Our YouTube channel is now up to 341 thousand hits

22 August 2012

youtube-logo

Back in October 2011 I wrote Our YouTube channel gets 250 thousand hits.

This has proved to be a very popular topic on my blog recently, so I feel obliged to point out that the number is increasing rapidly, and today stands at 341,492.

Our BIPCTV channel has been going since the Centre opened in 2006, when we began posting recordings of our Inspiring Entrepreneurs events, and our success stories.

The most recent upload was From Battlefield to Business, and run in partnership with Heropreneurs, Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund, Royal Navy & Royal Marines Charity and ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, British Legion, Franchising Works and Help for Heroes.

The wonderful Levi Roots and his Reggae Reggae Sauce still tops the charts with 25,541 views, but he has stiff competition from Success Stories Guy Jeremiah of Aquatina Ltd, and William de Lucy from  Amplify Trading.

However my favourite remains Sam Roddick, founder of the ‘erotic emporium’ Coco De Mer, and daughter of Body Shop legend Dame Anita Roddick. She describes herself as an activist first and accidental entrepreneur second.

http://www.youtube.com/bipctv

Levi Roots


Guy Kawasaki ‘Enchants’ SLA Chicago 2012 conference

9 August 2012

Guy_KawasakiGuy Kawasaki was the keynote speaker at the recent SLA annual conference in Chicago, and here are my notes from his talk.

Kawasaki started by talking about his time at the Macintosh division of Apple Inc. He described them as the largest collection of egomaniacs ever assembled in the US, until the creation of the Facebook development team.

In hindsight he realised that enchantment was a key part of his life, dating back to his first job in the jewellery trade.

His two recommended essential reads are:
How to win friends and influence people, published in 1931 by Dale Carneigie, and Influence – The Psychology of Persuasions by Robert B Cialdini.

Kawasaki has observed many hi-tech speakers over the years, and with the exception of Steve Jobs, they all ‘suck and go long’.

He always uses the 10 point model for presenting. So he told us if he ‘sucks’ today we will be able to tell.

1.    Achieve Likeability
–    Have a great smile – not just using the jaw, but also the eyes. So crow’s feet are good. Needs to be a Duchene smile
–    Accept others for what they are
–    Default to ‘yes’ – How can I help the person I just met

2.    Achieve Trustworthiness
–    Trust others first
o    Amazon – have a policy of returning an ebook in 7 days if you don’t like it
o    Zappos – buy the shoes online, if you don’t like them we will pay the return postage
o    Nordstrom – you can return anything to them at any time
–    Become a baker not an eater – a producer not a consumer
–    Find something to agree on with customers – it doesn’t have to be a big thing
o    Example of a dislike of Opera

3.    Perfect what you do
–    Do something DICEE
o    Deep
o    Intelligent – they understand my pain / my problem
o    Complete – the totality of the service you offer
o    Empowering – they make you more creative and productive
o    Elegant – someone has thought about the user interface

4.    Launch
–    Tell a story – a personal one, not a marketing one
–    ‘My girlfriend wanted to sell Pez dispensers online’ – the story behind eBay
–    Plant many seeds
–    The key to bottom up marketing – make them available to everyone
–    Use salient points when you talk about your services
o    Calories vs Miles to burn them off
o    Dollars vs Months of food for a family in Eithiopia
o    Gigabytes vs X thousands of songs on portable player

5.    Overcome resistance
–    Provide social proof of success – the white ear-buds that came with iPods were a visual indicator in the streets
–    Use a dataset to change a mindset
o    Gapminder.org – review of number of children and longer lives across the world
–    Enchant all of the influencers in the family not just the ones with the money, e.g. children.

6.    Make your enchantment endure
–    The Grateful Dead provide a space for people to tape their concerts for free
–    Build an ecosystem of the totality of your service
–    Invoke reciprocation
o    Don’t say ‘you are welcome’ say ‘I know you would do the same for me’
o    Enable people to pay you back in their own way
–    Don’t rely on money (e.g. price offers) – it is not the core of enchantment

7.    Great enchanters are great presenters, so:
–    Customize your introduction
–    Sell your dream
o    iPhone = $188 of parts manufactured in a factory in China, but is more than the sum of its parts
–    10 is the optimum number of slides
–    Delivered in 20 minutes at most
–    A 30 point font size is optimal – so you don’t read your text out to your audience

8.    Use technology
–    Social media is free and ubiquitous so use it
–    Remove the speed bumps for your customers
–    Capta reduces the number of customers
–    Sungevity.com – Uses your home address to mock up installation using satellite imagery
–    Provide added value
o    Information
o    Insights
o    Assistance
–    Example of Alltop.com website – aggregates information by topics
–    ‘Eat like a bird, poop like an elephant’. i.e. take little – give a lot
–    Use a lot of sources and spread the information.

9.    Enchant Up
–    When your boss or partner asks you to do something – drop everything else and do it.
–    Prototype fast
–    Deliver bad news early

10.    Enchant Down
–    Book by Daliel H Pink – Drive
–    Provide a MAP
o    Mastery – if you come and work for me …
o    Autonomy – if you come and work for me …
o    Purpose – if you come and work for me …
–    Empower action
–    ‘Suck it up’ – be a boss who is willing to do the ‘dirty job’

Kawasaki summed up Enchantment as having;
The Quality of Apple – the trustworthiness of Zappos – and the likeability of Richard Branson.

Enchantment-Cover


Calling all dyslexic entrepreneurs

12 July 2012

The Business & IP Centre is hosting a research placement for Sally Ann Clarke, an MA student from the University of Brighton. She is looking to find entrepreneurs and business people who are dyslexic. Below is her blog post about the project:

Sally Ann ClarkeMany thanks to the British Library for agreeing to host my research project.

First of all, something about me. I started my career as a qualified librarian in Manchester Public Libraries, and since then I have had a variety of roles including managing an independent bookshop. This gave me retail and business experience but also an interest in business information. I decided to return to the library profession and I am now studying for an MA in Information Studies at the University of Brighton.

For my dissertation I am researching dyslexic entrepreneurs and business information. My choice of research topic came from bringing various ideas together. I read the Cass Business School’s research by Dr Logan that entrepreneurs have a significantly higher incidence of dyslexia than in corporate management and the general population. I also visited the Business and IP Centre and noticed that many of their services are aimed at entrepreneurs. I then wondered if dyslexic entrepreneurs had specific business information needs.

I also have an insight into some of the issues dyslexic entrepreneurs have, as I am dyslexic myself. I understand that many people do not realize they are dyslexic although they may have an inkling that they are ‘different’. I didn’t find out myself until I studied for a part-time University Certificate in Creative Writing eight years ago. I am now aware of the difficulties I have, and have learnt some strategies to try and overcome them, but now I am becoming aware of some of the ‘advantages’ such as good verbal communication, lateral thinking and creativity. These ‘advantages’ are perhaps why someone with dyslexia becomes an entrepreneur in the first place.

Richard_Branson

And there are many examples of successful dyslexic entrepreneurs such as Richard Branson, Kelly Hoppen,  Duncan Bannatyne from Dragon’s Den and Tom Pellereau, winner of last year’s The Apprentice.

However, I need your help! If you are dyslexic and have used the Business and IP Centre, if you think you may be dyslexic or if you know a dyslexic entrepreneur please do get in touch. I would love to hear from you. My email is SallyAnne.Clarke@bl.uk


The ingenious Tapsell gates of Sussex

31 May 2012
Tapsel_gate_at_St_Andrew's_church,_Jevington

Image from Wikipedia

On one of my regular wanderings up on the South Downs, I recently chanced across an intriguing type of churchyard gate.

For my undulating perambulations I often carry a day-pack filled with waterproofs, extra layers and ‘emergency rations’ (in my youth I was a Boy Scout, so ‘Be Prepared’ is my motto). So conventional gates are an unsatisfactory ergonomic experience.

The most common obstacle is the stile, which often involves an unsteady climb and descent on frequently wobbly and slippery planks of wood. Kissing gates appear more straight-forward, but the hinges are often rusty, and half the time your rucksack gets snagged as you squeeze through the narrow gap. Then there is the traditional five-bar gate, which if new, requires Herculean strength to prise the spring-lever open, or once old, has collapsed on its hinges and has to be lifted out of the mud and dragged open and closed again.

As you can see from the photo above the Tapsell gate is a much more ingenious device, as it balances on a central spindle. The gate opens with the slightest of touches, and can be pushed right round so it comes to rest on the fixed stops of the gate posts in a closed position. In effect you only ever have to open the gate, and you never have to wait for someone coming the other way as they can pass by on the other side simultaneously.

According to the little leaflet I picked up in Jevington church written by Rosalind Hodge, the Tapsell gates even allow coffin bearers to comfortably pass on either side without breaking step. Apparently, the bearers could even rest the coffin on the gate if they needed to pause before entering the churchyard.

Sadly, very little seems to be known about who invented this style of gate or when. The most likely source seems to have been a branch of the Tapsell families of Sussex, some of whom were carpenters.

For me, the most intriguing thing of all about these gates is just how few there are. Currently only six examples survive, but it seems not that many were made even at their peak.

This brings me neatly back to a regular discussion I have with inventors. So often they assume that their great idea must be entirely new because they haven’t come across it before in the shops. I explain that of the seventy million or so patents registered in the UK, only a tiny minority ever actually became commercially successful.

The sad truth about inventing (or any innovation come to that) is having a good idea is not nearly enough. I fact I would say it is the easy bit. The hard part is proving the commercial viability of the idea (usually to understandably cynical investors), and then find a way to market it successfully.

Too many follow the path of Ray Kinsella the character played by Kevin Costner in the film Field of Dreams, “If you build it, he will come”. And this proves to be very much the exception rather than the rule.


Mad Jack Fuller of Brightling and his Follies

17 May 2012

Jack_Fuller_pyramidOn a recent walk in the Sussex country-side I was rather surprised to come across a 25 foot high pyramid in the corner of a traditional village church graveyard.

Wandering around the area near the village revealed a range of further follies ranging from a fake castle tower to a false church spire.

Jack_FullerIt turns out they were all the creation of John Fuller the squire of Brightling village, better known as ‘Mad Jack Fuller‘.

Fuller’s pyramid mausoleum was built in 1811, twenty-three years before his death, and local legend had it that Fuller was entombed in the pyramid in full dress and top hat seated at a table set with a roast chicken and a bottle of wine. This was discovered to be untrue during renovations in 1982. My theory is that Fuller might have read about the mythological preservative powers of pyramids.

Mad Jack inherited the family fortune in 1777, at the tender age of 20. Their wealth had been built on the manufacture of iron goods, such as cannons, as well as a substantial income from sugar plantations in Jamaica.

The family was heavily involved in politics, both nationally and locally, and  John served several terms as Member of Parliament during his life.

He seems to have fostered an image of eccentricity, and never married, but enjoyed supporting good causes, including funding the first lifeboat at Eastbourne, and helping the building of the Belle Tout Lighthouse on the cliffs near Beachy Head.

Fullers Follies:

Brightling Needle, an obelisk over 65 feet (20m) high was built on the second highest point in East Sussex and was erected around 1810

The Sugar Loaf, which is sometimes known as Fuller’s Point, is in a meadow and stands 35 feet (10.7m. The name comes from the conical shaped loaf that sugar was sold in at that time. It was apparently built to win a bet that Mad Jack made whilst in London. He claimed he could see Dallington Church (a nearby village) from his house in Brightling. When he returned he discovered that he couldn’t as a hill blocked his view, so the Sugar Loaf was hastily erected to win the bet.

The Tower or Watch Tower built by Fuller in the middle of a field, stands 35 feet (10.6m) high and 12 feet (3.7m) in diameter.

The Temple or Rotunda was built in the grounds of Brightling Park perhaps to add a classical element to the gardens.

The Observatory, now a private residence was completed in 1810. It was equipped with all the equipment of the time including a Camera Obscura.

More information and photos of Fullers Follies.


Going for gold with our Inspiring Entrepreneurs – preview

16 May 2012

Stephen_FearIn keeping with our exciting new Innovating for Growth Programme, our next Inspiring Entrepreneurs event next Wednesday is Going for Gold.

It’s for people who want to take their business to the next level but aren’t sure how. Come along and hear from serial entrepreneur Stephen Fear, Mandy Haberman, inventor of the Anywayup Cup and Cate Trotter, Head of Trends at Insider Trends.

Stephen is an experienced and skilled entrepreneur, his first business was for a cleaning formula made in a garage at the age of 16. He opened his first ‘office’ in a red phone box and has gone on to work on 64 different ventures across the globe.

The evening will also give you the opportunity to learn more about our exciting new business support programme, Innovating for Growth. If you are a London-based small business looking to grow, but aren’t sure how to take the next steps, we can help provide expert advice and support on business strategy and sustainability, branding, intellectual property, developing your product and getting it to the right markets.

Stephen Fear
Stephen is an experienced and skilled entrepreneur, his first business being a cleaning formula made in a garage at the age of 16. He opened his first ‘office’ in a red phone box when he heard on the news that new laws would force food manufacturers to change the way they clean ovens. The Bristol-born businessman hung up an ‘Out of Order’ sign outside the phone box, charmed an operator into pretending to be his secretary, persuaded a US firm to sell its oven-cleaner product to him, and was soon dealing with the world’s biggest food brands.

He an his son, Leon Fear, now run a multinational trading juggernaut incorporating 64 companies with interests in everything from hotels to manufacturing.

Mandy_HabermanMandy Haberman
Starting out with no experience in product design or business, Mandy Haberman came up with the revolutionary design of the ‘no spills’ Anywayup® cup for babies, which has gained turnover of £10m per year since launching in 1995. Mandy can also give invaluable insight into more practical entrepreneurial skills such as dealing with the legalities and patenting of an invention, having fought through a court battle with a major corporation, who used her patented technology for their own range of non-drip cups.

Cate TrotterCate Trotter
Cate is the Founder and Head of Trends at Insider Trends, a London-based trendspotting consultancy. Since graduating in Design from Goldsmiths, she has worked as a marketing consultant for brands such as Lloyds TSB, Tesco and Unilever. She set up Insider Trends in 2008, specialising in demonstrating how trends are coming to life in the world around us. Clients such as Philips, Nokia, Marks & Spencer, Absolut Vodka and American Express have used its trend tours, presentations, reports and workshops to gain a tangible understanding of otherwise abstract trend theories.

Cate regularly runs workshops at the Centre and is one of our success stories.


Fixies re-inventing the bicycle

10 May 2012

I never cease to be amazed at the products and services being re-invented for the modern market. I’ve already mentioned the bare-foot running movement and it’s breathtakingly expensive equipment.

Adam rides a Tokyobike Classic © Horst Friedrichs

Image © Horst Friedrichs

However, since my bicycle was recently stolen (UK bike crime figures), I have been on the lookout for a replacement, and intrigued to discover the fixie bike phenomenon. I have to admit I was half-aware of a different and simpler kind of bicycle from my lunch-time wanderings around the Kings Cross area, particularly in the vicinity of the University of the Arts, inhabited by trend-setting students.

My eye was drawn to the almost Nietzschean purity and strong colours. One bike was all-white, even including the drive chain, another was mat black and gold with painted tyres. A recent article in the Evening Standard about Horst Friedrichs‘ new book London’s most stylish cyclists, seemed to only show examples of fixie bikes.

The point is that once you remove the complex Derailleur gears and forget about heavy suspension, bike designers can let the minimalism of the two wheels and frame come to the fore. The fact that these bikes tend to be hundreds of pounds cheaper than their more sophisticated siblings is another attraction.

However, there is just one fly in the ointment, and that is the hilly nature of the geography around my local area. Bicycles developed gears for a reason, and that was to get their riders up hills without having to get off and push every time the slope got steep.

I’ve been assured that in London they work just fine, but I certainly haven’t seen any up on the South Downs on my walks.

Then there is the question of true fixed wheel fixie, or the softy version with a free wheel bearing. I have to say the thought of being thrown over the handlebars because I forgot to keep pedalling when going downhill, does worry me somewhat.

So I have a dilemma, choose a beautiful two wheeled retro bike that harks back to the early days of cycling – and suffer, or go modern for an easy ride.


The Apprentice hits the mark with gourmet street food

25 April 2012

Lucky_ChipThis evening’s Apprentice shows the show’s researchers have their ears to the ground with regard to the latest trend in street food retailing.

Pop-up shops selling gourmet fast food is all the rage in the trendier parts of London these days.

Luckily the Kings Cross development area is just one such place, with its Eat Street, just up the road from the updated eponymous station, and literally across the road from the recently opened University of the Arts.

I have been lured over to this new venture on numerous occasions, despite the relatively high prices compared to traditional fast food outlets. But the food has always been worth it, with a notable spicy burger which had a real bite to it.

As was pointed out during this weeks Apprentice episode, branding is a key element of any enterprise, and some of the stalls in Eat Street certainly have memorable names. My favourites are Daddy Donkey, Well Kneaded Ltd, Yum Bun, Hardcore Prawn, and Eat my Pies.

tongue-n-cheekHowever, I think that Tongue ‘n Cheek needs to find a way make its delicious sounding underrated meat cuts and Italian inspired street food treats, such as Ox cheek with caramelized onions and polenta, a bit more accessible given the queue size I observed the other day.

These names certainly compare favourably to the Apprentice team’s choices of Gourmet Scot Pot and Utterly delicious Meatballs.

Update: August 2012: I’m now a regular at Eat Street as their days and stalls expand all the time. I’ve just had probably the best burger I’ve ever tasted from Tongue ‘n Cheek. It was their Heartbreacker Original burger, made from Ox heart and dry aged beef burger, spicy chimichurri sauce, water cress, cheddar and sour cream. And it tasted amazing.


The law of unintended consequences and e-books – Fifty Shades of Grey

18 April 2012

50_shades_of_greyThe law of unintended consequences is an interesting topic in its own right, with perhaps the most well known example being the unexpected use of text messaging on mobile telephones.

The latest example according to David Sexton in the Evening Standard is the way e-book readers have allowed more women to read adult fiction. Apparently the lack of a racy cover and give-away title when reading a discretely packaged Amazon Kindle or Apple iPad, allows more and more women to indulge their tastes in public. No longer do they need to fear the snorts of derision or disapproving looks as they plough their way through the latest Bodice ripper.

Apparently the growth in e-books (one in eight of adult fiction books is now purchased digitally) has allowed for a rapid growth in what some call ‘Mommy porn‘, or literotica.

The UK market leader in this genre is E L James and her début adult romance novel Fifty Shades of Grey. According to her official website;

E_L_JamesE L James is a TV executive, wife and mother-of-two based in West London. Since early childhood she dreamed of writing stories that readers would fall in love with, but put those dreams on hold to focus on her family and her career. She finally plucked up the courage to put pen to paper with her first novel, Fifty Shades of Grey.

It is claimed 250,000 copies have already been sold in different formats, and has topped the New York Times Bestseller list.

So, the next time you see a fellow commuter looking a bit hot and bothered, it may not be due to the faulty heating system on the train, but caused by something hot and steamy in her e-book reader.


Another great Inspiring Entrepreneurs with Mothers of Invention

19 March 2012

Another fantastic event this evening with a range of inspiring women entrepreneurs and their stories.

Jones_EmmaThe event was chaired with great warmth, energy and humour by Emma Jones  who launched her first business at age 27, and successfully sold it two years later. In 2006 she launched Enterprise Nation as a website to help anyone start and grow a business from home. The company has since expanded to offer online services, publications, events and finance to small businesses across the UK. Emma is also co-founder of StartUp Britain, and currently acting as the campaign’s chief executive.

Sophie_CornishAs co-founder of shopping website notonthehighstreet.com, Sophie Cornish has won many prestigious awards including the ECMOD Direct Commerce Award for the last three consecutive years and the Online Retail Award Prix D’or 2010. They now host over 2,500 businesses on notonthehighstreet selling 40,000 different products.

They came to the British Library Business & IP Centre early on to look at trends in Internet retailing. And worked hard on their business plan to the extent that they new their numbers inside out. Sohpie emphasised that creating a brand is the key challenge for any business.

Her tips were:

  • Own your mistakes
  • There is no silver bullet
  • Hard work is your unique selling point
  • Cash is king

Kamal_BasranFrom helping her parents prepare samosas for the English pub they ran, to setting up her own food business The Authentic Food Company in 1985, Kamal Basran indulged her passion for cooking authentic Indian food and opened a small business supplying local catering establishments with hand-made samosas and other Indian snack food.

Today, the company has over 240 employees and has a turnover of over £31 million. The company are supplying many of the UK’s top hotels, pub chains, restaurants and retail outlets with the range of quality international cuisine.

When Kamal started out in business, she was a full-time teacher, settled in a comfortable lifestyle, married with two children. While out shopping she saw some ready made samosas, but once home discovered they tasted horrible and threw them into the dustbin. This was the trigger for starting her own business. She had no idea how to start, but wonders in retrospect if this is perhaps the best way.

She began making 600 samosas a week, and grew the business to over a million meals a week.

Her tips were:

Number one priority was to organise her children.
Then, learn how to do everything yourself (nothing is too menial).
Finally, don’t listen to other people (especially your parents!)

Her reasons for success were:

  1. Target your market
  2. Grow gradually
  3. People – 25 nationalities
  4. Products – are the best quality
  5. Customers – we love our customers

Rosie_WolfendenRosie Wolfenden and Harriet Vine are the founders of Tatty Devine whose distinctive fashion designs have made them brand leaders. In 2011 they had a boom year, with a £1 million turnover and kick started 2012 with opening a Selfridges pop up shop which launched their new silver label. The two London Tatty Devine boutiques are located in Brick Lane and Covent Garden.

Harriet_VineThey are independently run and design every piece, 99% of the jewellery is made by hand in their workshops (based in London and Kent). Their custom-made jewellery has been worn by everyone from Claudia Schiffer to Jessie J.

They are very proud of producing their own book on How to Make Jewellery.

In the last two years they have started letting others in to their business, such as developing a new website, to enable them to concentrate on the jewellery.

Christina_RichardsonChristina Richardson is founder of The Nurture Network the UK’s first on-demand marketing department for start-ups and entrepreneurial growth businesses. Christina has spent much of her career managing and growing FMCG brands worth in excess of £100 million.

Now she and her blue-chip trained team, work flexibly across multiple businesses – being their marketing expertise, part time or for specific projects – calling in creative specialists from their network as and when they are needed.

Her tips for new businesses:

  1. You need to give yourself the strongest foundations you can. Be distinctly different by playing a different game.
  2. Define your brand by being clear on your ‘onlyness’. Think about who your brand would be if it were a person.
  3. Test your brand out with real people.
  4. Have a vision, but with numbers. Know the future you want to create.

And for existing businesses:

  1. Marketing is everything that touches your consumer.
  2. Always think consumer first. Choose which group will be your most valuable customers. This will inform your marketing chooses.
  3. Plan with the end in mind and be objectives driven.
  4. Use everything you can do to spread your brand
  5. Bootstrap and collaborate

The evening closed with a lively question and answer session followed by some serious networking until closing time.


Our Spring Festival has sprung

7 March 2012

British_Library_Spring_Festival_creativeIn January I blogged about our Spring Market competition for designers and makers. From the 80+ applicants, the 12 lucky winners got the chance to set up shop in the British Library Piazza last Thursday.

This was all part of our Spring Festival week of events which ran from 1 to 5 March, as a five day celebration of fashion, design and creativity. Highlights included the Spring Market, ‘Make it, Sell it’ speed mentoring sessions, talks from Quentin Blake and Jamie Hewlett (Gorillaz), a pop-up exhibition, Vintage Knitting and a pecha-lecture with Neville Brody.

I have to admit I was a bit worried about the Spring Market as we have had some very mixed weather recently (it is cold and wet as I write this), so we were very fortunate to have a warm sunny day for the market. I popped down to have a look and say hello, and ended up buying some of the wonderful items on display.

history_mugsThe first stall I visited was Cole of London founded by Sarah Cole. Sarah designs colourful mugs that are a contemporary take on age old themes. Featuring figures from history and illustrations. Her mugs feature English monarchs, great writers and the wives of Henry VIII. She has used the Business & IP Centre to learn about copyright and research the ceramics market.

Next was SquidLondon, who I have mentioned before (SquidLondon brighten up a rainy autumn day). Rather than go for one of their best-selling line of colour changing umbrellas, I plumped for a ‘Miss Squidolette’ Shower Curtain which comes to colourful life each time the shower is turned on. It makes a great gift for anyone with young children who might be reluctant to ‘get wet’.

Miss_Squidolette-Shower_Curtain

BathSoak-200x200Next came Ruby Red Cosmetics founded by Martine Burford who is passionate about ethical cosmetics, and her skincare range contains no synthetic chemicals, fragrances or dyes, and has not been tested on animals. She makes all her products locally in London and they are beautifully packaged .

The idea for Ruby Red grew and grew during the 18 months sabbatical Mike and Martine took in 2005. We had given up our high flying jobs to travel around South East Asia and spent a lot of that time with the locals, discovering effective natural apothecary remedies for keeping skin looking healthy and glowing.

The happy ‘punters’ at the fair, seemed to be a mix of British Library staff (showing what good taste they have for innovative products), and visitors to the library who got a nice surprise on their way in to do their research.

All the stall holders I spoke to said they were getting a lot of interest, and sales, so I am hoping this might be first of many such events at the Library. Congratulations to Fran Taylor our Marketing Manager for Creative industries, for masterminding the Spring Festival.

We were also lucky to have Buzz Films present during the week and posting several excellent short clips onto Vimeo.

Fran_Taylor

Fran Taylor Marketing Manager for Creative Industries


Summly founder Nick D’Aloisio @British Library

27 January 2012

Summly_logoI couldn’t see how my colleagues could top the speakers at our first Digital Library Conversations @British Library. Internet pioneers Vint Cerf (known as one of the fathers of the internet) and Ted Nelson who founded Project Xanadu, the first hypertext project in 1960. There is a video of the meeting if you are interested.

However, I was wrong. As a result of Stella Wisdom (one of our Digital Curators) reading an article in the Metro newspaper, we were privileged to hear from 16-year-old ‘internet genius’ Nick D’Aloisio, the founder of Summly.

This iPhone app has made international headlines and attracted backing of an investment company controlled by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing..

Summly is an iPhone app which summarises and simplifies the content of web pages and search results. Currently it can condense reference pages, news articles and reviews but according to Nick,  has the potential to go a lot further.

Nick_D'AloisioNick has been profiled in Forbes, Wall Street Journal, Wired and FastCompany for his entrepreneurial success and interest in Artificial Intelligence. Before founding Summly, Nick created Facemood, a service which used sentiment analysis to determine the mood of Facebook users, and SongStumblr, a geosocial music discovery service.

Did I mention he was 16 years old?

According to an interview with the BBC, Summly came from his frustration in researching for his exams.

“I was revising for a history exam and using Google, clicking in and out of search results, and it seemed quite inefficient. If I found myself on a site that was interesting I was reading it and that was wasting time,” he said.

“I thought that what I needed was a way of simplifying and summarising these web searches. Google has Instant Preview but that is just an image of the page. What I wanted was a content preview,” he says.

What impressed me most from our meeting with Nick at the British Library (which you can get a glimpse of here thanks to Reuters), was his intelligence and modesty.

I’m sure he has had plenty of practice, but his ‘elevator pitch’  (which is something of an obsession with me), was superb.

And when I asked him if he was planning to pursue an entrepreneurial path or go on to university, he talked enthusiastically about studying philosophy after his A levels. This is from someone just back from a series of meetings with high powered investors and entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley.

I came away with the impression that he was quite possibly the most confident and mature person in the meeting.

Addition 28 March 2012:

The video of this event has now been posted onto YouTube, and the interview with Nick starts 34 minutes in.


Customised Design event at the British Library

13 December 2011

Many thanks to my colleague Fran Taylor for this story:

On 7 December we ran an event in partnership with the University of Hertfordshire on customised design, and how designers can create unique, tailored goods for their customers – either at the luxury or mass-produce ends of the market.

It’s a challenging area for businesses. On the one hand it is a way of finding your USP (unique selling point) and potentially being able to charge more for your products. On the other hand it also makes the manufacturing and ordering process much more complicated.

The first speaker was Shaun Borstrock, who has worked with Asprey, Thomas Pink, and the British Luxury Council and he spoke about the luxury end of customisation. He talked about how the luxury market is forecast to grow by 57% over the next five years to £9.4bn. He talked about how a lot of companies often create the impression of offering customised products, but in reality just offer small changes e.g. by adding initials to a designer hand-bag or offering different colour options. He also gave the example of the Prada Lace-up project.

In contrast, Sarah Maynard from SML offers an extremely high end, bespoke service in the luxury transportation market. She has a team of craftsmen who can provide anything from working with a team of chemists to choose a specific colour pigment to a gold-plated gear stick. For her business, customisation is achieved through one-to-one relationships with clients over a longer period of time. Customisation is her USP and her customers are willing to pay a lot of money for the craftsmanship involved.

Our last speaker was jewellery designer Mark Bloomfield from Electrobloom. He is a huge fan of 3D printing and explained how it opens up opportunities for customised design, low-cost manufacturing and experimentation.  Through 3D printing you can produce prototypes quickly and the creative process can be very iterative.  It also reduces the cost and energy required for shipping and manufacturing abroad.

He produces beautiful flower-inspired designs in around 20 different colour and shape combinations. They are made out of nylon (which incidentally is also dishwasher proof).

Electrobloom flower


Open Innovation: Working with others to make new ideas fly

24 November 2011

My colleague Nigel Spencer, Research and Business Development Manager reports on our exciting workshop next Monday 29 November:

OIlogo_text

Do you have access to all the skills, knowledge, experience and perspectives needed to develop innovative products and services within your own organisation?

No matter how large that organisation is, it is highly unlikely that you do.  If you seek input from other businesses, often in different sectors, customers, and others you are much more likely to identify innovative ideas and solutions and to build the type of partnerships which will help you turn those ideas into sustainable products and services.  This simple premise is the basis of open innovation.

Stefan Lindegaard 15inno says that people should view  open innovation as ‘a philosophy or a mindset that they should embrace within their organization. This mindset should enable their organization to work with external input to the innovation process just as naturally as it does with internal input’.

So,you should not look at  open innovation as a rigid business or innovation model. It  is a shorthand that describes a diverse range of engagement and collabration activity with differing levels of formality and structure.  Examples of these include crowdsourcing, online competitions, online jams and more closely facilitated relationships. There are many examples of  global corporations that have applied open innovation methods. These include  ‘Orange’, Procter & Gamble, Boots, Lego and Virgin Atlantic but the growth in social media and online open innovation platforms like Innocentive, mean that anyone can find a way of applying open innovation principles.

However, if you are looking to embrace the world of open innovation, or even dip your toe in the water, a number of perceived and genuine barriers and challenges may make you hesitate. Some of these are:

  • How to make the contacts needed with external organisations and people and develop long-term mutually beneficial relationships. This a particular concern if the businesses are of differing sizes.
  • How to overcome the internal organisational cultures which may be uncomfortable with the kind of openness, transparency and perceived loss of direct control which are involved in applying these ideas.
  • How to protect ideas and creative outputs when these are being shared and an uncertainty as to how intellectual property fits into an open innovation environment.

On 29 November 2011 the BL is hosting a half-day conference which looks at these challenges head on.  It is called ‘Open Innovation: The Challenges & Solutions’.

We have brought together a great selection of experts and practitioners from organisations like 100% Open, Creative Barcode, Procter and Gamble and Quantum Innovation Centre to debate these issues.

More information and booking on the event.

The event is part of an EU-funded Interreg IVB NEW project called The Open Innovation Project.


Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson – A monster of a book about a monster of a man

24 November 2011

Steve_Jobs_by_Walter_IsaacsonMany thanks to Debbie Epstein for giving me this amazing book as a present.

Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson is the only authorised story of the life and death of one of the most influential figures of the last 50 years, who died on 5 October this year, aged 56, from pancreatic cancer.

The book is something of a monster at 627 pages, and chronicles Steve Jobs‘ life from his childhood, through the creation and early days of Apple computers, his battles with Microsoft, his sacking and 12 year later return to the company he founded. Isaacson managed to interview Jobs himself over forty times, and tracked down more than a hundred friends, family, colleagues, competitors and adversaries.

I found it a compelling read, and managed to complete it in less than a week. It is perhaps the most honest and revealing authorised biography ever written of an industry leader. Isaacson uncovers both the amazing stories behind the revolutionary products Apple produced. However, he also reveals something of a monster of a man.

Jobs was a sensitive person, perhaps more so due to being adopted at birth, who spent several months wandering across India in his youth looking for spiritual enlightenment and followed Buddhism for the rest of his life. But he could also be the most manipulative and down-right nasty person it is possible to imagine. So much so, that his early colleagues referred to his ability to distort reality to his own ends (Reality distortion field even has its own Wikipedia entry).

Having been something of a computer nerd as a teenager in the mid-1970s I first came across his creations in the form of an Apple II computer. As you can see it was some way from the sleek and sexy design of the more recent iMacs. So reading the story of how Jobs and Steve Wozniak developed these machines made for riveting reading.

Apple II computer

Although he made many mistakes along the way, as well as many enemies, and a trail of broken colleagues, his vision and passion resulted in products which have truly revolutionised the computer industry, and made Apple the most valuable company in the world.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about Steve Jobs was that he never felt the need to conduct market research (something we recommend all our clients in the Business & IP Centre should do). Instead he worked on creating ‘insanely great’ products people would discover they didn’t know they needed until they saw them.


Inspiring Entrepreneurs: Question Time for Entrepreneurs 2011

14 November 2011

GEW_logoTonight as night as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week we held another great Inspiring Entrepreneurs. This time the topic was Question Time for Entrepreneurs, and was a chance to grill our assembled panel of experts.

Emma Bridgewater, Chairman and Founder of Emma Bridgewater Ltd, Vernon W. Hill II, Co-founder and Vice Chairman of Metro Bank, Lara Morgan, Founder of Pacific Direct Group Ltd and Company Shortcuts Ltd and Tim Campbell, Founder of the Bright Ideas Trust.

Jonathan Moules, enterprise correspondent at The Financial Times, was in charge of moderating the team.

Emma BridgewaterEmma Bridgewater admitted her business was more home counties than ‘wild west’.

You will have to go through tough times. So even if you don’t feel strong enough, when it is your company, you feel differently about it.

You will surprised how creative you can be in business when you first start out and have no money.

Having to think about accounts was something unpleasant, but necessary.

Her value add, was to make modern dishwater friendly pottery.

‘We have spent ‘shed loads’ of money trying to protect our designs. I don’t think it is possible to protect them.’ The next new design is the key to success. And your brand.

Vernon W Hill IIVernon W. Hill II managed to extend his five minute introduction into an impassioned 15 minute talk about the amazing success of his banking ventures.

Be aware of the brand hierarchy: Basic brands,
Emotional Brands and Legendary Brands. When you reach the top stage you have fans not customers.

You need a clear business model that differentiates you from the competition. The culture of your company must be unique but matched to your business model. Your business execution must be fanatatical

In the US they gave away 28 million pens, and they were trying to get the number up. They let dogs in on the theory that if you love my dog, you must love me.

Metro Bank have 90 percent customer satisfaction rate, Barlcays has minus 35 percent.

Emotional brands create massive value. Look at the example of Apple who grew from a five percent market share less than 10 years ago.

Are you really emotionally and equipped to go down the entrepreneurial road? Ask yourselves does your product or service add value? What is different about you? Successful entrepreneurs start with the end result, not the process of getting there. In the UK we concentrate too much on the technicalities.

He went through 15 years of the press saying ‘this won’t work’, so having a thick skin is essential.

Ninety percent of people they see looking for investment don’t have a business plan, they just have hope. Not good enough! If you don’t have convincing numbers to raise money you will fail.

‘My problem is dealing with the government every day!’

In the US they were recruiting 6,000 jobs a year, most came from existing staff contacts. If they didn’t smile in the first interview then they were out.

Lara MorganLara Morgan.

The ability to just keep going is vitally important. Jack of all trades and a master of one, where you recruit others to fill in the other roles required.

She worked on her own for two years, morning, noon and night. Her first recruit was a ‘gobby’ hocky player who had the ability, and could be taught the skill required.

Be aware that you can recruit people if you are creative as employers, find out what will lure someone in other than money.

You can actually learn lots of good stuff from books. This is a solution Lara has applied on many occasions.

Understanding finance was a painful part of becoming a successful business. You don’t need to to do the numbers, you do need to understand them.

Finding the right staff, means being utterly rigorous in you recruitment process. Make sure you test skills, because there is a lot of flannel from candidates. Check with your receptionist for their behaviour. Maths, English and culture tests are key. Invest time in this and you will be rewarded.

It took several years to work out what our USP was. It became representing the best products to the best hotels. A key to this was understanding the market place and the competition better than anyone else.

There are very few new ideas, so you just need be aware of how you are different and better.

Tim CampbellTim Campbell

There is a huge value in mentors and advisors. Having a wise head behind you will help solve some of your issues. Having a loyal team with you on your journey will be a key to your success.

Entrepreneurs need to learn to rely on others to deliver the expertise required for the business.

You may need to extend your sales technique to family and friends in order to raise capital for your business. However, business angels are sitting there waiting to find ideas to invest in. There needs to be a better way to bring these two together.

You can’t expect people to invest in your idea if you aren’t prepared to stand by the loan, or put in your own money.

Employing people who don’t have the same passion as you do, is the biggest problem. Managing them out is incredibly difficult. You need to be incredibly clear about what you want from your recruits.

Don’t compete on price, there will always be someone cheaper.

Intellectual protection can be a very costly route to protect something that may not be unique enough. Speed to market is your best protection.

You can learn from other first mover’s mistakes.

The time to pull the plug on his business, was when he realised he could not get the 2,000 outlets needed to reach the minimum size. There is an inner voice you can hear when you go to sleep at night. Listen to it, and to advisers you trust.

There is nothing wrong with a lifestyle business (small scale).

 

Video now live here, Question Time for Entrepreneurs 2011 by BIPCTV’s channel

Question Time for Entrepreneurs 2011

by BIPCTV’s channe


Trends in the computer games industry

15 September 2011

WiiAs part of the Library’s work to engage with the creative industries, my colleague Fran Taylor has been finding out some of the key facts and figures about the UK games sector.  We’d like to encourage games makers to use our collections for inspiration and contextual research and to use the Business & IP Centre to commercialise their ideas. Fran used the Business & IP Centre’s resources to gather it all together, including reports from Euromonitor, Datamonitor and online NESTA reports.

1.    In 2009, the global video gaming market was estimated to be worth approximately $72.2bn. It is expected to grow by 5.1% during the period 2009–14, to reach $92.5bn in 2014. Software revenues are worth 69.4% of total revenues.

2.    The UK video games industry was worth £2.8bn in 2010, which is bigger than its music or film industries.

3.    In the UK, the most popular brands are the Xbox, Sony PlayStation, Kinect and Call of Duty.

4.    Almost one third of all people older than 16 in the UK describe themselves as ‘gamers’ (with an equal breakdown between men and women).  The percentage goes up to 74% for people between the ages of 16 and 19.

5.    One in every two UK houses owns a video games console.

6.    The profile of the industry is changing, with a new breed of games developers working as sole-traders, freelancers and in small companies. Growth is expected at the lower end of the price range, i.e. online and mobile games.

7.    The online gaming segment is rapidly gaining traction and is gradually overtaking the PC and console gaming segments. Business Insights forecasts that online gaming revenues will increase from $13.2bn in 2009 to $25.3bn in 2014.

8.    The global PC gaming market was estimated at a value of $4.5bn in 2009, and is likely to erode to $4.3bn by 2014, posting a decline in of 0.9% CAGR during the period.

9.    Mobile games are the fastest growing segment of the video gaming market, with a forecast CAGR of 14.4% during the period 2009–14. Increasing mobile and 3G and 4G penetration are the key market drivers.

10.    Emerging technologies that are in a much more advanced stage of development include thought-based games, motion sensors, connected TV and HTML5.

 


Effective Writing And Communications with Kimberly Davies and Steve Trister

15 September 2011

Kimberly_DavisYesterday I attended another of Kimberly DaviesMarketing Masters days. This time the topic was Effective Writing And Communications and featured guest speaker Steve Trister the creator of Performance Dynamite.

I not sure if Kimberly is a geographer at heart, but the four days I have attended have been located in south, east, north and now west London. I’m not sure where she will go next now we have covered all four compass points.

One of the consequences of moving to a new location each time, is that the rooms often have technical glitches with the sound or vision, or in yesterdays case, both.

Kimberly copes with these challenging starts to the day with an impressive level of  professionalism and humour.

steve_TristerKimberly spoke for most of the day and was excellent, however the highlight of the day for me was actor and business coach Steve Trister the from Performance Dynamite..

He walked to front of the room wearing a doctors mask and mumbled something to. That got our attention. He then asked us to name the number one disease in business. We came up with a range of suggestions, but failed to give the correct answer; Vomiticus Contentinaatum – otherwise known as puking content, or verbal diarrhoea.

I have to admit that working in one of the largest libraries in the world with over 150 million items in our collection, this is a disease I am all too well aware of falling prey to.

The cure to this disease is to make an emotional connection with your audience (of one or more). This of course is much easier to say than to do. So you need to prepare, by building the right mindset.

You need to tell yourself every day that you are already connected to your audience, then you need to mentally rehearse by visualising the event in advance (some of which will be scripted, and some not). This is similar to the way professional athletes prepare for a competition.

You need to be clear on the emotion you want to conjure up, be in state (or in the moment with no distractions), and to commit 100% to the performance.

Steve had investigated the famous research by Albert Mehrabian on non-verbal communication. He found the commonly quoted result, that clues from spoken words, from the voice tone, and from the facial expression, contribute 7 %, 38 %, and 55 % respectively to the total meaning, is wrong, as it it relates only to the communication of positive versus negative emotions.

Our voice is critical to how we communicate to our audience, changes in vocal emphasis (the stress we put on specific words) can completely change the meaning of what we saying. He asked how often do we take note of how we are actually speaking. He explained that our tongues are muscles, so we should exercise them using tongue twisters.

He also covered body language and the use of gestures, and how these can be used to reinforce or undermine our verbal messages. He said we should practice expressing our business activity in the form of charades. This made my mind boggle at how I could show the British Library through mime.

Steve illustrated each of these points with victims (sorry volunteers) from the audience, and guided them through. For the final example he had a professional photographer give an excellent and clear mime of his business.

Finally he said we should find an emotional story that will relate to your audience.

Needless to say Steve used all of these techniques during one of the most engaging and memorable presentations I have ever seen.

You can see a YouTube video of Steve in action, and an interview with Smarta.com.

Here are my notes from the rest of the excellent day:

Learn the 20 rules of communication that should never be broken

Kimberly’s no. 1 life lesson;
“You can reach anyone in the world with, seven phone calls or less, saying the right thing.”

Statistics show that 50% of marketing spend is wasted.

Led to the idea for Sarsaparilla – to detox your marketing – Marketing Purification

Definition of marketing
Anything that affects the perception of your company. From logos to staff behaviour.

You are exposed to 4,000 brands every day. So how does your business stand out?

Know your audience
–    Who is your target market?
–    Who is your idea client / decision maker?
–    What motivates them?
–    Profile (gender, age, health, wealth, culture, interests, position, salary, budget, etc)

Then put yourself into their shoes.
–    How can you make their life easier?
–    What is in it for them?

Then find your voice (written language).
–    Who would narrate your content?
–    Think of a character of personality best suited – perhaps Steven Fry for the British Library
–    Who would your audience relate to and want to hear? Admire? Look up to? Believe
–    Imagine their voice each time you create marketing content

Keywords
–    Ten words that best describe your business – For the Business & IP Centre: innovation, inventions, information, support, advice, help, entrepreneurs, business-startup,
–    One word that best describe your business – knowledge

Unique Selling Point
–    What truly makes your business unique – For the Business & IP Centre: The largest free collection of free market research and business information in the world, with expert guidance.

USP
–    You need to be the only…
–    Everyone says, great staff, customer service etc. That is not unique
–    Sarsaparilla – the only marketing purification agency
–    Try to be everything to everyone and you will be nothing to no one.

Misconceptions
–    Write down misconceptions about your company and industry
o    The British Library is a only accessible to senior academics and authors.
o    The British Library is a very big public library.
o    The British Library only has books.

Testimonials
–    Stronger to have others say it for you
–    One to address each misconception – a maximum of five
–    Keep them really short
–    Use white papers and case studies

Focus on the benefits for your customers
–    List them – information, advice, contacts, training
–    What problem can you solve?
–    How can you make their life easier? – a clearer view of what they need to do to start their business

Key Messages
–    What are the three key things you want people to remember about your business?
o    Business & IP Centre at the British Library at St Pancras central London
o    Free workshops and advice
o    Free access to market research and business information.

Branding
–    The trust people have in your company
–    Consistency – with the rest of your business
–    People will judge you from how you look

Professional photos
–    Stock photos are too common – better to use your own commissioned ones

KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid
–    You have two seconds to make an impression
–    8 year old level reading age for printed materials
–    Get straight to the point
–    Bulleted lists are good, with verbs to start
–    Every word competes

Formula for success and to avoid writers block
–    I’ve got all this information, now how do I organise it?
–    Reverse pyramid order – most important to least important
–    Start with the ‘lead’ – who, what, where, when, how

Navigate
–    Map out where you want them to go
–    Tell them what you want them to do

Incentives
–    Free downloads
–    Upgrades
–    Gifts
–    Discounts
–    Occasion
–    Expiration date
–    First 10 receive
–    Etc

Call to Action
–    Create urgency
–    Why should I stop what I’m doing and buy NOW?
–    Now or lose your audience

Ask questions – keep the dialogue going
–    Show a sincere interest
–    Surveys, feedback, phone
–    What questions would you want to know for market research?

Relevance
–    How can you connect your business to current news?
–    Have an opinion
–    Share your views – become an expert

The Elevator Pitch
–    What is it?
–    The most important tool
–    People decide whether to file or forget you
–    Get everyone in the company to memorise
–    Use it everywhere – keep it consistent – brochures, home page, flyers etc

The who, what, where, when and how of your business

I still think Sarsaparilla’s elevator pitch is the best I have come across;

50% of marketing is wasted. Sarsaparilla is a marketing consulting and training agency that specialises in marketing purification – the process of detoxing your marketing, protecting you from The Flash, Fluff, and Fakers, and helping you make more money with less.


Brands and companies that last

29 July 2011

KeiunkanI have recently been sent a link to a blog post about 10 Old Brands That Managed to Stay Modern. Although it is a list of US brands, it got me thinking about companies and brands that last. The average lifespan of a company is surprisingly low at just 25 years for listed US companies.

In most cases the key to really long-term survival is being flexible and changing to match or even lead, public taste and new markets.

For instance while on my recent trip to Tanzania I noticed that although local people still buy bottles of Coca-Cola, many more are drinking Kilimanjaro brand water. On examining the bottle closely I was surprised to see it was produced by the very same  Coca-Cola company. This is just one of the many hundreds of brands that they now own.

Another interesting discovery is the high proportion of long lasting companies that are Japanese or German. It may be something to do with how they get passed down through the family to the next generation. The oldest is the Keiunkan hotel, which has been going since 705.


Pole-pole to the roof of Africa

21 July 2011

Kilimnanjaro 2011 - Uhuru PeakHaving tried all kinds of different training methods in preparation for my Kilimanjaro Climb, (Will falling forward get me to the top of Kilimanjaro?), the one technique I had not thought about, turned out to be the most important.

To get to the top of the highest free-standing mountain in the world you need to go really slowly, or ‘pole-pole’, to use the Swahili term.

Making forward progress at 19,341 feet or 5,895 metres above sea level, where the oxygen levels are fifty percent less than normal, requires minimum physical effort.

Our very conscientious mountain guide was always keeping an eye on our speed, our ability to cope with the conditions, and for onset of the feared acute mountain sickness or AMS.

Walking the fifty mile climb, at times as slowly as one mile an hour, gave plenty of thinking time. And my thoughts turned to the Aesop’s Fable of the Hare and the Tortoise. In the case of climbing Kilimanjaro, it is not that the tortoise arrives first, it more about arriving at all. According to one company, the success rate for those on the quick three days up climb is less than fifty percent.

In fact our five days of training to plod slowly up the mountain were so successful that one of our our party made it to the summit on automatic pilot, despite suffering from altitude hallucinations. She had to be shown a photo to prove she had actually been there, in body, if not in mind.

Knowing that generous supporters had already donated to my JustGiving page gave me the extra motivation to keep going when I felt like giving up. The page is going be up for a few more weeks if you want to make a contribution.

My reward for getting to the top was a nine day safari in northern Tanzania where I saw some wonderful sights.

Tanzania_2011_leapard

Tanzania_2011_lion

Tanzania_2011_hippo

Tanzania_2011_sunset

More photos on Flick.com and videos on YouTube.com.