products that customers love

Last week we dug deeper into the topics of entrepreneurship and startups. Your comments on my question “What is a startup?” are the beginning of the debate so keep them coming as we go, please.

The Lean Startup

I’ve asked you to read the book, and here is more food for thought:

Also check out the free Lean Startup Co. webcast to build up on our Storytelling for Entrepreneurs session, and on the Lean Canvas session – they will be discussing with Tom Nguyen how ’empathetic design, radical simplicity, and iteration will help you build products that bring people joy’.

‘Tom Nguyen is Principal Product Manager and product lead for Adobe Voice, an award-winning storytelling app that lets anyone create engaging explainer videos in minutes. Its mission is to democratize storytelling, to help people make an impact by sharing stories that matter.’

Finally, our agenda for tomorrow:

10AM – 1PM in KHFL2011

Storytelling for Entrepreneurs (Rob Grundel


2PM – 6PM in KHBS3033

Lean Canvas (Richard Anson)

Don’t forget your M&Ms!
See you all tomorrow!

P.S. I keep linking to people on LinkedIn – follow the breadcrumbs, please.


Go get the Squid at the Bright Futures workshop

Bright Futures 2015

Squid London are coming to the workshop so it is not only the perfect skills workshop for you, but also a great opportunity to talk to Squid London about how they developed their product(s). Take a look at their list of stockists – how did they get from their initial idea ‘to brighten up the rainy days’ to being in MoMA NYC, Tate, Globus, Hamleys Toy Store and The British Museum? The workshop is your opportunity to find out and get a contact for later on when you need some advice for your businesses. Happy networking!

Sign up at for free

Read more about the workshop here:

* No business skills required

Squid London

First Ideas and First Users

Last Friday, we registered your startups with Young Enterprise and introduced you to the associated constraints and considerations.  As discussed in class, there will be no competition between teams, we expect high standard business ethics, and finally – your business ideas are subject to business rules…with absolutely no exceptions… Please review these rules again (and again) before Friday class:

Almost a month ago, I set you a challenge:

Screen shot 2015-10-21 at 17.25.56

I understand this challenge was not easy but it was intended to train you for this moment. I imagine you spent the last few days since business registration searching for your business ideas – observing, brainstorming, talking with people, testing your assumptions… Did you?

A few tips to help you:

It will not work if you don’t care about it. If you can’t find a reason to care about it, why would you expect anyone else to care about it?

Last Saturday I visited the Cosmonauts exhibition at the Science Museum, and it is probably the most inspirational exhibition I have ever visited. I expected ‘the story of Russian space travel’ but I did not expect the story of passion, true grit, sacrifice, and innovation that I found. I never knew that the idea of space travel came from a man who as a boy suffered an illness that left him handicapped – he turned his handicap into a life-long project of passion, and inspired generations AND nations…


Ideas work best with passion applied.

(Go see the exhibition!!!!)

Rules of brainstorming – an old favourite:

Ideas are (cheap and) everywhere…

…Execution brings success (or not).

A $1.5M Kickstarter Project Fails, Leaving Most Backers Without Their 3D Printer via @techcrunch

You are a startup. You will start with no more than £1000 startup capital. All team members have an equal share in the business and can only invest as much as the other team members.

Be realistic and honest with yourself. As explained in class, the difference between a team of students and a team of NASA scientists proposing to build a rocket is in the feasibility of the proposal. You should have access to your users (customers). You have until March to turn a profit.

You need to have your first product ready the first Friday in December. You will present your product to a panel of judges (Dragons) in the Dragons’ Den on 11 December and they will give you feedback which you will use to improve your product. For this reason, do not make a large quantity of products just yet…

Understand your capabilities. It allows you to focus on what you can achieve in the time you have available.

The same old obvious solution is not what you want and need. Read up on informational vs transformational knowledge:

and why it matters – for example:

Beware of the enemies:

CB5 CB4 CB3 CB 2 CB 1


Don’t forget about design thinking!

It often happens that students want to forget about design thinking as soon as we turn to their businesses. Remember: design thinking is the difference between the meaningful, user-centred solution and the solution that prescribes/dictates user behaviour.

For example, I had to spend some time in hospital this week and these photos illustrate the reality of the experience. The ceiling is what one sees most of the time spent in hospital.

Hospital ceiling

And this pile of instructions is intended to help one navigate through the journey of the treatment.

DT Hospital

But how can this be done in a human-centred way, keeping the wellbeing of the user as a priority?

One of my favourite examples is still the New Evelina Children’s Hospital in London, built as the antithesis of traditional healthcare design, with a rocket slide in the atrium and with superheros washing the windows:

Or how about this example of patient-centred communication materials for breast cancer detention:

Know your lemons

Worldwide Breast Cancer


On Friday, come to class armed with your ideas. You need more than one idea. One idea at this stage is simply not good enough.

Think about, discuss with your team, and document the following, for each idea:

  1. What is your idea about? What is the driving force behind it? Provide key information about the problem or need you have identified.
  2. Who is this idea for? Who will buy or use your product or service? Your persona – what are their needs, what do they care about and why?
  3. Your solution to the problem/need identified – how does it work?
  4. …then find 8 first users (real people!) your persona represents (2 per team member, so not that scary!) and talk with them about your idea in order to learn (NO SURVEYS, please, thank you)

We will review your ideas and personas work/learning in class and enable you to get deeper into the problem so you can assess the feasibility of the idea for your business.

Bring materials you need to build your first (quick & dirty) prototypes. Pens, paper and post it notes provided, as usual.

See you all Friday!

P.S. A question (leave your answers as comments on this post): what is a start-up? Deadline: Friday 2PM.

Start up, all! Startup Registration Day

Tomorrow is your D-Day.

Tomorrow, you will register your teams as Young Enterprise startups and there will be no opportunity to change your mind or hearth – this is where we get serious.

From tomorrow, you will make sure you always treat your team, your business, your colleagues, and your class with respect – you only deserve to get what you give. It will be tough at times, but we will use the journey to grow – every day just a bit more. We all have to do it – you are not alone.

From tomorrow, your commitment is what will keep us all going forward – we all need you to embrace and commit to the journey in order to learn from it. Don’t focus on the destination (your marks) – focus on the journey!

From tomorrow, you should think more about the wellbeing of your team and business and less about “I, me, mine”. Vulcan wisdom applies: “Logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”

I don’t know about you but I am very excited. I can’t wait to see who’s teamed up and I can’t wait to see where your teams’ creativity and hard work will take us this year.

On behalf of the teaching team, thank you very much for taking us on your journey with you 🙂

I expect to see all smiley faces tomorrow 😉 KHBS1006. 10AM sharp start.

P.S. Please complete the task(s) set by Laura by leaving your responses in the comments on her post(s). Thank you!