Team up to save

I saved my business a lot of money recently.

How? Did I massively cut manufacturing costs or fire someone?

Nope, it was much simpler than that this time. I just teamed up with another company looking to achieve the same end goal as me.

You see I’d had my eyes on the international trade-show Rehacare for a few months and was looking into the possibility of exhibiting there.

The only problem? The few stands that had left were quite big and the cost of a stand was going to be the same as a small car.

Not cool. Covering my costs running a stand that expensive, at my first international trade-show, and with a product that costs less than a tenner? That was going to be a hard task indeed.

The solution? Me and a contact I’d made at a competition decided we would split one of the remaining stands 50/ 50 and share the costs involved. Now exhibiting was only going to cost me half a car, great! But there’s more…

I found out there was also funding for young companies looking to brave the overseas markets by going to such things as trade-shows and so I put in an application for that too, and got it! Now exhibiting at the tradeshow is looking very affordable indeed. Here’s hoping all the time and effort required to exhibit there will be worth it.

 

Nimble has flow the nest

It’s official. The first batch of Nimbles were posted out a few days ago to people all over the UK and even to the US and Australia!

IMG_20150821_130812

As a product based business, and coming from a product design background myself, shipping out physical products to people that have put up their hand and said they want one is a truly amazing feeling.

Just knowing that an idea I had has been realised as a physical product and is now making peoples’ lives better makes all the hard work and ups and downs worth braving a thousand times over.

Here’s hoping Geco Hub manufacturing finishes soon and we can get them sent out too!

The post holiday “slump”

I can’t be the only one can I? You go on holiday to unwind, to switch off, to day dream… and on your return you struggle to wind up, switch on and focus!

So what’s the solution? Sorry but I haven’t found any golden formula to achieving 0-100% efficiency in 60 seconds. It seems to me that the best thing for it is will power.

Will power?

I know, how ridiculous.

But here’s the thing, after a few days on holiday I struggled to get back into the swing of things and the only thing for it was to will myself to do it and just “get started”. Falling back into a work routine that has worked in the past seemed to help too.

Maybe getting back down to things after time away is always something that’s going to be hard and that the best thing for it might just be to practice.

Hang on though, practicing getting back into the swing of things after a holiday would mean more holidaying right…? I’m okay with that!

Like waiting by the road for the bus

It might just be me but I feel like bringing products to market (or managing several large projects at once) can be like waiting for the bus. The first one ends up taking longer than expected and suddenly you have two arriving at once!

This is certainly the case for me, as after almost a year working to get Geco Hub to market, overcoming obstacle after obstacle to move things forwards, we’re almost ready to start production. At the same time my second product Nimble, the one I started developing in earnest at the start of the year (so about 6 months ago) has already finished production and is in transit now!

So in actual fact the project I started working on later is the one that has completed sooner.

Who’d have thought.

Is this down to me learning a lot from the first project which has resulted in time savings? Or just me getting lucky with the first project and unlucky with the second? Who knows.

Either way it’s onto project number three now… and what’s that? I’ll tell you when I figure it out.

Nimble and the Inclusive Technology Prize

You may or may not know that Nimble, my one finger opener product, is currently taking part in a challenge prize run by Nesta with a pot of £50,000 funding up for grabs for the winner. Exciting stuff or what!?

Well the latest stage of this challenge prize required each of the 10 finalists to publish an update on our progress.

Here’s my guest post on Nimble’s progress over the last few weeks. Happy reading!

b53668f926074adcb166fc9a8963af77

The Work-Life Trinity

The work-life balance.

You’ve all heard of it, you’ve probably all told someone else off/ been told off yourself for not paying one or the other enough attention.

Well I’ve been thinking a lot about the work life balance recently and have discovered it’s actually more like a triangle.

Take a look at the diagram below:

The Work-Life Triangle - (Copyright Simon Lyons 2015)

 

 

See it’s simple really, everything in your life can be broken down into three fundamental groups: friends & family, health & fitness and work. Continue…

Loosening the jaws of choice paralysis

I hit a bit of a speed bump the other day.

Now it wasn’t a big “problem” or the lack of options available to me no.

In fact it was that I had too many options to choose from.

You see I was looking at the different options in front of me that I could use to increase the size of Version 22’s community and I was suffering from a little something called choice paralysis.

What do I do first?

What happens if the option I choose to work on next isn’t the best choice?

Shouldn’t I be doing all of these things?

These were just a few of the questions I was asking myself. So I decided to do something about it and take the choice a little more out of my control. I did this by using a methodical process to compare my options against one another to produce a clear, prioritised list of things to implement.

Now I’m positive this method isn’t something I invented, nor something I’ve been the first to use in this way. Nonetheless I thought I’d share the process I followed stage by stage because it did wonders for me; helping to wipe the fog of confusion off the lens I viewed my business through.

So let’s get started. Continue…

Starting with your ducks everywhere

I was at a tradeshow a week ago selling a product that didn’t exist.

Well, more accurately I was accepting pre-orders for a product that hasn’t been made yet.

In fact the packaging hasn’t been sorted either now I think about it.

Risky? Maybe, but this was a deliberate move I made to give me the kick up the proverbial I needed to get this particular product, Nimble, into production. Afterall what better motivation than heaps of waiting customers?

Sometimes waiting until you have all your ducks in a row will slow you down, and even stop you moving entirely. Instead it might be best to just start with your ducks everywhere and play catch-up along the way.

After-all, nobody ever won a marathon by waiting until condition were perfect before taking their first step, did they?

Reacting to your environment

I attended a day-long event at University College London recently.

On the way over from the nearby underground station I passed by a brilliant little independent coffee shop so popped in for a morning cup. Being the early hours still at this point everyone was grabbing a hot brew and heading on their way to work. Nothing special here right?

After leaving the event several hours later and going outside for the first time all afternoon, I was hit by a wave of heat so intense it was almost solid (35 degrees the media tells me) and staggered back towards the train station, following the same simple route as this morning and regretting my decision to wear jeans.

As I approached the coffee shop from the other side I noticed an instant difference. Although the shop looked exactly the same they had now put a simple hand-written chalk sign outside that read…

⌜                       ⌝

“ICED COFFEE”

⌞                       ⌟

 

Now I’m assuming they always sell iced coffee among other things but simply emphasising they had what everyone walking by wanted – a cold drink – they had adapted to their changing environment.

The result? The place was bustling inside with everyone, including me, ordering iced coffees or bottles of iced tea and sitting on the garden furniture outside (another addition since the morning).

Sometimes it’s just the little things but doing whatever you can to adapt your product offering and marketing to the changing environment can obviously pay off big. Sometimes the changes needed might be obvious, other times they might require a little thought. Either way these changes are definitely worth making.

Keep adapting and keep ahead.

1 in 10

A few weeks ago I got some very exciting news… Version 22’s second product Nimble, a one-finger package opener, made the finals of the Nesta Inclusive Technology Challenge prize!

This was after initially entering as one of 200 and then competing in the second stage with £2,000 as one of 25 semi-finalists. Now as 1 of 10 finalists I have from until February next year, along with £10,000 of prize money, to make as much progress with Nimble as possible.

My plan? Start product testing with over 150 volunteers in 1 month, develop accessible product packaging with a professor at a nearby University in parallel with that, go to another international trade show in Germany in October (read about my last one over here on the Version 22 blog), shoot a promotional video and begin full blown production.

So in other words… lots to keep me busy.

I think the format of challenge prizes is brilliant; giving funding in incremental stages and expecting contestants to reach a certain number of milestones. After all deadlines (and money) make things happen don’t they?