Karan’s Reflective Essay……

 

Over the years, I have found the journey of my life is quite challenging despite of the sound family background I possess. My journey since I turned as an adult has witnessed a lot of up and downs but would state that I am fortunate enough as I have always received immense love and support from my parents and friends irrespective of various worst circumstances.

Despite of various challenges I am happy with my life because this is what the reality is and everyone has to face various challenge at certain point in their life irrespective of the profession, age, caste, creed etc. These challenges have allowed me to interpret and understand various things in life which have proved to be beneficial at various stages of my life till date. It has helped me in developing myself as a responsible individual.

Reflecting on my journey while pursuing my Masters in Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship at Kingston University I have experienced immense fun as well as various complex challenges throughout the course which initially started in September last year.

The tenure of my course was undoubtedly the most precious and useful learning experience of my life till date. As mentioned it has always provided me with great inputs and opportunities across two teaching blocks.

Relating it to fun it has provided me some very special moments experienced with friends which will remain with me till I stop breathing along with a fruitful learning experience. Talking about the challenges the list is quite long to be honest.

One of the challenge which I faced was that I had to leave my family and country in order to pursue my Masters in London. This was quite challenging for me because I am a person who believes in staying with the family and am deeply attached with my country. After some time, I was able to tackle the problem as I convinced myself that I have to sacrifice this thing in order to learn something new.

Talking about the modules, Design thinking for start-ups can be rated as the most challenging module in my course. Despite of the challenges and hardships it has provided me with various knowledge and skills which will ultimately help me in developing my career as a successful entrepreneur.

It seemed to be challenging from the start but soon I started realizing that it is more challenging than I thought it would be initially. The first challenge I remember while reflecting my journey in terms of Design thinking module was the difficulty we faced in creating the teams for our start-ups which would remain the same till the end of the module. I had worked in teams before but I don’t understand why it was not the same this time. This was probably because we were allowed to select only one member from our course and rest of the two should belong to the different course which was known as MACE. Spending a limited amount of time with the students of MACE made it really difficult for us to choose the member who were likely to adjust well enough as a team. In addition, it was more important to select an efficient team as the assessment of the module was collective and we had to develop a unique start-up by the end of the March 2019.

Well, I must accept the fact that I was quite lucky in finding a really good team with whom I have argued a lot but at the end we all managed to satisfy the expectation of the team members and have various useful things which will benefit us at various stages of our lives.

 

How did we start?

How to kick-up the idea for our start-ups was itself the biggest challenge we faced before we really managed to agree and work on the idea which lead to the creation of Gemeinsam.

Well, to be honest we did not have a good start as a team. Despite of some really good ideas we all were not fully convinced. This was probably due the mistake we did which is most likely to committed while finding ideas for the start-ups. Indeed, we directly jumped on the solutions before defining the actual problem we were keen solving.

At, the end we decided to critically reflect on our lives in order to find the problem which can help us to creating a solution which can really add up value.

Interestingly, we all came up with the most common problem which everyone faces at some point of time in their lives. We all noticed that all of us felt lonely quite often and decided to work on this issue as a team.

Focusing on traditional forms of research we decided to some initial research with the help of reputed academic sources. Critical analysis of the problem highlighted that this was the problem which was faced across all the age groups but every 2 out of 5 individuals aged between 16-24 felt lonely quite often compared to various age groups. Hence, we decided to focus on the 16-24 age group and started talking to the people in that particular age groups in order to test our assumptions.

Lastly, based on our market research and backed by our feedback we decided to develop a book known as Gemeinsam which can be defined as a self-help book in order to tackle loneliness.

 

How did we implement?

The next big thing and perhaps the most important one was implementation of our business idea in real.  This also lead to various challenges and probably the most complex ones as implementation itself is a challenging task.

In order to smooth down the working we all decided to adopt popular design thinking approach consisting the process divided into 5 steps: Empathize, define, ideate, prototype, test. (Stanford University, 2019).

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Source: Stanford University, 2019.

As an individual we tend to directly assume the things. We all decided to empathize the views and problems of the people before coming to final conclusion. Empathy is very crucial in the design thinking process and we have developed these skills gradually throughout the duration of the course. In order to empathize the views, we decided to interview different people and noted down their valuable feedback which helped us to define our values more effectively.

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Source: Own picture clicked by Chudasama (2019) at Kingston Library.

Defining the values for our products was perhaps the most challenging task we have ever faced with respect to our start-up journey. The main issue we wished to solve (i.e. loneliness) was itself becoming a headache for us while defining our brand identity. We noticed that people were not ready to accept the fact that they were lonely openly and the flow of the customers towards us during our first trade seemed restricted towards us as were marketing our product as a self-help book which tacked loneliness. Later, in order to solve this problem, we decided to redefine our value proposition as created positive taglines such as “Spreading connections together” in order to shift our brand identity from of a book that aimed of ‘tackling loneliness’ to ‘making meaningful connections.’

The next step we initiated was prototyping. We were really confused when we started discussing the material and content for our book. We all as a team decided to keep the content as simple as possible and use non-academic language instead of formal psychological language. Our main aim was to create a book which doesn’t negatively diagnose the reader but helps the reader to self –access the problem and solve it by using real activities making meaningful personal connections. We tested our MVP which was consisted of couple of patented activities of our company along with stickers which were designed by ourselves in our first trade fair help in Kingston Business school.

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Source: Own photograph clicked by OMNI (2019)

After, the first trade fair we started prototyping again in order to develop a finished product for our second trade fair which was supposed to be held outside our university.

Deciding the material for the book and keeping the productions costs to minimum was a major challenge for us. In order to keep the costs to minimum, we decided to publish the books by ourselves and successfully manufactured five books using glossy papers.

Source: Own photograph clicked by Chudasama (2019)

After the completion of our second trade fair we managed to sell all five books and got eight pre-orders. We were happy as a team and appreciated the efforts of each other gracefully.

Lean canvas model played an important role in our challenging journey as it helped us in designing and formulating our company strategy. Value proposition model helped us to identify and define our values and helps us to address the needs and wants of the customers more efficiently.

 

Setting-up a team!!!

In order to keep things organised we decided to assign different roles to each team member and all of us were asked to stick to our roles. In order to make it professional and for designing a content which can be patented we decided to collaborate with the professional graphical designer who was a Kingston Alumni and was deeply inspired by our product.

I took over the Marketing Director job and was quite confident as I had done it before and had enough knowledge as well as experience. I was backed by my team members throughout our journey which I feel motivated and inspired me to work harder all the time.

All the team members took over the responsibilities seriously and focused on their strengths in order to get a fruitful result at the end of the term. Working in teams allowed us to compensate our entrepreneurial weaknesses and allowed us to work to our strengths. Impatience was probably my weakness I discovered during this journey which I wish to overcome in the future as soonest possible as patience is most for becoming a successful entrepreneur.

Collaboration is the key!!!!

Belbin (2012) states that in order to work efficiently as the team it is must to collaborate properly with each other which can be achieved using couple of factors- trust and communication accordingly.

The first discussion we had a team was regarding the same where we decided our working strategy in order to run things smoothly. We as a team decided to trust each other irrespective of complex circumstances and successfully backed each other during our journey.

Communication was the most important factor which I feel contributed the most towards the success. We had a really good communication amongst us since the start and it continued to enhance over a period of time.

We decided to follow strict discipline in terms of our team meetings and discussed the agenda which we were supposed to discuss well in advance so everyone can prepare accordingly and it also saves times and keeps things more organised. We together as a team meet every Thursday and Saturday and worked together in order to achieve our goals.

 

Connecting the Dots!!

Working in team during my course taught me that connecting dots is very important when you are working together and it is a necessity for entrepreneurs at every stage of their career.

We as a team have developed a skill of connecting the dots in order to achieve our goals. I personally have learned that we have to really work on small things in order to connects the dots more effectively and these skills will be very helpful to me in the future.

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Source: Chudasama (2019)

Lesson’s learned

Design thinking model and our start-up journey has taught us a lot of things but I would like to list down some crucial lessons which I feel will be quite beneficial to me in my career.

  1. Identifying the gaps in the exiting market is crucial in order to design a product or service which can actually solve the problems and add value to the customers.
  2. Balancing the strengths and weakness of ourselves and our team and develop a mind-set to work accordingly.
  3. Work harder in order to reach to the expectations of our customers as well as our team members.
  4. Design values for the products and services which can correlate to the attributes of the product which should always be customer focused.
  5. Identifying what is viable for our company and stick to the reality in order to work on the things which are practically possible or viable.

Rise of a New Era!!

Despite of the hardships and challenges which I have faced my course Innovation Management & Entrepreneurship and particularly Design thinking module has boosted my confidence and has strengthened my wish to become an entrepreneur.

With all the valuable lessons I have learnt and backed by my experience of our start-up Omni I look forward of becoming an entrepreneur with an intent of contributing to the community and society as a whole.

 

References:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Believe in Change!!

Heraclitus a famous Greek philosopher has stated “Change is the only constant in life.”

I have grown up listening that if u want to be successful learn to change yourself with respect  to the needs and adapt accordingly. Interestingly, the same thing was repeated in front of me as I started pursing my Masters in Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship at Kingston since September 2018.

As an entrepreneur it is important to initiate the change in the existing platforms and change is only tool which can make an entrepreneur successful irrespective of their ideas or services.

It is a proven fact that majority of people are restricted to change. Various reasons contribute to the fear of changing among various individuals.

Personally I am a person who believes in change and rarely find it difficult to use new things and would certainly like to thank god for providing me with such a unique ability.

Over the years, I have done things which none of the members from my friends and family have thought of doing. One of the best example to describe the situation can be my decision to pursue my career as an Entrepreneur despite of having a strong family business background. To the best of my knowledge, I don’t remember anyone from my friends and family who had supported my decision of pursuing my Masters in Entrepreneurship initially. This was perhaps because of the unfamiliarity of the concept amongst the people I knew before I came to London.

Change not only enhances the efficiency of the particular product or service but also defines a new process which can prove to be beneficial in various ways in different fields or sectors.

Throughout my life I have learned that it is necessary to change irrespective of our present situation as the world is changing at a very rapid pace. If you want to survive it is important to believe in change and adjust according to the needs at various stages of our life. Willingness to change has also allowed me to learn new things and has also helped in developing various skills and techniques which can be useful to me at various stages of my career. It has also developed my ability to absorb and tackle fear. In , addition believing in change has inspired and motivated me to think differently and tackle complex situations more smoothly and effectively.

Based on above discussion I would like to conclude that change is must irrespective of your profession and situation as it is one of the most crucial factor influencing success and failure in one’s life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Network is the real Net-worth!!

Networking has always proved to be beneficial in almost every situation related to business since decades. Dennis Waitley states that “If you are not networking that means you are not working”.

Networking can be defined as activities or process through which one can interact with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts (Goldberg, 2015).

As an entrepreneur networking is must not because it’s good to be familiar with various people but becomes crucial in finding the right people which can benefit your business. Apart from finding the right people suitable for your business, networking helps the business in various ways such as marketing through word of mouth, penetrating the market share, finding suppliers and even finding your customers in many cases.

More importantly, networking is not only about formally talking with different people at various networking events but is all about developing long term relationships with people who can mutually benefit each other. It can be linked with the relation we share with our friends we share and the main difference is that they are our business friends as they are related with our business interests and operations.

One of the thing which I really like about networking is that it provides with a opportunity to talk and listen to different people which allows you to learn various things about yourself and your business and ultimately develops our feedback process.

Networking has always played a vital role in my life and has also helped in tackling complex situations more smoothly.

It has also helped me in finding efficient business partner for my start-up idea which I will soon implement in the coming future. In addition, I have been benefited from various networking activities as it has helped me in developing relation with various people who can benefit my business in long tern.

Additionally, It has also provided me with crucial knowledge on various topics which I was not familiar before.

Various networking events and activities have proved to be beneficial at some extent and will continue to provide various useful inputs and outputs in the coming future as well.

 

Useful links:

 

 

 

 

 

Doing something for the society.

All these years since I have grown up I have done things which have directly or indirectly benefited my personal life and almost majority of us tend to do so. Perhaps, this is going to change in my personal life in upcoming future for sure.

Two years back when I was confused in selecting my course for my postgraduate study I decided to spend some time alone in order to reflect on my personal views and beliefs internally before making any further decision.

This was the most astonishing as well as a challenging phase in my life. Internal reflection allowed me to understand myself more deeply and highlighted completely different views which I was not aware of myself before. After, the internal reflection process I came to the conclusion that I am a person who believes in benefit of the society instead of any personal benefits. This is probably because of my upbringing and the values taught to me by my family since my childhood. My parents who have worked hard in their lives have taught me “Always give more than you expect to take or actually take in return irrespective of any situation in your life.”

Jack Ma whom I personally admire the most as one of the most successful entrepreneurs has also mentioned “You don’t have to work hard in search for success just do something for the society and the society will give everything back to you which will indeed make you successful.”

Working for the people and society is the prime thing which motivates and inspires me to work harder before any personal motives and allows me to tackle the problems more efficiently. I always prefer to reflect on the problems faced by the people in real life before creating a solution and this is the thing which allows me to back myself and think accordingly. In addition, thinking for the people provides me with the responsibility of doing something for the betterment of the people which is an indeed legacy itself in my personal opinion.

There have been various phases in my life where I got opportunity to serve for the people and luckily I was successful in fulfilling the needs which helped in developing sympathy towards the society and developed me as a a responsible individual.

After realizing my personal motives and strengths the next big thing I did was I made a decision to become an entrepreneur with a mind-set of contributing to the society along with my personal benefits.

Lastly, doing something for others has always provided me with a huge amount of satisfaction and will definitely continue to provide me with same in the future.

 

 

Pitching…..

Pitching seemed to be a difficult task for me until I joined M.Sc. in Innovation Management & Entrepreneurship at Kingston in September last year.

Good pitching skills particularly for me is very crucial as I wish to become an entrepreneur and it is the most efficient tool for attracting target audience directly influencing my goals.

As a beginner I have faced various challenges while delivering a perfect pitch but thanks to my Design Thinking module which has eventually helped in developing my pitching skills and enhance my confidence.

Based on my personal experience and my observations from various good pitches I would like to share some crucial tips which can be helpful in creating and delivering an efficient pitch.

Some of the tips are as follows:

  1. Repeated Practice and sticking to the point.

“Practice makes a man perfect” is certainly a very good proverb to describe the situation. Repeated practice allows you to be confident and helps to deliver your pitch more smoothly and fluently. It also keeps the momentum in line and keeps things under control.

In addition, clearly stating the problem you are solving and precisely providing necessary information becomes crucial in creating a perfect pitch.

  1. Anticipate your judges

After delivering and hearing various pitches I strongly agree that the good pitches are not the one’s which helps you in delivering your views and ideas efficiently but are those which anticipates the views of the judges and the audience.

Anticipation of judge’s point of view helps you to determine the questions which are most likely to be asked and also helps you to prepare for the same. It also allows you to be more realistic and determines more practical approach.

  1. It’s not about what you say, it’s all about how do you deliver!!

There has been various instances when I was very impressed by the way the pitches were delivered irrespective of really visualizing how the idea would seem like in real.

The impact which I have always felt after hearing good pitches is tremendous and the words which it used doesn’t really matter.

Crucial things which positively affects the way you deliver your pitch are your self-confidence and clarity of the pitch.

  1. Knowing your rivals

Understanding your competitors is very crucial in any business as it directly influence one’s success.

Secondly, it helps you to determine the existing gaps in the industry and helps you in developing various effective solutions in many cases.

Lastly, it helps you to prepare yourself to the questions which are most likely to be asked by the judges related to the operations of our competitors.

One of the crucial thing which I have learned is that knowing your competitors is not only understanding the strengths and weakness of your rivals which are present externally but also knowing and understanding everything inside and outside with respect to your own products or services.

 

  1. Be confident.

“Confidence is a key to success”. This can be linked to every situation in our life irrespective of our professions.

Confident Mindset helps us in tacking the problems more practically and efficiently. It also improves the way of thinking and encourages realistic approach.

There are certain ways through which one can gain confidence in tense situations. The one which I prefer is thinking about the worst which can happen in case everything goes wrong. This allows me to limits the level of fear within me and increases my confidence.

Summary

Hence in order to summarize, a good pitching is all about self-confidence and the way you deliver your idea by anticipating the views of the judges and target audience.

Understanding Personality Style!!!!

Over the years we have seen various great leaders who have influenced millions of people on the basis of the personality or charisma they possess. Various research and studies have tried to identify attributes which helps in developing our personality as a great leader. Perhaps, every research critique the attributes which make a good leader differently on the basis of their own observations and theories.

The most common questions which comes to our mind while discussing personality and leadership is that do the leaders develop these attributes over a period of time or they are naturally gifted by birth?? Well, we can potentially argue on this topic for days by linking it with various views and logic.

I personally feel that these attributes are been developed over a period of time in relation to the things we experience at different stages of our life.

One of the most common problem we face is that we are not really sure of our strength and weakness which makes us a good or bad leader and often get confused in evaluating the attributes required by ourselves to develop as a leader (Riso & Hudson, 2000).

Well, evaluation of our personality style is crucial for everyone irrespective of their profession. No matter, if you are self-employed or even if you work for others, the understanding of own personality style helps us by reflecting our strength and weakness directly influencing our various decision-making processes.

There are various ways to identify  your personality style. One of the most common approach which I use is psychometric testing. It allows we me to identify various insights in relation to my personality and also determines my attitude and strength. The main reason behind using this technique is that he results of the test allows me to reflect on my weakness which I am not aware of sometimes and also helps me by suggesting potential solutions in relation to the identified weakness.

I personally prefer to understand it more deeply as I wish to become an entrepreneur. It is very important for me to understand my as well as other personality style because it can create a huge impact on my career. As an entrepreneur you always look for the people having similar interest and generally tend to work with different people having different views and ideas. Better understanding of these personality traits makes it easy to identify likes and dislikes of various people effectively and ensures smooth working. In addition, it allows me identify their strength and weaknesses which can prove be very helpful in managing and motivating them to deliver their best in order to meet the required expectations.

Hence, it is essential to identify and understand our as well as others personality style as it can influence our actions at every single stage of our lives.

References

  • Riso, D.R. and Hudson, R., 2000. Understanding the enneagram: The practical guide to personality types. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Blockchain- Building future

 

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What is blockchain? What are its features? How authentic is it to use? Will it take on the future? How to implement it in various sectors?

These are some questions which have gained a lot of attention these days and interestingly  lot of money and time is been spent by various multinational companies and national governments  to research more on the technology and overcome the challenges in order to implement it in various sector as soon as possible.

Blockchain means bitcoin!! This is a common misconception which most of the people have in terms of blockchain technology.  Well, I also thought the same before I attended a lecture on blockchain at my university last Tuesday.

After attending the lecture I understood why people call it the “Internet of the future”.The one thing which I had never heard before the lecture was about the application of blockchain in various sectors except bitcoin.  Interestingly, it has potential to disrupt many industries such as banking,  Supply Chain Management, tracking of food products, real estate, insurance etc. in the coming future.

This topic has built a tremendous level of curiosity within me because of its ability and potential. As an entrepreneur is it very crucial for me to develop and adjust according to the future and this is the prime reason why I want to learn more about this technology. To be honest I don’t know much about this technology in the detail as I have only attended one lecture in relation to the topic.

Nevertheless, I have understood various basic things about the technology such as it is a  decentralized platforms spread across various computers and operates with the help of digital ledgers. One of the key feature if the blockchain is that one can track every  transactions and records and cannot be altered retroactively. Meaning, it shows the entire history of alterations made on the platform by the users.

However, it is almost impossible to hack the technology as it is decentralized and operates with the network of computers based in different locations. In, addition its transparency helps in gaining trust which can be tracked when and where ever you want.

This are some of the unique features which has attracted me towards the technology and hence I  look forward in learning more about the technicality and applications of the technology in detail over a period of time.