Meeting the Dragon!

This weekend, thanks to the new president of the Enterprise Society at Manchester University:, I had the pleasure of meeting Doug Richards, the serial entrepreneur and ex dragon on Dragon’s Den.

Doug has decided to give back and do so by starting his very own School for Start-ups. The nine hour workshop did not start too well, mostly because I had been to see the South African sensation that is GoldFish the night before and had managed to cram in just a few hours sleep. Regardless, several cups of coffee and an entire galaxy bar later and I was wired and ready.

The early hours were well spent covering, essentially, all the 20 questions Doug reckons you need to ask yourself before starting a business and when pitching to investors. It looked to me like a business plan, only don’t tell Doug that… he hates business plans. During one of the intervals I went down to meet him, and I won’t hide the fact that my knees were shaking. I asked him a few questions about talking to investors with an idea that is not easily protected and he gave me relevant and insightful answers. We also talked briefly about Seth Godin as he had referenced him and Purple Cow in his discussion on marketing for start-ups.

One thing I really enjoyed was “volunteer breaks”. Every now and then Doug would take a break and ask people from the audience to stand up, give their elevator pitch and he would drill down into the details, give advice (or criticism) and help the people along their way.

Time and time again, Doug suggested the rules which apply to big businesses regarding what they should and should not do, do not apply to start-ups and often he even suggested that it was the exact opposite which took precedence.

However, if there is one thing I took away from the workshop that I would like to share with everyone, it is “BE SHAMELESS“… let me explain. Costs are in our complete control, while revenue we can only influence. So as a start-up looking to survive he suggests we shamelessly look for opportunities to survive by (a) limiting our costs of operation through several key methods and (b) by shamelessly pursuing revenue – Always Be Closing!

All in all, I left inspired, with renewed motivation and belief. Big Up to Doug Richards:

Back in Black!

Good old blogging, back in business!

So, summer has finished and my last year @ uni is about to hit me. Things have changed… oh how they have changed.

I decided to stay, for the greater part, in Manchester this summer. Why? Well the weather is shit, United were not playing, and I had to watch all my friends enjoying their summer in exotic locations around the world… oh wait, those were the reasons why I shouldn’t have stayed. The REASON why I did stay is because I decided it is time for me to start doing what I’m going to do when I graduate… run my own business. But that’s such a broad statement. It’s like saying, when I grow up I’m going to have a career… it says nothing. What business? What industry? What market? These are the questions I asked myself.

So to begin with I got myself some office space at Manchester’s business incubator for graduates: Innospace. I then decided to start a company which does what I had been hired to do for the past two years, only I planned to do it better and be my own boss! Here’s my elevator pitch for this business:

“I am running a marketing agency which specialises entirely on campaigns which target the student community. My potential clients are any business or organisation which wants to reach the student community with their product, service or social activity, and wants to do so using a variety of traditional and innovative marketing approaches.”

So its not a big business and my market is a tiny niche, but I am very good at what I do. I have 3 clients so far of which one has already given me some repeat business. My website, if you’re curious, is

So, this is how I have decided to begin but I am already taking on other non-related ventures as well. Summer has been hot, business hot, and some of my ideas are coming off the paper and turning magically into products. Watch this space!