The Semester Ends and The Summer Starts!

As the semester comes to an end we are transitioning into another phase of the company. So far our ideas and thoughts have started to take form but we are now in need of extra help to get things off the ground. We will continue to push research and development but are also looking to finalize our business plan so that we can show potential investors. Before we do that we will need to take a step back and analyze how things have gone so far. This is always important to do because it allows us to notice the progress that we’ve made and helps us set goals for the following years. There are many different things that I will take away from this semester. One thing that I learned involved the ins and outs of the business canvas model. While this document is very simplistic the real challenge is finding the perfect connection between all of the different categories. One of the most important connections is between our customer segment and value proposition because we want to make sure we are understanding the value of our product to our customers. If we don’t this correct then it will more difficult for us to market and brand our product.

Another takeaway from this semester is that as an aspiring entrepreneur it is extremely important to be optimistic and self-motivated. There are going to be bad days and good days. You need to be able to take a step back and go back to the very first moment that motivated you in the first place. For instance, there are going to days when your team may struggle to finish something or they do something that isn’t exactly what you wanted, but you have to understand that they have a vision too.

Biggest Successes:

This semester my group had many big accomplishes. We participated in the annual innovation challenge with 9 to 10 other groups from the college. Out of the 9 other teams, we placed 3rd and were nominated (unanimously) as the audience favorite. This was a great experience for us as a group to come together and accomplish a great milestone. Another success was that we collected over +40 presale cases for our product. We sold all of these cases in one day alone and we actually decided not to do another pre-sale because we didn’t want to get in over our heads. However, we did collect contact information from everyone that participated in the pre-sale, so that we can contact them when we launch our product.

Biggest Failures:

I wouldn’t say that we had any failures but more lessons to learn from. I think as an entrepreneur is important to perceive bumps in the road not as failures but as challenges. When you think of something as a failure, you instantly feel that you lost something or view this thing as a negative outcome. On the other hand, a challenge or obstacle is something that will, in the end, will make your company stronger and more motivated when you overcome it. These are lessons that you can’t be taught but physically/mentally need to encounter them. Some of the lessons that I learned relate to teamwork chemistry. There were many moments where people were motivated and excited about our company but later things slightly went downhill from there. This is partly due to a lack of communication and loss of sight of our mission. People had different visions of what our company is and where we were heading in the future. This made things disorganized which resulted in people losing motivation to continue.

What do you think you need to know more about to continue on your entrepreneurial journey?

Honestly, the list could go on forever because this is a lifelong journey. There are so many lessons to be learned that can only be taught through experiences. But in essence, we need to know more about what needs to be included in the start-up phase and how to go about these things. Some of these questions include who should we contact, where should we locate, what things should we complete first, etc?

A Long Bumpy Road

Throughout the 201 Business Development class I’ve learned many useful tools to help grow a successful company. As I’ve been learning these tools, I’ve noticed that being able to understand these tools is way easier than actually implementing them to my business. Some of the things that we’ve discussed in class deal with product competition, competitive strategies, and customer relationships. These three areas are extremely important when building the foundation of your company. It’s imperative that you not only understand the mission of your company but also the mission and strategies of your competitors. This will help you evaluate your approach of establishing your company into a particular market so that you have the best chance of success.

When we talked about identifying our competition it was critical that we analyzed everything that made us different from our competitors. The main questions that we found ourselves pondering were “how do we differentiate from our competitor”? Was it our branding, pricing, distribution, fabrication, material? Maybe it was more than just one of those areas alone and that was totally fine. After doing some market analysis on our competitors (phonesoap and UV-light toothbrush cases), we noticed that one of our main differentiators was that our product would be made out of wood instead of plastic. This was huge because the wood design became apart of the sustainability/eco-friendly aspect of our product. The whole sustainability/eco-friendly movement is massive right now and a lot of people are interested in products that target these designs.

Additionally, as we move forward in our journey with UV-Tensils we will always try to develop the best relationship with our customers. Without our customers, we would be nothing. We truly believe that our customers will be customers for life and our bond between them will continue to grow as a spread into our future products. Are customers are not buying “what we do” but “why we do it”, which is essential to building a better sustainable atmosphere. What we make might change but why will make the things we do will always be the same. Lastly, as my senior year ends and I transition into a world of opportunities, I find myself beginning a new chapter. However, I plan to continue with UV-Tensils and build a solid foundation for this idea to flourish. My next step is to finish my business plan and get an estimate on how much it’s going to cost to make the product and pay for any legal activities (intellectual property, attorneys, LLC).

Learning and Building

Last week, my group and I participated in the 10th annual Innovation Challenge here at Muhlenberg College. At first, my group and I were hesitant about participating in it because everyone is very busy and this event requires a hefty amount of time. After going back and forth about this opportunity we decided to go ahead and do it. We already had some type of powerpoint to go from so we were able to make some need adjustments and create a story that would grab the audience attention. We spent numerous hours out of class and on the weekends practicing our pitch and making adjustments. The first round went well for us and it provided some necessary feedback about the format of our presentation. Within a day we heard back from the judges and we were selected to move onto the next round! Exciting news but back to the drawing board we went.

A couple of days later we were participating in the finals against four other groups. The atmosphere was amazing and many students and others should up and listened to our pitches. Although we didn’t come in first in the event we were awarded the audience best which was awesome to receive. In my perspective, this event wasn’t about winning or showing that we had what we thought was the best idea, but it was all about what we learned. As an entrepreneur, it’s important to be able to convey a story that illustrates the problem and the solution. This event gave us that exact opportunity to do so and I feel that my group did a fantastic job. Even after the event was over, some of the judges came over to our group and gave us some feedback. The feedback consisted of many logistical things that we have planned to implement in the future but just haven’t done yet.

Carrying the momentum from the Innovation Challenge into the class, we have started to talk about different revenue streams. Just for clarification, a revenue stream is a strategy a company uses to generate cash from each customer segment. Some of the questions that are connected with this idea are how much a customer willing to pay, what are they paying for (value), and how much are they currently paying for similar products? These are some very important questions that my group and I need to play with. We will have to do some extensive market research on UV-lights and cleaning products to see if there are any growing trends. This will take some time as there are many different avenues going about this research.

The ongoing encounter of networking!


For the past couple of weeks, we’ve been further improving the design of the UV-Tensil case. So far we’ve rounded the edges, made the case thinner, smoothed the wood, and finished with a beautiful dark walnut wood stain. These few simple steps have added great value to the case and have received overwhelmingly positive feedback from our customers. Unfortunately, we are still having trouble with the uv-light itself. Specifically, we are having trouble developing a technique that allows the light to turn on when the case closes. While this is setting us back a few steps its a minor setback in the realm of everything.

Besides the development of our product, there is more exciting news that is happening within the next few weeks. Our team has signed up for the Innovation Challenge which is a fun activity that everyone is thrilled to be participating in. We’ve started gathering information from our experiments that will help us develop a promising presentation to the judges. For instance, today we launched our pre-sale exhibition and have sold over $900 in cases in 5 hours! Furthermore, we will be conducting an official experiment illustrating how effective our uv-light is at destroying harmful bacteria. Specifically, our experiment will be analyzing two different common bacterias found in colleges: Streptococcal bacteria and Staphylococcus aureus. Streptococcal bacteria is a common bacteria that has shown to be associated with strep throat. This bacteria is highly contagious and can spread easily through the air. Staphylococcus aureus is a common bacteria found on almost everyone. It can cause a wide range of things such as pimples to more severe things like pneumonia and meningitis.

What’s next?

I am continuing to grow my spider web of connections by networking with others in the entrepreneurial world. Expanding my web is easy but also a difficult thing to achieve. Being a student in five other classes while also trying to manage my group has been an eventful task. However, during all of this, I have found time to reach out to successful entrepreneurs who have been happy to help me. They have provided me with guidance as to what I should prioritize, other angels of approaching problems, and also putting me in contact with others. Next week I’m hoping to meet with an engineer who specializes in different designs with a variety of materials. This is will be helpful with the mechanical issues that I’ve been dealing with thus far.

Get – Keep – Grow

This week at UV-Tensils has been very exciting as the development of the case and ultraviolet light has been moving along. We are currently waiting on the arrival of our case and will be installing the light as soon as it arrives on Monday. This will allow us to take a step back and measure all of our options for the design. It’s important that we provide our customers with the best product while also being mindful of our budget and our expectations. While we want to create a case that everyone will love, we have also come to the realization that there will need to be improvements at a later time. This week in class we’ve discussed the “Get, Keep, Grow” model which is exactly what it sounds like. One of the main parts of being a successful business is your marketing campaigns and using different media platforms to get your customers involved. Right now, we are having success at getting customers through two ways: word of mouth (friends to friends) and Instagram. During these interactions with our customers, we have added valuable information to our customer segment while also receiving positive responses that customers “really want our product!” To keep our customers we sent out personal messages to each follower which has shown to be effective. We have also been updating our customers with the development of our product. These posts have seemed to be an effective tool at keeping our customers involved, as one of our post got 33 likes and 18 comments!

This week in class we’ve discussed the “Get, Keep, Grow” model which is exactly what it sounds like. One of the main parts of being a successful business is your marketing campaigns and using different media platforms to get your customers involved. Right now, we are having success at getting customers through two ways: word of mouth (friends to friends) and Instagram. During these interactions with our customers, we have added valuable information to our customer segment while also receiving positive responses that customers “really want our product!” To keep our customers we sent out personal messages to each follower which has shown to be effective. We have also been updating our customers with the development of our product. These posts have seemed to be an effective tool at keeping our customers involved, as one of our post got 33 likes and 18 comments!

Grow: The “grow” part of the model is an interesting part because you can easily get lost in your entrepreneurship fantasies. Additionally, you can easily overcomplicate this part of the model because it is so far in the future and there are so many unknowns that can occur within a business. My plan to help UV-Tensil to grow would involve our existing customers and future customers. My idea would be to have our existing customers return their current UV-Tensil case and purchase a new and improved version. These customers would receive $3-5 off their new purchase. We would then inspect all of the old cases that were returned and make any necessary changes to them. We would then take all of these old cases and ship them to developing countries to be used there. This would help expand our brand and would allow us to access another target population.

Phase 1

In phase one, my group and I have made our decision to continue developing UV-Utensils. As exciting as this is we have started to develop the foundation of our business canvas model. The business canvas model helps my group organize our business plan so that there is a perfect match between our customers and the product. As of now, we have a rough draft of our value proposition and customer segment but are still working on it. To improve our value proposition we have conducted in-person interviews attempting to discover who our customers are. These interviews are attempting to highlight the habits of our customers in order to understand their daily routines. We can then use this data to reflect on their intentions and adapt our value proposition to match our customer segment.

While my group has experienced great achievements in the past 3 weeks we have also hit some mental walls. Our class hours have been designed for learning and presentations so far which has left us with minimal time to discuss objectives for that week. Along with busy schedules, we have struggled with communication and voicing our concerns which have resulted in decreased morale. This is something that I expected would happen as it happens with almost every group. However, I look at this mental block as a moment to grow and learn from this experience. In my eyes, this is a positive situation because I rather hit this wall now then later in our business development. In order to fix this situation, I think we need to first address our frustrations so that everything is out on the table. This will allow us to discuss each frustration and develop plans so that we can correct these issues before they develop into any major issues. Also, we need to work on improving communication by being more direct and concise with each other.

Overall, I think phase one has been a learning experience for all of us. We have established roles and are improving our value proposition and customer segment. I think our next phase will have to focus on our product development. This will include product design, materials, and planned marketing strategies. While this is a very exciting phase it also comes with a lot of concerns. We will have to go to the drawing board this week and start sketching up some design ideas to ensure that our customers are pleased with the quality of our product.

Future of Transportation

Greenhouse gases or GHG levels have been increasing gradually in recent years. These gases trap heat in our atmosphere by absorbing and emitting radiation through thermal energy. While there are many GHG’s some of the most common ones are water vapor,carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxides and fluorinated gases. Nearly 60% of carbon dioxide is produced from small vehicles and 23% is produced from larger transportation vehicles. These high levels of GHG’s can negative impact our environment. Observable changes that occur included increase  in temperature and an increase water temperature. Thus, all of these changes modify existing ecosystems that then become non-adaptable for some species. With relatively recent news about the impacts of GHG’s companies have been developing new methods to minimize the GHG pollutants.

One of the main companies that has been involved in this movement is Elon Musk company Tesla. Musk focuses his company around developing electric cars to minimize the release of toxic pollutants into our atmosphere. However, one thing that separates Tesla from other electric companies is that Musk has develop Luxurious cars with a modern tone. Recently, Tesla has released a sneak peek of their semi-truck line. This semi-truck isn’t like any other diesel powered truck, it’s 100% electric. At first some truck drivers were concerned about the horsepower and torque produced by Tesla model. Tesla has made a huge evolutionary change to the way that we transport goods. People never thought that an electric semi-truck would suit the needs of transportation vehicles. They thought that Tesla model wouldn’t be able to tow enough weight. However, Musk made sure to make performance was his top priority. The performance of semi-trucks is very important because it allows transportation of greater amounts of material. Additionally, people wonder how far would this semi-truck be able to travel on one charge. It turns out that 80% of the transportation routes are less then 250 miles one way. This is critical information because Tesla semi-truck are able to travel 500 miles on just one charge. Thus, you’re able to travel to your destination and back on just one charge. The range of this battery eliminates the tendency to stop and charge up again. While the performance of this semi-truck is top of the line it also allows increases the efficiency of the drivers.

Something that I will be taking away from this article is that Tesla always creates new things with the world in mind in first. What I mean by this is that Tesla incorporates pieces of the environment into their products. They hope that by introducing their latest technologies to world that other companies will jump onto board with them. The world is slowly suffocating from the toxic pollutants that some our unaware of. I think about introducing new technologies to the world people will become more aware of the impacts of our daily actives that destroy the atmosphere. Personally, I wouldn’t mind driving a luxurious tesla that saves me money and helps the environment.

 

Please comment your input on Tesla new semi-truck

 

Be The Spider In The Web

Whether we realize it or not, our ability to succeed develops through the relationships that we form in life. None of our ideas are original. Most of entrepreneurs find success when they network with other individuals and share their ideas with each other. If you think about it, Elon Musk wouldn’t of been able to launch of his successful companies without the help from others. Musk’s ability to network and develop a spiderweb of relationships allowed him to expand his horizon.

In an article about Elon Musk’s networking skills, it breaks down his skills into three strategies. The first being, “cold calling still works.” In general a cold call is when someone makes and unsolicited call whether it be in person or by telephone to sell goods or a service. Elon Musk said that this is how he landed his first internship with the head of strategy for the Bank of Nova Scotia, Peter Nicholson. By reaching out and pursuing what Musk wanted, he was able to navigate his way into an internship. Additionally, Musk wouldn’t of been able to get his internship  without taking a risk. Failure comes in many forms, some big and some small. However, whether we succeed or not, everyone will still learn something from that situation to better them self and others. Another element that allowed Musk to network successfully was his ability to “be in the right zip code.”What this means is that in order to expand and grow your network you have to place yourself in the right incubation. Musk noticed in order for him to accomplish his goals in life, he has to moved to the growing petri of Silicon Valley. This allowed Musk to network with the “BigDogs” spread his spiderweb. I feel that a lot of people struggle with this networking strategy because they feel that they don’t need to work with others to succeed. The “I can do it by myself” saying is what separates success from failure. Our ability to recognize and accept  these situations will in the end allow us to succeed. In most instances, two brains are better than one. The last strategy Musk expanded on was his ability to override his fears. Fear is something that we all share. It’s a common ground that allow one another to connect and share. This connection from the things that we fear is what allows to to influence others. Fear is normal.

In order for your ideas to become reality you must accept the become familiar  that networking has on your ideas. Whether it be cold calling, being in the right zip code, or overriding your fears all of these strategies are core building blocks to networking. Just like my as blog post, I would like to leave you guys with a couple of things to brainstorm about.

1) Are there any opportunities that you’ve missed out on recently because you feared failing.

2) What is one step that you can take everyday to develop/build your networking web

Making the Impossible, Possible

This week I explored fortune.com which is a multinational business magazine website. This website contains information on the latest business developments and entrepreneurship discussions. Continuing my pursuit of Elon Musk and his journey of entrepreneurship, I found an article titled, “Elon Musk Posted New Pictures of The Tunnel That Could Save L.A. From Traffic Hell.” My fascination of Elon Musk isn’t the only thing that steepened my desire to read this article. But also because his ideas are so futuristic and integrated the impossible into possible.

One of Elon Musk latest entrepreneurship launches is called the Boring Company. The Boring Company is a network of underground roads that use electrified tracks to bring cars to their destinations. To understand this better you may want to click on this link (Boring Company). Currently, the project is being expanded in LA. Specifically, the track connects Los Angeles International Airport to U.S. Route 101 along Interstate 405. This electrified underground track will relieve the horrendous track issues that result in hour-long delays. Instead of being trapped in aggravating traffic all you have to do is drive your car over one the designated electrified track elevators. The electrified tracks can reach speeds of 150 mph. 

Some of the things that came to my mind when reading this article were, “How does Musk find time to launch SpaceX, Tesla, Hyperloop, and now the Boring Company”? How does he manage all of these things and not go insane? These questions connect some of the material that I’ve learned in 101 innovation and entrepreneurship. For instance, Elon Musk doesn’t do all of this on his own, he collaborates with other entrepreneurs. This allows Musk to increase his networking and it creates a beneficial environment for ideas to incubate in. Additionally, some critics feel that Musk’s ideas are impossible to develop due to our lack of technology, but Musk continually disproves his critics. As an entrepreneur, Musk doesn’t limit his thoughts, he actually thinks outside of the box. Thinking outside of the box stimulates unique, creative and thoughtful ideas.

Another notable thing that I’m taking away from this article is that you don’t have to know how to solve the puzzle before you start it. What I mean by this is that you’re always going to run into problems when developing your ideas. For example, when I searched “The Boring Company” online the website seems to be pretty bland and missing instructions/information. The website didn’t seem to have any information about the company or what the project is based on. All it consisted of was pictures from the developing process. To me, this doesn’t seem really professional but it’s because you don’t need to have everything set in place before you start your project. Speaking for myself, I feel overwhelmed when I think about my ideas and how I should go about developing them. Of course, I should have some type of format that I follow so that I have some type of guidance. However, I don’t need to have all of the answers to my questions. That’s why entrepreneurs know that everything is a process, there isn’t just one road to success.

Be The Change

This week I’ve been struggling to find something to write about. Of course, I’m going to continue my topic but finding something to add was difficult. Hours went by and I kept pondering about what to write, but I was still lost. Lost in a cloud of confusion. However, a light bulb went off and all of sudden I navigated my way to ted talk. I clicked on a video labeled, “Elon Musk : How to Build the Future” which consisted of several key points.

1) If you doing something that is helpful to the rest of society, no matter how big of an effect it’s going to have, you should continue with it. It doesn’t have to change the world in a massive way.

2) A person who wants to see a change in the world must see the wave before it passes. For instance, Elon Musk dropped out of Stanford because he noticed a rising in the technology wave. He said that he to put a hold on Stanford “start an Internet company in ’95 because there does seem to be a time for particular technologies when they’re at a steep point in the inflection curve” (ycombinator.com).

3)Another key point that stood out because it is something that I can relate to is that success is something we all fear. When we as human beings encounter fear we instantly turn away. Our first reaction is to run surrender. However, what matters the most is our second reaction. Our second reaction gives us the ability to prosper or regress. We must face our fears and see the light that accomplishing our fears will bring.

4)For our Future to continue we must have people that will obsess about their passions. There must be this inching desire to finish what we’ve started at work. That when you’re not at work you’re still continually thinking about how you can do better.

Although these key points might sound like a motivational video there much more than that. I believe that these are key things that we as a society need to strive for. The world has a limit and we’re drying up every last bit of it. If everyone focused on these key points and did their part we would be better off. Ultimately, every one of the key points made above deals with risk. Earlier this semester we talked about how entrepreneurs are not extreme risk takers, rather risk is relative. Risk varies with everyone because everyone has a different skill set and is willing to lose more than others. Thus, in a way risk is beneficial to society when it manage properly. With the absence of risk our future will slowly come to a standstill. Technology will coagulate into a sticky situation and the world will end.

Just like last post I want to leave you guys with something to reflect on. What do you think would happen if all of sudden technology came to a standstill. How would people react and what would you do as a citizen to change this standstill?