Playback Rewards, a success story in the making

29 June 2012

playbackrewards-logoMost of the inventors and entrepreneurs we help in the Business & IP Centre realise that it takes hard work and patience (and some luck) to become successful.

For Alistair Kelman the man behind Playback Rewards it has taken three years of seven day weeks with no holidays.

I have often seen him working in the Centre, and for the past couple of years he has been giving me regular progress reports on his patented invention. These updates have been an alternating mix of positive and negative news, as hurdles appear and then are overcome. Or amazing opportunities arrive, but then disappear again.

Alistair_KelmanThroughout this roller-coaster of events, Alistair has remained positive, and bounced back from setbacks (an essential ingredient for an entrepreneur). He has also taken a flexible and pragmatic approach to commercialising his invention (another necessary requirement – but sadly rather too rare for inventors).

For the last few months I have been waiting for permission from Alistair to talk about his invention on my blog, and now he has given me the green light. I am excited because Playback Rewards has the potential to be our biggest success story so far, by far.

Alistair started working on his ideas for revolutionising television advertising at the Centre at the beginning of 2009. He filed his first patent later that year, which was granted in February 2011. He then worked for months, almost on a daily basis at the Centre, developing, researching and refining the commercialisation of his invention.

In late 2010 Alistair ran out of money for his patent. But managed to persuade Stephen Fry to put in a little to keep the project on the road. As you can see from the video Stephen recorded ???, he liked Alistairs’ ideas and wanted to help. Then on Christmas Day 2011 his company was mentioned in an article in the Sunday Times.

Five months later Playback Holdings Ltd won a place in the semi-finals of the CISCO BIG awards, where it stands the chance of winning $100,000 for the business. Alistair feels that which everyone should know about this amazing programme.

As part of his entry for the CISCO i-prize competition Alistair has made a video Magic in your pocket which explains how the service would work.

On 6 July Playback Holdings Limited starts its Series A  fund-raising via an Financial Services Authority (FSA) approved crowdsourcing  platform called Seedrs. This innovative investment method allows ordinary people to invest between £10 to £100,000 in any of the start-ups on its platform.

The full story behind Playback Rewards, and where they are going is on their website www.playbackrewards.com.


Inspiring Entrepreneurs event – Going for Gold – report

28 May 2012

Stephen_FearMany thanks to my colleagues Michael Pattinson and Gail Mitchell for reporting on this successful event.

Last Wednesday evening the British Library hosted the latest in the series of Inspiring Entrepreneurs events called Going for Gold which featured an audience with the Business & IP Centre’s new entrepreneur in residence Stephen Fear.

Stephen has 50 years of business experience and is involved in our new Innovating for Growth Programme which nurtures existing businesses and helps them grow over a 12 month period. He was joined on stage by two of the participants in the programme, Mandy Haberman, inventor of the Anywayup Cup and Cate Trotter, Head of Trends at Insider Trends.

Following a brief introduction from Frances Brindle, Head of Marketing at the British Library, chair Matthew Rock started proceedings by asking Stephen about the origins of his entrepreneurial spirit. He talked candidly about his early childhood spoke about his first business venture as a teenager which involved sourcing the formula for an oven cleaning solution from the US and enlisting the help of friends on the estate where he grew up to make up the product. He famously used a telephone box as his office and managed to charm the telephone operator to pose as his secretary.

After much deliberation about which job title to award himself on his business cards, he finally decided that trainee salesman was more appropriate than president or chairman considering he was so young, he set out to make his first sale. After being ejected by the receptionist at Hovis he managed to convince one of the managers who was outside having a cigarette to see a demonstration of the product. He was duly impressed and placed an order. How did he convince him? He told him that he would lose his job if he didn’t get to demonstrate it to someone.

There were several lessons to the story. Always believe in your product and make sure it works; use whatever ‘guerrilla’ tactics you can to market the product; and make sure you approach the decision makers, don’t waste your time trying to sell to the receptionist.

Stephen proved to be a very engaging speaker, down-to-earth and keen to share his entrepreneurial know-how with the audience.

Mandy_HabermanMandy Haberman joined Stephen on stage and spoke about the initial success of her Anywayup cup. She has some new products in the pipeline which she is going to manufacture herself with the help of funding including a baby feeder which emulates breast feeding. After talking about how difficult it was to secure funding Stephen told the audience that businesses will always face such challenges but it’s how you react to those challenges that matters. Matthew Rock asked him if he had any tips for businesses looking for funding. He recommended the British Bankers Association’s Business Finance for You website as a good starting point.

Cate TrotterCate Trotter from Insider Trends was up next. Cate runs a trend spotting service which includes trend tours and talks for clients ranging from large corporations like Marks & Spencer to SMEs. She is currently expanding from being a sole trader. Stephen made the point that this can be a dangerous time as you need to entrust parts of the business to other people who may not share your passion and commitment.

Stephen urged the audience to spend carefully when you are building up a business and to avoid what he called unnecessary fixed overheads such as an expensive office space or a company car. If you put a set of BMW keys on the table people assume you have a BMW, so just get a set of keys!

Mandy pointed out that you can mock up packaging to save money. Stephen came up with a very useful tip called “tacking on.” Some packaging companies may be prepared to package your products cheaply at the end of a run for another client, especially if they think you might be putting more business their way in the future.

Matthew Rock thanked the guests for their insight and then asked the audience if they had any questions. Somebody asked if having a limited company was preferable to operating as a sole trader. Stephen felt that aside from the issue of liability, the legal status of the business was not that important because it was the individuals involved that were important.

Someone else asked for advice about trading overseas. Pick an English speaking country or at least a country where you are familiar with the language and culture, said Stephen. Mandy suggested using international distributors who know the market and have the infrastructure in place already.

Nick Nair at the back of the auditorium told Stephen that if he didn’t use this opportunity to give him a bottle of his product, Flavour Dash, his boss, (ie his wife) would give him the sack. To applause from the audience, he ran down the steps and presented Stephen with a free sample, employing the very same guerilla marketing tactics that Stephen had recommended earlier in the evening.


Could you be our new Jewellery Designer in Residence?

11 May 2012

artquest-on-whiteWe have had our wonderful Inventor in Residence Mark Sheahan pretty much since we opened in 2006, and he has personally helped over 400 inventors.

More recently we have had our Entrepreneur in Residence Stephen Fear.

And now we are looking for a Jewellery Designer in Residence.

TattyDevine_Crystal_Crown_Necklace

Tatty Devine Crystal Crown Necklace

Together with Artquest we have just announced a new research residency for a mid-career London-based jeweller with at least five years’ practice.

This paid opportunity will help a designer take their work in a new direction, be inspired by the Library’s collections and gain business support.

The successful applicant will receive:

  • A bursary of £3,000 to develop (and potentially commercialise) a new body of work using material from the British Library collections.
  • Access to British Library collections and curators.
  • Access to business and intellectual property advice in the Library’s Business & IP Centre, which helps people to set up, run and grow their own business.
  • Marketing support in relation to their activity undertaken on the residency.

The deadline for applications is Monday 9 July 2012.

Maybe you could be the next Tatty Devine?

You can also contact Frances Taylor if you want to be involved in this, or our other projects targeting the library’s creative audiences.


Could you be the next Business & IP Centre Success Story?

3 May 2012

I love hearing and writing about our Success Stories, so it is great to hear that we have created a web page to find even more.

Like all good marketing, becoming a Success Story is a win-win. We get to show how our customers have benefited from our services, and they get great publicity for their business.

To apply, you just need to visit our Success Stories web page. And don’t forget to visit our BIPC YouTube channel to check out the rest.

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Success Story: Sheila Holdsworth, Know Knockers

Benefits of being a Business & IP Centre success story

  • Extra promotion for your business and product or service to a wide network
  • Increased exposure for your brand
  • Increased web traffic to your site
  • Opportunity to use promotional images or video for your own advertising purposes
  • Invitations to networking events to meet other like-minded entrepreneurs and key stakeholders
  • Regular contact and updates with Business & IP Centre staff and business partners
  • Highlighted internally at the British Library through internal communications channels such as the staff Intranet or newsletter

Success story guidelines:

  • You must be a registered user of the Centre
  • You should be able to demonstrate that the Centre has played a significant role in the development of your innovation, product or service. Ie. illustrate specific practical advantages from using the Centre and its services.
  • You should have attended at least one workshop (run by either British Library or one of our external partners).
  • Your innovation, product, service must have been launched successfully and your company trading for a minimum of 12 months.
  • You must be able provide evidence of ownership of the IP (e.g. a patent) in the case of a new product or process.
  • The story of your innovation, product or service is likely to be attractive to the press/media in the opinion of the British Library press office.
  • Your product or service displays the best of UK entrepreneurship and innovation in the opinion of the British Library
  • The case studies cover a wide range of different business sectors.
  • The case studies are representative of all entrepreneurs, including women and BAMEs.

Totseat – our Scottish Success Story

4 April 2012

totseat logoIt was great to hear from Rachel Jones the inventor and founder of Totseat who are based in Edinburgh.

She told me how the first Totseat was created from her wedding dress (with an understanding husband watching while she chopped it up). This followed on from a disastrous meal out with a small child – and various filthy high-chairs being proffered from the downstairs loo.

Totseat-DenimThe purpose was to create a safe haven from any adult chair for a small child – i.e. replacing a traditional high-chair when none was available, or they are too filthy to use. Rachel created a cotton Totseat from the original silk version, and enlisted the help of a friend to make it child safe. Soon lots of her friends wanted one too.

Being somewhat neurotic, Rachel took safety to heart and enlisted help of BSI test house, paediatricians, physiotherapists and the Child Accident Prevention Trust. With the safety attributes firmly embedded, she made 20 prototypes, with slight variables, (all by hand) and lent them to 20 families – along with a disposable camera – requesting as many testing experiences as possible.

Rachel then visited the British Library Business & IP Centre to see what other brands were ‘out there’ on international basis. As well as looking at trademarks, names, patent and design rights.

Several months and 900 testing experiences later Rachel had a ‘final prototype’, and managed to secure an appointment with John Lewis for a ‘reality check’. But it turned out that John Lewis loved it. Her reaction was, ‘yikes’!

She continued to use the Business & IP Centre for Mintel and Keynote research papers on state of ‘the nation’ (Childcare industry, nursery industry, accessories etc). She found this invaluable, as access to these reports are otherwise totally out of financial reach – and this sort of information remains a key part of their business planning and strategy.

Since going into production four years ago UK growth has been strong in high street stores, and now export growth is surging ahead with 40 plus countries. Totseat is now the leading product in its class, with multiple award wins, recognising its design, and safety attributes.

And now Totseat has been joined by Oobicoo, which was short-listed for Best Soft Toy 2012. The adorable, cuddly, soft toy tot Oobicoo is made from gorgeous soft plush and, at 60cm tall, is the perfect size to be an instant baby brother, sister or best friend.

Rachel describes the British Library as a ‘magnificent mind-space’ whether exploring, befriending or nurturing information for both day to day and strategic business.


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


Dana Levy Bags & Jewellery Design – another Success Story

21 October 2011

evil_eyeMy colleague Julie Simkin has written this post on one of her success stories:

I always get excited when I hear from one of my Business Start-Up clients and hear that their business is doing well. This was the case last week when I heard from Dana Levy. I first met with Dana in November 2009 when her business was established, but Dana felt it was the right time to grow and expand into new areas.

When I asked Dana about her experiences with the Business & IP Centre she said:

‘The Business and IP Centre has been very useful in helping me move forward with my business. As well as using the library’s extensive research facilities, I have also had one to one sessions with their knowledgeable Information specialist , Julie Simpkin, and also I had  a one to one session with an ex- ‘Dragon’. These sessions were really useful as they were personal and tailored to my business needs.

The Business & IP Centre also organises really interesting lectures, events and workshops. The most recent workshop I was lucky enough to attend was on Social Networking by Kimberley Davis who featured on the Apprentice a few years ago. She was absolutely brilliant – Very informative and delivered her presentation in such a fun and interesting way.’

Dana_Levy_Backgammon_Roll_Mandala_Blue

Designer Dana Levy grew up in London and has been designing handmade jewellery and accessories for over 10 years. Her creative journey began by spending long summers in the spiritual city of Jerusalem, which then lured her to relocate there and complete a Fine Arts degree at the Bezalel Academy of Art & Design. It was while she was based there for 7 years, immersed in Jerusalem’s rich culture and beauty, that her inspiration for designing jewellery and accessories truly began.

Once back in London, the Dana Levy brand began with yoga & meditation accessories using beautiful silk damask fabrics found on her travels in the Middle East. Those damask fabrics soon became her trademark across all of the lifestyle accessories ranging from yoga & meditation accessories, to backgammon travel rolls and tote & evening bags. The careful selection of luxurious materials matched uniquely with symbolic charms is an expression of the ancient and modern worlds coming together.

As soon as the Dana Levy lifestyle range was established, the designer started her jewellery lines inspired by the exotic sights and traditions from the Middle East. All of Dana’s jewellery pieces are handmade and incorporate semi-precious gemstones, Czech glass beads and beautiful charms, amulets and talismans that have spiritual meaning, such as the ‘Hamsa’ hand, a symbol for good luck, and the Evil Eye, a symbol for protection.

All collections are designed by Dana and hand-made using the highest quality materials exclusively sourced from around the world, including the Middle East and Russia.

Dana Levy’s unique pieces have been featured in fashion magazines all around the world such as Vogue, Red, Grazia, and Elle to name just a few. They are also firm favourites with fashion editors and stylists alike.

http://www.danalevy.co.uk/

Dana_Levy_Diamante_Friendship_Bracelets_Pyramid_Oct2011


Baby Beamers another Success Story for the Business & IP Centre

18 October 2011

Baby_Beamers_esther_smallBirgitte Lydum recently got in contact with some lovely comments about her experiences of using the Business & IP Centre.

I first went to British Library’s IP & Business Centre in 2009, when I realised that I needed help with pretty much everything to do with my business idea – a multi-configuration pram cover. I’d just moved past the point where I thought a good product idea was enough, and had realised that I was going to need to educate myself on many levels, before even hoping to succeed getting the product on the market.

So I signed up for seminars on the subjects of intellectual property, business plans, market research, marketing, business finance, a one-on-one with an invention specialist, a one-on-one with a successful entrepreneur, and three hours of free market research with a full report delivered to me – just to mention a few of the amazing services available. I also attended several brilliant networking events listening to and meeting various well known and inspirational entrepreneurs. Many of the people I’ve met at these events, fellow business owners I’m still in contact with today.

Baby_Beamers_logoI was blown away by the quality of the seminars, the staff’s helpfulness, and the amount of information available to me, all for free. I had no idea that there was so much to learn in this wonderful building, buzzing with ideas, creativity, enthusiasm and determination. A bit annoyed with myself for not discovering the place earlier I decided to go there whenever possible, to focus, to learn and to develop my business in the best possible way.

One day, when preparing my patent application in the quiet, clean and comfortable computer area of the centre, I was encouraged by a staff member to try a one-to-one with one of their Information Specialists, who in my case turned out to be Julie Simpkin. It’s without a doubt one of the best decisions I was to make for helping my business materialise. In just one hour Julie taught me so much more about what I wanted from my business than I’d ever be able to learn by myself, from a book or the internet.

For me, she had the effect of a really good business/life coach. We discussed my ideas for the product and the business, and gave me a lot of constructive and sincere encouragement. Julie was the one to suggest that I separated the company name (Baby Beamers) from the product name (SunSnoozer, instead of Baby Beamers Pram Cover), in case I wanted to add more products later. Good practical advice like all the other nuggets of brilliant advice I left with. She made me commit to my goals there and then by getting me to sign a to-do list for our next meeting, and I floated away from there, head and notebook crammed with new ideas, and a much better and clearer understanding of what it was that I wanted from my business.

Baby_Beamers_esther_and_birgitte

Baby Beamers

Baby Beamers Ltd was founded by Danish designer Birgitte Lydum, when she realised that a pram sun cover she had invented to protect her baby against the sun and make it easier for her to sleep, filled a gap in the market. After numerous prototypes, extensive market research and product testing the SunSnoozer is now available to buy. Other products to help make life easier for new parents are in development.

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Baby Beamers:

  • Encourages better sleep by eliminating bright light and visual distractions.
  • Allows constant view of baby, while still eliminating direct sun or wind.
  • 7 different configurations allow full protection no matter the wind/sun’s direction.
  • Easy access – no need to detach cover when lifting baby in and out of pram.
  • Can be left on the pram, saving valuable storage space. Machine washable.
  • Fits easily under rain covers, mosquito nets and any other pram accessories.
  • UPF 50+ (click HERE for test details, and further info on baby sun protection).
  • The ultimate no fuss, all-season, all-round pram accessory for new parents.

Our Success Story Flubit is growing fast

29 September 2011

Flubit_logoHaving met Bertie Stephens (Chief Flubitron) in a workshop last May, and signing up as Honourable Manlius Buggerflub (I’ve joined the fun Flubitron club), I wanted to keep in touch with their progress.

The good news is that they are growing at an impressively rapid pace, and have recently exceeded 14,000 Flubitrons. With four new demands every minute, their members have already demanded over 3,000 products and services.

I had a chat to their Online Marketing Rep Steph Fiala to find out more:

So what exactly is Flubit?

The idea of Flubit is incredibly simple but revolutionary. In an age of social media and online shopping, we have found a way to empower our consumers, through using our very simple platform. By grouping together and ‘demanding’ products they actually want to buy, we can get them great bulk discounts. Essentially, you tell us what you want and we do all the leg work and get you a discount, all because if you want something, chances are there are others online who also want it.

Bertie_Stephens_FlubitBertie Stephens came up with the idea for a consumer-lead social marketplace at the end of last year, but it wasn’t until spring this year when he really decided to go along with his idea. In April, he met with the first investors and by May Flubit was sitting on a $1M investment and was valued at $4M.

But the successes run deeper, we managed to create a great team here at flubit. We have a group of really experienced, goal oriented leaders – Adel Louertatani, making sure we are in touch with all the right investors, Ricardo Gomez-Ulmke who makes sure all our ideas are plausible and ensures we do everything with structure, Patrick Perez, our non-executive advisor, the man who brought Apple Mac to Europe giving us needed council and of course our CEO Bertie Stephens challenging and directing us – and a group of younger, enthusiastic employees who know our market and make sure we get it right.

And how did the Business & IP Centre help?

The British Library offered founders Bertie Stephens and Adel Louertatani not only a meeting ground & research tool from it’s wide array of resources, but an important learning arena too via the IP Centre.

Partaking in a multitude of courses gave Bertie & Adel an ability to gain a further foothold into the world of small business marketing, financing, pitching to investors and even intellectual property protection.

From here Flubit have been in regular contact with a selection of speakers who have since become consultants who offer a reliable, experianced source of knowledge. It was only from the learnings of the IP Centre that Bertie was able to learn the correct and (more importantly) required steps to correctly copyright & protect the Flubit brand.

If you want to keep up with Flubit, you can join their facebook page, or become a Flubitron yourself.

Flubit_com_screen_shot

flubit_celebration

The Flubit team celebrating their success Flubit style

Update October 2012: Flubit is now live.

Flubit_Screenshot_1


Dee Dee’s Vintage, another Business & IP Centre Success Story

27 September 2011

Dee_Dees_Vintage_logoI received a lovely surprise tweet recently. ” Hi Neil! I had a one-to-one with you  couple of years ago. Still implementing your advice – it was great!

It was from Dee Dee O’Connell, the founder of Dee Dee’s Vintage.  And after my blushes died down, I recalled the information advice clinic where we met. In particular I remember being impressed about how much thought Dee Dee had already given to her business idea, and how resourceful she had been.

Dee Dee didn’t have the delightful logo above at the time, or her partner Ian White.  But I was confident she would be successful, with her enthusiasm and expert knowledge of the vintage clothing market place, and her entrepreneurial spirit.

I get a lovely warm glow from being a small part of our success stories.

Below is the blurb from their website www.deedeesvintage.com:

Dee Dee’s Vintage is a brand new online shop, specialising in Americana and classic British vintage clothing. We began life back in June ‘09 as a stall at the Vintage Pop-Up Market at Brick Lane, East London. We can now be found at selected vintage fairs, markets and festivals all over the UK. Check out our blog for the latest updates on our events.

We’re based at The Print House in Dalston, East London – home of Dalston Roof Park and Café Oto.

They are also on Facebook and Twitter: www.facebook.com/deedeesvintage
twitter.com/deedeesvintage

Dee Dee O'Connell and Ian White

Dee Dee's Vintage with Dee Dee O'Connell and Ian White


SquidLondon brighten up a rainy autumn day

12 September 2011

emma-jayne_parkes_and_vivian_jaegerSomething of a surprise on my way home tonight to see a full-page advert for our Success Story SquidLondon in the Evening Standard.

Fashion graduates Emma-Jayne Parkes and Viviane Jaeger founded SquidLondon after being inspired by Jackson Pollock. They thought it would be cool to walk down the street, it starts to rain and your clothes turn into a walking Jackson Pollock.

Their first product, the Squidarella, is an umbrella that changes colour as it rains. Developing such an innovative product meant that intellectual property – protecting their ideas – was an essential topic to crack. The pair visited the Business & IP Centre to learn more about how intellectual property applied to them.

Squid have now moved to the bathroom with their latest product : ‘Miss Squidolette’ Shower Curtain!

Miss_Squidolette-Shower_Curtain


History in an Hour – another of our Success Stories

15 August 2011

History-in-an-HourAfter my post Here’s one we helped earlier – Seasoned culinary courses, I’ve heard from another client of the Business & IP Centre who has gone on to great success.

Even better, History in an Hour is the brainchild of a librarian.

Rupert Colley had the idea ten years ago, but with the encouragement of his partner Annabel and help from the Business & IP Centre, he finally made a success of it.

The value of the idea has now been recognised by international publishing house Harper Collins, who recently purchased the e-book series from the Rupert.

Annabel kindly sent me a note saying;

“… had it not been for the Business & IP Centre, I wouldn’t have had the idea or the confidence to know where to start in registering a trademark for “In An Hour”, which meant that this became also an asset purchase, not just a straight multi-book licensing deal.”

Rupert also sent me a note to say they are having a summer sale. For the month of August 2011 only, the apps are 69p –  iBooks 49p – Nook 99c and Kindle 98p or less.

History-in-an-Hour-wide

HarperCollins Signs History in an Hour Ebook Series

In a major new acquisition HarperCollins has purchased the History in an Hour e-book series from the company founder and author Rupert Colley. The deal was set up by Scott Pack and the books will be published by Arabella Pike at HarperPress.

History in an Hour is a series of e-books and apps that summarise key areas of world history in digest form, with each title taking no more than sixty minutes to read. From World War Two to Black History, from American Civil War to the Reformation, History in an Hour titles have been a permanent fixture in the Apple bestseller lists since September 2010, often with 3 titles in the top ten or five in the top twenty. They recently came out on Kindle as well. The History in an Hour website and blog can be found at: http://www.historyinanhour.com

Scott Pack says: “When I saw these e-books topping the Apple iBooks charts I was intrigued as I was pretty sure they weren’t from a major publisher. I downloaded one and was really impressed, it did exactly as it promised. I was amazed to discover that they were all the work of a librarian from Enfield creating them in his spare room. I was determined to snap them up before anyone else did.”

Rupert Colley comments: “History is fascinating but it can also be daunting – huge books, a huge choice and endless websites. My aim with History In An Hour is to make it less daunting and more accessible whilst still providing a quality read. I want to offer readers a starting place in their historical reading; a platform on which to build. Now, with HarperPress, we can take it to a new level and spread the word – that History is exciting.”

HarperPress will launch the series on 4th August with six titles. A further seven will follow in October. All existing books will be rebranded and an ambitious programme to grow the series will include titles on the fall of the Roman Empire, the Gunpowder Plot, the Vietnam War, Castro and the Wars of the Roses, as well as an extension of the brand into other subject areas. More than one year on, History in an Hour is still topping the charts with World War Two in an Hour currently number 15.

Arabella Pike comments: ‘This is an incredibly exciting venture for HarperPress. In just over one year Rupert has, single-handed, created a superb brand offering great history for busy people – short, sharp, informative books to be read on a phone or e-reader perfect whilst enduring the daily commute to work. As a leading publisher of history, we intend to work with Rupert to build this pioneering series to publish some terrific titles, show how historical content can be refashioned to suit the digital age, and open up a whole new generation of readers to the delights of history.’

Launch titles:

  • World War Two
  • The Cold War
  • The Afghan Wars
  • The Reformation
  • Henry VIII’s Wives
  • Nazi Germany
  • October titles:
  • Black History
  • 1066
  • Hitler
  • Ancient Egypt
  • American Slavery
  • The American Civil War
  • The World Cup

Here’s one we helped earlier – Seasoned culinary courses

15 June 2011

Seasoned logoWe love hearing about people who we have helped, but it is even more gratifying when they contact us themselves to say thank you.

Last week we received this lovely email from Clare Tetley of Seasoned Ltd:

 

Clare_TetleyDear Business & IP Centre

A quick thank you for your help whilst setting up my business.

I spent one year living in London and researching my start-up business with you at the Business & IP Centre.  I attended a number of start-up courses which were fantastically helpful – everything from ‘knowing your market’ to SEO, IP and networking events.

I started Seasoned just over a year ago and so far business is growing and work is strong.

Here is a clip from ITV’s ‘Be Your Own boss’ series with an interview about setting up a business in a recession which you may like to see.

Many thanks again and I hope to continue visiting your events to further my knowledge.

Clare

Clare Tetley
Seasoned Ltd
01283 810275
www.seasonedcourses.com


Linking Marketing and Sales with Kimberly Davis

13 June 2011

Kimberly_DavisHaving previously covered social media (The Marketing Master Class – Social Media for Business), Kimberly Davis kindly invited me along to the third in her Marketing Masters Series. And this time the topic was Linking Marketing and Sales.

Kimberly started with a very simple definition; Marketing is anything that represents your company.

Marketing vs Sales
–    example of a football team – team is the marketing effort – the striker is the sales
–    Better if different people due to different goals
o    Marketing – long term – brand building – consistency – impersonal
o    Sales – short term – translates interest into a sale – personal (one to one)

Fear of sales
–    If your product is good, you are doing them a favour by telling them about it.
–    It’s is just a conversation – not a sales pitch
–    People buy from people they know, like and trust

Company name
–    You should be able to say what you do in two words
–    Forget witty tag lines that say nothing
–    Example – Campbell’s condensed soup – Sasparilla marketing detoxification

Target market
–    Forget your gut instinct – you can’t sell to everybody
–    Who is your ideal customer?
–    Create a profile for them – age, race, interests, position, salary etc

Selling the right thing
–    What is going to make you the most ROI (return on investment)?
–    Are you selling the right thing to the right people?

Identifying need
–    Where does it hurt for your customers?
–    Solve a problem
–    People buy what they want, not what they need.

Focus on the benefits
–    What are your benefits?
–    What problem can you solve?
–    How can you make their life easier?

Unique Selling Point
–    What are you USP’s?
–    Be ‘the only …’
–    Focus – If you try to be everything to everyone, you will be nothing to no one

The Elevator Pitch
–    It is the most important thing in your marketing strategy.
–    You have twenty seconds to make an impact.
–    Can you clearly articulate what you do in that time?
–    People will decide whether to file or forget you based on this.
–    No more that two short sentences long.
o    Who, what, why when and how?

Communication
–    Find the right words to use
–    Keep it simple
–    Focus on fears and needs
–    Read it out and hear how it sounds
–    Test it on lots of people and get feedback
–    Ask them to say it back to you to see what they remember

Kimberly’s elevator pitch for Sarsaparilla:
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.

Sales across the Marketing Umbrella

Branding
–    How you create trust with your customers
–    You brand must be protected at all costs
–    Make sure everyone sticks to the same elevator pitch
–    Gives a consistent experience
–    Under promise and over deliver
–    Forget Richard Branson as a role model – He has more failed than successful business

Business cards
–    Don’t use cheap or free cards – it shows
–    Make sure you have a proper email address (not @yahoo.com) – makes you look established
–    Write down where you met on the back of cards you recieve
–    Keep your card’s content simple
–    What impression does your card make?

Literature
–    Brochures flyers are a waste of time in Kimberly’s opinion
–    Instead just give people your card

Social Media
–    Most people look to social media for information – not to be sold to
–    20% of all tweets are about business
–    LinkedIn search engine optimisation
–    Free download – 10 Ways to Use Social Media for Business – http://www.sarsaparillamarketing.com

Merchandise
–    You do not need stress balls or pens – not a good use of money according to Kimberly

Eshots, flyers, emails etc
–    Don’t always take, learn to give
–    It’s about building a relationship
–    Don’t SPAM people
–    Add Value – keep it short and simple, and interesting
–    MailChimp gives you up to 2,500 emails for free –

Website
–    Data capture – emails and phone numbers should be visible
–    Download offers in exchange for contact details
–    Don’t over use stock photography – professional personal are better – see where images are being used on tineye.com.
–    Videos – a brilliant way of experiencing your product or service – much less expensive than in the past
–    SEO – don’t pay for rankings – don’t use Flash only sites
–    Linking with other websites moves you up the Google rankings
–    50% will only look at your first page – so make sure it contains your elevator pitch

Testimonials
–    Get others to sing your praises
–    Find out why people don’t buy from you – then work out what would overcome that resistance
–    Keep them short – headlines are best
–    White papers and case studies for more in depth
–    Consider selective use of videos

Advertising
–    Generally not a good investment
–    Need to have a call to action – give people an incentive to buy or contact
–    Promo code to enable tracking
–    Coupons

PR
–    Getting other people to say it for you

Networking
–    Time to use your elevator speech
–    How to get in out of a conversation – ‘I don’t want to keep you from networking with other people here’… Don’t be too obvious
–    Business Cards
–    Carry a nice pen – cheap pen = cheap company
–    Think beyond the person in front of you – they may know someone relevant
–    Ask for what you want – they may be able to help
–    Pay if forward
–    5 minutes per person

Ways to measure your return on marketing investment
–    Take an inventory
o    List of clients and what they buy from you
o    Review you client profile
    How many
    Average spend
    Repeat clients?
    Their profile – hobbies, interests etc
    When they buy
    Why they buy
    Survey with SurveyMonkey
o    Do your market research – not with family and friends
o    Gives you a starting point for measurement

Creating a process (funnel?)
–    Your customers journey to your product
–    How do you get them to say ‘yes’

Positioning
–    Don’t be sucked into discount advertising that is not targeted at your customers

Permission Marketing
–    People don’t want to be marketed to
–    Much more open if you get them to come to you
–    Generate interest
–    Example of Sun and Wind in competition too get a man to take his coat off. Persuasion more effective than force.

Incentivise your customers
–    Free downloads
–    Upgrades
–    Gifts

Data capture
–    Building your database
–    Landing page
–    Collecting business class
–    What are you doing with the list?
–    Grow list organically

Generating new leads
–    Tradeshows, events, contests, social media
–    Buying databases is not straightforward

Ask why people aren’t buying
–    Overcoming obstacles
–    Ask why they won’t buy
–    An opportunity to show you can overcome these

Cost of customer acquisition
–    Calculate – x calls, x leads, x meetings, = x sales
–    Let other formats do the work for you – advertising, website, social media

Retention / Customer service
–    Don’t forget about your existing clients
–    Increasing sales through your current clients
–    Repeat business
–    Get current  customers to increase quantity, frequency and price

Multiple revenue streams
–    Don’t have all your eggs in one basket
–    Make money in your sleep

Reminders
–    Surveys, announcements, newsletters, special access
–    90 days or less
–    Remember to give as well as take

Experiential marketing
–    Sampling your goods and services increases your sales success

Pricing
–    Don’t fall into the trap of lowering your price in a recession
–    Clear pricing structure and clarity
–    Group into easy to understand sections
–    Be transparent
–    People don’t buy based on price
–    Don’t cheapen yourself with sales
–    When it doubt, put prices up

Referral and Affiliate plans

Stop selling and allow people to buy from you

Find a mentor
–    30 thousand businesses will fail this year because of lack of knowledge or experience

A Hobby or a Business?
– Plan and then take action

 

Kimberly’s keynote speaker for the final slot of the day was Sharon Wright, who’s claim to fame is delivering the best pitch in the history of Dragons Den.

–    Took one day off in the first year of developing the idea.
–    Single parent entrepreneur
–    ‘Think big and you will be big’
–    Decided to start with the biggest BT
o    2 hours of negativity
o    6 Sigma proof required
o    Would be virtually impossible
o    Had never been done before
o    One positive – the product had legs

–    First paying customer was with Cromwell tools – told them BT was a buy (a bit cheeky)
–    From creation to market within 6 months
–    Strong self belief is 1st important ingredient for business success
–    Aim was to be the best presenter on Dragons Den – achieved this goal
–    Preparation (2nd key ingredient for business success)
–    Practiced her three minute pitch 100 times a day for three weeks
–    Read all of the Dragon’s books to help choose which partner to go with
–    After the show was aired Sharon received 7,000 emails
–    Was now working 22 hours a day, seven days a week.
–    Loneliness of starting a business (3rd key ingredient)
–    As time went on her self belief began to drop
–    Met Tony Larkin at the British Inventors show who offered to invest in her
–    Sharon has now sold her Magnamole to an American company keeping a 10% holding.

–    The most important lesson learnt was to trust her instincts, and get a business mentor. You are often too emotionally close to your business to make objective business decisions.

–    Story reminds me of one of my earliest blog posts on Dragons Den
Dragon’s Con.

Sharon’s book ‘Mother of Invention – How I won Dragons Den, Lost my mind, Nearly lost my business and ended up reinventing myself’, tells of her personal struggle as a single mother, inventor and entrepreneur.
It has been reviewed on my colleague Steve Van Dulken’s Patent Search Blog.


I’ve joined the fun Flubitron club

26 May 2011

flubitlogotaglinewhitebackgroundI was delighted to meet Bertie Stephens (Chief Flubitron) from group buying website Flubit during Tuesdays excellent Marketing Masterclass from Grow.

Their pitch is; For any product you want to buy online, tell Flubit, and we’ll work our little socks off to get you some wonderful bespoke discounts… for free!

And they already have 17,000 fans on facebook so are off to a great ‘pre-start’.

It was great to hear from Bertie how useful they have found the Business & IP Centre in developing their business and protecting their brand. I look forward to them joining the growing ranks of our Success Stories.

Having become disillusioned by Groupon, after too many 75% offers for the Ultimate Facial Using Microdermabrasion, I was happy to sign up to Flubit.

And this was the fun email I received in response:

The Flubitask Force to Manlius

To Balcombe’s newest and most wonderful Flubitron,

Honourable Manlius Buggerflub

Welcome to our world.

Now you are officially a Flubitron (an exclusive club we must add), you are one step closer to being part of a new revolution in internet buying. Soon, whenever you want something, you’ll be able to get it cheaper, just by using Flubit – how cool is that?! If you haven’t already, why not follow us on Facebook or Twitter to keep up with what’s new?

Over the next few months we’ll be finishing off some bits and bobs, polishing the knobs and preparing to launch this Summer. Hurrah!

So what happens now?

In 2 – 3 weeks you’ll receive your official Flubitron membership card (Flubicard – don’t worry you’ll get used to the terms). With this card you’ll have access to a whole range of offline and online benefits. We’ll let you know more about this with our introductory letter, or you can have a read here:

http://www.flubitron.com/

OK, so now we’re going to go and tell our Flubitask Force to start making your membership card, and we’ll be in touch in a week or so to let you know how they’re getting on!

Speak soon Honourable Manlius,

Flubregards,

Bertie & Dan
Chief & Head of Internal Imagination