You search for inspiration left and right, even under your pillow (or while resting on it) but the truth of the matter is that the idea you crave for so much, most of the time just appears by itself, one day, when you least expect it.
Now, if only knowing what your product is, were the most difficult task! What follows after such discovery or decision is a journey of one thousand steps, during which you may have to climb hills or sometimes mountains, then descend to a valley, cross rivers and cut through a luscious but intricate forest or, worse, fend off wild beasts. Unless you want to skip the metaphors and just call them as they are: business plan, partners, company creation, investors, employees, launch, marketing, sales and competitors.
Luckily, there are workshops conceived to re-order your anxious mind, solve multiple doubts and set you in the right direction. One of these was certainly last month’s “Design, Make, Sell”, a one-day full immersion for entrepreneurs and designers, absorbing professional advice and reviewing start-ups’ presentations.
One of these experts, who illuminated the eager Milanese yet International crowd, is Ray Garcia, renowned PhD/MBA professor, savvy investor and businessman (amongst many endeavors, being on the advisory board of Baruch College Field Center for Entrepreneurship and launching TAPP Tribe, a Finnish microfinance start-up targeting the Indonesian market) . Straight from Pisa, where he currently teaches a university course, Ray’s approach is both maieutical and poignantly effective. His presentation aims at revealing the potential entrepreneur within each one of us and jazzing it up. Not in a reckless manner, but armed with a lucid, planned and insightful strategy. And, even more important, letting you avoid succumbing to the no-funding trap, by skillfully laying out your options when it comes to generating cash for your business and attracting investors of various kinds.
A pretty recent method of magnetizing such money, in this day and 2.0 age, is the now uber-known crowdfunding. Starteed, one of this kind of websites presented on that Saturday, has a different spin on the matter. Supporters of a biz idea get scores by networking, i.e. spreading the word about a product on social media, or by providing their expertise. Once the project is funded, its products are sold on the Starteed eshop for free and both Creator and Community get financial rewards.
Getting its feet wet with crowd-funding was Slow Wood’s initial effort to make a design and prototype workshop happen. Last summer, our start-up found in Eppela the right tool to raise capital and, as a byproduct, to get itself more widely known. This project, that sees a growing network of artisans and designers joining forces to create beautiful limited-series and environmentally sustainable furniture pieces, is now in its expansion phase. At the workshop we presented our latest business plan, whose current visible output is a small but gorgeous temp lab-store in Milan, where artisans on a rotational basis entertain and educate passers-by and wooden handicrafts are sold with the winter holidays in mind.
Another start-up whose focus is on tangible home products (though not limited to them) is Witzzi. Its business revolves around the concept of the Internet Of Things: making any object intelligent and alive. Their electronics and mechatronics genius activates any new or existing product in tech-web ways and allows for a reduction in base production costs for the budget conscious. Their live performance at the workshop, where lights were switched on and off in a variety of creative ways by means of physical and-or remote controlling, was an eye-opener and sparkled a flow of questions and comments.
Traditional ways aside, where do you truly want to sell all these fancy products nowadays? You need a social seller. And here comes Blomming. Its competitive advantage over giants such as Ebay and Amazon or the trendy Etsy is that it provides a package that consists not only of your shop-page on the site, but also a seamless integration with your corporate site and-or blog (web app) and your FB page (FB app), while allowing you to leverage your fans/ambassadors’ interest by letting them be biz affiliates thru social sharing. And, best of the best, when you edit some info about a line of products, it immediately updates all over these platforms at once.
Excited by all these fine examples and practical solutions, the workshop participants were then left to the most precious and added-bonus part of all: networking! This is how such events become truly invaluable.
Text by Gemma Graziani Vesey, Slow Wood communication