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.

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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.

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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 🙂

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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

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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 😉

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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.

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Idag hade vi föreläsning i affärsjuridik, och nu när jag ska sammanfatta affärsjuridiken så skulle jag säga att “kunskap är makt”. Jag har redan hört det uttrycket förut, men affärsjuridiken gav mig en djupare insikt i hur det ser ut i praktiken. Det funkar nämligen så att ju mer folk vet om dig, desto större förmåga de kommer ha att påverka dig. Och för att de andra ska ha bästa möjliga inverkan på dig, så måste man överväga vilken information man ger till vilka personer. Olika information har olika potential att användas till att antingen gynna dig eller skada dig, och olika personer har olika tendens att försöka gynna dig eller försöka skada dig. Då behöver man vara strategisk med sin informationsdelning så att rätt information kommer till rätt personer, samtidigt som man undviker att fel information kommer till fel personer. Och för att åstadkomma detta, så måste man tänka innan man pratar.

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Last week, on the 9th of October, I attended an event hosted by Almi and Entrepreneurs Academy, called SYNC. SYNC is a model for relationship-building meetings, where students and companies/start-ups in Uppsala are given the opportunity to meet and establish contact. 

The event started with a light lunch followed by a pitch-parade, where all students had 90 seconds to pitch themselves. I´m glad that we had the opportunity to practice how to pitch in class before this event, but I definitely found it more challenging to pitch myself instead of an idea. However, I´m pleased with my performance and that I managed to deliver a pitch which reflected my interest in sustainability. To my delight, that was something that many of the attending companies found interesting and I got several questions about it later on.  

After the pitch-parade, we sat down for some “Swedish fika” with 2-3 company-representatives and 3-4 students at each table. It was time for a brief introduction of the companies, followed by questions and discussions. After 10 minutes, the company-representatives switched tables and the “speed dating” continued until we have had the opportunity to talk to all attending companies.     

To me, SYNC was a successful event and I did not only have the chance to practice my pitching skills, but I also got in touch with two very interesting companies which were open for the possibility of me writing my master thesis with them. I think it´s really good that events like this exists and I will definitely recommend other students to attend SYNC next year!

 

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SYNC is a model for relationship-building meetings between the business community and University students in Uppsala. The event was held at base 10 in Uppsala and was hosted by entrepreneurs Acadamy and Almi.

The event startet with a small informative introduction for all students. Thereafter all attending students were expected to do a short pitch of themselves to arouse interest for the participating companies.
I felt my pitch went really well and that I was able to deliver the message I was aiming for.

Following the pitch parade was a “speed dating” session with all the companies. Over a coffe we had the chance to ask all questions we wanted to the different representatives from the company’s. 3 students and 3 representatives were seated at the same table for 10 minutes to discuss. After 10 minutes the companies swapped to different tables.

I thought the event was very worthwhile and fun. Everyone attending represented interesting companies. It was also good for me to practise my rhetorical skills

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On the 9th of October, I attended an event held by Entrepreneurs Acadamy and Almi called SYNC. The purpose of this event was to enable smaller/newer companies to get in touch with engineering students and vice verse.

The event started with a brief introduction for us students while being offered a light lunch. When this Q&A session was done, we were expected to pitch ourselves in front of all the attending companies. In 90 seconds, we were asked to deliver as much relevant info about ourselves as possible. This was a real challenge, both the limited time and talking in front of 20 unknown persons from different companies.

I have not had a lot of practice talking in front of strangers, which made me nervous. However, I am happy with what I manage to accomplish during these 90 seconds and as a few of the companies actually came to me later showing interest and complimenting the performance I believe it was not as terrible as I had thought. (Even though they probably said the same thing to everyone, it made me glad.)

After the pitch parade, done by the 20 students, it was time to “fika” with the companies. This was done at several round tables where 3-4 students were seated. The companies sat down at the tables, 2-3 at a time, for 10 minutes briefly explaining their product or service and discussed further with the students at the table. When 10 minutes had passed, the companies switched tables.

This way of interacting gave me the chance to interact with a lot of companies during a short period of time. As I sorted out which companies were interesting and not, I could then, later on, grab them to discuss further. I discussed their interesting products more and also the possibilities of doing my master thesis with them and the possibility of employment after graduation.

SYNC gave a lot of good experience. To practice pitching yourself in front of an unknown audience, which I probably will do a lot of times during my career, is invaluable. I also got to know about many companies that I never had thought of before. Not only companies that I knew existed but did not realize were interested in hiring people like me, but also companies that I never heard of that would be interested in people like me.

The SYNC logo as you entered the pitching room.

To summarize the day at SYNC: It was a really good experience pitching yourself in front of an unknown crowd. We got to know a lot of companies and meet a lot of new people that could be valuable contacts for the future.

10/10 would do again.

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