MACE Dragons’ Den is tomorrow!

Here we go, troops! Your first Dragons’ Den is tomorrow. I assume it’s been a busy week and that you are getting tired, so here are the last reminders for tomorrow.

The purpose of this Dragons’ Den is to give you constructive feedback which you can take to improve your businesses in order to get ready for the first trade fair in January. The big, bad Dragons’ Den is the one in March 😉

I have asked the judges for no cruel nor kind feedback –  but for fairness and objectiveness in relation to the marking criteria.  Even though we use marking sheets, these marks are only a guide (please read my previous post again…)

The schedule for tomorrow:

2:00 Students arrive in KHBS3033 for last rehearsals

2:45 Judges meet Janja in the Business School atrium; we go to KHBS3033

3:00 – 3:15 Welcome and briefing for judges

3:15 – 3:30 Team Lucky5 presentation & feedback

3:30 – 3:45 Team Emperatigo presentation & feedback

3:45 – 4:00 Team MSAJ presentation & feedback

4:00 – 4:15 Team Punk! presentation & feedback

4:15 – 4:30 Team Parachutes presentation & feedback

4:30 – 4:45 Break

4:45 – 5:00 Judges’ comments to the entire MACE group

5:00 END

PLEASE NOTE: All teams need to be present for all presentations.

Please respect and support your classmates – they are as nervous as you are. MACE is one big team!

Good luck, troops! Keep dancing, Michelle!

See you all tomorrow!

P.S. Watch the video Dwain sent!

Dragons’ Den next week!

Friday, 11 December, 15:00 – 17:00
Room 3033, Business School, Kingston Hill

The purpose of  Dragons’ Den is to give you an opportunity to evaluate if your business idea is something that is wanted by your audience, is capable of making a profit and possible to accomplish in the time given. You will present to your peers as well as a panel of judges.

In preparation for your Dragons’ Den, you will complete the Bright Ideas competition entry form as your feasibility study and submit for competition AND on StudySpace by 8 December. Last year, one team in this module won £1000 in prize money with this assignment, so it may be a source of funding for your business if successful.

Feasibility study will not be marked as it is a formative assessment, but you will get real feedback from real experts, so do your best!

Here is how it works:

You will have 5 minutes to present your idea. You can use a projector or slides, but remember not to kill us with your slides. We like prototypes and props –  things you can bring on your back!

You will be “marked” on each category on the Bright Ideas form:

1) Elevator Pitch
Did you clearly explain what you are selling, in a compelling and direct way at the start?

2) The need or problem you are addressing, & the target group
Have you provided key information about the problem or need you have identified, and the market or group of people who experience the problem? Who will buy / use your product or service?

3) The product/ service
Did you provide an outline of the product / service or project and how it meets the identified needs of your market segment? How does it work? What are its key features and how does it benefit the target market?
(storytelling/product demos are useful here!)

4) Alternatives & Competitors
Did you demonstrate an understanding of who your competitors are? Did you then explain how your product or service is different from what is already available in the market? Did you also explain why customers should buy from you, rather than your competitors?

5) Market entry
Did you explain how you will attract your FIRST customers? How will your product/service be made available or distributed to your target market/audience? What longer term plans do you have? How could it expand or grow?

6) Overall Presentation
Did you, as a team, demonstrate excellent presentation skills needed by entrepreneurs? Will the judges remember your presentation?


Slides need to be emailed to me by 6PM on Thursday 10 December – no exception. I will upload them to Dropbox and download to the computer in the room on the day. This ensures smooth transitions between teams, no tech drama on the day (= no added anxiety), and hopefully guarantees you some sleep the night before.

Know and understand what your business is and what it does really well. Judges are people, too – don’t bore them, engage them.

Make use of the Feasibility Study Guidelines and think about your financials – judges are bound to ask a few questions about costs and where you are getting the money from. Be prepared for those questions.

Practice, practice, and practice your presentation as a team. Each team member needs to say something to contribute to the presentation. You need to look and sound coordinated as a team. Show that you are all playing your roles on the team. Also, decide how you are going to answer judges’ questions. What questions do you think they will ask you? Practice.

Avoid business management jargon. It can be annoying and you will trap yourself. Judges know what it all means far better than you do. You don’t want to find yourself answering questions that you don’t know how to answer.

Bring your product, or your prototype if the product isn’t ready. Think when you are going to show it to Dragons.

Dress formal. Look like you are serious about your business (because you are, right?). You will also feel better and more confident if you look the part.

NEVER argue with judges . Even if you don’t agree with what they are saying to you as part of their feedback, you should never argue with them. If you have something smart and valid to reply – great, but please keep calm, and stay polite. Dragons will mark you down if they think you are arrogant. They need to like you, not only your idea. You are selling yourself to them as much as you are selling your idea.

Have fun. SMILE.

Mobile phones off & away.

This Friday is your opportunity to get feedback on your pitch in class so please be prepared. We will also be filming your pitches so you can see yourself in action and correct/resolve issues.

If you have any questions, please post them as comments below.

See you all Friday!

Stop Wasting Time. – A review of The Lean Startup by Michelle Petersen

I am a die-hard Friends fan, when I hear the word ‘pivot’ in any context it conjures the image an exasperated Ross trying to squeeze a large bed through a narrow stairwell. It’s funny, it’s true and much like Ross’ efforts, if one does not recalibrate quickly it could result in a lot of effort for nought. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries has re-calibrated my thinking and opened up new paradigms for not only the word ‘pivot’ particular to a business context, but also sprinkled inalienable truths around entrepreneurship and approaches to innovation.

Few business books have succeeded in doing what it says on the tin: contains effective and unconventional methodologies that are proven to transform your business. Proceed with caution. The Lean Startup delivers.

The book is written from Ries’ experiential insights and a level of personal detail that allows for an engaging, light conversational tone. As a technology entrepreneur and author of the successful blog Startup Lessons Learned,  Ries uses his personable sharing-style to elevate his concepts for easier theoretical digestion. The book is comfortably divided into three parts outlining his suggested Lean Start Up methods that aim to streamline business for continued effectiveness. His learnings are based on his insights drawn from his successful startup, IMVU: an instant messaging service that enables communication between users via the use of avatars.

Part One: Vision, is based on the critical foundations required to build innovative companies. Personally, I found one of the key insights from this section was not so much the courageous offer of a working definition of a startup, rather the paradigm shift to (re)consider entrepreneurship as disciplined management. Ries asserts that entrepreneurs are everywhere, and startups are ‘…a human institution designed to create a new product or service under conditions of extreme uncertainty’.  This  centers on defining, experimenting and learning as the initial steps in your business. This framework encourages experimentation and validated learning as crucial early on in the Start up’s life.

Part Two: Steer, continues the experimental vein but adds to it the flair of the build-measure-learn feedback loop aiming for the least amount of time per loop revolution. As I explored part two I chuckled to myself, that as revealed by Ries, it all seemed quite common sense. Yet there are so few businesses that operate on this level –  funny how common sense is not that common. Key interrogative questions such as: What assumptions is your strategy based upon? What is the inference from things hidden in plain sight (analogs and antilogs)? Have you harnessed the value of a minimum viable product (MVP) that aims to answer and test your fundamental business hypothesis? Yeah, he bee-lines for entrepreneurial self reflection.  If it is not working, pivot i.e. change direction based on validated learnings.  Much like Ross from Friends, recalibrate quickly or suffer a dropped bed frame and a painful swollen toe.

‘Be tolerant of all mistakes the first time. Never allow the same mistake to be made twice’ – Ries. E, 2011

Part three: Accelerate,  focusses on Lean Start up techniques that help preserve crucial speed and agility, whilst maintaining growth within the start up. Ries offers insight to building an adaptive organization utilizing the The Five Why’s to help startup’s grow without becoming dysfunctional. Ries details the implementation of lessons learned from lean manufacturing at IMVU by developing a process they called ‘continuous deployment’; ensuring multiple releases are delivered to customers daily, in of course, an environment that accommodates for the assurance of  unfettered service delivery.

A book review will not do this book justice. It has arguably already become a modern classic, and will continue to be a staple on many a future-proofing entrepreneur’s bookshelf. To adopt the Toyota’s lean manufacturing term ‘genchi genbutsu’, I encourage you to ‘go and see’ for yourself and invest the time to read the book cover to cover.  Ries has not only identified friction areas within startups and entrepreneurial ventures, but has also offered a tantalizingly effective framework to address and solve these frictions.

Entrepreneurs are everywhere, and entrepreneurship requires a new kind of management. If it is not working, change it – but change it based on validated learnings. Know that your Build-Measure-Learn loop is your route to to turn ideas into products and in order to improve entrepreneurial outcomes take stock, and do your innovation accounting.  These key tenets are the essence of the Lean Startup Movement – a movement striving to decode how constant innovation can and will lead to success.

If you have not yet read this book, read it, stop wasting time.

‘It’s not what the book costs. It’s what it will cost you if you don’t read it.’ – J. Rohn

Written by: MichelleMace2015

Contact me :  @MaceFiles |  LinkedIn | Blog

The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

The Lean Startup by Eric Ries