Before I start writing this reflective journal, it brought back many old memories since the first day I went to class; I have met many good friends and good teacher. I really had no idea what Design Thinking & Entrepreneurship in Practice was all about until now I can hardly believe that this class is officially over. It has been 7 months already but I feel like it was a very short moment that we have had good moments as well as tough ones. Even though, this class is over but it just a very first step for me to step forward to the real world. I have learned many valuable things from this class since it is different from other classes. We had to come up with an innovative idea and transform it into the product with value. It provided me a precious opportunity to make use of relevant principles along with personal development skills such as communication skills, presentation skills, self-assertiveness and elevator pitch which will be very useful to my future career path. I would proudly say that this class is the most practical class I have ever taken.
Starting from the first week, the first task was so interesting; it was about going to the restroom with my eye closed together with one partner who would lead me through the darkness. It was quite difficult to climb up the ladder with my eyes closed or opened up the door as I had no idea where the latch was. Even worse, I had to pee with my eyes closed which I have never done in my life before. However, I and my partner successfully managed to find the restroom. At first I did not know the reason why we had to pretend as if I were blind. But after doing this, I have learned how to see things differently in different situation. It is considerable to think in different angles and thus, this would certainly help me to create new innovative ideas in the future.
Next, I have learned about observation, I formed a group of four people going to observe customers in Sainsbury’s, I started off by observing buyers when they first popped to the store and how they made decision to buy products, which product was the most popular, the expression of buyer towards service providers when they had been in the queue for too long. Reflect this to myself, It has taught me that observing people is significantly important for business in all aspects which would help you to truly understand about your customers and satisfy what they want as well as providing consistent performance in relation to products and services. Which in turn, these factors will potentially help you maintain long-term customer relationships and loyalty. According to Sasser,Jr, Heskett and Hart (1990) have also revealed the cost of retaining existing buyers is considerably lower than winning new ones.
The next class, I was studying about PERSONA, there are many firms making use of persona to tell about their products and services. Literally, it is a technique to play with audience’s emotions. It is a connection between the character in the story and the audience by using the story to create sympathy (Leiss, Kline and Jhally, 1997). It provides a much clearer image for the audience as if they were in the story and thus it would be able to attract customer attention. This class would bring lots of benefits to when I apply this tactic in my advert to promote my products or services in the future; it allows me to get customer attention effectively.
For the long term project, we had to form as a group of four people which I had never known them before. It was a bit hard for me to work with people from the different unique background. At the beginning, I was lacking of confidence to express my ideas or feelings to unfamiliar people. It takes time to get to know each other and in the end I felt comfortable to present my ideas to my group mates. This would be advantageous for me in the future as it is inevitable that I have work with many people in the organisation it would definitely help me to cope with incurring problems. The main benefits for working as a team are that we are able to share different diversity ideas, new way of thinking and harmonisation which contribute to the better outcomes. However, working as a team can sometimes create conflict to the group when we had different point of view. It is critical to be more open minded to moderate this conflict. Sometimes, we had some arguments and did not get along well with each other but I reckoned that it is usual to have problems within the group but the most important thing I have learned is that how can we find the best solution and get through the bad situation together no matter how hard the problems we faced. Besides, Baldwin and Migneault (1996) have posited that a good teamwork is a sustainable competitive advantage for a firm based on a group of people assembled together and contribute to the profit maximisation for the firm which cannot be imitated from the competitors.
We started to brainstorm some ideas to create the product; it took us almost a month to find the proper idea. Our product is known as IQR sticker; the idea was derived from the people in the current world are doing things hurriedly along with the number of smartphone users is continuously increasing. It presented huge opportunities for us to attract customers by taking benefit from this situation. Consequently, we purposedly aimed to use IQR sticker as a tool to offer convenient usage and less time consuming when people exchange their information or business card. Generally, QR code is just simple black and white color but our IQR sticker is different, it is customised to become a colorful image with distinctive design as well as it is a sticker and the buyers can stick it anywhere.
The next step is that we had to transform this idea to the product with value. Another thing I have learned is that it would be pointless no matter you came up with an excellent idea but could not utilised your idea to become a product. Hence, we allocated each part to each teammate accordingly. Fortunately, it was pretty easy for us to create the items according to the nature of the product, the materials being used is quite cheap, all we had to do is creating distinctive design into the product.
The next step was how to attract customers; we initially started by introducing products to friends and from friends their friends and become a network. Another channel that we used is online channel. It is a very useful channel to attract customers globally, it allows the website owner to provide comprehensive information about its products and services, relatively low cost compared to other channels, interact with customers instantly and see the feedback of customers towards products or services immediately (Palmer, 2009). Therefore, we have utilised Facebook and Twitter as main channels to attract more customers and also provide detailed information about the products as well as providing images of products. It was convenient to interact with potential buyers and we had more customers after utilising online channel. In terms of future trend, online channel is expected to increase and traditional channel structure will be moderated, thus this practice would be effective for me when I have my own business and try to expand customer base in the future (Voortman, 2004).
According to the guest speaker this year, he gave me an encouragement to continue writing this blog; he said that just keep on updating your blog and then you will find out that you have enough people to do the business with. It was easier for you to find your potential customers from the users who keep on following your blog. At first, I was totally doubtful about what would I get from writing blog but now it is obvious that if I continue updating my blog it would benefit me to have more opportunity to work or exchange ideas with many people (Gunelius, 2009).
For the final task, we had to hand in the report and present our business to four judges, this event is also known as Dragons’ Den. I was responsible for financial part. It was extremely difficult for me to get it done because I am not good at finance or numbers at all. I had to calculate the income statement and cash flow starting from November 2011 until April 2012 as well as the price setting. In terms of finance, I have learned that it is a significant factor for the company’s success. For example, the advantage of cash flow is to identify the movement of cash in and out in specific period, it is used to show a clear picture of the firm’s financial health, ability to plan in the future as well as dealing with financial crisis effectively (Baron and Shane, 2005). In terms of price, we are relatively new to this business, so we based our price on penetration strategy in order to gain market share from the competitors quickly, maximise sales volume and be able to attract new buyers (Reece, 2010). Moreover, we have planned to raise the price when we have solid customer base. Setting up the price is crucial for the firm’s profits there are many factors involved in pricing decision such as a number of competitors, a number of buyers and nature of the products. It is considerable to apply these applicable theories in my future business.
For the last day of presentation, we spent lots of time to practise about presentation; we rather used tables or pictures to present our idea as English is not our first language. Furthermore, we had to present our elevator pitch. Elevator pitch is regarded as an overall idea of your products or services and delivers it to the audience with a limit time of the elevator ride (Lindegaard, 2010). This acquired skill would be useful when I apply for a job or present my business. After presenting, the overall feedback from judges was pretty good but the concerning thing was how we will protect this idea. It was so valuable recommendation since if this were in real business our idea would have been stolen already. Thus, we need to patent our product idea to prevent imitation or using or selling our idea (DeMatteis, 2005).
In conclusion, looking back what I have done during this course; it has given me precious opportunities to increase my potential and personal development skills to compete with other people in the real world business. I would honestly say I have done many mistakes but the important thing is how much I can learn from them and reflect this to my real life.
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