Now, when more than six months have passed since the start of the course, it is very exciting to go back to his first memories about it. In the very beginning none of us understood that words such as blog creation and designing of business, twitter account and subscribers will influence us a lot and will become a part of our lives. At first, everything seemed unusual, even a little intimidating – and then all became to change very rapidly.
It is easy for me to remember the day when we created our blogs. The biggest challenge for me was to choose a blog name and nickname, as I recall, it took me more than 10 minutes to do it.
Then, when all formalities were settled, the most difficult was to write the first blog post, because I was going to write about one specific topic. It turned out that almost all of the previous 4 years in my university I was studying creative industries – analysing it, reading about it. That’s why I came to this university with a clear understanding of what I want to do, because creative industries have become a significant part of my life.
A book about blogging written by Jill Walker Rettberg helped me a lot at this stage. She was writing about blogs, how to make one, and mentioned that blog can “speak”, it can tell about a person who writes it a lot. It’s like a TV series dedicated to someone. (Rettberg, 2008) That’s why my blog, from the on hand, is about our product, how we create Veles, and from the other hand it is also my after-classes thoughts and discourse about creativity and creative industries. For me personally it was important to find a balance between our product promotion and reflection of what was discussed during our lectures. Also, it was a great opportunity to me to write about my diploma thesis.
When all fears about the blog disappeared, another challenge occurred – we had to design our own business. Our team started to look for something that would be able to combine our strengths and give everyone a chance to do something for us. Then I found an article by Tim Brown, in which he talked about the importance of observation; how important it is to find out what people really need. (Brown, 2008) This idea came up as well at our lectures, and for all of us it was clear that it is the cornerstone of our future project.
We decided to start with a search of our target audience, as it helps to understand the needs of specific customers and helps us to develop our business. It is important to create a product that feels the needs of people, because it helps you to achieve success in business development. (Handley, 2012)All of us in our team are students; so we decided to start our project from this step.
Our strategy at this stage was:
- Find a problem that unites students, maybe specific group of students and try to find ways to solve it
- Create a product that would require minimal costs, so that students can buy it
- Try to make our product by using eco-friendly materials and recyclable products
Personally for me it was important to link our product with creative industries, because it would allow us to get a first-hand experience in creating a business in cultural industries.
Making a prototype was our next step. Each of the team members had to make 15 prototypes of our product using any materials we want. At this point “the prototype-making chain”, created by researchers Moss and Atre, was really useful. (Moss and Atre, 2003)
First, I needed to define the framework within which I will work – in my case it was a matter of time and availability of materials. Secondly, you need to understand how to create prototypes – you had to identify your skills and abilities, and use them all.
Next, for each of the prototypes you had to decide which of them could be considered as close to the ideal as possible. For this step it is necessary to understand how many materials and efforts has been spent on each model. And it was really hard, because after spending so much time on every model it is hard to make a decision which of them is better.
And, the last and most difficult one – I had to choose the most successful prototype and convince the other members of the team, that your prototype is the best. Fortunately, finding the best prototype for us was not difficult, so before we started to actually sell Veles, we got another question – how to replicate our products? Should it be a product made by hands or we can find a factory that can help us with it? After a big research we came to the conclusion that in our situation the best solution is to be a company that creates unique handmade products.
The next step was to come up with the name of our brand, and, to our surprise, it did not take as much time as we thought. The name should be memorable and should be used as a trademark at the same time and, according to Louise Guinda, should be able tell our future buyers a story and also to make them understand what kind of product we offer. (Guinda, 2014)
In fact, as we were people with different backgrounds and all members of our team were people of different nationalities, we decided to use our uniqueness as our distinctive feature and as our trademark. And that’s how Veles was created; story of our product was based on the name of an ancient pagan god, patron of the arts and talent.
After the first Dragon’s Den we received our reviews – critics and positive feedback included – and that allowed us to move on and forced us to come to grips with the issue of pricing. In the very beginning we defined our costs per unit of product, and then figured out at what price we have to sell our product to receive a steady income. The strategy we chose was the strategy of low costs and low prices, because we still were focusing on our target audience. We realized that the majority of students couldn’t afford to buy our product if our price will be too high. Our Dragon’s Den judges decided that our price was low for the product we offer but as shown by further sales price of 15 pounds was the maximum for students.
One of our problems that every member had on the way our business has evolved was “I do not care” syndrome. (Rosemann, 2010)Each of the participants at some specific point has lost interest in the product and the motivation to do our business. This was influenced by a sufficiently broad time frame and our belief that our project does not have any problems. Fortunately, such events took place rapidly, and we can say that as a team we have worked very well.
Creating your own business requires the presence of people who have a degree in business, those who know how to make the product and, of course, those who know how to make the product design. All I can say that our team was lucky to have the ideal designer.
While creating your product, as it turns out, you can focus on the Maslow’s pyramid though it is usually considered a slightly different aspect. (Johnson, 2011) You should use four basic principles – functionality, usability, reliability, and that the product is satisfying you emotionally. The design should meet the needs of the user and also should be provided with specific functions. In this regard, we have long pondered on the number of special holes for pens and pencils, whether to make a hole for your phone and how to make Veles available for different notebook sizes. Reliability for us is, first of all, how many times our product can bend / extend, and kind of materials we need to use. And, of course, design should be user-friendly. This user-friendly interface is necessary, and also easiness of using Veles.
What is the emotional component of our design? It was very important for us to make our product to look nice and to have an aesthetic pleasure. Thus was born the idea of creating Veles in different colours – black, blue, red. In the future we plan to expand the colour range of our product.
If we talk about the further development of our business, it is worth mentioning that with the end of the course it is too early to talk about the end of our business. Because previously we started to develop a partnership with Calvert Foundation, now our group is set to continue this cooperation, and perhaps it will allow us to increase our sales, as well as to enter to the international market.
What conclusions can I make after my experience as a blogger? Firstly, this is a great opportunity for self-expression. Before that, I never thought about writing and posting my ideas in the Internet; my word limit was 140 characters per tweet. But now I’m more confident about myself, because blogging helps us to find out something new about you, improves writing style and generally helps us to express our ideas. In addition to this blogging helps you find like-minded people – I never thought that my posts about creative industries will gather so many views and likes, and attract the attention of people from different countries. Moreover this experience also attracted critics – and as I wrote in my blog – criticism is invaluable. (alisainuk, 2014)
This course has helped me to understand the main thing – in fact all people have an opportunity to be creative and everyone is creative. Our challenge is to develop them, no matter what reason for it do you have. It might be for your self-actualization or you do it to get a better job. As I mentioned before, Tim Brown had a great impact on me. He wrote that design thinking is really important nowadays, because there are a lot of tools and conceptions that are basic for a modern management. That’s why creative thinking now is so valuable among employers – they are looking for brand new ideas. (Brown, 2008) (Florida, 2003)
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