CS39820 Technology Entrepreneurship: Week 1

Have you ever thought of starting your own business? Entrepreneurship is popular these days and with all the facilities available through the Internet, starting a business has never been easier. I am starting a module on Technology Entrepreneurship at Aberystwyth University (Mauritius) and will post about it weekly. Here is what I learned during the first week:

1. Lectures Summary

Lecture 1: Introduction

This lecture was about explaining what we will be doing in this module. I understood that the group project is the central part. We will work together and produce a business plan for an IT product.

The Teams

Teams can be composed of at least 3 students but in our case, since we only have 5 students in the class, all of us will be in the same team. Thus, we will only need to figure out who will fill for the following roles:

  • Idea People
  • Presentation People
  • Technical People
  • Admin People
  • “Leader”

Our lecturer, Jackie suggested that we do a Belbin test for this.

The Process

The team will have to define how the business will look by:

  • Exploring the market, reaching our potential customers and identifying good business ideas.
  • Assessing the technical effort needed for our product and how it will look.
  • Considering the legal, social or ethical issues that may arise.

 Individual Development Diary

Each student will maintain a blog and there will be weekly posts about:

  1. Lectures Summary (Week 1 – 5)
    • Things learned from the lectures, slides (and Panopto videos).
  2. Project achievements
    •  Thing done for the advancement of the group project.
  3. Interesting additional things
    •  Things learned from books, websites, audio/video recordings or personal interactions that are related to entrepreneurship.

I will also include a separate “Total Time Spent” section breaking down how much time I spent on each section. I write about the questions that occurred to me during the week and my thoughts on the project so far in the “Questions and Thoughts” section.

Assessments

  1. The blog will be submitted with the Individual Final Report for 20%.
  2. The rest of the Report (1500 words) will count for 20%.
  3. There will be an Intermediate Presentation for 10% on which we will get feedback.
  4. There will be a Group Report (5000 words) for 25% and a Final Group Presentation for 25%.

(Yay, no exams!)

Lecture 2: Business Ideas

This lecture encouraged us by stating that it is a great opportunity to have a third of our time to explore new business ideas. We should make the most of it.

We were given steps to find viable ideas. Here’s an overview:

  1. Generate ideas of products and services
    • Brainstorm for 30 minutes without analysis
    • Explore areas like personal interest, work experience, social trends etc.
    • The idea should be narrow – excellent at one thing (Unique Selling Point)
    • Be realistic but bold
    • Must be difficult enough – room for IT related investigation
    • Must be complex enough – to think about business implications
  2. Evaluate ideas, select and expand on the best
    • Feasibility study (effort required)
    • Check risks, competition and other challenges against potential benefits
    • Set scores against criteria and rank ideas
    • Explore most promising ideas with more details
    • Combine some ideas into one.
    • Get behind the chosen idea even if it was not yours originally
  3. Decide how to deliver the idea
    • Web-based or mobile was advised.
    • Smartphone market:
      • iOS, Android, Windows (ordered by most promising)
      • Dominated by game, followed by Social Network, Books, Music
    • Web app:
      • Can be cloud base – Advantage: Scale on demand
      • Can be a SAAS developed on a PAAS or IAAS
  4. Decide how to make money from the idea
    • Sales – Customer pays once
    • Subscriptions – Customer pays monthly
    • Ads – Advertiser pays based on the number of times ads are shown/clicked on

2. Project achievements

This week we did not do much as Paul and Fisayo were not back from Africa. Only Arjun and I were present for the lecture. Jackie told us to put together our ideas. We made the short list below:

3. Interesting additional things

  • I watched a couple of Silicon Valley episodes before. Since this module reminded me of it, I decided to see if it was accurate and it pretty much is, according to this article. So, I decided to watch a couple of episodes each week.
  • I looked at the Belbin website and it seemed very nice. But 123test might be the free alternative that we use.
  • I watched this YouTube Video about Electronic Arts: Its rise as a Software Company and what it is doing now to be considered the worst company in America. I learned that instead of publishing games made by developers, EA now buys the studios and acquires the licenses. The studios are then shut down and EA starts to release rehashes of their most popular games. I also learned the founder was very bold from the beginning.

Total Time Spent

  • Lectures: 3 hours
  • Group Activity: 1 hour
  • Panopto videos: 3 hours
  • Blog Setup (on blogger) + Template for Posts: 2 hours
  • Week Submission: 5 hours (needs to decrease)
  • Additional Explorations: 3 hours (needs to increase)

Total: 17 hours

Questions & Thoughts

The explanations were very clear so far, my only question was whether I could use my blog at Nythiennzo Codes to submit my weekly post (I am currently using blogger).
 
I think the project will be a great experience and am looking forward for the return of my two classmates so that we have a proper start.