NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE, England In my last column I covered the main feedback I had on my business plan and I also mentioned how busy life had been since the competition. Part of that was getting feedback, but the rest was events and meetings that had arisen through participating in the competition.
Meanwhile I am meant to be getting on with my PhD. in energy harvesting and wireless sensor networks.
Anyway, one of these events was run by Newcastle Science City, and was targeted at people wanting to develop a technology idea in the northeast of England. It focused on how to go from the inkling of an idea, through all the steps required to turn that idea into a product or service and into the market. The workshop ran over two days and was pretty intense, with guest speakers, practical work and, most interesting of all, the opportunity to record your "pitch" on video.
The pitch is one of the most important weapons in an entrepreneur’s arsenal when it comes to selling the idea. In its shortest form it is called an elevator-pitch because an elevator ride is all the time you have, just as if you met a potential investor in an elevator.
This means it has to be engaging, punchy and above all else relevant. Now, I've never pitched a business idea, but I have presented work to many different audiences in many different places, none of them however, have been a video camera. Just like everybody else, when talking, I judge how well I'm doing by the body language of my audience, and fine-tune my approach in response. Sadly, a video camera has no body language, so this made the pitching all the harder. Talk about in at the deep end!
Watching the recording back was...embarrassing, but it turns out that I'm pretty good at pitching my idea in it's current form. One of the facilitators asked if I had practiced it a lot, and I had to be honest and say I hadn't. I do think that having to explain my PhD research in short, simple sound bites, has helped with distilling my business idea down into a 50 second blurb. Possibly a little bit short, but I'd rather be short and keep people eager to hear more than long-winded and have someone lose interest.
So the experience of seeing myself cavort about on camera was....odd, yes; embarrassing, definitely, but it was by far the most useful of the practical exercises we did in that two-day workshop.
The event has inspired me to get something going on the business front sooner than I previously planned. Rather than waiting until next year to start a company in the wireless sensors field I have thought of something which I can start right now. I have a product prototype done and am now in the market research phase, helping refine the idea. To do this I need as many Apple iPad owners as possible to fill out a really short survey that I have put together.
Besides myself I only know one person who owns an iPad and he has already filled out the survey for me. To all of you readers out there that owns an iPad, or knows someone who does, it would be a fantastic help to me if you could click on www.surveymonkey.com/s/TCJ3LYX and spare me five minutes of your time.
To say thank you for influencing the product at this early stage I’m giving all the respondents a discount at launch, the last question has a space to put in your email address so I can send you the discount link in the future. Your email address will remain safe but you don’t have to leave it if you don’t want to. If you prefer, just keep a record of the survey link and remember one of the questions, then at launch you can use this information to show me that you helped out and earn the discount.