Simon Barker, EE Times' resident Student Entrepreneur decides to enter his university's Enterprise Challenge competition. But he leaves it late and burns the midnight oil!
NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE, England The world of enterprise is one that has always seemed rather intriguing but at the same time complicated.
We were obviously given the statutory introduction to business during my undergraduate course but the information never seemed to stick. At that time it seemed like something that was useful to know about but not really vital.
As I explained in my first column I am now doing my PhD. It is three years on from those undergraduate days and I am beginning to wish I had stuck at it a little bit more and taken on-board the enterprising spirit we were being encouraged to adopt. As I've started down this path of being an entrepreneurial student I've had conversations with more people that I can count on two hands and one thing has really struck me. It's not just about the having a single great idea; it's also about adopting a positive, optimistic attitude and working through a process of developing that idea into something real.
I am, of course, at the very early stage of developing my idea. I can see that wireless sensor networks are set for great things and that given, how other technologies are developing the industry maybe reaching a tipping point, all that is needed is innovation and a concerted effort to develop the right solutions. And so I decided that I'd submit a business plan to my university's Enterprise Challenge along those lines.
Typically, my decision didn't happen months before the deadline, it happened two weeks before it!
I started the business plan full of optimism that I already had enough knowledge through reading papers, journals and technology articles to simply write what was required. Fast forward five days and three market research reports later and I had realized how much there was to learn, there was a whole world outside the academic sphere on WSN technology and energy harvesting that I had never heard of, or considered. Add that to learning how to actually write a business plan and it became a very busy two weeks.
Wireless sensor network technology looks set to revolutionize the way that we interact with our surroundings, from small remote nodes up to full-scale smart cities, the possibilities are endless and the market potential is seemingly huge. Until I wrote my business plan I didn't appreciate fully what I was working on. Yes, it is interesting from a research point of view but it always nice to find out that what you are working on in an academic way has real market potential.
And what was the result of the business plan competition? My plan was beaten by one for a biotechnology startup, however it was announced that all the science and technology finalists will be receiving some business help so that in itself is rather useful.
I am going to get feedback about the plan soon so hopefully I'll be able to share where I went wrong so others can avoid those pitfalls.