The process of developing this project required of going through different stages which were determinant for the results obtained. Initially it was complex to identify all the tasks that were going to be needed in order to successfully complete all those stages as well as the impact that they would have for the project.

The first important decision was to define the people that I was going to group with and a good suggestion that we received for this was to find people from different backgrounds in order to complement each other. Have followed that suggestion helped enormously given the fact that we could divide some of the tasks based on our backgrounds and at the same time the ideas provided by the members were very diverse, which was something positive most of the time. Another aspect that represented an important contribution was the mix of nationalities that we had in the group, since all the team members were from different countries and this was something that undoubtedly added value to the ideas and solutions of the problems faced.

In this regard I must also say that in some circumstances, the aspects mentioned before brought certain differences among some of the group members since we faced situations where we had multiple points of view about a particular topic. Nevertheless we always had an excellent communication that allowed us to discuss the issues without having any problem that could affect the normal progress of our project. The importance of having a good communication in a group is something that I had the possibility to analyse in the book Skills for Success as part of a report that we had to prepare for another lecture and I can say that some of the aspects covered in that book were directly related to the experience of working in this group.

An area in which we faced some difficulties was the finance part of the project since none of us had a background in this field; however the person that took this responsibility did an excellent job since she kept a detailed record of the money used all the time. During our first semester we had to take a finance module as part of our program which was helpful for the understanding of the aspects needed for our project, particularly the book used for the module (Accounting for non-accounting students) was a useful tool for this purpose since it was especially addressed to persons without a finance background. Furthermore, a lecture in which a finance expert visited the entrepreneurship class and gave us an explanation about this, was also important especially considering that he used a very didactic method for the description of how we should allocate the elements of the finance analysis. Towards the end of the project we also needed some advices about this aspect since we were going to present our final report and the finance section was essential in order to show the situation of the company. In this sense we had to ask some questions to another finance expert that visited the class the week before of our final presentation, he helped us and we could successfully cover this aspect.

Despite the fact that this was a project conducted as part of a module it was an experience mainly focused on the practical issues of developing a new business rather than the theoretical aspects of it. Therefore we had the opportunity to personally deal with all the aspects related to the performance of a venture such as suppliers, customers, bank account, marketing and partners since all the members of the group had the same level of authority. Fortunately we did not face situations that represented risks for the company during the interaction with all those aspects and we could understand the relevance that each one of them has. The only negative moment that we confronted was the first Dragons Den presentation since our product idea was not attractive for some of the judges and this was disappointing for us; however in the practical aspects related with the development of the project we did not have any major inconvenient.

One of the aspects that I consider that made this experience more interesting was to have been able to work on the project while we were taking all the other lectures of the master. Even though it was demanding for us given that we had to organise our schedules to work on both, the assignments and the company (Handy Cleaning), this allowed us to constantly relate the topics discussed in the lectures with the different stages that Handy Cleaning went through. In relation to this, I can mention an aspect discussed in our Managing People and Organisations lecture in which we had to analyse “time management” as part of the module and an article that I read which gave me a general understanding about this topic that I could use to organise my schedule was “Personal Time Management for Busy Managers”.

The process of promoting our product was directly related to the marketing module since our lectures were helpful in the process of identifying the target market for the product, as well as to define the strategy to attract them. Due to the characteristics of our product, which can be used for any person, we initially thought that we did not need to target an specific kind of customer; however after the information received in the lectures and especially based on the book Introduction to Marketing we realized that any kind of product should have identified its target market because the marketing strategy should be based on the characteristics of the potential customers or how it is called in the book, “the audience”.

Another lecture that was helpful but in this case for the manufacturing process was Operations Management. In this class we discussed topics like logistics and distribution of tasks which were some determinants aspects for the manufacture of our product (cleaning gloves). The lecturer of that class wrote the book Essential Operations Management in which he carefully describes some useful tips to indentify efficient ways to operate a company at different levels. In our case it was important due to the fact that we did not find a manufacturer that could make the product; therefore we had to take care of this activity ourselves which was one of the aspects that required more work in this project. Initially we were not using the materials efficiently and this made us waste some of it unnecessarily which represented more expenses, therefore before continuing with this we decided to analyse the process and define a convenient way to use those materials. The tasks were divided in this way: the process of shaping and cutting the sponges and the scrubbers was undertaken for two persons while the others two were in charge of the gluing stage and finally in the packaging we all worked together.  The first time that the group met we managed to manufacture 21 gloves in one day and later towards the end of the project we were manufacturing around 35 gloves in one session which represented an important improvement.

Throughout the development of this project we could constantly share our experiences with the others groups that were also working on their products and given that none of the groups had similar products we could exchange comments without the limitation of thinking about them as potential competitors. This beneficed all the groups since we could ask them their opinions as well as give them our suggestions in case that they needed. The importance that this aspect might have for a project is highlighted in the book already mentioned Skills for Success, especially in a section in which the author mentions the benefits of asking for help when you think you need it. An area in which we experienced this was in the promotion of our product to the largest number of persons that we could reach. As we based our strategy to create awareness of the product on the usage of social networks like Facebook and Twitter, some of our classmates helped us to spread the information which in many cases represented new customers that bought the gloves.

In terms of the selling price of Handy Cleaning it could also be related to aspects discussed in some lectures such as the two main strategies used to define the price of a new product that is going to be launched. Those two strategies are Skimming or Penetration and we decided to use the latter since the idea was to offer an affordable and practical product in order to obtain the largest number of customers during the initial stage. Based on this, we decided to set the price at £2.50 for the pair of gloves which certainly gave us positive results given that we could use this as a tactic to attract customers, especially in the trade fairs that we had the opportunity to participate.

As was just mentioned we participated in two trade fairs where we could approach to customer and at the same time we were evaluated for some judges that took into consideration several aspects to choose the most outstanding teams in different categories. In these fairs we obtained remarkable results since we sold more gloves that what we were expecting and also received two different awards.  For both fairs we worked hard to have a good decoration for our tables and to define our strategy to impress customers and judges. The first time we sold 12 gloves and won an award as best selling team whereas in the second fair we sold 8 gloves and received the prize of best product. These two awards together represented £50 for Handy Cleaning that we used to cover the expenses of the materials bought for the manufacture of the gloves; therefore it was highly positive for the finances of the company.

Personally I could relate my experience with customers during the fairs with a research that I did as part of an assignment in which we had to choose one skill to develop. For that assignment I decided to work on my “negotiation skills” as part of my career plan for the future and a publication that I found particularly interesting in this subject was “Negotiation Theory and Practice” since it gives an excellent approach about the facts that should be consider at the moment of negotiate.

 

The success obtained especially in the fairs was widely rewarding for us given that we participated in the same fair with other groups that also had very good products to offer and that many of them were very professional presenting their ideas. This meant that our efforts for making our product highlight over the others worked; furthermore this also helped us to prove ourselves that our idea was attractive for people, which was something that we definitely wanted to achieve especially after the experience that we had in the Dragons Den presentation.

For the final presentation we worked hard on both aspects, making a thorough business report and preparing the presentation, especially the 3 minutes pitch that was going to be significantly important in order to impress the judges. However we were not chosen among the finalists that were going to be competing to represent London. Despite the fact that we were not chosen, any of us felt disappointed about that, since we all were sure that we did a good job throughout the whole project and that our product had a very satisfactory performance.

The idea of getting involved with a new business project and starting it from its bases is something that I always had wanted to do, for that reason I decided to take the entrepreneurship pathway of the master. Nowadays, after going through the whole process I can say that I am satisfied with that decision since this experience gave me a better understanding of the most relevant aspects that surround a business especially when it is starting. At the same time it allowed me to constantly combine the knowledge gained in classes with practical situations. I consider that this last aspect represents an important advantage for me since I could strengthen the understanding the real implications that some of those aspects have and the role that they play for the success of a business project.

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In terms of the academic activities related to the project we already cover almost the whole program, however we still wanted to work on the project and try to sell what we had left in our stock. For several reasons the participation on the weekend market had to be postponed and it is going to be conducted after the final presentation; therefore we could not include the results obtained in the final report.

We meet again in order to prepare the report and rehearse the presentation, it was going to be the final presentation, for that reason we wanted to work hard to ensure a successful performance. We prepared all the materials that we were going to need for the presentation and we brought with us some gloves so the judges could see them and give us their comments. An aspect in which we had to ask for advice was the finance section of the report since we had some doubts about this, fortunately we had the opportunity to speak with a finance expert that gave some advices that allowed us to complete that part. This was specifically important because it was going to show the current situation of the company as well as the performance that it had.

The presentation went fine even though we did not manage to finish in the time given, the judged made some questions that we could ask without having problems and overall we felt very satisfied of what we did. At the end the winners were announced, however this time we did not were among the groups selected but any of us felt disappointed about this since we were sure that we did a very good work throughout the whole semester.

Holidays are gone and after some days off we decided to try to sell the gloves again. However this time we were not going to have any fair to go which certainly represented an important advantage for us since we did not had to go out and look for customers. This time it was going to be more difficult to find customers, therefore we decided to promote our product mainly in the university among new people that we did not know but we found that it was hard to succeed in the selling process. Nevertheless some people showed interest on the product and bought it even though we were expecting to reach a greatest number of sells.

We still have some stock remaining and despite the fact the we already reached the brake even point we still want to sell what we have left. We tried the options of selling through on-line to sites like ebay but we did not succeed, one of the group members sold some gloves to her friends but it was not enough.

At this point want of the group members has the good idea of registering our company in a competition that will allow us to reach more customers. We were selected to go into the second stage of the competition and now the plan is to participate in a weekend market although we have to pay for that.

As we sold many gloves during the fairs and to some friend we are running out of stock, therefore we needed to meet soon and manufacture more products. In a few weeks we are going to be in holidays and some of us have plans to travel, which means that it wont be possible to meet in those days; therefore we decide to meet before going on vacations and try to leave everything ready.

We met and manufacture more gloves and this time we could notice important improvements in our manufacture process since we manage to manufacture 34 gloves in only one day and the amount of material that we used for that was less that the previous times. Fortunately we could use all the remaining material that we had left and even made the packaging of the gloves which means that now all what we have to do is try to sell the product. We are planning to keep updating the Facebook site and the Twitter during the upcoming days and after the holidays go back to the selling process.

We also have to start thinking about the final business report in order to carefully cover all the aspects of it and identify all the information that we need for that.

We already had the experience of the first fairs which represents an advantage for this second fairs therefore we arrived better prepare and having in mind the positives and negatives aspects of the first fair. This time it was not going to be in the university but in Kingston down-town which is very important for us since we are going to have the opportunity to show the product to external people. For that reason we printed a large quantity of small flyers with the information and the logo of Handy Cleaning as well as the the Q-code so people can access the information easily.

Like in the first fair we were going to be describing our project to some judges that were going to choose the winners at the end of the event; therefore we also prepare the strategy which was: play the advert in the Ipad, each one of us was going to wear the gloves, present the different version that we have, describe the benefits of the product and show the affordable price that it has.

The fair was very good in terms of sells and the receptivity of the people but the best part was that we won an award as best product which gave us £40 cash that we can use to cover the expenses of the company. This was very rewarding for us especially due to the bad experience that we had in the Dragons Den presentation. Now the group is very motivated to carry on and work during the next weeks.

During the last days we have not had enough time to meet and to try to sell more products since we have been very busy with the assignments of other lectures, however we still want to retake the work and keep on promoting our product. Especially because there is a second fair approaching and we want to have enough stock for that as well as think about new ways to attract customers during that fair.

For the upcoming week we are going to be finishing the assignments and having meetings with our groups for the others lectures, nevertheless we need to find time to have a meeting and think about manufacture more gloves.  Additionally we have to discuss the finances of the company to see if there is enough money in the bank account in case that we have t buy more material and to verify how many more gloves we need to sell to reach the brake even point.

Another important aspect that we need to keep active is the promotion of our product through the social networks otherwise they can forget about the product which would be something negative for us. Therefore we have to add new information about the upcoming events we are going to be participating so they can be aware of that and visit the fairs.

We have had positive sells in the fairs and in the contact with our friends and relatives through social networks, however we have to think about reaching to more customers, therefore we have decided to expand our strategy and try to sell our product in some corner shops. All the members of the group tried to contact their nearest corner shops in order to offer them the product and discuss the possibility of selling it there; however any of us had positive answers from the owners of the stores since they say that they already have a compromise with they current suppliers and can’t incorporate new products.

Considering this we thought about new possible strategies to reach more customers like going to weekend markets that are widely visit for many people. However after doing some research we realised that the entry cost for those markets is high for our possibilities especially considering the price of our product. Despite this situation we are having a good performance in terms of sales to our friends and people that we can reach mainly in the university where we still can achieve to sell more given the constant access that we have to new persons.

At the moment we have to focus in trying to sell more gloves as well as manufacture more in order to use all the materials that we still have available from the batch that we order from our supplier.