This does not stop here: a Reflective Essay

It’s always a good practice at the end of a project – or after each phase of it – to look back and analyse what went right or wrong, figure out the reasons of each failure and success. It helps finding the path that leaded you where you are and usually reveals hints for the future. Failures are my favorite because are those we are going to remember, no matter what. Changing prospective, failures are just experiments and, as Rob Fitzpatrick wrote, ‘What’s best sometimes is learning, not selling’ (2014). On the other hand, Successes as well can reveal themselves as hidden failures after an accurate analysis. We may assume we succeeded thanks to A whereas it was B the real cause, and this assumption can misguide us planning a strategy for the future.

Thinking about my journey with the MACE and the Designing a Business module I have plenty of material for reflection. Looking back, the Induction Week in September feels like 10 years ago, but it was the first impact with the Design Thinking world.

We had a workshop with Dan Lockton and for the first time someone told us ‘don’t try to convince them, listen to them’; shifting from marketing and selling to understanding and adapting sounded awkward for some of us, coming from a traditional academic business-oriented background. The Human Centred Design Approach was already claiming its first victims. During this workshop we have been asked to look for a problem to solve, to find a question before to propose a solution.

The problem-framing phase is very important in the HCD; it is through user research and observation that we can finally understand what people are trying to do and help them doing it better. Analyzing the touch points in the flow of a specific activity towards a specific aim we can then understand how to change the environment to meet needs; and this includes the interaction with anything, from an Application to a restaurant, from a Customer Service to a garbage bin. The reason why observation is such a relevant tool it that usually people are not fully aware of what is going on, but the help of an external observer is needed to frame the problem.

Human Centred Design : observe for insights

Getting the rhythm of this workflow allows planning those kind of interventions that can actually change behaviours. Designing interactions, products and experiences for the greater good.

Design Thinking has an intrinsic human-centred nature. It is based on empathy, participation and engagement, tolerance for failure and risk taking (Brown, 2009). It sounds like all the opposite we have been taught so far about serious business, right? In such a process many unpredictable and changeable factors are involved and approaching this method with a traditional management flow can lead to a huge waste of money and time.

So, here come the faithful ‘fail fast, fail cheap’, sometimes followed by ‘succeed sooner’, which is the belief of many startuppers and innovators nowadays. The father of this quote is said to be David Kelley (2013), one of the founder of IDEO.

Then, during a meeting held by the Entrepreneurs Society, here at the Kingston University, David Stokes introduced the Lean Startup Method (Ries, 2011) for us.

Detailed marketing researches and long-term strategies are not made to face the high levels of uncertainty typical of the startup business, not even of the business in general, characterised nowadays by a fast ever-changing world. The Lean Startup method just follows this rhythm proposing a loop:
BUILD – MEASURE – LEARN

BUILD - MEASURE - LEARN : The Lean Startup Loop

In simple words, to build a sustainable business without wasting resources, we should not wait to confront our customers and market but give them the first prototype immediately; look and collect their reactions and feedbacks; analyse and then preserve, adapt or pivot the original idea on the basis of our findings. Do it again and again.
Traditional businesses are asked to call into question their usual approach:

 1) Sharing ideas. As David Strokes said ‘Nobody wants your idea, really’. We should overcome the fear of being robbed of our idea, because there is much more to lose from not asking for feedbacks.

 2) Stop fearing failure. As previously said, failure is just the outcome of an experiment. It’s validated knowledge (Ries, 2011).

Well, given this disruptive background we entered the most challenging and practical phase of the module: starting our own business.

TEAM UP 

After just 2 weeks in the programme we were asked to form teams, picking our companions for the rough path of startupping. Obviously we didn’t know each other, our background, experience level and expertise; to say nothing of attitude and collaborative style. This just happened and now I love those guys, but there is something to be said.

The team is the most important part of any Startup. Give a good idea to a bad team and it will go to waste, give an average idea to a good team and it will become great (Catmull, 2014). I love David Kelley’s (2013) metaphor about teammates: they are like superheroes with peculiar superpowers and kryptonites, their capacities should be complementary to cover the shortages of each other and push to the next level the overall team work. This means that a team, to work properly, has to be diverse but balanced. What if the X-Men were all alike? A bunch of Professor Xs. Who was going to push all those wheelchairs around and penetrate into Magneto’s headquarter?

X-Men : diverse and balanced teams

Nowadays companies know that and it is not unusual so see an application for a job declined not for lack of expertise but because the applicant was not the best fit for the existing team. Most importantly, also investors know that. During the first term we had a panel discussion with two finance experts with extensive experience in funding, angel investors and venture capitalists. One of the first things we heard from them was ‘people buy people’, which means that the first focus of any investor, before even considering investing, is the team. If the team is balance and trust worthy then one can start considering the product itself.

THE IDEA 

‘Your business should fit your personality’, this is something else the finance experts told us. It is odd, right? To hear that from ‘serious people’, but it is incredibly true.

After forming teams we had to come up with a business idea, a product quickly implementable in the 6 months we had, and here we faced the first difficulty: not enough constrains. The task was basically: find a problem that could be addressed with a product in any field for any target in the UK (a geographical hint, at least). As Tim Brown said (2009), when the brief is too general the team wander about in the fog. Given that, we brainstormed thinking about the first focus group that came handy: us. We found out that we were all travellers and this leaded to many different ideas: a backpack with integrated push scooter, a wallet with retractable lanyard, a silicon glove to heat up lunch boxes, a diamond shaped tissue dispenser, and many others. So, when we had to present our idea to the rest of the class and work on the business model we were not convinced at all but this is how flI. started taking shape.

first Drafts - flI.

BUSINESS MODEL AND CANVASES 

During the Designing a Business Module we have been advised on using many different canvases, such as the XPLAIN Empathy Map, the Value Proposition Canvas (Osterwalder, 2014) and the Business Model Canvas (Osterwalder and Pigneur, 2014).

Value Proposition Canvas

Business Model Canvas

The purpose was clearly building a proper human-centered designed business model. To create our strategy focusing on people an important step to take was creating a Persona, an imaginary individual that would have been our ideal customer. We named him Gregory, a young newly employed designer. Thinking about his habits and daily life we have been able to keep the focus on more properly business oriented details, such as revenue streams and channels of distribution, in a more realistic and insightful way.

 MVP

As part of the Lean Startup Method (Ries, 2011) we had to start prototyping our product. I have to say that thinking with our hands has been a pivotal practice throughout this experience. Some of our best breakthroughs, such us the bento bag double function and the use of the earphones, were born from cutting, touching and stitching all together around a table. The Minimum Viable Product – to be used in the MEASURE phase – has just to respond to the main valuable feature for the target customer with the minimum developing effort. Prioritize those features though has been and it is still a big challenge for the team. We had to teach ourselves to think small.

What we also learnt from this experience is that building a Minimum Loveable Product is even more important because it is what will guarantee followers and support to your newborn business, even before anyone can get his hands on the actual product.

Minimum Loveable Product

STORYTELLING AND PITCHING

Talking about MLP and Persona the Storytelling topic can’t be avoided. We had this amazing workshop with Rob Grundel, professional storyteller, and then I realised how important are stories to facilitate communications and change perceptions. The main differences between animals and human being is that we experience life and transmit knowledge through stories. Whereas the Persona is an insight-based story that we tell to ourselves, the MLP embodies a story about the future of our customers, who they want to be. The shared base of these stories are values to which people can relate, the WHY in the Golden Circle of Simon Sinek (2011) that will lead our audience, through the HOW, to a consistent WHAT.

the Golden Circle

An important part of our business has been pitching our idea during events and contests and the right structure makes all the difference: backstory, explanation of problems and values, then the struggle to find a resolution and finally our product. This was not just an emotional hook; everything was absolutely true.

Pitching and Storytelling

 FAIRS

‘If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late’, as Reid Hoffman said, and I have to admit that we were all pretty embarrassed with the first version of flI. Its imperfections were so relevant to us to become almost a certainty of failure. We were completely wrong. We focused our display for both the Fairs on communicating an experience, the story behind the product, and how the potential customers could’ve been part of it.

flI. - Fair Kingston Business School

Just letting them interact with flI. we gathered precious feedback, but what surprised us the most was how people and business mentors appreciated the stage of development. We thought ‘God, we have a chance!’, which in our minds sounded also like ‘God, we have a market!’.

DEtour and flI. at the Bright Ideas Competition

FALSE POSITIVES AND THE WORLD OUT THERE

As Fitzpatrick (2014) keeps repeating in his book about how to talk to customers, when you enter ‘pitching mode’ and people see how passionate you are they tent to say nice things just to be polite. However, after getting plenty of compliments we have to accept the possibility that they may be false positives. We still have to dig deeper into motivations and emotions of our early adopter to learn from them.

Observe and Learn from your customers

What I also deeply understood is that expertise, creative thinking skills and intrinsic motivation in a team are the key to succeed (or at least in trying to). A flat hierarchy where everyone has a say in everything leads to conflict, but also to new thoughtful insights on the way things are or should be done in any field, from development to management.

I also have to say that many established practices still are not fit for this approach. As an example, registering a Patent or a Design is incredibly expensive, how can this work for the Lean Startup that throws its product out in the market just to understand that everything has to be changed? Furthermore, the establishment still sees an overwhelming difference between business oriented and social oriented organisations, as if pursuing needs was something completely disconnected from the market.

I believe these are some of the challenges for Design Thinkers because if something is not working are not users, people or the market to be blamed. It is the Designer to have the responsibility to act for change (Norman, 2013).

—————————————————————-

References

BROWN, T., 2009. Change by design : how design thinking transforms organizations and inspires innovation. New York: New York : Harper Business.

CATMULL, E., 2014, Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration, London : Bantam Press.

AMABILE, T., 1998, How to kill Creativity, Harvard Business Review. Available from: <https://hbr.org/1998/09/how-to-kill-creativity > [20 April 2015].

NORMAN, D.A., 2013. The design of everyday things. Revised and expanded edition.. edn. London : The MIT Press.

FITZPATRICK ROB, 2013. The Mom Test: How to talk to customers & learn if your business is a good idea when everyone is lying to you. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

OSTERWALDER, A., 2010. Business model generation : a handbook for visionaries, game changers, and challengers. Hoboken, N.J.; Chichester: Hoboken, N.J. : John Wiley & Sons.

RIES, E., 2011. The lean startup : how constant innovation creates radically successful businesses. London: London : Portfolio Penguin.

KELLEY, D., KELLEY, T., 2013, Creative confidence: unleashing the creative potential within us all. London: William Collins.

SINEK, S., 2011, Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action, London : Portfolio Penguin.

OSTERWALDER, A., PIGNEUR, Y., 2014,Value Proposition Design: How to Create Products and Services Customers Want, Hoboken : John Wiley & Sons, New Jersey.

MVP vs MLP: the Web Design prospective

The main principle of the Lean Start Up approach is to build a Minimum Viable Product, which means something that is not perfect but which embodies the main valuable feature for your target customers with the minimum developing effort. This is the key of testing your business idea without going bankrupt basically.

Put let’s go one step further, what is a MLP then? It’s the Minimun Loveable Product. Meaning? It’s something that can bring back the maximum amount of love from your audience with the minimum effort. Does it make any sense? It should and I’ll tell you why.

Minimum Loveable Product - Am I cute?

We are shifting from materialism to experientialism. As James Wallman wrote in his new bookStuffocation we are apparently sick of buying useless stuff. Owning the last trend product is not a real status symbol anymore (someone should tell Apple though..), what is important for us are the experiences we made. Where we went on holiday, which event we took part to, who we worked with define us. If you think about it that’s also the reason why Social Media have been so disruptive in changing our habits.

Looking at this phenomena from the Web Design prospective it can be easily seen how the User Experience gets more and more relevant. This is Functionality marrying Emotion. People remember and reiterate because they felt something, they loved.

Google came recently up with the concept of Material Design. In the released guide is included a list of Web and App design principles that make interaction and depth its strongholds.


This proves that Real and Virtual are more and more fading into each other, it’s what people ask and The Internet of Things – or I’d better say The Internet of Everything – is already there knocking at the door.

Considering that, a first MLP can be easily (or at least in an easier way) build online.
Building a physical prototype is not even needed, you can build a 3D model or just draw your product or service on a piece of paper, it is how you will tell the experience that counts. Yeah, I’m talking about Storytelling. Again.

Building a landing page, a website, able to illustrate your MLP and lead the potential early adopter through an emotional experience will tell you if it worths developing with the minimum waste of resources. Moreover, online one can reach thousands of people in a few days just with the word-of-mouth  – especially if the experience you built “surprise and enlighten our users in equal measure”, as Google says – the equivalent of a huge and practically free ‘focus group’.

As an example, have you seen INCEPTION? Here comes a Website explaining everything you missed.

INCEPTION explained - UX and Storytelling

Leadership or Shepherdship?

I spent quite a long time asking myself the true meaning of leadership and who is a real leader.
In my experience, people often look at a leader as a ‘one man show’, the Saver and the Shepherd (it is also Easter time so this is the perfect example),  someone able to change lives and that worth follow. However, I believe is more complex than that. It has to.

Leadership or Shepherdship?

What are the names coming to your mind when thinking about leaders? Jesus, Nelson Mandela, Steve Jobs, Adolf Hitler, Richard Branson? Those are some of mine. As you can tell for yourself none of them is or was perfect, on the contrary some were completely out of control. So, what did make them leaders? I’m pretty sure they are or were not able and excellent in doing everything on their own: organisation, creativity, accounting, PR and HR embodied in an only soul. What I think is that they gave voice to something which was already inside of people’s mind.

They told their audience something they were willing to listen, it was the right moment to shape the right story. People followed, supported and helped because they felt understood by someone with the ability to put their needs and feelings into words.

People have always loved leaders because they are reassuring, they know what has to be done to get to the finish line and – worst scenario – you’ll have someone to blame in the end. However, nowadays being a leader, even in a small company, is getting more and more challenging and it’s not just a personality matter. You have to be BRAVE:

  • Environment – Where to play? Understand the context, the emerging trends and dangers. Be always ready.

Environment - Hilter took advantage of the general discontent after the WWIHilter understood the general discontent in Germany
after the WWI and took his chance to rise.

 

  • Values – What matters and why? Be clear about your purpose. Be true to yourself and your tribe.

Values - JesusI guess Jesus as an example needs no explanation.

 

  • Attitudes – How to win? You have to built a strategy, make brave choices and act promptly even not in the best condition.

Attitudes - In 2010, a year before his death, Steve Jobs outlined Apple’s strategy in an email to the company’s 100 most senior employees.In 2010, a year before his death, Steve Jobs outlined Apple’s strategy
in an email to the company’s 100 most senior employees.

 

  • Relationships – How to connect? Communication is connection. A good leader is also a psychologist and good relationships can’t be imposed. 

Relationships - Richard Branson said 'In business companies that want to survive are smart enough to know that caring and cooperation are key.'Richard Branson said ‘In business companies that want to survive
are smart enough to know that caring and cooperation are key.’

 

  • Behaviors – What impact?  Environment, Values, Attitudes and Relationships should be consistently visible in the leader’s behaviour and in those behaviours he/she fosters. This will make an impact.

Behaviour - Mandela spent 27 years in prison to fight apartheid and resumed negotiations as soon as he got out.Mandela spent 27 years in prison to fight apartheid
and resumed negotiations as soon as he got out.

 

I don’t like calling ‘followers’ those that are not leaders, it makes me think to brainless sheep that would do whatever the shepherd tells them. On the contrary, a Leader of men gets her/his value from the value of those around him. There is no Leader without Followers and, most importantly, there is no Impact.

Manchester Calling

My last post was more than 1 month ago but just keep reading, you’ll find out why I’ve been so busy.

When we started all this – the MACE, Designing a Business module, the business with flI. – we would’ve never imagined what we ended up with. And I am not talking about the academic prizes.
Yes, we won the Bright Ideas competition at the Kingston University in February and it has been a very exciting moment for all of us.

Then, last Thursday we pitched to compete as representative of the Kingston University at the National Young Enterprise Competition 2015 in Manchester.
Our preparation was unconventional as usual: we met in the morning to prepare – the pitching session was at 6pm – with nothing but a bunch of tired (sleeping is a luxury these days) and crazy minds to work with. Obviously, we could’ve kept the presentation as it was for Bright Ideas just adding details of the work we’ve done in the meanwhile… but this is not us. We want to have fun and, after brainstorming, we came up with a pilot / stewardess performance to present our product. We already had ‘Safety Instructions’ to complete the scene.

flI. bag - How to use Instructions flI. - How to use Instructions

Long story short: we won, we are going to Manchester on the 13th May. Well, a product called ‘flybee’ won, so at the beginning we were not sure whether it was us or not – suspense! – , but the correction came promptly. And then everyone in our course was hugging us and screaming, a surreal and joyful moment.

DEtour will be lead through an intense preparation during the next month. We will have to polish our presentation and our figures and honestly I can’t wait. The curiosity is eating me alive and I will take full advantage of all this for my personal growth, but there is also an half spoon of fear and half spoon of determination to be added to the mix.

We will always be true to ourselves, no matter what. This is not about winning a prize, this is not about flI. or about a company. This is about Us. And about unicorns, of course…

Go eat the World! The 1st step to Establish your Online Presence

So, now you (we) have your (our) Start Up ready to run, with an amazing product (service) and the first important connections you made during Fairs, Events, meeting friends of friends etc. But, what is your next step? Well, get out there in the Online world, where you can reach those people that can really make the difference in your business – clients, partners, retailers, investors etc. – wherever they are.

Linkedin

A Company Page on Linkedin could be the answer you are looking for. Furthermore, in a seeding phase where you and your team may experience a lack of time, this may be a temporary valid substitute for both your Website and your business card (“I run out of card Sir, I’m afraid. But look for me on Linkedin, you’ll find everything there. And please, feel free to add me as your Connection.”).

BUILT YOUR PAGE

1) Who can do it.

Before you considering to create a Company Page, make sure that you can meet all of LinkedIn’s requirements:

  • You’re a current company employee.
  • Your position is listed in the Experience section on your profile.
  • You have a company email address added and confirmed on your LinkedIn account.
  • Your company’s email domain is unique to the company. (Note: A domain cannot be used more than once to create a company page.)
  • Your profile strength must be listed as intermediate or all star.
  • You must have at least 50 connections on your personal profile.

2) Get started!

  1. Choose “Companies” Under the “Interests” section on the main page (your profile is the starting point).
  2. Choose “Add a Company” from the right-hand side of the page button.
  3. Fill in your company information (company name and your email address).
  4. After receiving an email from LinkedIn confirming your page, you can go to your company page and start building it properly.

3) The Overview Section.

The information you need to include are company language, name, type, size, website, industry, operating status, year founded and locations. Remember, the company description is critical! Google scans company pages, so make sure you choose the right Keywords to rank high in organic search results. The results will also display the first 156 characters of your company description, so be sure to put the most important information there.

Then add a banner image and your logo. Make sure it’s appealing and consistent with your brand values and identity. Here are the image requirements, which must be either jpg, png or gif formats:  Image – Minimum 646 x 220 pixels, maximum 2 MB. Logo – 100 x 60 pixels, maximum 2 MB.

4) Products and Services Page

Since many people don’t bother to fill out this section you may have an advantage over competitors and  don’t forget to include keywords in the description, images and video if you have any.

  1. Go to your Main Company page and choose “products.”
  2. Click on “edit page” and choose “add product or service” from the drop-down menu, and you’ll get to this page.

In the same drop-down menu you can also find the space to include a Call to Action.
If someone is spending the time to visit your page and have a look at your product you don’t want him or her to leave without (hopefully) providing contact information, right? You can even provide a download link with free ebooks or white papers.

And remember to ask for recommendations to those who have already benefited from your product!

MANAGE YOUR PAGE

1) Establish presence

  • Put someone in charge.
  • Involve all the team members in proposing topic and write specific and consistent content for your page feed.
  • Set a Calendar, to define when to publish your posts. It will be easier to follow for your Followers (couldn’t find a different word).
  • Share other people and pages posts.

 2) Analyse

Check regularly the views on your page and analyse trends and followers profile. You will be able to better refine your communication style this way.

There would be much more to say about Linkedin, but so far is a good start.
And, if you are wondering, flI. doesn’t have a Company Page yet… but we are working on it.

flI. Shape your journey - Resting Device

 

Nothing is lost, Everything is transformed

This is Monday morning but feels like Saturday.
Unfortunately it is not.
Do you want to know why?

DEtour has been on a tour-de-force from Friday to Sunday and the week never really ended. But it was surprisingly good and I would say that going through this weekend a lot has changed.

From the Captain’s log:
Day 1 – Friday night

The Bright Ideas weekend started from here, and so we all showed up at the Brooks Lodge to shake hands wondering around with our name in capital letters sticked on our chests. Networking is not for everyone. I love people and I am always curious about lives different from mine, but I’m not really into smiling and nodding as I am not good at promoting my self at all. But I kept in mind the advice of one of the speaker at the ICA, Rob O’Connor ‘When comes to speak about yourself just imagine you are talking about someone else you know and trust’.

Day 2 – Saturday

We split to cover all the ‘events’ of the weekend. Olga, Sam and Michelle came back to the Bright Ideas Weekend, whereas Felix and I went to Destinations. We step into this huge Travel Fair in Kensington Olympia with our backpacks, notepad and prototype; no business card or pre-arranged plans, just the Exhibitors list. We targeted Airlines and Travel Magazines and went hunting.
‘Hi, we are students from the Kingston University and founders of a StartUp. We came up with an amazing idea to solve one of the worst nightmare for all travellers….’

We gathered interesting feedbacks from experts in the travel sector and tons of business cards: travel magazine (The Times), Wanderlust, National Geographic, Singapore Airlines etc. What if just one of those reply? What if they write about us, just a small article? Just the possibility itself amazed us.

Destinations London - Travel Fair Destinations London - Travel Fair

flI. at the National Geographic Stall @Destinations London - Travel Fair

flI. at the National Geographic Stall

After that we called the rest of the team to get an update about what was going on in Kingston. And this was the moment when the change became more and more clear in my mind: they were amazed exactly like us. Excited about the feedback and drunk with adrenaline, tired for all the hard work they did during the day, calling themselves “fighters”. I couldn’t help my self, a wave of pride for my team struck my whole body.

Day 3 – Sunday

Alarm: 7am. Good morning freezing Sunday!
We have been told a real entrepreneur is restless. Well, I could write a book about restlessness.
Back to the Bright Ideas and the Kingston Business School working on our flI. and the network, getting and giving feedbacks (because you can’t ask anyone to give if you are not willing to give something back), increasing the pile of contacts and business cards and pitching pitching pitching and pitching again.

DEtour and flI. at the Bright Ideas Competition flI. Business Model Template

At 6.30pm, the end of the day, we got:

– A Product Designer willing to help us with good connection at the Roehampton Vale Campus (we need to get into their Engineering Lab to shoot our Advert… are you curious?)

– An amazing actor and writer for our advert! Check Mike out 🙂

– A mentor willing to help us with the production in Asia.

– Contact details of a pilot with a long experience in the Airlines sector at many levels and the endorsement of one of the mentor.

Furthermore, and this was my favourite part, we got the other teams’ enthusiasm to support us. Being among the 5 ‘winners’ of the weekend was just a small drop compared to the sea of energy and optimism we received, and it came with a clearer view on the future, the horizon we aim for (just to keep the ‘Captain-ship’ metaphor a bit longer).

There is still a lot of work to do, now more than ever, and the Final is just this Wednesday, but we are all more aware of our potential and our possibilities. And you can feel it in the air.
Everything has changed, we discover something new about ourselves and about each other.
Change is there all the time, in the eyes of the observer, in a new context or experience, in saying Yes instead of No. Taking risks and believing.

By the way, thanks to Antoine Lavoisier for the Post title, hope he wouldn’t mind that I skipped the ‘Nothing is created’ part. As a Creative Thinker I could’ve written a whole post just about that. Maybe next time.

When flI. met the audience

Long time no see. Are you curious about what happened at the Business School Fair in Kingston Hill?
I don’t even remember if I mentioned in my last post that the display hunting aimed at getting insights for our product display for this first Fair.

flI. - Resting device

To be honest I realised just in the last few days that I’ve not yet written about our product, isn’t it weird? I bet is some kind of Freudian lapsus. We tend don’t to come out with our product or service before we think it is perfect and so my mind just kept avoiding the subject. But, even though I’m conscious that flI. needs improvements, this is wrong.

So, on October more or less we came up with the idea of a sleeping mask with an holding mechanism to avoid your head to fall forward when you fall asleep, especially during flight.

first Drafts - flI.

In my team we are all travellers, therefore we had all clear in our mind those awful low cost journeys, squeezed in narrow seats without any space to stretch our legs and find a comfortable position to relax. After flights like these you feel as if you just stepped out from a blender.

Ryanair Horror Stories

We built on the idea and something even better started revealing its shape. We walk out on the holding “leash” (as we called it) simply changing the balance of the device, added curved chambers to the sleeping mask to avoid pressure on the eyes and filled it with micro beads for comfort and support.
And then the best part: noise isolation. FlI. – Your private space of calmness – these are name and claim of our resting device – has among its features ear protectors that protect you from screaming kids and annoying steward’s announcements and what makes it unique is that you can place your own earphones inside and listen to your favourite music turning them into an headset!

flI. - inner details

It is simple and effective during daily commuting or even just taking a nap at home, but for £24 we were almost sure not to sell anything at the business school – students are just not the right target – , so we decided to turn this Fair into a testbed. Excited about people reaction we also prepared a simple questionnaire and newsletter forms. It worked, we got precious insights, but was people reaction that pleased us the most. Here it was (simplifying as usual):

CURIOUS “What’s that?”

flI. - Fair Kingston Business School

“Oh, that’s nice!” – after explanation

flI. - Fair Kingston Business School

flI. - Fair Kingston Business School

“That’s amazingly relaxing!” – after trying

As I said flI. still needs improvements but people loved it and just this did a lot for our confidence, motivation and inspiration. Not to mention our understandig of the audience.

If you don’t go out there with your idea to find out whether it is good or not you will never let it grow. And neither will you.

Oh, I almost forgot. We won.

flI. - #1 Prize: Fair Kingston Business School