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Entries in entrepreneurs (10)

Friday
Jul062012

Enterprise Nation Launch SnapMeUp App at Club Workspace

On Thursday 5th July, our Clerkenwell Club Workspace location played host the launch night for SnapMeUp, Enterprise Nation’s new smartphone application.

SnapMeUp is a QR code-based app that celebrates entrepreneurship and small-business. The app enables smartphone users to dive into expert small-business advice from selected enterprise hotspots. Club Workspace is delighted to be one of the first host locations for the trailblazing SnapMeUp service. 

To get the skinny on how SnapMeUp works, have a watch of Enterprise Nation’s video. The vid was shot on location at Club Workspace, the Clerkenwell Workshops, and the Clerkenwell Kitchen

The launch night was a great success, and we’re very pleased to have been a part of it. After an hour or so of mingling and munching, the guests took to their seats and the launch proper got underway.

Emma Jones, the Founder of Enterprise Nation, was joined on stage by Clare Rayner and Jess Butcher who represented The Retail Champion and Blippar respectively.

Emma, Clare and Jess drove home one key point, that the digital world is not the enemy of the High Street. In fact, they believed the contrary: e-commerce can be the High Street’s greatest ally. 

If you are to believe everything you read about the High Street, it would seem that it’s all doom and gloom. However, the ever-expanding digital arena has the ability to drive footfall back to your local shopping strip. The three experts agreed that there is one theory that needs to be debunked: the online space is not the enemy of small shops.

The beauty of the smartphone is that it lives in a user’s pocket, and it gets used at least once an hour. If your local shops could utilise the personal and regular relationship that you, as a user, have with your device, then they’re onto a winner.

A thank you from everyone at Club Workspace to Enterprise Nation for bringing their fantastic Launch Night into our venue. It was a pleasure to host you. Thanks from everyone in attendance to the Clerkenwell Kitchen for laying on such a terrific spread. Finally, to all of the new faces and old friends who came to our little corner of Clerkenwell, thank you for coming, and pop back soon.


Tuesday
May222012

The benefits of co-working spaces for entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs and fledgling businesses are often born out of bedrooms and living rooms but nowadays professionals have other options available that can change the way they work.

Co-working has become an increasingly popular solution for independent workers, bringing them together to share space and high-quality resources. It is an opportunity to provide inspiration for start-ups, social enterprises and corporations alike.

Liz Elam, founder of Link Coworking in Austin, in the United States, said: "The number one reason a new business should join a co-working space is for the community support.

"Opening your own business is scary. It is a huge risk personally and professionally. Coworking members will support you. They will let you bounce your ideas, give you honest feedback and cheer you on when you have a success."

Tap into the talent pool

Certainly the networking opportunities of any co-working space are one of the most significant benefits for entrepreneurs. Professionals can tap into a vastly talented pool of like-minded, hard-working individuals that can support what they are doing, potentially adding a new dimension to a product, service or initiative.

In the infancy of any business idea it is understandable for entrepreneurs to be budget-conscious. As a result co-working spaces are a great place to setup a business. For the cost of a small membership fee professionals have access to managed office space with amenities such as printing, Wi-Fi, whiteboards and meeting and conference rooms.

Good for organic growth

Not only does co-working space give entrepreneurs the exposure and support they need to grow, they have the freedom and flexibility to grow at their own pace. With no long term lease agreements, co-working memberships are ideal for those trying to reach a sustainable operational level.

Although entrepreneurs may be the sole entities of their business it is possible for professionals to choose from a variety of co-working communities. Co-working spaces are developing for just about every niche at present, so it is a good idea to find a community and reap the benefits of being surrounded by people who are in the same line of work.

A different mentality for SMEs

Co-working is also helping to change the mentality of business start-ups. No longer do entrepreneurs suffer from tunnel vision in terms of finding an investor for funding. There is a shift with start-ups now increasingly focused on growing a company culture and developing ideas that will attract attention and investment organically.

Interested in trying out co-working space for yourself? Why not book a guest pass with Club Workspace today. With ideal co-working swing space between offices, overflow and projects, or as that initial step away from working at home, Club Workspace members are part of a growing network of over 4,000 start-ups and established SMEs.

Wednesday
Apr112012

Lean Startup London: Minimum Viable Meetup

Sal Virani came to Club Workspace last week to host his 'Minimum Viable Meetup'. The event, cohosted by Dreamstake, gave members of the Lean Startup community a chance to share their Lean experiences and anecdotes.

The ‘Lean Startup’ movement is led by Eric Reis, and it advocates rapid prototype creation in order to gain feedback. This feedback is used in the creation of the next prototype. This process continues until the startup has a product that is ready for market. Each prototype is a ‘Minimum Viable Product’ - the most cost-effective entity that tests a specific problem-hypothesis.

Sal, a self-professed entreprenerd, is a keen supporter of the Lean Startup mission. Sal organised the first ever LeanCamp and continues to stimulate conversation in the lean startup world. Impassioned and at times, fiery conversation is exactly what took place at last week’s Minimum Viable Meetup!

Fishbowling - The Lean Startup Way

The event’s title, 'Minimum Viable Meetup', was more than just a clever nod to a key-word in the lean startup vocabulary. The Meetup was put together using the 'Minimum Viable' resources so far as personnel are concerned. In other words: there was no speaker!

Usually events and workshops welcome one speaker at the very least. Sal’s MVM eschewed that particular convention in favour of the fishbowl technique.

Fishbowling works like this. The audience sit facing the ‘stage’. On this stage there are four chairs. Members of the audience have to sit on these chairs in order to join the conversation. Audience members aren’t allowed to join the conversation from the auditorium - however fleeting their interjection they must sit in one of the four chairs in order to participate in the discussion.

Another rule is that one chair must remain tenantless throughout. If three chairs are occupied and someone else wishes to share their wisdom, this new participant must take the free chair. When their presence has been recognised, one of the incumbent conversationalists nominates themselves to depart. This process can continue indefinitely. We can now say with confidence that it is an inventive way to maintain the freshness and spontaneity of a debate!

This technique proved a huge hit. Sal threw out subjects and the discussion flowed organically thereafter.

Klaus’ Lean Story

A large proportion of the audience were entrepreneurs who were running their businesses using Lean Startup techniques. They needed little encouragement from Sal to take to the stage and share their experiences.

The first of the real-life-lean-startups was Klaus. Klaus makes mobile apps for the hospitality industry. Klaus explained that his latest creation was an app that makes ordering easier for customers at crowded bars and pubs.

In order to demonstrate his app to the hospitality industry, Klaus created a version with minimum viable functionality at the minimum possible cost. At this point, Klaus recommended Codiqa for rapid creation of minimum viable apps. A bona-fide lean insider tip!

It transpired that Klaus hadn’t had much luck with this app, but he was pleased that his use of Lean Startup techniques had allowed him to fail fast, and fail cheaply. Although he hasn’t completely written off his app, he needed a rethink.

Audience members were full of ideas. Perhaps Klaus should rethink his problem hypothesis? Maybe he should attempt to reduce the waiting time in-between orders at busy bars? This might offer a more measurable metic and, perhaps, impact on the purposes/successes of future MVP test-apps.

Another suggestion is that maybe Klaus shouldn’t build an 'MVP' app at all. Dropbox didn’t! Their MVP was a video of the service that they planned to offer! There was so much demand for the 'product' explained in the video that they decided to spend money on development. Their spend was, of course, justified.

Entrepreneurs who take 'lean' to the 'leanest' demonstrate their product on paper, and only proceed to development stage when they know that there is a justifiable demand.

Lean Machine

There were many more entrepreneurs like Klaus. Those who were brave enough to step up and have their idea dissected and analysed, but I shan’t divulge any more Lean Startup case-studies otherwise you’ll be reading all night.

However, some interesting points arose that are too good to leave out:

During the conversation a point was raised. One attendee believed that 'the terminology of lean-startup is being horribly misused - the term 'Minimum Viable Product' is not an excuse for descoping!' Although MVP implies that you must create a 'cheaper' version of your product, it is not a technical-term that enables you to for reduce your spend tenfold! Although a minimum viable product is 'cheaper' and 'quicker' than a full-launch, the MVP must test your product-hypothesis effectively, otherwise it is pointless.

Sal reintroduced himself into the Fishbowl. He advised everyone to read up on ‘Pirate Metrics’ by Dave McLure. He believes that Ries’ term 'the engines of growth' is based on McLure’s earlier theory.

A less theoretical tip that surfaced was for anyone looking to create a website optimised for live-chat. Pusher was widely recommended for websockets.

Thank You

Thank you to Dreamstake for bringing the event to Club Workspace and thank you, of course, to Sal for presiding over such a wonderful event. A special thanks goes to the audience members! Without you there’d have been no event!

Tuesday
Apr102012

Entrepreneur First's inaugural 'Graduate Cohort Announcement' made at Club Workspace

Club Workspace were delighted to host Entrepreneur First’s ‘Graduate Cohort Announcement’ at our Clerkenwell venue.

The press conference commenced at 9:30 on the morning of Thursday 5th April. The Entrepreneur First team were joined by a healthy number of the UK’s leading press people for the announcement of the first ever graduate cohort.

What is Entrepreneur First?

When the press conference began, Matt Clifford - Entrepreneur First’s CEO - explained the genesis of Entrepreneur First.

Matt explained that Entrepreneur First was the ‘national graduate scheme for aspiring entrepreneurs.’ Entrepreneur First came about because the buzz around student entrepreneurship was more voluminous and impassioned than anyone had first expected. However, even though the student-entrepreneurship scene was ablaze, this level of interest and engagement wasn’t being sustained after graduation.

Students were, and still are, dissuaded from becoming entrepreneurs after graduating due to the risk involved with taking the leap. What Entrepreneur First aims to do, is to de-risk the process of becoming an entrepreneur.

Introducing the first of ‘Graduate Cohort’

Alice Bentinck, also of Entrepreneur First, took to the floor to explain the project.  She told us that there were over 400 applicants at the beginning of the process, a number that has since been whittled down to 34. The final ‘cohort’ of 34 was decided after a succession of telephone interviews, face-to-face meetings and a rigourous final selection process.

The final 34 have already met, and two have already decided to combine their ideas and to work together! In August the cohort of 34 will undergo an entrepreneurial ‘bootcamp’ in Cambridge. During this fortnight in the ‘shire they ‘will begin the process of turning their ideas into innovative, fast-growth businesses.’

All of the cohort members will be in touch with Entrepreneur First every week. Their progress will be observed and supported.

Sponsors and Guests

To help usher in their new project, Entrepreneur First gave their sponsors and friends the opportunity to speak from the Club Workspace stage.

Pete Smith, the COO and CoFounder of Songkick, was first to speak. He was one of many entrepreneurs who aided Entrepreneur First in the interviewing and selection process. A poignant nugget of advice that Pete shared was that ‘there is no ‘time of life’ when you’re ‘ready’ to run your own business, you just have to jump in.’

Tamara Rajah, Associate Principal at McKinsey & Company praised Entrepreneur First’s efforts. She was sure that the scheme would increase the number of graduates who made the plunge and leapt straight from matriculation into entrepreneurship. By providing student-entrepreneurs with a network and with contacts, Tamara explained, Entrepreneur First were enabling them to make the transition with fewer risks.

Oscar Jazdowski, the Head of Organisation for the Silicon Valley Bank UK, spoke next. Oscar was an enigmatic speaker who explained that the SVB were not ‘just another bank’, they want startups to succeed! And that’s not PR-friendly altruism either, if startups succeed, then they succeed too. Simple!

Microsoft’s man from Senior Corporate Affairs gave the penultimate address. Stephen Uden provided an excellent sound-bite, ‘the future and growth isn’t about big businesses, it’s about small businesses’.

Before handing back to Matt to round up, Stuart Fraser of the City of London Corporation rounded-off the sponsor talks. Stuart began, ‘well, we were a startup about 160 years ago... it’s been going rather well!’ On a serious and interesting note, Stuart spoke about connecting the city to the startup space - ‘we’ve got everything you need in the square mile, we want to share that knowledge with entrepreneurs!’

Thank You

It was an absolute pleasure to have Entrepreneur First back at Club Workspace in the Clerkenwell Workshops. We met a lot of new faces today, and we would be delighted to welcome any of them back if they’re ever in the area in the future.

All the very best of luck to the Graduate Cohorts!

Thursday
Mar152012

Angel Talk arrives at The Leathermarket

An audience of business startups and entrepreneurs embarked on The Leathermarket last week for Dreamstake’s Angel Talk event on 13th March.

The event consisted of a trio of guest speakers, the Three Angel Investors – Charlotte Mason, Tony Kypreos and Judy Piatkus – who took to the Leathermarket’s stage to share their knowledge about the information ‘Angel Investors’ really want before investing in startups and entrepreneurs.

First speaker, Charlotte Mason, provided fantastic insight into the way in which startups and entrepreneurs interact with business angels. Charlotte revealed angels are far more proactive than startups would imagine, admitting she habitually observes the small-business climate to maintain her knowledge of the ecosystem at all times.

All three speakers agreed startups that are actively willing to learn and improve are most attractive to investors. Tony Kypreos went into great detail about the importance of approachable personalities to investors, revealing he would rather get involved with a thriving team than a lonely bedroom dweller with shoddy manners.

A disorganised pitch was regarded as the biggest turn-off for investors in business startups, according to Judy Piatkus. Judy provided a thought-provoking panacea for angel pitches: treat it like a sale. It may be the biggest sale you’ll ever have to make. You can’t sell? Learn how to sell.

And how can startups and entrepreneurs best sell their abilities to an angel? By meeting milestones. The ability to show an investor you can continually meet your targets will see pound signs light up in their eyes.

Read the full event coverage of Angel Talk: Find out what Angel Investors really want on inspiresme.co.uk today.