Designing a Business: reflection – reflexion – oтражение – riflesso

8 … almost eight month have passed since we had our first designing a business class. This module can be seen as a journey that fulfilled nearly all expectations that come up to your mind if you hear the words designing a business. However, let’s step back to the start of the course to see how it all began.

The whole MACE programme started with a kick-off workshop called the Lean Start UP EXPERIENCE. Our course leader Marc Passera and my DaB (= stands from now on for “Designing a Business”) module leader Corrine Beaumont organised this workshop and invited therefore Dr Dan Lockton from the Royal College of Art London. Dan introduced us to an method that uses user empathy as a major tool to develop products or businesses (Ries, E., 2011). He claimed that too many products and business have been developed without involving the potential users into the developing process. Designers often believe that they have a foresight that allows them to know what the user want. In fact they lose thereby the relevance to pay attention to the real user feedback. No discussion… sometimes this works out, as users not always know what they really want. However, those can be seen as the minority and receive therefore a way to high relevance by the designers.

Dan asked us to develop an idea that solves a problem of the Kingston University students. He suggested to interview other students on the campus to figure out what they are missing and how we could them out. My team was a mixture of fellow students from 4 different countries: Russia, USA, China and Germany. This required a strong cultural empathy within the team as each one of us had different approaches for such a task. However, the whole team developed, after a short exchange of suggestions, a clear strategy. Our research phase resulted in the knowledge that students have a strong desire for a space to relax beside the busy student routine. Existing offers and structures do according to that not fulfil their demand. Those insights served to develop our idea of a space called “the green cube”. This space had the function to invite students to take a breath during their daily routine. We oriented ourself on the well known concepts of the Google offices (The National, 2012). The building or area has to have have a salient form and colour setting.  It interior design has to follow a golden thread that prevents the feeling of being in a working environment. This includes a silent area that provides hammocks to it visitors, a coffee area that invites to stay longer than just for a cup of tea, a cinema room with free movies and an art room where students can be creative as long as it is not connected to their work. The whole concept has been presented by the group in an interactive way by the use of LEGO 😉 I liked especially the fact that we were asked to present in a creative, memorable way.

Dan Lockton mentioned in the context of the lean Start-Up workshop also the iPhone function for disabled users. He choose this example as it shows how user orientation during the process of developing ideas can end up it great results. This reminded me also in the amazing “Pfandring” from Paul Ketz. He designed a bottle holder that can be mounted to a public bin and allows to place your empty deposit bottle inside the holder ring. This again helps gatherers to collect empty bottles to return them to stores where they get in exchange an deposit for each bottle. This helps in an easy way to recycle glass, plastic and aluminium (Ketz, P., 2014).

The next project for our module was very practical as we had to develop a communication strategy for the movement #knowyourlemons. Our module leader Corrine is the initiator of the website and asked us to support the upcoming campaign by the development of short movies that pick up the topic to enlarge the awareness. It was our goal to initiate a viral movement comparable with well known Ice Bucket Challenge. The video of Irene and her team was  in my opinion the best one (Canuti, I., 2014):

The whole project was a great opportunity to learn what is necessary for such a campaign. Especially the fact that we tried to monitor our awareness scope via google analytics enabled us to control and adjust our strategy (Google, 2015).

As soon as the campaign was launched it was our task to find people within the class to build up a team. I mean not just a team… we were asked to build a team that from know on works together on the same goal: designing a business. This was somehow difficult as we all did not know each other very well. Nevertheless I can say today: I have been lucky. My team was a mixture of people from 6 different countries: Bangladesh, Taiwan, Russia, Italy, Germany and India. This internationality can be totally seen as an advantage. The cultural differences produced a very strong connection between each one of us as we were all very interested in other cultures. Every behaviour and every mindset was new to us. It was especially in the first month a very interesting process to see how we all learned more and more about each other.

After a first phase of casual brainstorming we followed the advise of Corrine to think first about common interest areas, might help to find an idea for a business. We realised thereby that we all liked to travel. Everyone came from his home country to the UK not just because of the study programme… no… especially because of the opportunity to dive into a new culture. From this point on we started to focus our brainstorming process on the field of travelling. We asked us random questions such as:

What is your favourite country to travel to?

How do you usually travel for holidays?

What is the most important thing to take with you when you travel?

Is there something you were always missing while you where travelling?

What is difficult when you are travelling?

The whole team came up with different ideas. We tried thereby to follow the principals of the Value Proposition Canvas (Osterwalder, A.; Pigneur, Y.; Bernarda, G.; Smith, A., 2014). This allowed us to always focus on the customer needs. It was our main goal to solve a real problem for our target group. Our product but furthermore our whole business had to be designed around the potential user of our product. He became in a way the foundation of our thoughts and our behaviour.

On of us suggested a mobile hammock for baby’s to hang the baby into a tree. Another idea was about transporting a backpack with wheels or a card holder for the oyster card. We also thought about a lunch box that heats the food by itself. However, in the end we decided to develop something that makes travelling in an air plane more relaxed:

No. 1

We thought in this context about a headband that reduces noise during the flight and avoids light if you want to rest. The first prototype sessions were incredible funny:

black white

It took us quiet a while till we came up with a first prototype that fulfilled our basic requirements. We decided to combine ear protectors, an eye shade and the structure and softness of an travel pillow. It was based on the thought to solve three problems with one device:


From now on we started to develop our business more detailed by the use of the Business Model Canvas (Osterwalder, A.; Pigneur, Y.; Bernarda, G.; Smith, A., 2014). This helped us structure our tasks and targets within the team in a more efficient way.

While we were still working on a better prototype we started to prepare ourself for the first pitch in front of the Dragon’s. In this the context it was very helpful that Corrine invited a story teller called Rob. He introduced us to different approaches that have to be considered during the process of preparing for a pitch. The Hero’s Journey was one concept that he mentioned. It is basically the golden thread of stories such as Lord of the Ring (Vogler, C., 2007).

One of his suggestions was to think like Apple. He told us thereby about the golden circle:

 golden circle
(Sinek, S., 2009, p. 37).
The main thought behind this concept is to develop a product in the order:
1. WHY
2. HOW

Sinek warns with his circle that most of the companies do the mistake of starting first with the WHAT, then the HOW and in the end with the WHY. This often ends up in a product development that does not really match a customer need (Sinek, S, 2009). We tried to consider Sinek’s concept not just for our pitch preparations… no… we furthermore tried to consider it in every business decision we had to do.
While our team could succeed during the pitches we had to develop a concept for different trade fairs. The difficulty thereby was to develop a stand that convinces people to try out our product right away. As our product was still looking a bit extraordinary, this was a big challenge. However, by the use of charm and an inviting set up of the stand many people were willing to try out our product:



The feedback we received was very revealing in the context of improvement suggestions but also surprising. Many people had a very positive feeling while they were using our product. Our fear that they might feel awkward while they were wearing our device became smaller and smaller. In the end I would say that the trade fair offered us the best opportunities to collect feedback from our potential customers, as we could see and feel what they think about our product.

While to process of developing a product and furthermore a business became routine, we still had to adjust our team work. Reflective I would say that building up a great working team took way more effort than all the rest. The different roles had to be defined step by step without falling into a situation where each one of us loses the overall thinking of the whole business. It was important for us to have shared responsibilities but with a clear task allocation. We used therefore a cloud based software called podio. Podio allowed us to develop projects, deliverables and tasks completely independently. It enabled us to track our work in a very efficient way and extended our communication within the team (Podio, 2015).

We all decided to continue the business from June on as registered Ltd. One of our next steps is therefore to attract investors who are willing to help us to produce our product in a bigger amount. It is our plan to start a crowd funding campaign in the beginning of June. We discussed this opportunity during the class and realised that there is a big potential for our business idea (Orthwein, I., 2014).

I would finally say that the whole module helped to develop my personality in many ways. The opportunity we had to create a highly productive team from point zero on enables me in future to do the same. Beside our plan to continue the business with flI., I will start developing a creative hub that focuses on mobile applications and games. I am convinced that the Business Canvas Model will help me especially on the beginning to develop my plans in an efficient way. The development of the business report for flI. was a great experience as well. I understand know how important it is to bring your idea down onto a paper. It enables me in future to break down my ideas into a clear concept. My plan to develop a creative hub includes probably also the creation of a proper business pan. I am pretty sure that my business report experience will be very helpful therefore.

Thank you all for such an amazing year!




CANUTI, I., 08.10.2014, 2014-last update [Homepage of youtube], [Online]. Available: [04/2015, 2015].

GOOGLE, 2015-last update, Google Analytics Official Website – Web Analytics & Reporting [Homepage of Google], [Online]. Available: [04/2015, 2015].

KETZ, P., 2014, , PFANDRING –
ÖKOLOGISCH. ÖKONOMISCH. SOZIAL [Homepage of Pfandring], [Online]. Available: [04/2015, 2015].

ORTHWEIN, I., 2014. Crowdfunding: Grundlagen und Strategien für Kapitalsuchende und Geldgeber. 1 edn. Hamburg: Igel Verlag.

OSTERWALDER, A., PIGNEUR, Y., BERNARDA, G. and SMITH, A., 2014. Value Proposition Design: How to create products and services Customers want. 1 edn. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Inc,.

PODIO, 02/2015, 2015-last update, All you need to know about Podio. [Homepage of podio], [Online]. Available: [04/2015, 2015].

RIES, E., 07.04.2011, 2011-last update, Authors@Google: Eric Ries “The Lean Startup” [Homepage of], [Online]. Available: [04/2015, 2015].

SINEK, S., 2009. An Alternative Perspective: The Golden Circle. In: S. SINEK, ed, Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action. 1 edn. London: Penguin Group, pp. 37-38.

THE NATIONAL, 14.11.2012, 2012-last update, Inside Google’s Offices [Homepage of The National], [Online]. Available: [04/2015, 2015].

VOGLER, C., 2007. Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers. 3 edn. Studio City: Michael Wiese Production.


Video advert: flI.

Dearest all,

have you seen already our video advert? It took us quiet a while to produce it, as no one of us has real filming skills. However, with the help of Riccardo’s agency we could realise something that is somehow a little bit funny:





Nevertheless we are working on a new advert that will transfer our message in a better way.


Stay tuned!


Bright Ideas Competition: The Winner

Dearest all,

our team could succeed in the bright ideas competition. We had to pitch in front of different experts from different companies. This was a really great experience for all of us. Especially the team feeling after we received our price. Their was this special spirit between all of us. It bend us together in a very powerful way. Here is a picture of us with our well deserved price 😉 :


Trade fair: destination

Dearest all,

I went with Irene to a trade fair in London called Destination. We used this trip to get in contact with different people who might can help us with flI..
The trade fair itself was about travelling and invited travel magazines and airlines to present their services. Luckily we could talk to some interesting people about further improvements of our product. Here is a picture of me and Irene at the national geographic stand:


Packaging: good vs. bad

Dearest all,

we started last week to discuss what’s the best packaging solution for our product. In doing so, we realised that some existing ways of packagings are just amazing! The nature itself often designs great solutions to protect it gifts:


On the other hand, there are many packagings which an be seen as the complete opposite.

The good, old “You know what’s bullshit?”

Our first trade fair

Dearest all,

three days are gone since we had the first opportunity to present our product on a trade fair. This trade fair was placed at the Kingston Hill campus and was especially hosted for young start ups.

Our plan was to offer potential customers a journey of experience during the use of our product. Therefore we created a display that was pretty noticeable. Here is the draft again:
display draw

The two pictures behind the two glass-heads had the function to make people feel, that if they are wearing our product fli., they would be somewhere in the paradise (Beach, Mountain, etc.). The chair next to it had an inviting function. The whole display asked people to come over to have a closer look. Furthermore we walked around with some sweets to get in contact with potential customers and invited them to our stand. The following picture shows how a part of our stand looked like:



I will now explain you how a typical dialogue between us and a customer looked like:


“Hello Mrs XXX, would you like to know what we’re presenting here?”

“Hello, yes… it looks interesting”

“Well, do you remember your last flight with a budget airline?”

“hmm… yeah… I guess it was RXX-air.”

“How was it? Quiet comfortable?”

“Hahaha… good joke. Like always… no space… to late… i would say the complete opposite of comfortable.”

“Right… that’s what we thought as well. We are all travellers and we were so annoyed about those stressing flights from A to B. It is always incredible noisy and you can’t really sleep because of those bright lights. Thats why we created a “sleeping device” called fli..
If you want to try it… I would be really interested to hear your feedback.”

“Oh… hmm… yeahr, why not.”

“Great. Please sit down and make yourself feeling comfortable. I will now ask you to take it on… make sure that it fits good.

okay, ready?”



“Just imagine you are not any more in this noisy airplane full of crying babies behind, next to you and in front of you. Your are now…. finally … somewhere in the jungle of Indonesia.”



“What about the great musician Bon Iver:”

“All right, thank you very much for your time. How did you like it?”


That’s the question: How did they like it? Most of them were really surprised… others had some further recommendations. However, nearly everyone said: “It’s a great idea… really!!”
Those words gave us a good portion of motivation for the next weeks. We won additionally the first place of the trade-fair start-up competition:


Hossa, Hossa

Preparations for our first “trade fair”

Dearest all,

in two days we will present our product on a trade-show to our first potential customers. This trade-show will be placed at the campus in Kingston Hill. I thought it might is interesting for you to have look what we need to prepare, to set up a nice sales presentation.


launching the website

designing employee-ID’s
designing price labels
collecting some nice background pictures
creating product pictures
buying sweets and lights

The whole display will be based on two of those glass heads, which will hold our product in a nice position:

glass head

It’s our plan to adapt the following sketch and structure:

display draw

I will tell you in a few days how it worked out 🙂

lots of love,

The Point of Sale

Dearest all,

last lecture we talked about the general topic “Point of Sale”. The point of sale (POS) is basically described as the place where you sell your product or furthermore: where you should sell your product.

The optimal position of a POS  depends on many different factors.
However, there are some recommendations that help to find the perfect selling point:

1. Figure out if your product is a high involvement- or a low involvement product !!

Products that are called high involvement products…
are usually demanding a higher attention of it target group,
before it comes to the actual purchasing process… often because of it
high costs:
those products (car, house, laundry, TV,… ) are not easily affordable.
The potential customer has to ponder if he can and wants to afford
the price for it.

You need to offer your potential
customer space and time to think. You need
to create a kind of island that allows his purchasing process
enough air to work. If you afford this space he will possibly
feel under pressure and won’t buy your product.

Products that are called low involvement products…
… are usually not demanding a longer consideration about:
should I buy it or not? Those products are most of the time
not very expensive and often part of the
daily needs:
the common consumer don’t spent a lot of time to think
about which ketchup we will buy or what kind of gum he will put
into his basket.

You should place your product
in way that it is easily accessible. Furthermore it can
be sold on a position that might is even demonstrative.
Try to make your potential customer aware in a powerful
way but do not stress him to much. The balance is
very important.

2. Analyse the buying behaviour of your customers and understand the decision-making process !!

The buying behaviour of every human can be different.
However, there are some steps within the purchasing
process, that are nearly always the same:
1. Realise an existing need.
2. Start of research: how do I satisfy the need?
3. Comparing the potential solution with alternatives.
4. Purchase.
5. Analysis: How satisfying is the purchased product?

If a company knows how it potential customers behave, it can take influence
on the different steps by modifying it marketing and the Point of Sale.
One example is the car selling industry. Car dealers realised that
their potential customers are often compare their offers with offers in
the Internet. Furthermore, they read magazines with different type
of reviews about cars. For this reason a car dealer should try
to advertise in those magazines. As the Internet brings a strong
transparency into the business, car dealers should have a proper
web page, that does explain the advantages of this car dealer.

Lots of Love,


Finding a manufactury

Dearest all,

we finally could find a great tailor who is going produce the first amount of products for a really good price.

He is placed in the east of London and runs a small family business together with his wife. We talked with him for a long time about our plans and the product itself. Furthermore he had some great suggestions how to modify our sleeping device in future. I’m more than happy that we could find an agreement with him. This is not just because of the product… no… it is also about a collaboration that will extend my experience a lot.

He is one of those people where you directly know: “he has a great, great heart!”

Lots of love,


The process of prototyping…

… is the fun part of our group work.

It is just amazing how different ideas come together and end up in something you can actually see, touch and smell. It is often the result of very intense process of brain work. Hours of discussions, hours without sleep, hours of up’s and down’s and hours of creativity.



The following pictures will give you some insights of this process:

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