[Disclosure: I attended in my role as Flagship Initiative Adviser for Knowledge West, we have the Knowledge West Enterprise Awards, which brings together competitors from the 6 University Business Plan competitions in the area. However, I’m not on that judging panel, nor this one, and my views here are not those of Knowledge West.]
After the introductions and thank yous, the keynote was Adam Goodyer (co-founder of Concert Live, UWE graduate & HSBC 2007 Start-Up Stars winner). Adam gave a barn storming keynote, with a mix of humour, humility and insight into how they’d grown and overcome early adversity. Concert Live basically record gigs live, mix them to CD, burn them and then sell to the crowd just as they’re leaving the gig. Following early success (they secured an early contract to cover The Levellers gig tour) they hit a dry patch where the industry wouldn’t touch them because their business model was perceived as potentially competitive to the core business of shifting CD singles.
Adam used Porter’s 5 Forces to identity the dominant force in the market (major label’s fear of losing sales & chart positions) that was overcoming a strong customer force (people love buying CD’s of the actual gig they attended) and figured out how to flip the forces in their favour. By setting up a secure chart transaction system to sell singles at the gig, they could bundle a couple of singles mixes in with the live CD. That was a bonus to the customers (they basically got 2 albums for the price of one) and a huge bonus to the Labels (each single mix counts as a separate chart sale). They could then go to the major labels and say that by giving Concert Live a license, their artist would shoot up the chart with every concert, genius!
Adam then admitted that they hadn’t actually sat down with Porter’s diagram and worked it out, but the process did accurately describe what they’d down and how they’d identified the dominant players and the blockage that needed to be cleared.
Next up was Patrick Dasoberi (Student Community Portal System & 2007 BizIdea winner). Patrick’s idea, as submitted to the 2007competition, had evolved significantly into the business he’s now running, though the core vision is the same: helping temporary international residents find their way in a new country. Patrick’s initial focus was on the student population but he’s now working with a wide range of organisations that send people around the globe to work in communities.
What was really interesting was that the software developed to do this (Whahala), is to be provided as a white label solution for other organisations that want to establish their own international support network. Very cool!
Claire Foster (Superjuice) – discovered smoothies and juice bars when on her travels in Australia. When she came back to the UK it proved really difficult to get the same idea of the ground here. So she went to London and talked to everyone in the juice/smoothie business (being from Somerset she wasn’t perceived as a threat). She went down into the far South West and worked a couple days for free to learn the business. She then landed some Business Link support, Princes Trust support (links to page with video) and things began to take off. She’s now purveying to the rich and famous (well Prince Charles at least) and building her brand. The immediate expansion plans are into the new Bristol Broadmead development.
Last up on the Keynotes was Sally Lincon (co-founder Nomensa). Sally described their journey of building a digital design and usability company, along with some highs & lows.The common thread with all the presentations was that every day was different and they all thoroughly enjoyed the experience of running their own businesses.
The winner of the Best Business Idea was Carolyn (Chief Whale of Whale Bags), eco-shopping bags made of 100% cotton/calico that fold neatly into a small pocket that’s part of the bag. We didn’t get to see the business plan but the idea is a really good one, and very topical with the Zeitgeist of recycling and reusing shopping bags.
The runner up was Magee Private Investigator, a criminal law student that setting up her own PI business. The gap in the market being that soon PI’s will have to be licensed (they aren’t at the moment), with her law background Magee thinks she’s got a differentiator.
The winner of the Best Social Enterprise Idea was the Bristol Festival Community Group a collection of volunteers, with a wide range of backgrounds, interests and ages, who have come together to plan a community-based festival for September 2008 following the sad demise of the Bristol Community Festival at Ashton Court. The runner up was Vscheme a volunteering management scheme for individuals and organisations.
In the Best Creative Design Idea, the winner was Five on One (can’t find a website) with a DVD magazine showcase five aspects of Bristol social and cultural scene, given away alongside Venue magazine and funded through advertising. The runner-up was Basic Baroques, providing everyone with the elements to make their own baroque styled interior.
[I’ll try and get more links and logos as people launch their websites]