On Friday 15th of November the competition “Cre8 the future” took place at Jernkontoret’s facilities in Kungsträdgården, Stockholm. Jernkontoret is the branch organization of the Swedish steel industry and they announce each year the “Framtidsstipendium” where three teams out of eight get to share a huge price sum. The attending teams are given a case in which the students are to work with for three hours and then pitch the solution for five minutes towards a panel of judges from the steel industry.

Loggor Cre8, Jernkontoret, KAU

This year it was Höganäs that presented a case that they wanted a creative solution for. The problem is that Höganäs has the ambition to produce steel in a more sustainable way but that the subtractors don’t find it incentive enough to buy sustainable steel that is more expensive but does the same job. How are we going to create value for sustainable steel? Value in this context didn’t have to be economical, but could also be social or environmental e.g.

Bildresultat för höganäs logo

My team and I were deployed in the CEO’s office (the fanciest office I have ever seen) where we struggled with the case for three hours. It was so much fun that we totally lost the perception of time and in the end, we did not have time to practice the pitch even once. All we had time to do was to divide the pitch into topics and just freestyle the rest. The minutes before the pitch was some of the worst that I have ever experienced, and suddenly we were standing in front of the judges and a camera. Five minutes went by and suddenly we were standing out in the waiting hall again. I couldn’t tell whether the pitch was any good or if the judges liked it or not. All we could do now was wait for the winner announcement.

A screenshot from the pitch that was live-streamed.

The third place was announced and then the second, and all we wanted to do was to leave and take a drink somewhere. One of the judges then started to read the motivation for the first place position and I reluctantly started to recognize them. And then it happened, our team name popped up on the screen and we had won. It was completely unbelievable.

When I eventually came to my senses the first thing I thought about was how grateful I was for the School of Entrepreneurship (or the School of Serdar) that first of all encouraged me to sign up for this competition, but also taught me and my teammates to think in the way of entrepreneurs and how to approach problems like this, and maybe most of all how to present a good pitch. Good times.

XOXO
Team Future Industeels

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We have heard several successful entrepreneurs say that you need to “fail fast and learn from it” to finally succeed as an entrepreneur. I am sure they are right, but I also think a good way is to learn from others. 

As students at the School of Entrepreneurship, we were encouraged to contact Startups and offer them a brief evaluation of their product or service and give them feedback. I reached out to a startup hub in Stockholm, called Startup Sthlm, and they invited me to their Facebook group “Startup Sthlm Community”. I posted a message where I briefly introduced myself and asked if anyone were interested in getting feedback on their product of service. The response was great!! 

I got in contact with the founder of the website brunchsthlm.se, which is a website that helps people to find the best places for brunch in Stockholm. He asked me to use the website and focus on how to make it more user-friendly and to see if I were missing any desirable information. It was both fun and educational for me and I hope my feedback was valuable to him in the continuing work with the website.

I also got in contact with a young woman who was writing a business plan for an innovation competition. She asked me to help her to make sure that she where able to share her vision in a convincing and inspiring way. Since this wasn´t really in line with the assignment and definitely outside my comfort zone, I first hesitated if I would be able to help her. But I am happy I did. She really appreciated the feedback and at the same time I got the opportunity to learn more about how to create a business plan and what is important to think about. It can be a true challenge to put your vision into words in a way that makes it as clear to others as it to you. 

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On November 5th, I was, together with two more from class, invited to participate at the inauguration of GraphmaTech´s new facility. GraphmaTech is where we plan to do our master thesis.

The logo of GraphmatTech on the wall of their new facility.

GraphmaTech is a fairly new company that produces graphene. They have managed to solve the agglomeration problem that graphene producers and users have been struggling with until now. This has made GraphmaTech a great player in this industry and they are growing fast.

Their product, Aros Graphene®, is available for purchase and is part of a large number of industrial projects. They have already managed to solve a good number of industrial problems. Graphene is truly shown to be a great engineering material.

The inauguration started with a mingle where we met a number of interesting people. We had a long conversation with two persons from “Uppsala Kommun” that were involved with startups and university relations in some fashion. We talked about how we could improve the relationship between students and companies, both small new and big established ones. They gave us information about an event coming up in nanotech, held at Norrlands nation. The man from the municipality invited the three of us and we managed to convince him to provide seats for more of us from Eskolan.

We also presented ourselves to the employees of GraphmaTech. When we told them we are starting there in January they all were a bit confused since the CFO, who we have been in contact with, had not told them yet but they all were positive about what we told we are going to do for them during our master thesis.

During the evening we were divided into groups to receive a tour of their facilities. We were shown their new production line, small but effective. They presented a few problems they are solving and a few more they aspire to solve with their Aros Graphene®. They showed their 3D-printable conductive plastic and demonstrated a piano they constructed with keys of polymer containing Aros Graphene® abling them to sense resistivity, since graphene is highly conductive, and turn that into a note when a human finger touches it.

An out of focus image of the demonstration of the 3D-printed piano (seen below the upside-down microphone).

When we got to the strategic room, where they were to display their goals of the company, we entered the office of Mamoun Taher, the CEO. When Björn, the CFO, had shown us what they aspire to be in the future, I noticed som notes hanging on the wall above Mamoun´s desk.

The notes on the wall above Mamoun´s desk.

Here I see a lot of statements and words we have talked about in class. For example “value creation”, “Do you 110% believe in this?”, “innovation”, “prototype it” and so on. When I see this, everything we have talked about in class seems much more applicable. It has mostly been words before, but here I realize that it is actually usable information and realizations we have been given.

The evening ends with a nice buffet dinner and a small chat with a former student of chemical engineering (same major as me), and an employee of ABB. Not discussing work, business or anything. Just having a great conversation about the night.

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In May this year, I got assigned to be part of the project-leader group for EA Meets Singapore 2019. EA Meets is organized by Entrepreneurs Academy to inspire entrepreneurship for students, which this year means we are taking 20 entrepreneur-interested students across the globe all the way to Singapore!  Even though it is still a month left until all 20 of us will meet at Arlanda to start this crazy adventure, the journey up until this point has been amazingly developing for me.

Even though I have been involved in several projects before, this has so far been the most challenging project out of them all. But also incredibly rewarding. When I accepted the position, I did not completely understand the responsibility that was acquired, and what impact I would have on my surroundings. However, when looking back at how my perspective has grown and what we as a group have accomplished so far, it really puts a smile on my face. Even though we have not actually left the country yet! From funding & sponsorship, to contacting start-ups and companies and convincing them that they should be part of this project, to marketing and campus-tours to find the right candidates, to suddenly be working with recruiting and interviewing. Right now, the initial idea is actually starting to take shape, and I realize I love every part of it. 

Me and Felicia on our campus-tour, at SLU.
Left: Emma proudly showing our beautiful information flyers
Right: Campus-tour stop at Ångström (Students really love free coffee), you can barely see us behind the crowd

There is still one month left until take-off, and the excitement just keeps on expanding. Let’s see what the journey will bring us. 
Bon voyage!

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I need to gather feedback from 5 prospective customers regarding the ejector bed.

1) I interviewed a man named Joule-Felix from India. I met him in my student corridor, and I asked him what he thinks about using ejector bed to solve snoozing & sleeping. He said that he enjoys snoozing & oversleeping in the morning, and he thinks his whole day would be ruined due to stress if he got abruptly woken up by an ejector bed.

2) Then I interviewed a man named Anders Persson from Sweden. He is the course director for Micro- and Nanotechnology II, and I met him at the Rullan Restaurant at ITC. He asked me how I’m doing, and we started talking about my Entrepreneur School. I realized at this point that I now have the opportunity to add him to my list of interviewed people. So I told him that I had a project where we had to come up with an invention and pitch it. We talked about how it went, and other trivial talk. Then I told him that I came up with the Ejector Bed, and I explained to him what it is. Then after he commented it, I asked him what he thinks about it. Then he gave me the treasure I was looking for: he told me “it’s not for me“. I asked him “why not?“, and he said “it’s too brutal. I could have used it if it landed me on another bed“.

3) I also met Christopher, my classmate in Entrepreneur School. I asked him “hey, what do you think about the ejector bed?”, and he said “It’s a cool idea, but it’s nothing for me. I like to wake up nice & slow in the morning, and my morning would be ruined if I got flipped out of bed”

4) I also talked to Mahmoud, a former classmate who studies chemical engineering. He first jokingly said that he really needs this ejector bed. But then after I explained to him the motives behind the question, he told me a more detailed feedback: “The idea is funny and creative. It would work, but I wouldn’t buy it because I think that a good ringbell would work perfectly fine. Pros: you get up at the time that you want to get up, you have no other choices. Cons: This bed isn’t for couples, in case you’re two people sleeping together, and it emits lots of noise

5) And finally, I asked Dania, a member of my team at HackSpace. I asked her if she would buy it to help her get rid of oversleeping, and she replied:
Om jag blir kastad så där en enda gång😳 så kommer jag ta min kudde och mitt täcke och sova på golvet bara😁😁

So it seems like most people wouldn’t bother buying an ejector bed. This alone isn’t enough to make me give up the idea of marketing the ejector bed, but I will give up the marketing of ejector bed because of several reasons, and this is just one of them. Another reason for giving up the marketing of ejector bed is because there are other business models that seem more profitable

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I ordered a batch of 50 dipping bowls made of leaf, from Leafymade AB. I don’t know when they will arrive (because no info was given about that), and I could have told the founder to inform the customers when the product will arrive. But each person has a certain level of stress tolerance and I think it would be more productive for him to receive negative feedback in small portions instead of getting a mountain of negative feedback dumped on him. I don’t wanna overload his stress capacity, so I abstained from telling him to put info on when the product arrives.

However, the products are made in India, after all, so there’s a big risk that the product may not arrive within the next 1-2 weeks (the time we have left to finish our tasks at Value Creation course). So I cannot wait until the product arrives, and I decided to give him feedback instead on the web service provided to web customers. Here’s the feedback that I emailed to him:


______________________________________________________________________________

Hey Suman!

I just ordered a package of dip-bowls made of leaf from you, and I have some feedback to help you improve as a company:

I think your business idea is great in general, especially the fact that you provide a more sustainable alternative to plastic bowls, and the fact that you pay a high salary to the people who produce it. But there are also some things you could improve. For example, I live in Uppsala and I think it’s ridiculous that I have to pay 50kr extra for transport when I could instead just ride my bike to your office in Uppsala and pick them up. If the transportation costs are because you have to ship from India, then I think it would be better if you order a large batch of these natural products and have them in store here in Uppsala, so that the transportation cost per unit will be lower and thus the product more attractive to customers in Uppsala (and Sweden in general).

You could make a local storage anywhere in the world, but the reason I’m emphasizing Uppsala is because you already have an office here and you can maximize the utility of your Uppsala office space by using part of that space as a storage. And another reason for making a storage here in Uppsala is because if you have an office here, then you probably spend a lot more time in Uppsala than elsewhere – and therefore you’ll be making more customers  here in Uppsala than elsewhere (through your social interactions with other people). And when you have more demand here in Uppsala/Sweden, you need to couple that demand with supply in order to make money. 

Good luck with your startup! I hope it will grow and be successful 🙂

Kind regards
Amir

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On Tuesday, October 29, we finished the course Creating value: driving forces, opportunity and risk. We did this with all groups from the class writing a mind map that would reflect on the course and Entreprenörskolan overall. Many interesting discussions emerged. One thing that I will bring with me from this course is that you should always start with the problem and understand it well, because you can make it very complicated for yourself when trying to find the solution. Then I think we have met the course goals quite well, which include comparing, combining and evaluating different perspectives on value-creating processes, strategies for managing risk and uncertainty, and priorities between values ​​and needs, in order to understand entrepreneurship in practice.

Mind map made by the students
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Tuesday, October 29, 2019. We had a lecture from Serdar where we basically summarized the Business Value Creation course. Everybody wrote down on the board a mindmap of how they view the course, and then later everybody commented on each others’ mindmaps. We had discussions about it in-class. I noticed that nobody mentioned the fact that the customers pay for the total customer experience.

Serdar tried to pose in this picture, and he’s really happy because he thought that he was the main feature of the picture. But I waited until he finished posing, and he missed it, haha! 😀
Later, I realized that “maybe I should include Serdar in the picture after all?”, and so I intended to photo Serdar because he tried to pose in the picture the same way that Farangis is now posing in this picture. But now I got at least Farangis! 🙂
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Today was the last occasion in the course: value creation, where we ended with the presentation of the pitch we wanted to continue and develop. Each group had 5 minutes to present and they received constructive criticism about what was good and what could be developed. Once we were done, we finished by constructing a mind map and stating what you have learned and what you will continue. Personally, I feel that this course has been very rewarding, where we among other things have tried to sell something on the market (coffee) but also that one begins to define a problem before creation that proves that everything is possible with regard to create value. Working in a group has been very effective and the whole program within the course has been brilliant!

A happy picture of Martin showing his pleasure with the course

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Since April this year, I’ve been working part time at a large IT-company. The company provides business software and IT related development and consultancy, which is a big market with many actors. Even though my company is targeting many different niche markets in order to get specialized customer segments, start-ups still pops up everywhere, and sometimes, the start-ups succeed by having a better value proposition. One recent example is a young man living Ireland, who within a year managed to dominant the market with his company. He offered the customers a product that was easier and faster to install. It only took a few minutes with a cloud based technology, while the other companies within the same marked had to wait months in order to install their product, since they didn’t use cloud.

In other words, there are many competing products on the market, and there are many ways for a firm to handle this competing products and companies. However, my company handles these by buying them. I would say that it’s an effective method.

Still, this brings up new challenges for the company. Merging our company with others can create some difficulty in creating a team spirit for the employees and make sure that all of us are working as one. Therefore, I was assigned to plan a kick-off for the whole department (with over 200 employees) in Riga, with the theme “Feedback”. The whole department had never met all together before, nor did they understand what products and teams were included in the department, since there were many new smaller companies merging into one.

With the help of two other colleagues, we managed to plan this kick-off with different lecturers during the day, and banquets during the evening. I would say over all that this was a great experience, and I had learned a lot. One lecture that I liked the most was about feedback by Stefan Gunnarsson, who is a PhD doctorate at the University of Debry, and consults organizations about feedback. He talked about every employee’s responsibility of creating a good team spirit, and that this responsibility usually is put on HR or the managers, but everyone contributes to it. Since I have been working close to HR these pasts months, I could not agree more. Many do have expectations of their HR or their manager to create a great company culture, but everyone in it must contribute of course. Feedback is not only given and received form the manager, but also colleagues to colleagues.

Shared below are pictures from this kick-off.

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