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! 

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