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

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! 🙂

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

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.

Today, Friday the 25th October, I visited the startup company SoftRobot in Uppsala. I got invited because I met a manager from that company at the train on my way to a Trainee event in Stockholm. We were sitting with each other on the train and got to know each other, and he liked me and invited me for a meeting at his company.

So today, I went to that meeting and we introduced ourselves to each other (it was almost like a job interview where it was mostly him asking questions about me rather than the other way around).

Then he invited me to check out his website, and I did so, and I gave him feedback by telling him that when you register on the website, and if you select your industrial area as “other” (from a list of options), then his company should put up a text box where people can write more specifically which industry they’re in so that the company SoftRobot can get more information about their customers.

Earlier this week, I attended a lunch lecture called “Ecopreneurship”, hosted by Drivhuset together with Klimatlätt and Uppsala University. This was the first lecture in a series of three, where the following events will be workshops focusing on creating sustainable solutions and then develop a sustainable business case from the solution created in the previous event. 

This first inspirational lecture was about what an ecopreneur is and why it is important. As the name indicates, an ecopreneur is an entrepreneur with a focus on sustainability. Hopefully there will be no difference between an entrepreneur and an ecopreneur in the future, as sustainability becomes integrated in all kinds of entrepreneurship. But for now, we have to think about what choices we make and how to integrate sustainability when developing new ideas and innovations. 

As a part of the current course “Value creation value: motivation, opportunity and risk”, we have learned about the Business Model Canvas, as a tool to analyze and design business models. During this lecture they introduced a modified version, called The Triple Layered Business Model Canvas. This version also includes the environmental and social parts, in addition to the original economic part, as a tool to design and develop more sustainable business models. The three layers of the business model illustrates how an organization can generate multiple types of value. 

The Triple Layered Business Model Canvas, consisting of an economic layer, an environmental layer and a social layer.  

From a business perspective, it becomes more important to include sustainability, as the awareness in the society increases. It can even be a competitive advantage on the market. The reason why a company choose to work with sustainability may vary, but the question is if that really matters? Some companies might do it exclusively because of money and others because they have a genuine interest in sustainability and wants to make a difference. To be honest, I don´t think that the reason why is what we should be focusing on at this stage, but rather what the result will be. In an early stage of a changeover like this, it might be difficult to get everyone onboard. Therefore, all steps in the right direction are welcome, as long as they are done in a transparent and lasting way.

Leafymade has taken on one of the largest challenges today -the pollution of the world with plastic. In their web shop they provide disposable items, such as single-use plates and straws, made from natural materials. They use leaves, wood and wheat for example, which are all 100% biodegradable and compostable. They also a reusable collection with bowls made from coconut shells, amongst other products.

The team share the same believes as I do -that the world has to become more sustainable. Not only in terms of the environment, but also regarding the way we treat each other.  Therefore, I decided to help this young, green start up in the ways that I could.

I’ve met the team a handful of times and always like their energy. As I said, they want to be a socially sustainable company as well so they make a point in providing good salaries and work conditions in their factories and focus on giving women the opporotinty to live a self-determined life by working for them.

When we first got in touch, we discussed ways I could help them -reviewing their products being one of them. But after talking back and forth about what they are focusing on (and struggling with) most at the moment we decided that I would help them in a different way.

I decided that I would give them free exposure on my(my company’s) Instagram page to help them boost sales and gain brand awareness since they felt they were lacking in that department. In that way, I used my personal brand to give them a push, which I felt confident doing since I really believe in what they are doing. By showing their products in an interactive instagram story they gained new costumers, traffic to their site and followers to their social media accounts -something that they found super helpful.

When creating the content for the Instagram story, I decided to ask my followers which products, in addition to the ones leafymade already provide, they would be interested in seeing transformed “leafymade-style”. This was much appreciated by leafymade, since it gave them a way to see in which direction they could go to meet market demands even more.

Here’s what it looked like on @veganskmatlada, this was visible for just over 13k people for 24h. If any of you are interested in helping leafymade, they would love to recive help (both hands on and feedback) with their website, products, packaging and sales.

They also gave us a discount code if anyone wants to support them by buying any of their products: ECOLIFE20 gives you 20% off until December 25th 🙂

On the 17th of October, the Askås e-commerce day took place in Säffle, the metropole, 4 hours from Uppsala. Askås is an e-commerce platform that is used by companies like Desenio, Caia, and Nordiska Galleriet among others. Lecturers, exhibitors, customers, and other visitors attended for a whole day in Medborgarhuset in Säffle. The four lecturers were Alexander Hars, Patrik Müller, Karin Zingmark and lastly “the joker” Anders Borg.

After a long car ride, we made it to Säffle just in time for the first lecture that was held by Alexander Hars which is the entrepreneur behind the companies Let´s deal and most recently Alva that sells sustainable bed lining. He spoke about how optimism is an important trait for an entrepreneur to handle the occasional setbacks that comes along with entrepreneurship. He told the story about the worst day in his life as an entrepreneur which was when he started Let´s deal in Norway and they had a large campaign together with a car company. They sponsored the campaign with three cars and there was going to be a lottery where three winners got to buy the cars for half of the price. The lottery somehow resulted in nine winners and Alexander had to buy SIX more cars from the car company for full price to cover for the catastrophe that almost led to the end of Let´s deal. It was his optimism that led to the survival of the company. The most important lesson he had learned from being an entrepreneur is how easy it is to get things done if you just do it. JUST DO IT.

In between the lectures, there was an exhibition where different paying services, shipping solutions and business platforms such as Klarna, Budbee, and Pyramid attended where they tried to make new business.

After a short break out in the exhibition hall, it was time for the second speaker which was the founder of the paying system DIBS, Patrik Müller. The main focus he had was the really interesting annual report about nordic e-commerce. The most interesting finding, according to me, is the very different online paying habits between the nordic countries. The most popular paying method is by card in every nordic country except for Finland where they use online banking which is way down the list in other countries. Paying by invoice is very popular in the nordic countries except for Denmark where the last thing people want to do is to give up their social security number. These things are really important when trading internationally since the next biggest reason for canceled purchases in e-commerce after “shipping price is too high” is that the preferred paying method is not included. Other than the report, he also spoke about some new toothbrush innovations as an example of new thinking. One company sell toothbrushes with exchangeable brush heads, another company had developed a dental splint that brush all the teeth in 10 seconds for people that really are in a hurry, and one company that offered the buyer teeth health insurance together with the toothbrush, as long as the user connects the toothbrush to a cloud and registers every time the brush is used. Clever ideas! He ended the lecture by speaking about the “retail shift” which is the shift from classic retailing to experience-driven retailing. He does not believe in the end of physical stores as a consequence of the growing e-commerce, but on the contrary, it can be seen that many brands that only have been available online are starting to open physical stores to meet the screaming costumers need for a deeper relationship with the brand. Examples of companies that have done this are H&M that open café’s inside their stores and a company called Marine Layers that has an apartment just above one of the stores that is being rented on Airbnb to guest that are invited to hang out in the store. The message taken from Patrik was “point of experience, NOT point of sale”.

The third speaker was the advisor and author of the book “Maxa snacket: så når du framgång genom digital kommunikation” Karin Zingmark that spoke about leadership in a connected world. The old model of hierarchic leadership has developed into non-hierarchic cooperation that is more complex. Leaders need to provide the employees with the resources that are needed to climb the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. She went through all the steps and how to achieve them to reach the top and thereby full potential. She also gave 7 quick tips to make your brand more personal:

  1. Think about who you are and what you stand for. What is your passion?
  2. Identify the goals you want to achieve.
  3. Choose your platforms.
  4. Build your profile.
  5. Build relations.
  6. Be generous, take a stand and be persistent.
  7. Measure success.

She ended the lecture by talking about the stress that is related to being connected all the time. Since everything is connected you will find your job in your email, your social media, etc. even when you are not at work. She partly solved this problem at home by not allowing phones in the bedrooms.

The last speaker that everyone had been waiting for was Anders Borg that lectured about the current world economics. He is certain that there is no economic crisis ahead soon due to three factors. The first one is that there are no big differences in economic situations between countries. The second factor is that there is no inflation observed. This can be seen in banks that are decreasing their interest on loans. The third is that world productivity is increasing, especially in the US. These things have to lead to that the consumer society will experience the biggest shift in history. 2,000,000,000 people are improving living standards from poverty to middle class in various countries e.g. the Philippines. A bizarre example of the wild consumer society is the game Angry birds that reached a larger group of followers in 35 days than Christianity has reached for as long as it has existed. He also spoke about the singularity tendency regarding A.I. and e-commerce. Since “genuine” A.I. is extremely expensive to develop there will only be the giants left like Amazon that will conquer the market. According to him, companies that claim that they use A.I. in Sweden are lying. When it was time for questions there was one about what he would invest in if he had a million SEK today. His answer was “it depends on how many other million SEK you have”. The most humble answer I have ever heard. After the lecture, the evening continued with dinner and entertainment in the form of the a capella group Solala. Club DIBS then rocked the rest of the night with Patrik Müller as DJ.

Sorry about the long post. I will finish by making it even longer with a photobomb. XOXO

Every single person, every single organisation on the planet knows what they do, 100%. Some know how they do it […]. But very few people or organisations know why they do what they do..”

Simon Sinek

I think many of you have heard the TED talk “How great leaders inspire action” by Simon Sinek. I had, in fact, not heard about this process until I met with a group of friends a few days ago and used this method for our potential start up.

Simon Sinek means that there is something that a lot of companies are doing wrong -they start with WHAT they are doing and then they’ll explain how. This would, according to Sinek, leave the potential customer or client with unsatisfaction. By delivering your message from the inside out, by starting with WHY you are doing something, you’ll share your vision with the customer in a more effective way.

As I mentioned, my friends and I are starting a new project based on sustainable development and we decided to use Sineks model from an early stage. Both to make sure that we are all on the same page regarding our WHYs, HOWs and WHATs but also to start thinking in this way from the very beginning -which will hopefully make it easier for us in the future when we start to share our idea.

If you have not heard about Simon Sinkes “The golden circle”, you can listen to his TED talk here. He talks much about marketing aswell (using Apple amongst others as an example), but we thought this was a great tool for us in an early stage of starting a new project.

Luckily, we had three windows in the meeting room which could indicate the three levels of the “Golden Circle” -our post its did not stick well to the actual circle we had prepared beforehand 😉

Take away: Attending the Sync event organized by Entrepreneurs Academy on the 9th of October in central Uppsala gave some valuable insights into the B2B market as well as personal experience in communication.

Before the event, we were asked to prepare for a 90-sec pitch on stage in front of the attending companies. Most students felt nervous as anxiety boiled up in queue leading up to the closed of conference room, now filled with company representatives were students were to enter one at a time. I too felt anxiety even though it was not my first time on stage in front of a group of people. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect, and we were all there for the learning experience as well as those of us who also sought master thesis projects and potential future employees (almost everyone).

When the pitching session was over we (students) were assigned to rounded tables to which company representatives came an sat for 12 min at a time, discussing what their business models and what sort of talent (personal and/or academic) they looked for.

Conclusion: even though I didn’t find any master thesis project of interest I value the over-all experience and insights into the different business models and the respective markets which they targeted.