Posts from our Masters in Management bloggers
During the first day of orientation at LBS, they told us that the first term would be intense, but that we could we could look forward to lighter schedules starting January. I think that prospect got myself and my fellow Early Careers classmates through finals in term 1, in the hopes that the hardest part would be behind us once we completed them. Now that we have been back from the break for a month, and that we’ve readapted to the fast-paced day-to-day of LBS, I can look back on orientation with a smile and say: How about no!
Although perhaps the academic workload is more or less the same, I think that all of us being the dynamic and action-seeking business people that LBS was seeking to enroll, many of us are on the executive committees of different clubs, on internships, cramming for job interviews, sending out CVs en masse, and most importantly, enjoying London.
For myself, one of the most demanding commitments has been working on the 2017 Corporate Innovation Summit that will take place this Friday, the 3rd of February. Although we have been planning it for months, the greatest challenge was that we wanted to achieve something great but still manage to do it early enough so that people who are job-hunting right now can benefit from the insight and networking opportunities.
Ultimately, I am very proud of the energy and time that the team put into building an incredibly rich event. We have been able to attract speakers from impactful companies as innovative as Unilever, Li&Fung, Deloitte, Hilti, and Cargill, and as disruptive as Deliveroo, CO:LAB, Brand Genetics, Impossible Labs, and SROne (a GSK-backed VC). The speakers’ team did a fantastic job of reaching out to companies and panelists that were not only interesting, but also had a lot to bring to the table in terms of experience and insight, and then group them into panels that would focus on compelling topics, such as technological disruption, so that we could make the experience as valuable as possible, but still keep the fun edge.
Moreover, to favor recruitment, we are giving attendees the option to be part of a CV book that our participating companies have especially requested. We were also concerned with making the Corporate Innovation Summit accessible to as many LBS programs as possible, so we made sure to make tickets affordable by subsidizing student tickets through other types of passes. At this stage, I am excited to see how the last few months of preparation will turn out, and to reap the benefits of the event (in the form of wine at the pre- and post-networking events!).
To find out more about the conference, follow this link: http://lbs.pickevent.com/EN/CIS2017
And to get your ticket now, click below:
The great business thinker Milton Friedman once said “the business of business is business”. Perhaps at the time this was true but I must admit that this idea has never sat comfortably with me. In fact, I positively disagree with it – with a passion. Business, businesspeople and business education have the most phenomenal power to impact positive change in the world. Business school equips students with skills and knowledge to act as global citizens, charged to support those less fortunate. In my opinion, “the business of business is responsibility”. I refer to responsibility in all its facets. Responsibility to drive stakeholder value, to ensure good customer experience, to protect consumer rights and to deal responsibly with both employees and clients. But the responsibility of good business extends further – to use our skills and experience to support those in society that require assistance; whether this be through giving time, financial assistance or guidance. CEO of cloud computing giant SalesForce, Mark Benioff, devised the 1:1:1 model of integrated corporate philanthropy. The model is a commitment to contribute 1% of equity, 1% of employee hours and 1% of product back to the community it serves and has now been adopted by over 700 companies worldwide. During my Silicon Valley GIFT with LBS, I was privileged to see the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in South San Francisco; a world-class medical facility that not only treats thousands of sick children each year but is committed to improving children’s health worldwide. The project is a testament to Benioff’s commitment to philanthropy, CSR and the ‘business of responsibility’.
As a business school student from a non-profit background, creating impact has always been of the utmost importance to me. Following my time with the LBS in California, I took the opportunity to connect with a NY-based child health charitable foundation. Together with a team of counsellors and medical personnel, we brought 50 children suffering from cancer to Orlando for a week of fun and respite. Many of these children have interrupted intense chemotherapy sessions and prolonged hospital stays (think 6months plus), at the approval of their physicians, to spend a few days relaxing on rollercoasters and eating ice-cream in Florida’s winter sun. Most of these children are bald, many are wheelchair-bound and several are constantly wired to medical machinery and monitors. Imagine, therefore, people’s surprise as they watched us scream our way through roller-coaster rides and dance alongside characters at the Disney parades. Days were spent zooming around The Magic Kingdom, SeaWorld and the Universal Studio Parks. Nights were spent sleepless – administering drugs, prepping gastric tubes and dealing with medical complications. Armed with open-access trips to ToysRUs, skip-the-queue passes at all amusement parks and fireworks displays galore, the trip of a lifetime was had by all and unbridled happiness permeated the entire experience. Although fun and laughter hasn’t yet been scientifically-proven to cure cancer, there is no doubt that all the kids returned home with a fresh hope, renewed smiles and greater strength to battle and overcome their challenges. Many of our kids are already back in hospitals across the US undergoing treatment – I wish them all well and a New Year filled with only much happiness and good health!
The London Business School is committed to “changing the way the world does business” and an integral facet of this pledge is to positively impact society. LBS’ trifecta: The Volunteers Club, Net Impact Club and Impact Consulting Club offer some of our best talent to the community; giving guidance, time and resources to support local non-profits and social enterprises. It is something about which our school community is incredibly proud and for many students, involvement in these clubs is the start of a lifelong pursuit in driving impact from operations to the boardroom, and a commitment to solving communal and global challenges. LBS is a school committed to holistic business education – an institution that creates leaders who solve problems using their minds as well as their hearts.
Wishing all our readers – students, potential students, alums and supporters – a very happy and successful 2017!
Silicon Valley – the name has engendered legendary status in recent decades as the global hub for innovation and technology. And our week in the Valley certainly didn’t disappoint! I was very fortunate to be selected to attend the Global Immersion Field Trip based out of San Francisco and the stellar line-up of big tech companies, start-ups and venture capital firms, carefully allocated into a jam-packed schedule, kept us busy from dawn until dusk. Highlights of the trip included a presentation at Andreessen Horowitz by partner Todd Ludwack, an ex-exec of eBay. A16Z (as it is known in the industry) is a VC powerhouse based in Menlo Park, with successful exits in household brands such as Skype, Groupon and Instagram to name just a few. Ludwack shared with us frameworks with which to analyse digital platform propositions and investments (the likes of Uber and AirBnB) as well as some lessons-learned from his time at the VC house. In particular, he led an interesting discussion on first and second order effects when it comes to making investments – not only predicting outcomes as the business expands across markets but predicting secondary consequences of these changes that may have knock-on effects in new markets or sectors. Contrastingly, a small-group presentation at SoftTech VC led to fascinating insights into a firm that invests in very early stage ventures – when an entrepreneur may be armed with justa dream and a prototype – and whose expertise has led to some of the greatest edtech, platforms and wearable successes to emerge from the Bay Area (think FitBit, EventBrite and Twitter).
Later in the week, we had the ‘inverse experience’ through visits to several start-ups, a great opportunity to see the entrepreneurial space from a different perspective. We were treated to passionate presentations by entrepreneurs and co-founders from promising ventures such as DoubleDutch (a firm revolutionising live engagement marketing) from people that have grown a vision and personally tackled problems across the whole gamut of organisational functions.
Another fantastic visit included a tour and panel discussion at Pinterest. Everything you hear about working life in the Valley – the funky office space, the sushi chef slicing uramaki in the centre of the workspace, bicycles covered in flowers hanging from the ceiling, an endless mountain of muffins and cakes overflowing in open-plan kitchens filled with employees animatedly schmoozing in shorts, T-shirts and flip-flops. As soon as we walked into the office, our cohort was ‘Pinterested’ – challenging staff to ping-pong and table football games in the lobby. But when we finally got down to business, the managers we met knew their business analytics backwards – from potential opportunities for growth using existing profit drivers right down to what would be trending in the coming season for middle-agedmales in Tokyo.
Singularity University is a bit of a misnomer. It’s not really a university but a
think-tank and it doesn’t really focus on one technology but rather how many different emerging technologies can be leveraged and interfaced in order to drive growth and solve global challenges. A presentation by ardent futurist Darlene Damm opened our minds to new research in areas that will transform the way we live in the coming years – artificial intelligence and machine learning, bioengineering and regenerative medicine, big data and augmented reality were just a few of the topics touched upon during our workshop. The focus at Singularity is on “exponential tech” – technologies whose adoption and development can have skyrocketing impact in all industries across all markets. A hands-on session also gave us the opportunity to see some of these new technologies in action – from having a chat with a cognitive robot to running around with Virtual Reality goggles, fully immersed in another dimension. One of the great take-homes for me from SU was a new way of thinking about technology application. As a non-gamer I was excited to see that research was underway to use VR headsets in the provision of palliative care and pain management for burns victims and other trauma patients. SU encourages students and professionals to ask the big questions. They don’t claim to have all the answers but they promote great vision, ‘moonshot thinking’ and alternative ways to think about, apply and leverage new technologies to impact meaningful change in the world.
No visit to Silicon Valley would be complete without a visit to Apple HQ or the Googleplex. At Apple we had the opportunity to meet two senior product managers and following several presentations had the opportunity to ask some of life’s most pertinent questions – why did Apple choose to remove the headphone jack from the iPhone 7? What’s the thinking behind the TouchBar on the new Macbook Pro? Why doesn’t Apple expand its portfolio of products? These questions may seem trivial but what lies behind them is masses of market research carefully formulated into intricate strategy applied to product design. The outcome is one of the world’s most beloved brands that plans the user experience right down to the carefully-engineered iPhone box that builds a one-second anticipation when lifting the lid for the first time. As someone with a non-profit background in the health space, I was particularly excited to hear from a lead at Apple’s Accessibility team. Apple are constantly trying to add new features or extras to their products to ensure that they are functional for all members of society. This goes far beyond adjusting font size for the visually impaired and ranges from ‘AssistiveTouch’ head-movement-controlled touchpads for people suffering with cerebral palsy to syncing devices with hearing aids to enable better quality conversations for those with partial deafness. Thankfully many never have the need to enter Settings>General>Accessibility on our iPhones but take a look at the impressive plethora of adaptations Apple works on to ensure accessibility and quality user experience for all users regardless of capability.
The Googleplex has a mythical status in the professional world. Ball-ponds at work. Croissant buffets lining the corridors. Self-driving cars whizzing around the parking lot, darting in between parked Google Maps vehicles with their iconic rooftop cameras. All this may be true. But this is not what stood out for me at Google. Several months ago I read Schmidt and Rosenberg’s “How Google Works” – a fantastic read for anyone with a keen interest in organisational behaviour and a passion for understanding how the world’s source of knowledge operates. The take-home message from the book was that Google is all about people and the culture they foster amongst their employees. This could not have been seen more clearly than on our visit to Mountain View at the Google HQ. We had the chance to chat with several LBS alums that are working out there in a range of roles from product management to business strategy. What came across most strongly was their love for Google and the freedom they have to pursue new opportunities and ‘self-actualise’ (in Maslow OB terminology). Googlers, as they are known, strive to maintain an entrepreneurial outlook in the face of global operations; a tremendous feat. They do this by giving their employees autonomy to be creative, to innovate and to follow their passions. The result of such policies (including 20% Time – the commandment for all Googlers to spend a fifth of their time in the pursuit of innovative projects – that according to employees results in working 120% of the time!) are some world-changing products including Gmail. Much food for thought to be gleaned from our time at the Googleplex in hiring talented people and allowing their enthusiasm and self-motivation to shine.
Visits to Electronic Arts (the world renowned EA gaming company), the beautiful Stanford University and their Design School, Autodesk and Shop.co among others topped off an incredible week but it would be remiss not to make special mention of the LBS alum community in the Bay Area. It was fantastic for our cohort to meet the incredible populations of LBSers and our supporters based out in the San Francisco area. One of the major plugs of our school is the global network of contacts as alumni forge their international professional careers. Indebted to the school for the education, life skills and opportunities afforded to us, it is really wonderful to meet LBSers from across the professional spectrum who offer advice, guidance, time, friendship and professional support. The large networking evening was particularly lively and enjoyable and was a great opportunity to link with those in the finance, consulting, technology and start-up spaces – united by our common love and gratitude to the London Business School. A big thank you to the Admin team – in particular Kelly and Fiona – for making such a wonderful, busy and exciting trip possible!
Being this close to Christmas, “Global Immersion Field Trip” might not be the first thing that comes to mind.
The acronym comprises an incredibly rich range of experiences from business to social life: a trip abroad that brings together a selected pool students to get to know more about a specific topic. I am writing this piece while on the plane back from the Silicon Valley GIFT (themed “Entrepreneurship and innovation”) and still cannot believe how much happened in such few days.
The Programme Managers and Programme Office outstandingly arranged a five-days schedule packed with extremely stimulating company visits. With the core theme of the GIFT in mind, these spanned from rapidly growing start-ups to affirmed tech giants. Andreessen Horowitz, Apple, Autodesk, Double Dutch, Electronic Arts, Google, People Rocket, Pinterest, Plug&Play, Shop.co, Singularity University, SoftTech opened us their doors, showing us once more the diversity that LBS commits to. From these companies, we learnt a lot about topics like venture capital funds, platforms, innovative trends, start-ups and tech firms in general. In my case I had never been in Silicon Valley, and this was a wonderful occasion to experience first-hand the unique pervasiveness of its people mind-set, forward-looking and change-embracing. We also attended a networking event with LBS alumni based in San Francisco and the Valley, a fantastic chance to get to know experienced professionals working in the area, as well as -why not- possible future working partners.
However, there has been much more than just business: the GIFT was an amazing opportunity to bond with other students, getting to know new people and cementing already existing friendships. From the 6am breakfasts to the free evenings in San Francisco, passing through the brief moments of break between company visits, the trip has left me with a lot of fun and marvellous stories. It didn’t stop with the week of the GIFT itself: many of us decided to stay in the US after the trip, to embrace our “On the Road” spirit and have a road trip in California or nearby. Even if not all on the same route, we kept in touch and managed to meet in a couple of cities along the way, leading to many more unforgettable memories.
To conclude, while looking back I can only say thank you: to those who organised the trip for making it possible, to those who fully engaged in it for making it one of the many incredible highlights of our LBS experience.
Having just finished exams it now seems an appropriate time to sit down and pen my next LBS blog post. Since I wrote my last piece at the end of October, things have been extremely busy. If you’ve never been to graduate business school, it’s hard to imagine what I really mean – so I’ll try, if I may, to paint a visual image. Imagine listening to the CEO of Kraft-Heinz Europe, one of the world’s largest food and beverage companies, explain the intricacies of their regional strategy and the challenges of expansion and market segmentation. Imagine presenting a project on data analytics in front of your peers and professors, outlining a financial model that links box office revenues to casts and budgets through a series of statistical tools and analyses. Imagine providing consulting and advisory services to an international charity that provides world-class surgery to children with congenital heart defects from the developing world. Imagine sitting in five hours of back-to-back lectures in financial accounting; picking apart Tesla’s financial statements to uncover some of the issues within their business. Imagine attending a panel discussion from six consultants from leading firms discussing future trends in the world of digital healthcare followed immediately by an event by McKinsey on Digital Transformation.
Now imagine, that all the above events, occurred in one day. This was one day in the week following my previous blog post.
I therefore can’t possibly begin to describe by sheer exhaustion nor talk about every insightful lecture, inspiring speaker or interesting experience I have had as the winter term draws to a close. There have definitely been several highlights: Attending a presentation by Fernando Fischmann, CEO and Founder of Crystal Lagoons was certainly a most interesting discussion. Fischmann, a biochemist by training, has created a technology in which to sink artificial lagoons with crystal clear water to provide lakes for recreation in resorts, public parks and residential developments throughout the world. In only a few years Fernando has created an intricate global monitoring system for his pools and generated billions of dollars in revenue from projects across Latin America and the Middle East. With ambitious plans for expansion and a vision to transform the renewable energy sector using his technologies, Crystal Lagoons is certainly an enterprise that makes any business-savvy student or budding entrepreneur sit up and pay attention.
The LBS Healthcare Conference at the Royal Society of Physicians this year featured a stellar line-up of pharmaceutical and biotech celebrities. Jane Griffiths, Chairman of Janssen EMEA (J&J’s pharma division) opened this year’s discussion on precision medicine and the future of personalised healthcare. Panel discussions followed, chaired by charismatic LBS professor Nicos Savva with particularly insightful perspectives from Roy Katso (Director of GSK Innovation) and LBS super-alum Chris Meier (BCG). Jackie Hunter, CEO of Benevolent Bio, passionately delivered on applications of machine learning in healthcare whilst Dr Junaid Bajwa (MSD UK) adjusted the lens of the discussion to focus on systems and providers of healthcare and the potential impact of personalised delivery. A great opportunity to hear the trends and updates currently underway in the world of bioprocessing and a thoroughly enjoyable evening was had by all.
Other highlights over the past few weeks have included a lively debate by a panel of Israeli Venture Capitalists who collectively have backed some of the biggest names to have come out of the Start-Up Nation in recent years including Waze, SodaStream and Checkpoint. Representatives from Dalberg Consulting and their private equity arm D.Capital presented thought-provoking case studies on the challenges of social impact investment. From supporting a Kenyan microfinance business, to designing a democratic election system for the Congo and driving agricultural development in Benin, the world of social impact investing and consulting is fraught with unique challenges in addition to the usual array of obstacles. As one of the leading players in the sector, Dalberg is working to drive change as well as profitability in a diverse range of areas across this hostile environment. When contrasted with a fascinating presentation by the Attorney General from the Hong Kong Embassy on trade and investment opportunities on the island-powerhouse you can begin to construct a mental image of the kind of holistic business education that life at the LBS has to offer. All this is quite aside from hours and hours of lectures in Finance and Organisational Behaviour and the endless exams and assignments.
But all that is on-hold for now as I write this from a coffee shop in the trendy Fisherman’s Wharf neighbourhood in San Francisco. I have just begun a Global Immersion Field Trip for a select group of students to visit the global innovation hub of Silicon Valley. This week’s whistle-stop adventure will take us from projects at Stanford to presentations at Apple. From the heart of the Googleplex to the brains of Andreessen Horowitz. As I watch the sun set over the Golden Gate Bridge, dawn is only just breaking on what is sure to be an exciting week ahead.
Where to even start? It’s been a whirlwind first 6 weeks at the London Business School! From meeting an incredibly diverse cohort at Orientation to an away-day building rafts in Gilwell Park. From a plethora of soft-skill sessions including public speaking, networking and social media courses to the real academic nuts and bolts of finance, accounting and data analytics – my experience at the LBS so far can be described as nothing other than jam-packed excitement. Coming from a background in Biochemical Engineering, it has been an incredible opportunity for me to dive deep into the world of business.
This total immersion has come in a variety of formats that have collectively given me a really holistic view of the business world. I keep up to date by skimming the FT and WSJ on a daily basis, spend time browsing through articles in the Harvard Business Review and McKinsey Insights and even having a look at specialist journals for pharma and biotech where my passion for business really lies.
But all this pales in comparison to the business exposure I have gained from my first few weeks at LBS. From MBA and alumni mentors to club events, I have met so many people on very different paths with exciting stories to tell. Last week I had the pleasure of meeting the founder of Bloomsbury Publishing – the publisher of the Harry Potter series, next week I look forward to hearing the inventor of the global Invisalign orthodontic phenomena talk about his strategy to entrepreneurial success.
The diversity of backgrounds is what makes life at LBS so exciting and it’s then that you begin to realise that the name of the game is very much ‘networking’. More than the world-class faculty, the beautiful Regent’s Park campus, the prestigious business school, the rigorous academics and the abundance of clubs and events, the real magic of LBS lies in its people. The diversity of its student body, the cultivation of a global alumni network and the culture of relationship-building is what makes the LBS experience truly unique. The MiM has only just begun but already a life-changing transformation is underway.
Today I confirmed my place on the Silicon Valley Global Immersion Field Trip, an academic and professional excursion in December to San Francisco to learn from the innovators at Stanford, the tech geniuses of Google and Facebook and the VCs that hunt down ‘the next big thing. But between now and December, there’s still the Healthcare Conference, the IMPACTathon, company presentations, Diwali Party, Sundowners galore, recruitment evenings, exams and interviews. Life here is hectic but there’s no doubt in my mind, the LBS has a lot more in store for me…
Part of the Master’s in Management Programme is completing a Cross Sector Project. This involves working in a group of fellow MiM students from across all streams, and answering a project question that is broad and offers the opportunity for us to consider & embed our learning across different sectors, creating links between different companies to explore and answer this broad question.
While the topics can cover a variety of subjects, our topic concerned how digital technology was changing the way companies do business. The topic was thus very relevant to current events, and we also had the opportunity to incorporate what we saw during Business Immersion Week, just three weeks earlier.
In addition to working with students from different streams who we normally do not get to work with, we also get assigned a project mentor. Our mentor was part of the Sloan Masters in Leadership and Strategy programme at LBS, and he was an invaluable resource. Not only did he have much experience in the area of digital, but it was also great to meet people outside of the MiM programme, and learn from them and their many experiences.
Looking back at the project, it was in many ways representative of every experience at LBS. You get as much out of it as you are willing to put into it. Our group put a lot of effort into this project, and as a result I believe its been a really rewarding learning experience. Its strange, yet encouraging to take a step back and look at our final product, and to see how much we’ve learnt over the past few months. In a week we find out about the finalists and who will get to present in front of the judges. Fingers crossed!
Landing in London the night before the first day of orientation, I literally had no time to catch my breath before I was swept into the whirlwind that is London Business School! Walking into City hall amidst a chattering, buzzing group of new LBS MiMs, I instantly felt like part of a community, with the most unbelievably diverse group of people I had ever been around. It wasn’t just the fact that we accounted for more than 50 nationalities, it was the languages, the experiences, the undergrad majors, the internships, the perspectives. Coupled with the fact that everyone was incredibly warm, curious, open, energetic, and just plain fun, I knew that this was going to be one of the best years of my life.
I quickly learnt the art of time management. It’s quite incredible, the number of activities one can sign up for on a daily basis. Class, club activities, recruiter events, case study sessions, parties, sundowners, and the general discovery of this wonderful city. It became clear however, that as alluring as they all were, I had to carefully plan my day so as to meet all my commitments. The result was a very populated calendar, but very fulfilling days.
And yeah, I must mention my study group. To provide some context, every MiM is assigned to a study group of about five or six people. Since we are given a plethora of group assignments, simulations and presentations, one ends up spending a lot of time with their study group. I simply loved mine. It’s amazing how it was never a competition, but always a collaboration; how motivated everyone was; how much you can learn from each other; how deep, enduring friendships develop. Yes, we spent hours locked up in one of LBS’s many meeting rooms debating on the finer points of statistical modelling, but also spent a memorable evening dining on chicken and wine. I speak nostalgically because I’m going to be assigned to a new study group next term. While I’ll miss my old study group, I’m excited because I know I’m up for a whole new fascinating experience.
To be perfectly honest, I had no idea how much one could grow in such a short time. I’ve only spent 3 months here at LBS but the experience has been immensely transformative. I can’t wait to see what the second term will bring!
It’s been a while since my last post (How to come up with a multi-million dollar idea) so I will skip the introduction and get straight into the most important thing. The first thing you need to do to convert your idea to serious bucks is to figure out who your customers are and whether or not they want your product.
Customer discovery is the most important thing when embarking on a new business venture. Say you have a new app that is targeted at university students, go and speak to university students, get them to trial the app. If they end up deleting the app after a few days it means your target customers don’t want it. So go back to the drawing board and try again. The same applies to any other product. If it is a type of food or new recipe you have and no one is buying it, go back to the drawing board. This process should take a few weeks and should include surveys and REAL CUSTOMER DATA, not just market size estimates and market growth forecasts.
When you know customers actually want your product and you have market size and growth estimates, its time to think of a business model. Sounds complicated, but its actually just a model/plan which describes who your customers are, what your product is and why it is different to the competition, and how you plan on making money.
Once the business plan is done you can combine this with the customer data + feedback you recieved earlier and start making some initial financial forecasts to see if this is a business actually worth pursuing.
In other words check if revenue is greater than total costs in the long term. You obviously don’t want to be operating a business at a loss. If at this point it seems you will be breaking even or losing out, STOP. Don’t think of it as a waste of time, think of it as an investment you made to stop yourself on losing out on money and time.
Once you have your business model and you have produced some low cost prototypes and have real customer data purchases, it is time to make a decision. Do you iron out the bugs of your current product before you release or whilst you release it? This is a difficult question to answer and depends on what the product is so read up on past companies and case studies before you decide (e.g. Dropbox).
The reason this is very important is because these decisions will heavily influence whether or not you will pass the barrier which occurs at the early adopter’s stage and kills the majority of start-ups (See the figure below)
Most business dont get past the “early adopters stage” shown in the diagram as often their products require a radical behavioural change. If there is one thing entrepreneurs learn the hard way, it is that no one wants to change for your product or app or whatever you have. So find a way to make it convenient around people’s current lifestyles.
So once this is decided and you find yourself approaching or at the early adopter’s stage, you will be considering your second stage of funding and will be looking for investors, most likely a venture capitalist.
NOTE: Before even approaching a venture capitalist you need some customers, you need to show there is a demand for the product, it works, and your business model and projections are reasonable and can forecast some profits which are worth investing in. This isn’t forecasting profits of £1000 after a year. This is after you have really thought about your business model, what your sustainable competitive advantage is (what you have that is difficult to imitate) and when you have good answers to the following questions:
- What are the other technologies available that can achieve the same thing
- How much does it cost you to do this relative to competition
- What do you have that someone else cannot really imitate
- What are your projections for the next three years
So to summarise, we have covered a few things in this post. First and foremost is the importance of researching weather or not customers want and will buy your product- this takes weeks and sometimes even months. Second is the importance of having a well thought out business model, knowing the market growth forecast, knowing your customers, and using this information to make a reasonable financial forecast. Third is thinking about how you can get past the early adopters stage to get mass adoption of your product by minimising behavioural changes and tweaking your product to better suit customer needs. And finally once the above points are sorted, preparing yourself for standing in front of a venture capitalist.
Stay tuned for part 4 where we talk about what companies do when they have passed the early adopters stage and how they establish themselves as key players in the market. In other words, going from £millions to £billions.
London Business School is a top business school. In the heart of one of the most entrepreneurial cities in the world, the school fully supports entrepreneurship with dedicated courses, an incubator, and countless student initiatives. This high-quality business education is a great springboard for an entrepreneurial future.
As students and future alumni of such a great institution, our responsibility – nay, obligation -as custodians of the brand, to give back to the community that gave so much to us, is always front-of-mind. It’s just a matter of deciding how and where to contribute.
As with any startup, our adventure starts with spotting a need, something lacking – an opportunity to create. A group of LBS students – across all programs -realised that the school community lacked a way to share entrepreneurial stories: a medium to learn from each others’ experiences, to pass on the latest research, and to share all of this with global audience.
With our team of doers we decided to create the London Entrepreneurship Review. LER is a student-run online publication that captures the richness of entrepreneurial thinking at London Business School: from home grown competitions, incubators, partnerships and angel groups to research, conferences, coaching, classes and great speakers. LER was conceived as a forum to share all of this entrepreneurial energy with a much wider audience.
Life at London Entrepreneurship Review
I joined LER very early. It was about to launch its first version. Everyone in our team had their own reasons to contribute to such a fascinating project. For me there were three main reasons:
1. Have an impact
We students are here to contribute to LBS. When you join the LBS community, you do not consider yourself a customer -you are the school. And there is no greater way to contribute to the brand of your LBS than to build its entrepreneurial voice globally. At first, the project was a nice way to emphasize leading thoughts within the community. Now that LER is expanding we’ve noticed the concrete and positive impact on the LBS brand. LER illustrates how committed the school is to supporting entrepreneurship. It points out entrepreneurial success among alumni, academic research, and students’ passion for startups.
2. Get the excitement of being part of a start-up
I’ve learned a lot from being in the leadership team at London Entrepreneurship Review. Just reading published articles is a wonderful way to understand the key challenges entrepreneurs have. But most of what I learned was on the job.
My role is to grow our readership. Of course we are all ambassadors for the publication, but I focus on scaling our ability to reach new readers. I face the same challenges a start-up would: How can we raise awareness of LER? How can we make sure that our esteemed readers enjoy their experience on the website? How can we engage our readers on social media? These are topics every startup has to deal with—replace ‘readers’ by ‘customers’ and you are in a CEO’s mind.
Other members focus on business development, editorial, or sourcing great content. There are a variety of things you can do. What I like is that, as with any other early stage start-up, it is up to you to define your role.
If you are really interested in social media and want to learn why it is such a big thing for companies, just start working on LER’s social media operations. If you want to understand all about brand management, then you can work with our agencies to develop the brand and the collateral. Or if you want to learn all about online analytics and growth hacking, then you can get your hands dirty doing digital marketing for LER.
We all believe in ‘learning by doing’. Beyond acquiring technical expertise, we learn how to be good leaders. We contribute as much as we want, implement our own ideas, and get to know what it’s like to be driving a growing start-up.
LBS has a very strong and expansive community. There is no better way to feel part of it than to contribute meaningfully – really add to making it great. Working on LER has been a terrific way to meet brilliant people. I am constantly surprised by how skilled everyone is. There are only a few places in the world where you can find such a concentration of genius. LBS is one of these. And being part of LER has definitely been a great way to experience this uniqueness.
If you are as excited as I was about joining the London Entrepreneurship Review to make a positive impact on the LBS community -and learn a lot about entrepreneurship, running a digital start-up and more -you can reach our recruitment team here.
LBS’s vision is ‘to have a profound impact on the way the world does business’. Get in the driver’s seat. Join us now: ler[@]london[.]edu or
Click here to read the London Entrepreneurship Review.
Thanks to Rami Banna for reading drafts of this.
Follow the London Entrepreneurship Review on Twitter: @london_ler