Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Startupbootcamp FinTechAthon

It's been a while since I blogged as I haven't really been involved with startups since graduating. But I'm back in the startup world, in fact I'm properly involved in the techie startup world. I'm working as an event intern for Startupbootcamp FinTech (SBC FinTech), a London based accelerator.

I started about ten days ago and apparently SBC FinTech only started about ten weeks ago. Since I started, SBC FinTech have had three events and FinTechAthon was one of them which ran over the weekend. This blog post will be about the FinTechAthon and my experience . This is my first time being part of a hackathon and some aspects of it isn't what I expected. I've heard about it when I was studying at UCL as they have also organised one too. I remember some of my classmates participated in the event.  I was really excited about it but at the same time I was really tired from previous events that happened during the week and was concerned how I was going to cope. Nevertheless, I survived!

Day 1 of FinTechAthon

Preparing the room and badges
The day started with a team meeting where we discussed the roles and tasks and the objectives of the event. The team have been organising this event for about three weeks so I didn't have much to do for the event apart from logistics like printing and cutting name badges. Thibaut and Mela were in charge of setting the room up and Josephine putting the food and drinks out. 

The event started at 6 p.m.  but some people arrived earlier than expected.  I was in charge of the reception; welcoming, checking in the guests and giving them their name badges.  From previous events, we had to flick through pages of names and as it got busy it was a bit of a disastrous. I thought there must be an easier way to do this, a more techie method. I mean everything is more or less technology based now, so I checked on the EventBrite website to see if they have a check-in system. And yes, they have an app for it. It made our lives easier and we looked less clumsy and disorganised. You really do learn new things every day.

Thibaut taking photo of each participants
Here's Thibaut, the Research and IT manager, taking photos of the guests. These photos were then stuck on to the window with their skills mapped under their photo.

Skill Map

Hackers warming up 
The event started with an introduction about the limitations and landscapes of payments and then presentation from payment experts. I would say the excitement didn't start until Saturday.

Day 2

Saturday was a lot calmer, in fact calmer than I expected. I was in charge of the coffee and other bits and pieces that needed help with. At around 10 a.m. the mentors, innovation and payment experts presented; OpenBank project gave an overview of APIs, Ryan Terribilini from Ripple gave an overview about Bitcoin, Anand Viswanathan from Xignite spoke also about APIs. Anand wanted someone to take photos of him on his phone while he was presenting and I had the honour to do that. I tried to be a professional, taking photos from different angles; back, front, side. We then had a hang out with Ryan from Ripple. We used the flatscreen TV to conduct this. This session made the atmosphere extra techie, I loved it!

Hangout with Ripple
After the talks from the experts, the participant split into groups to brainstorm ideas. They had about two hours to do that. Some participants were shifting teams throughout this session.

3 p.m. was the checkpoint where each team presented their preliminary idea. Some teams used power point slides and a couple presented without slides. Those who had slides, I must say their slides weren't very good. They had too much text. If you've read my previous blog posts, I've mentioned how presentation slides should be- minimal text and replace any text with images. Too much text means the audience will be distracted from the text and will end up reading the slides instead of listening to the presenter. Ripple's presentation slides were good. Clear and simple diagrams and images on each slide.

Day 3- The Last Day of the FinTechAthon

While the FinTechAthon is happening, the London Marathon is happening literally next to us. I could see and hear the crowd cheering for the runners. I went out of the office to get a few close ups. A couple of my colleagues saw Mo Farah! Yes, I work next to Tower of London and London Bridge. It's really cool right?
London Marathon

Hackers working hard
The day started very calm and quiet as the participants were working and developing their ideas in their team. A few participants stayed over night and didn't sleep. That is some hardcore hacking! Not much had happened until 4 p.m. which was the presentation of the final results.

There were three teams altogether; Ashcroft, Open MBC and Ripl.UK. Ripl.UK was the first team to present.

Second up was Open MBC, there were six of them. They even built a MVP and it was pretty good. Apparently, one of the hacker in this team stayed up all  night in the loft working on this and his effort was definitely worth it because he won the Best Coder Award which you will see if you continue reading.

Open MBC
This was a good and simple MVP. It did the job that it had to and in my opinion they had the best MVP. 
Open MBC's MVP
The last but not the least, Ashcroft. They also prepared a MVP.

Team Ashcroft
Credits for the effort in building a MVP but I couldn't follow it and in fact didn't understand it. Nevertheless, well done!
Ashcroft Demo
After the presentation, the participants were asked to vote for the "Best Coder" and "Best Team" using the green and yellow cards that we prepared.

Counting Votes
The Best Coder was Sanyaade Adekoya. He is the man who stayed up all night coding. He literally had no sleep and he didn't even look tired. Thumbs up to him. For his prize, he could choose either a beer tasting class or 2 for 1 Segway rally and he chose the latter.

The Best Team (Hack Hard Play Hard team) was Open MBC. Congratulations! They received a USB fridge, a mini fridge that you can plug into your computer. They also won "The Best Idea" award, but that wasn't voted by the participants it was voted by the SBC Finyech Team. Their prize for this award is offering them an opportunity to join SBC FinTech's accelerator program in August.

Best Team

USB Fridge
There was one last award that was awarded by Xignite, "The best use of Xignite" to Ashcroft. They received Amazon service vouchers.  Well done!!

Ashcroft won The Best Use of Xignite

Overall, this has been a great learning experience in many ways and I was exhausted by the end. I've met and seen different kinds of people, the organisation and co-ordination of the event and developing a foundation knowledge of the FinTech. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Pitching at the Idea Works Competition

Hi guys! How is your November doing so far? UK has been freezing cold...bbbrrrr... and apparently it's going to snow next week. Not sure how I feel about that... Anyways, last Wednesday I pitched about my business idea (my second pitch) at a pitching competition. I didn't win unfortunately but I still walked away really happy. Read on and you will know why.

About three weeks ago I applied to enter a pitching competition called The Idea Works, a competition for food startups, where the person/ people behind the winning idea will win £1000. The competition was organised by Compass Group, a British multinational contract food service and support services. (Compass-group.co.uk) A week later, I received an email from Compass group saying that I have been shortlisted to pitch on 13th November (last Wednesday). I'm glad I did because it pushed me to work faster on my business idea for instance getting the product together as I wanted to have something to show to the judges during my pitch.

I had two weeks to get the product ready and prepare for the pitch. I learnt a lot during the two weeks, I will write about it later on in this post. I want to talk about the exciting part first. :D I only started preparing my pitch the last three days.

Below is a photo of me pitching; there were 4 judges, a small audience and a camera man- I think parts of the competition will be up on their YouTube Channel, I will look for it and show it to you guys soon.

There were 4 presentations including mine. Each candidate only had five minutes to present followed by ten minutes of Q&A. We weren't allowed to have power point or any sort of presentation visual aids as they want us to think outside the box and make our presentation entertaining and engaging. This was my first time presenting without any notes or slides and I think I did quite well. I'm impressed! I was the first one to present and I'm glad I was because I hate waiting during a presentation. I just want to get it over and done. I don't usually get nervous during presentations but this time I was shaking a little and my mouth was drying up (Lol!). My timing was perfect. I finished a few seconds before I hit 5 minutes.

So why was I so happy even though I didn't win?

I was truly happy for the people who won because I did like their idea as it's something similar to what I had in mind before and its related to healthy food. The feedback from the judges made me really happy. The judges were really pleased with my pitch, they said it was well thought- through and they really like my idea. I was actually the only one who covered every crucial aspects of the business in my presentation. I guess I had the advantage of having a master's degree in Technology Entrepreneurship as we were taught how to do a elevator pitch. Although I didn't win but Compass group is happy to help me by introducing some of their suppliers to me and one of the judges is a nutritionist, she is keen to help me with the nutrition part of my idea. One of the judges, is a business advisor at UCL Advances and she has offered to provide ongoing help. She also said to me personally at the end of the event that my pitch was the strongest! *Massive smile on my face*

So why didn't I win if I was the strongest?
Compass was looking for a food business idea that can be used inside the university, the winner's idea can be used for catering and lunch services. But Tudi Foodie is an online monthly food subscription service so not something they are looking for. Compass will help them set up a pop-up store in university so I'm looking forward to have my healthy lunch from them.

What did I learn during the preparation of the demo?
I did lots of research for packaging companies and calling them up for quotes and samples. I phoned up ten companies for a quote of a postal box (I wanted a particular size) and only two companies got back to me with a quote. Luckily I found a packaging manufacturer near me and they have samples for people to take away. They didn't have the exact size I wanted but I asked for a sample anyway as I needed a box for the demo.

Below is a photo of my product demo, not bad right? What do you think? The box worked out quite well, I might stick to this size.

The more I tried to look for the packaging I had in mind the more I realised that it's not easy to get your ideal packaging if you're on a budget especially for a startup. I also learnt that an entrepreneur can become too emotionally attached to their idea and then won't be able to accept any criticism. I have become so emotionally attached to my idea that I almost forgot about all the frameworks I learnt in my TE course; Lean startup, business model canvas, customer development, etc. I'm glad that I have my boyfriend to help me and reminding me to think about my budget. He gave me advice based on his experience when he had his own business a few years ago. Although he hasn't studied about the lean startup and Cust. development methodology but his advice made me think about those frameworks. I reminded myself that the initial product is a demo/MVP/prototype and that doesn't need to be perfect. I need to be using very little money and time to create the demo and make changes to whatever my early subscribers don't like or suggest. The build-measure-learn cycle.

I'm hoping to do a beta launch in January or early 2014 so I got lots to do before then. I will keep you updated! Thanks for reading. 

Sunday, 20 October 2013

My Start up progress

Hiya, its been while since I blogged about my start up journey. I can say its not easy and there are lots of logistics but the biggest tasks I've done so far is registering the business and creating a landing page- signup.tudifoodie.com. Please check it out :) and sign up up if you want to receive updates.

Before creating the landing page, I had to create a background image for the page. Initially I thought I'll just google some images. I couldn't find anything I like or represent Tudi Foodie so I decided to create it myself since I have so many exotic ingredients at home- we Chinese people tend to have loads of it, half of our kitchen cupboards are filled with a variety of beans, herbal products, dried fungus (yes fungus lol but they are really good for you ), and many other dry ingredients. Here's a print screen of my landing page. The landing page is powdered by Launch Rock, a really good website to help you build your landing page. Launch Rock was recommended by my course and other mentors.

After the mini photo shoot, the clearing up went a bit disastrous. I went to grab the big container of black rice but didn't realise the lid wasn't on properly and the rice had fallen everywhere. Luckily its dry ingredients otherwise my mum would kill me for messing up her carpet lol. 

I've also set up a Facebook page (facebook.com/tudifoodie), Twitter account (@Tudi_foodie) and Instagram @tudi_foodie, please like and follow :) 

My next step is to get a logo, I'm going to use CrowdSPRING, a crowd sourced logo design website. I'm currently working on the designs of the packaging.

That's it for now! Thanks for reading! 

Sunday, 1 September 2013

The End and the Beginning

Hi lovely readers! How's your weekend been? Mine has been pretty good.
Some of you may wonder what the title of this post means. Well, Friday was officially the last day of my Technology Entrepreneurship course so that's the end and the beginning refers to entrepreneurship. Read on and I'll explain. I'm going to rewind back to Wednesday.

In my previous post I mentioned that I will be doing a presentation on my dissertation and maybe pitch to investors if I get picked. So I did the 10 minutes presentation and it went pretty well, went quite smoothly. But not sure if my content was good enough though. I wasn't nervous at all, I guess because its my idea and I've done enough research so I know what exactly to say.

So did I get picked to pitch? 

Yes, I did! Initially I wasn't sure if I wanted to pitch because my business idea is still at a very early stage and I was a bit scared lol. Also, I didn't know this pitch was for the Bright Idea Award which means that there's a chance to win some funding towards my business even if investors don't invest in my idea. The Bright Idea award was later in the afternoon on the same day. I had do to a 5 minute pitch in a room full of people; investors/judges, viewers, other pitchers and lecturers. 

So what happened?

The pitch didn't go as well as I wanted it to, because I was running out of time and I had to rush to the end. And the faces of the investors said it all, they weren't interested. So I thought I'm not going to get any investments, but at least I did it and got some experience. But....

I won the Bright Idea award!!! Well I was one of the winners. I won ££££ towards my business!!On top of that UCL is providing an office for free at the Hatchery in Shoreditch and also free mentoring. You know I actually didn't think I would win. One because I've never won anything and two I felt my pitch didn't go too well. I am so happy!

Fast forward...

On Friday,  I handed in my 15,000 word dissertation. When I handed it in I didn't feel excited or relieved, not sure why. It didn't feel like the end of the course either. But I am so going to miss it and the people. No more deadlines, no more emails from Uni.

So what's next?

As I said, its going to be the beginning of entrepreneurship. I will be pursuing my business idea. I really hope I will succeed. It's kind of scary though because I'll be doing it all by myself. Self discipline is very important now, I will need to set myself strict deadlines to meet my goals.I will try my best to follow the customer development, lean startup methodology and monitoring those key metrics lol.

I will carry on blogging about my journey, the startup life began at 24!!!

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Disso progress: A chance to Pitch to investors

Hello people! Today was has been an extremely productive day, I've been working on my dissertation for 12 hours almost none stop and am now on 12k words. I was really focused and was just in that working mode from 9am listening to some relaxing/yoga music, I actually downloaded them today to keep myself focused and it actually worked. Oh btw well done to those who got their GCSEs results.

So what's been happening in past 3 weeks, I think it was three weeks ago since I last blogged. Anyways, here are the highlights:

  • I contacted 2 healthy/food bloggers to test my MVP
  • One of the bloggers  introduced me to her sister and her friend who is a massive foodie and a food blogger to test my MVP
  • I also gave one sample to another class mate and to my mentor's fiancĂ©
  • I've completed all customer interviews, finally!
I really hope I will get a distinction for dissertation as this is the final chance to graduate with a distinction!!! Some of you may think does it matter what you get if you're considering of doing your own business? True the grade doesn't matter, but the fact I paid £10k for this course I would like to aim for the best. I remember in semester one, one of my lecturer told us not to stress about the courseworks because they are JUST courseworks. Lol.

The dissertation is due next Friday, seriously where did the time go?!! I know I keep saying that lol. Before handing the dissertation in there's a presentation on Wednesday which I think is 10% of our final mark. We will be marked by our mentor and supervisor. And that's not it, since this is an entrepreneurship course we get the chance to pitch our business ideas to investors on the same day. But... only 10 students get to pitch. During the presentation the mentors will decide who can pitch.

Initially, I wasn't sure if I should pitch because my business idea is such at an early stage. But my supervisor insisted ( she also pointed her finger at me) that I should pitch. Even if I'm not raising money, I will need to tell them I would be in the next few months. Exciting hey? I'm usually fine with presentations but I'm actually quite nervous already about the pitch, I think it's because this is the first time pitching and it is the real deal. Ok, I know I haven't even been picked yet. Actually this isn't the first time, I pitched at the E-challenge when I was doing Share N Wear.

Anyways, that's it for now. Thanks for reading. Good luck to you if you're also working on your dissertation.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Disso progress: A/B split testing

Hiya,  I cannot believe its August already! Holy Moly! My dissertation is due in 4 weeks but I have 3 weeks to write it. EEEKKK!! The last week will be the polishing part and preparing the presentation. I've started writing last week and have written 2500. But that's very little because the word count is 15,000. I got to push myself. I'm setting myself a target that will need to be met by Thursday and that is have written at least 6000 words. I've written out a schedule, finally, I've planned what I'll be writing and how many words on each day. Hopefully I will follow it.

As mentioned in my last post, I've been giving out the samples, the MVP, for people to try. I've sent out 5 so far but they are all to people I know. My other goal is to find about 5 strangers who are healthy food experts to test my MVP. So if that's you or know anyone will be interested PLEASE PLEASE leave a comment below this blog or tweet me or message me on Facebook.

A couple of my friends have sent me photos of their food using some of the stuff that I gave them. I'm so happy and excited that they all enjoyed it and sent me the photos. =D

My friend B made a pasta salad with the gluten free pasta and pumpkin seeds I gave her.

Here's another photo of her breakfast with some of the ingredients I gave her,baobab powder and chia seeds. 

The photos below are chocolate spelt pancakes which was a recipe I gave to them on try.

This one looks like a chocolate crumpet lol but its actually the chocolate soya spelt pancake. 

The feedback I got so far have been quite useful and positive. I've become more confident about this idea now. The best thing I've heard so far is that my friend went to Holland & Barratt straight away to get the full size of the products I gave her.  This reaction has validated one of my hypothesis!!! 

That's it for now.

Are you a healthy expert? Or do you like eating healthy? If you're interesting in testing my service, my business idea, MVP, whatever you want to call it, PLEASE PLEASE contact me! It doesn't take up much time, promise!

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

That extra mile to do my competitor analysis.

Hi guys,
Today's post is about my dissertation progress. This time I will talk a bit about how I'm doing my competitor analysis. 

Normally people will do a competitor analysis by researching on the Internet, conducting SWOT and/or PEST analysis. I have done those but I also became their customer to get a better view and understanding of their service and product. 

Last week I subscribed to one of my closest competitor and today I've received my first box through the post. I paid £10/ month. The box was small enough to fit through the post box which is quite convenient. 

Simply Cook is a startup that aims to make cooking easier by supplying "hard to find 'taste ingredients' and simple instructions." And to be honest, I actually like this idea lol. 

Inside the box was 4 other boxes that contained 3 'taste ingredients'. 

Each box contains a small pot of oil, stock and herbs/ spice.  

As mentioned earlier, there are 4 recipe cards. 

I haven't tried it out yet as I only got the box this morning, but will definitely try one or two recipes this week. I'm kind of excited to be honest. Lol I've basically just marketed them to you lol. But it's ok, sharing is caring. And every startup should support each other. Hehe 

I hope my effort will get me a distinction for my dissertation! 

How's you're dissertation going on? How are you doing you're competitor analysis?