Here’s the Dragons’ Den!

Congratulations to all our start-up teams going through the Dragons’ Den! Well done on pitching to the judges and addressing their comments. Your work shows a great deal of strength, determination and willingness to improve.

And here’s some pictures from the big day!


Dragons’ Den 2017

Teams Global Song, One Minute and Hi-Phive in action!

Teams Quintet, Yobbafic and Eatome in action!

And some tweets (and re-tweets). Hard work pays off!


The Dragons’ Den is fast approaching… Are you ready?

3 days to go! Rehearse, rehearse, and rehearse… And remember that the purpose of the Dragons’ Den is to provide you with constructive feedback on your business idea – be it a product or service. The judges have been instructed to avoid harsh comments, and instead to be fair and objective in relation to the marking criteria. Remember these? Here’s a refresh:

  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, and 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?
  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 do you plan to expand/grow?
  6. Overall Presentation: Did you, as a team, demonstrate excellent presentation skills needed by entrepreneurs? Will the judges remember your presentation?

And remember the ground rules and pitching tips!

Ground rules:

  • 5 minutes pitch + 10 mins. Q&A
  • No PowerPoint presentations (you can use slides only to show pictures)
  • Respect the time limit and use all time allocated

Most important tips:

  • Provide hand-outs (canvases, flyers, pictures‚Ķ) and materials (business cards,
    prototypes, samples) that will remind your audience of your pitch
    and offer additional information
  • Engage your audience (and be grateful for feedback)
  • Be passionate (traction effect)
  • Have a clear team strategy for dealing with Q&A
    (do not talk over each other, decide on who answers which question area, …)
  • Dress the part

And also:

  • Do not say ‘there is no competition for this product/service’! The judges are
    going to respond: ‘Then, there is no market…’. Instead, think of substitutes!
  • Be clear about your first customer
  • Do not overstate, do not understate…

The motto is: Show, don’t tell!


Enterprise! Workshop: How to create the perfect pitch

In this workshop, you will learn practical tips on how to pitch your idea(s) more confidently as well as how to become a more confident public speaker. Communication skills are essential in all walks of life so how you present yourself and your ideas is vital. You will learn what information you should have in every presentation and be helped to create your story. You will be given the opportunity to practice your pitch during the session and obtain feedback that will help you create a compelling presentation.

Register here!


Wed 29 November 2017
16:00 ‚Äď 18:00 GMT


Penryhn Road Campus, Room PRJG1007
Kingston University
Kingston Upon Thames

Theories in Practice: Part 2

This post aims to refresh your knowledge of Cultural Historical Activity (CHAT), a theoretical perspective that can be leveraged to sustain the design of products and services. CHAT was first introduced by Engeström (1987).

This theory offers a practical framework for mapping a field of activity:


According to CHAT, subjects represent their intentions as objects (i.e., objectives). To achieve these, they use instruments (tools). Subject, object, and instruments form activities that are embedded into a given community. This is regulated by rules and a division of labour.

For example: the object of the lecturer (subject) is to provide a positive learning experience for students. To this end, they use instruments (e.g., paper, pens, post-its, slides, whiteboards, Virtual Learning Environment). They follow the rules of the University (e.g., timetables) and its division of labor (e.g., among administrators, colleagues, and students). They are embedded in a larger community, such as the UK Higher Education system.

As we have discussed in class, activity systems are ridden with contradictions. These can emerge at any point along the triangle of activity. Designers should embrace contradictions, as they provide opportunities for creative action. By addressing contradictions through the design of innovative products or services, we can generate value for the community.


Identification of contradictions: In-class workshop on Activity Theory

As we are moving on to designing our business models, it is helpful to further leverage our knowledge of activity theory. Zott and Amit noted (2009; p. 5):

‚ÄúViewed as an activity system, the business model encompasses the set of activities a firm performs, how it performs them, and when it performs them. Key activities might include training, development, manufacturing, budgeting, planning, sales, and service‚ÄĚ

Zott and Amit (2009) suggest themes that can assist in the design of the business model (or activity system). These design themes are value-creation drivers:

Novelty: The design of new activities (content), new ways of linking such activities (structure) and new ways of governing the activities (governance).

Lock In: Activities can be designed also for lock-in ‚Äď i.e., to keep the users ‚Äėattracted‚Äô to the business model. Lock-ins are, for examples, switching costs.

Complementarity: This is achieved when activities are combined in a bundle that provides more value (as compared to each single activity).

Efficiency: an efficient activity system is designed to reduce transaction costs (e.g., by standardizing the interfaces between activities, or by integrating vertically in order to expand activities).

To stay with the Apple examples (see Theory in Practice: Part 1), ask yourself: How does Apple achieve novelty, lock-in, complementarity and efficiency through its activities?

And how can you design NICE (novel, locking-in, complementary, efficient) business models?

If you are curious about business models as activity system, read: Designing your Future Business Model: An Activity System Perspective by Zott & Amit (2009).

Bright Ideas Workshop and Competition

It’s still possible to register to the Bright Ideas Workshop! Click here to secure your place (and a free slice of pizza). In this workshop, Kingston University students will receive support in preparing their entries to the Bright Ideas Competition.


In addition to being a module requirement for Design Thinking, the Bright Ideas Competition is a great opportunity to receive feedback on your business ideas, and to fund your start-ups. The University offers generous prizes of up to £1,000 for winners!

Need some inspiration? Check out last year’s winners!

performing change

Performing Change was one of the runners-up in last year’s Bright Ideas Competition (image credits: Enterprise)