2.8 Another Start – Titan

Estimated Reading Time – 5 mins

This idea was inspired by my personal experience, so one day I was at the gym really early, although it was around 8am, the gym was unusually very busy. So I headed straight to the treadmill to warm up, and I noticed something that I missed for so many years. All cardio machines have a pocket to keep your phone, however, once you are out of the cardio section and in the free weight area, there is literally no space or spot to keep your phone which leaves people with no choice but to keep their phones on the floor. I have experienced this, and it is a fact of my life that 75% of the time that I spend in the gym, my phone is always on the floor.

I thought it is not possible that it is only me who faces this problem, so I took a quick look around, and I saw at least 4 phones on the floor. I wondered if there was any product on the internet that could solve this issue and to my surprise, there was none. That is when I made a decision that this is the perfect opportunity to exploit the market. I discussed with my team, and everybody liked the idea. However, i gave them enough time so that the idea can grow in their minds and they can come up with more additions to it or find any critical issue with it. In the end, we all decided this is the idea we want to take forward, and we submitted another bright ideas application with our new product – the Titan, phone holder.

I will explain how the product works on the next blog, I prepared a business model canvas assignment for this product which helped me in researching the market. We have made some good progress with it, we are currently in talks with manufacturers in China. Hopefully, we will get the prototype ready before the first trade fair which is on the 25th of January. That’s all for today’s blog, I will keep posting every week from now on and keep the readers informed about the progress and also my journey.

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2.7 Complete Demolition

Estimated Reading Time – 5 mins

On the 8th of December, we had our first mock dragon’s den pitch. The team was all prepared for it, we had a good number of practice pitching sessions done before the final day. As expected and as asked, we were first on the list to take on the stage. We delivered an exceptional pitch, and the class was quite impressed with our presentation. However, there were some significant concerns in all of the 5 judges’ minds.

First of all, our idea the MY PA app didn’t seem practical to them, they had concerns and questions for us regarding the legal issues that we could have faced in case something was to go wrong. The idea that we had in mind was too general and open that made the operation really difficult, they suggested that we keep a specific number of tasks that could be requested. The other major issues we were facing were the development costs, it was nowhere near what we calculated. To be really honest, it was over 10 times of our initial investment.  Well we got roasted for 20 mins, and I guess we were the only team that occupied the platform for that long, we pitched for 5 mins, but we were questioned and were answering for another 20 mins. All of this contributed to a mental dilemma in my mind.

Once we were done, I immediately stepped out of the class to take a breath and have a minute on my own. I was too confused and too broken because I could feel and I had already realised that the idea that we worked on for so long, the idea on which we put our energies and efforts on is not gonna work. After every team was done, it was time for us to decide as a team on the path that we wanted to go towards. I made it very clear to my team that I believed that MY PA is not gonna work and all of them agreed. We immediately took steps and informed our lecturers so that they could help us with bright ideas deadline extension, so we get time to submit a new idea, it was Friday, and we only asked until monday.

Next Monday, the team had its new idea, a much more practical and a much more useful idea that is actually sellable. In my next blog, I am going to write about the new idea and the progress on it so far.

2.6 Bright Ideas – The First Big Thing

Estimated reading time – 5 mins

As of 1st December, we have officially entered the bright ideas competition. Being a previous winner of bright ideas has maintained a spark inside me to win it again and win it even better this time. Bright ideas is the real deal which pushes your business forward, not only it gives you the capital required to run the company, the most beneficial thing according to me is the motivation and the belief that your idea is worth something and people believe in it. So Team One Minute has officially entered the bright ideas 2018 with the idea of the My PA app. Let me explain to you all what our app is.

My PA is an app that provides Users with a Personal Assistant on demand and at an affordable price. Our primary target group would be young professionals with disposable income who are comfortable using apps. We plan to begin in Kingston Upon Thames while we refine and develop our service, and ultimately move into central London towards areas such as Shoreditch, Canary Wharf and Soho where young professionals have more disposable income. We hope to acquire funding to market our app. We want to offer promotional code discounts for user’s first tasks on the app. We already have interest and an E-mail list of prospective PAs we have met on Kingston University’s campuses. Other market segments can benefit from the use of our App such as independent store owners, businesses requiring temp staff, and companies who do not need enough support to offer Part-Time or Full-Time positions. Our app is available for everyone to use and also provides a platform for people to earn money in their spare time.

So, that’s all I can reveal for now, however, once we are more developed and in the phase of launching our app to the public, I will talk more about the app and explain the operations in our company. Keep reading the blogs, in the next blog I will talk about our first presentation – the mock dragon’s den.

2.5 My PA – The App

Estimated reading time – 5 mins

Let’s talk about the most crucial aspect of our business, the idea! Well, according to me this is the hardest part of starting up. We held a couple of meetings with the team to brainstorm and generate ideas. The process was quite simple, the first aspect was to come up with a problem which can be addressed with an innovative solution. So, all of us, each member of the team was given a task, to come up with their everyday problems in life. As discussed, all of us came up with problems, and each problem was discussed at our next meeting, and we tried coming up with solutions for each one of them. However, no matter what we came up with, no matter if it was coming straight from our mind, it already existed. This is a major annoyance because literally come up with anything and I am pretty sure, something like that or similar to it already exists on the market.

Later on, we changed our minds and decided we would not address a problem but still try to innovate existing daily used products. For this, we came up with several ideas to modify things like backpacks, scarves, socks, jackets. None of these ideas clicked with our hearts and didn’t give us the inner satisfaction. I discussed an idea with my team about a towel subscription service. Initially, nobody liked it, and I was sceptical too, however, when discussed again in the next meeting, everybody loved it, and it started growing on us. However, with past experience, I knew that I should let the idea rest in my mind for a couple of days and if it stills sounds exciting the way it did when it came up then we will go forward with it. I asked all the teammates to do the same, to see if the idea grows on their minds. However, after just 2 days, the idea was out of my mind and without a doubt from everybody else’s thoughts as well.

A few weeks ago, we were having a casual discussion between ourselves and this idea of an app suddenly came up, and it stroked all of us at once. So, there it was. Our final approach – The My PA app. We have started working on the app and started the research, we have taken almost a hundred surveys. We have met our lecturers who are expert in this field and received valuable feedback. But wait, why am I not explaining the app, the idea? To know more about it, read the next blog which is the bright ideas submission, I will explain the whole concept of our app and also talk about the bright ideas experience.

2.4 Let’s Talk About Money

Estimated reading time – 5 mins

The next significant step for us was to have the accounts in place, not just for us but for every other company participating in this programme. So we had a lecture focusing on finance which explained to us the ways of operating financially throughout the year. For this lecture, we had Mr.Fazl-E-Hasnain in class, my former mentor and business advisor for Staunchh. It was great to see him again, and it revived all the memories that I had with my previous business.

Mr.Fazl is a highly reputed CA, he has worked for some big names in the market. Although he is professionally retired now, he hasn’t given up sharing his knowledge with the generations to follow. It’s an excellent opportunity for us, students, to get advice from real professionals, which exposes us to the challenges of the real world. On the day, he explained to us the systems and the applications on the young enterprise website. Well, there was something new on the platform which wasn’t present earlier, a simple money-in and money-out entry system which basically eliminates the whole concept of real accounting, a system which has been around for 700 years and never failed. Mr.Fazl recommended and stressed that we use the actual accounting system so that we can learn what the real thing is, also this platform which is insured and risk free wouldn’t be available to us once we are done with this programme, so why not experiment with it and learn instead of going the easy way and learning nothing. Well, the final thing he mentioned was that we needed our bank accounts open as soon as possible.

Well, as a proactive member of the team, Claire our finance director was already ready with the required documents to open the bank account. We decided the next Monday when the bank opens we are going to be there and apply for a bank account. On Monday, we walked into the bank, submitted our documents, signed the papers as the MD and finance director of the company and we were done. It was a relatively simple process which really didn’t require any effort because young enterprise provided us with everything that was needed. Well so now, we are waiting for the bank to open our account, they have a new addition to the young enterprise programme which is now we get a debit card with our bank account, which is highly convenient. This enables us to do the transactions directly without the hassle of creating PayPal account or needing such other services. In the next blog I will write about the idea generation and how we finally landed on one idea.

2.3 Team One Minute

Estimated reading time – 5 mins

Once the team was set up, we all were ready to go ahead and start working on our business. The first step was to come up with a name. This one was a hilarious experience. So basically we tried coming up with a name for a week and failed, finally when we went to the lecture, the lecturer said we have 10 minutes to decide on our name and register it on the young enterprise documents. Well, the panic monster was in our head, and we started speaking random names. Even though we were short on time, we still came up with some proper names related to nature (we didn’t even know what our business was going to be). Elements, blaze, flame etc. However what we ultimately decided was ‘Seeds’. We chose this name because we thought it could represent us as a start-up and a growing company. What we also thought and what sounded logical was our initial round of funding which is also called seed funding. So we were quite happy with the name, and in the end, it was in the papers.

However, the next night I couldn’t digest the name for I don’t know what reason. I went online and started searching for companies with seeds in their names. Couldn’t even count how many companies begin, end or have this word in their name. Also, because a seed is a real object, all the search results on Google were mainly the pictures of actual plant seeds. I knew if we continued with this name, it would be a horror to establish a market identity because it was not unique. So I messaged my team in the night at 3am to talk about this. Everyone felt the same way, and we thought we should try talking to our lecturer if we could still change the name in case she hasn’t submitted the documents to the young enterprise. Luckily she didn’t, and we got a chance to change our name, this time we utilised the time in the most productive manner and came up with a lot of names once again but names which made sense to us. So our company name as of today is “One Minute”. As you all read further when I write about our idea, the company name will make more sense to you. So keep reading the future blogs.

2.2 Setting Up The Company

Estimated Reading Time – 5 mins

Alright! So today I will share how we got into a team and how we overcame some hurdles while forming the team of our choice. Yes, our choice. So basically this year the module Design Thinking for Startups is a collaboration between two courses, One is us – the Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship students and the other are the MACE students. I really appreciate the fact that the university has given a common platform to students coming from two very different areas. When design skills and business skills work together, I see another new market disruptor.

However, even before the module started formally, I knew that I had to get into a team with which I will be running a business for an entire year and maybe even after the course ends. For this reason, I already had some people in my mind because I was comfortable with them and I got good vibes from them.  Working with a co-operative and a coordinative team is the only thing I would ever want because I am sure if the team energy is positive, then everything goes with the flow and goes smooth. But there’s a catch, we all came from the same course i.e innovation management and that was not permitted because it was a rule that students from both the courses merge so that the team has different personalities and a set of different skills. We couldn’t register our team for 2 weeks with this ongoing programme. However, after a lot of persuasions, our lecturer finally gave us the permission to be on the team that we wanted. So now we are on the team that we always wanted.

So its 4 of us, me the managing director, Claire the finance director, Hector the Operations Director and Divesh the marketing director. So far the team is doing great and we are looking forward to the journey. We have gone through several ideas for our venture and finally decided on one. In the next blog, I will write about how we came up with our company name.