CS39820 Technology Entrepreneurship: Week 7

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 doing a module on Technology Entrepreneurship at Aberystwyth University (Mauritius) and post about it weekly. Here is what I learned during the seventh week:

1. Lectures Summary

Lecture

This was not really a lecture as we use the time to discuss the presentation. We told Jackie that we were going for STUBUD and that the creole app may be one of its features in the future.

Jackie suggested that we think about:

  • Logo for the product
  • The MVP
  • Income stream
  • Scalability
  • Investment
  • Web traffic
  • Web hosting
  • UI for Web and App

We also decided to wear similar clothes (Black T-shirt) for the presentation.

2. Project achievements

On Tuesday, we started the presentation. We met in the great hall and put our ideas together. We were going according to the points exposed in Lecture 7 but Fisayo wanted to change the structure. He had some notes in his copybook but most of us did not have a clear picture of the new structure. We started to argue about what to include in the presentation. Paul stated the fact that all of us have a different understanding of STUBUD and he was right.

Fisayo had changed the product name to “STUBUD” because he could not get “STUDBUD” registered. Since he mentioned only once when talking to Jackie, some group members did not know about it. This showed that we had a lot to do to work well as a team.

We tackled the first question: “What is STUBUD?”. I wrote down: “Discount initiative program for students” which is what Fisayo told me. But when Paul looked at the paper, he said that STUBUD was more than that and Fisayo agreed. STUBUD had many more features like the ability to look for job/internship, accommodation and events. So to summarise, Arjun said: “It is a platform which connects students to companies” which all of us seemed to agree on.

Looking at all the proposed functionalities, I felt that the project was not minimal. I told that to the group saying that we should focus on only one aspect, our MVP but did not seem to agree. Paul said the MVP is just the first deliverable and that we were going to do that all at once. Fisayo supported him saying that it is the only way that companies and users will take us seriously and want to join our site. Since everyone was thinking the same way, I accepted it for then.

When we got to the point of the marketing plan. Fisayo stated that the user base will include students from primary to tertiary schools. That greatly increased our market. I stated that if we include primary students, our target will not be the students themselves but their parents. Some group members agreed, but not Fisayo who said that he will tell us more on that later.

We moved to competitors where according to the consensus, we had none. I stated that we had a competitor for discounts and accommodation (studentlife.mu) and many more for job/internship listing and events. Fisayo disagreed saying that since there are no other company proposing the same features and targeting students in Mauritius, we had no real competition.

The presentation has some material but it was not complete. When I got home, I wrote and sent this document in the Whatsapp group, outlining how I would tackle the the 5 aspects. Paul encouraged the rest to do the same: Kavi and Fisayo would be compiling everything and he would do the final edit.

 

On the next day, as I arrived school, I got a mail from Kavi with the PowerPoint file attached. The file had a lot of content but most of us could not recognise our parts. So, we decided to create a new PowerPoint file containing only the part that we were to present.

In the end, we did not have much practice. The presentation would be delivered to Bernie via Skype on Jackie’s laptop. The setup was unusual but all the group members managed to get their messages through.

Our general feedback was that:

  • The part where we introduce ourselves needs to have more details. We should highlight our experiences and what we bring to the team/project. This part should really be about selling ourselves to potential investors.
  • Our project was a too broad. It was not minimal and thus did not reflect the principles of Lean Startup. Bernie suggested we do a survey to select the most popular feature.

We also got the opportunities to ask the following questions:

  • If we do not get response from the companies until the deadline. Should we just write what we would have done if we got it?
    • Bernie said that we should be as honest as possible in the group report and that things like that can happen. We can write what what would have been our course of action if we got response.
  • For the demo, how are we going to do it? And do we need to go it for all platforms?
    • Bernie said that the demo was optional. A website will be fine, we could have a walk through the interface. Instead of an app we could have a responsive website for a start.

On Thursday I spoke to Fisayo about the issue concerning the MVP. I leaned on the fact that Bernie said that our project was too broad. Fisayo responded saying that maybe Bernie was going easy on us since we are from Mauritius but we have to show him that we are capable. “When we want to do a 5 story building we have to start for the foundation and we are going to do both the App and the Website.”

He asked me and Kavi to organise ourselves. Kavi proposed we do it in parallel, one of us does the app and the other does the website. As I still did not think it was a good idea, I proposed that one of us work on the functionalities and the other on the (Web/App) interface instead. Kavi and Fisayo agreed. I suggested that we focus on the website first, then the app and they thought it was fair.

So I proposed we do the same for the whole project: focusing on the most important functionalities first (discount coupons), then gradually moving to the others. And finally we all agreed! I also agreed to put some provisions for future functionalities.

For next week I had to propose a way to:

  • Register new Students (We already thought of a way to confirm that they are students).
  • Generate Coupon Codes.
  • Provide a way so that a store could verify our coupons.

3. Interesting additional things

  • Facebook was going to pivot to enterprise:
    • Big companies sometimes also have to change to keep up with competition.
    • No company can stay the same forever
  • Zebras Fix What Unicorns Break:
    • VC are normally interested with startup companies with big revenue(unicorns)
    • Those unicorns tend to be disruptive to society and compete with one another.
    • Zebra companies are both black and white: they are profitable and improve society
    • Zebra companies protect and preserve one another.

Total Time Spent

  • Lectures: 1 hour
  • Group Activity: 10 hours
  • Week Submission: 3 hours
  • Additional Explorations: 1 hour

Total: 16 hours

Questions & Thoughts

This week we finally did the presentation. My question was: When will we get our marks?

I think that this week’s “Project achievements” section really reflects what happens when different people try to work together on a single project. Luckily we managed to solve the problems.