Maha’s Reflective blog

Dear Future self,

From a young age I have always wanted to start my own business, how, what and when I did not know about. The day I was asked during my GSCE interview I told them I wanted to start my own business and that was the reason why I had chosen the three subjects; business studies, textiles and ART.

While completing my undergraduate degree I was then sure I wanted to start my own business within the fashion industry. As part of my business start-up module I even created some product samples, which made me realised I can do this! I wanted to combine my Balochi culture with modern fusion wear clothing for women. With the use of handmade traditional Balochi attire to modern wear.

I was and I am still motivated about my business idea. Once I completed my undergraduate course, I was not sure if I wanted to do masters but after a year gap, I decided I wanted to do masters at Kingston University. The reason to why I decided to do masters than to work on my own start up business was because I felt I needed more knowledge on how a business works and the innovation side of it.

The lessons that I have learnt in the Design Thinking for Start-up module will be always remembered and relevant for me to use always. For this module we had to redesign a product or service that solved a problem. However, instead of redesigning a product or a service that was solving a problem, we were creating a problem itself. We had many ideas of products as a group and individually that we had thought of but they did not meet the requirements of the module or any market need.

Our Ideas

One of our ideas was a student planner, we wanted to create a student planner mainly based for Kingston University students. In order for us to create a student planner we needed to do some market research and find what are the needs that a planner would fulfil for students. We realised that everyone that owned a student planner had all kinds of different student planners. This made it quite tricky for us to solve as well as we were not fully happy with our idea of a student planner as it did not make us excited about our student planner idea. We decided we wanted a different idea but we were struggling a lot. As we knew a student planner was not the best idea we could think of as many people are already using a planner. We needed to redesign a product or service that met a need and a student planner was not what we wanted.

In the design thinking classes we were given different resources, activities and many other things to help us out with finding something to redesign and also help us as a team to work together as well as to get to know each other to begin with. In the classes we used different types worksheets to help us, they were very important to businesses or anyone starting up a business. The business canvas, lean canvas and empathy map were all very useful in their own ways in which I will write about in more detail.

Figure 1 Empathy Map Canvas (Brown,2020)

Empathy Map

The empathy map was very interesting to me, the reason for this was because of the task that was given to us in class. The task that was set had three different roles which we had to work in groups of three. My role was being the robot, which meant I was only told what to say or do, and without being told what to say or do I was not meant to talk or take any action without being instructed. The other two roles were a mute person and a visually impaired person. This meant that the mute person could not speak but they only could see and hear where as on the other hand the visually impaired person could not see but could speak and hear too. This task was quite tricky to begin with however, the aim of this task was for the three roles we had a group to take a journey to the toilet and back to the class. As the simple as the task sounded it was not for example; when I felt I needed to talk to give directions I could not as well as the visually impaired person felt unsafe as they could not see anything. We had used the empathy map after the task and we found it very interesting, the reason for this was the empathy map was to simply visually capture knowledge about a user’s behaviours and attitudes. It is a useful tool to help teams better understand their users. This exercise is to create a solution that requires good understanding of the problem and the person that is experiencing it (Brown,2020).

Figure 2 Business Model Canvas (Enterprising Oxford,2020)

Business Model Canvas

The business model canvas was created by Alex Osterwalder, and within the business canvas model there are 9 areas to fill in. These 9 areas that are included are as follows; customer segments, value propositions, channels, customer relationships, revenue streams, resources, activities, partnerships and the costs. The business model canvas will help in many ways, it will lead to insights about the customers you serve, what value propositions are offered through the what channels, and how your company makes money. The canvas can also be used to understand your own business model or that of a competitor (Business Model,2020). This business model canvas really helped us as a team, while we were struggling with our student planner idea, we were then able to create a new an idea which was then our official and final idea the card game It’s Not Just a Game.

Lean canvas

The lean canvas was created by Ash Maurya, and it was adapted from the business model canvas that was created by Alex Osterwalder. Using a lean canvas is less time consuming compared to creating a business plan which I have in the past in my previous university. We had used lean canvas a team for many of our ideas and it had helped us to improve our ideas too especially our final idea the card game. The lean canvas uses the same 9 blocks of area like the business model canvas however, they have been adapted slightly to suit the needs/ purposes/ requirements of a Lean Start up. The Lean Canvas is a single page document to help brainstorm possible business models, the 9 blocks guide you through steps staring with your customer problems right through to your unfair advantage (Mullen,2016).

Three of these documents, the empathy map, the business model canvas and the lean canvas had been very useful not just for us as a team but also for me. The reason for this is because as I have mentioned before that I want to start my own fashion business; I would apply these canvases models and the empathy map to gain a better insight of my business and users too. This learning has been great and very useful knowledge will be remembered and applied for my business or will be shared with anyone else who is thinking of starting up a business.

First Dragons’ Den

During our first Dragons’ Den every team had presented in front of other groups as well as in front of the judges who then at the end asked questions and gave comments. One of the things I learnt from working as a team that they are there to help you and to support you. I personally felt nervous when we were practicing over and over again, I thought it may not work out for me. There was a time when I needed a break as I could not think properly and felt really nervous so I had stepped out of the room we were practicing. The good thing about my team that day was that they understood me and just told me it is okay and we are a team and I do not need to worry. When we had finished presenting, I had realised that practice does make perfect and not matter how many words or sentences you miss out only you would know not your audience, as long as you don’t show your nervousness. This is something I have learnt that as long you have practiced your speech or presentation you would not feel nervous or forget your main aim of the speech.

Trade Fairs

During our first trade fair at Kingston Business School, I learnt that time must be used wisely. Even though we did feel that we were using our time wisely as our card game had a name called It’s Not Just a Game and we knew the aim of the game but we just needed to final the design of the game. We spent most of our time on creating the perfect design than we did with the content and spent time choosing the colours of the cards. This was quite tricky because we needed to use a design and have colours that would be suitable for our target audience which we were still struggling at with stage a little. However, we had a prototype ready for the first trade fair and we received good comments about our game and people who came to our trade stand did not leave without playing the game and found it interesting too. We also won best product on that day too which as a great achievement however, we were told our branding was not good due to the canvas aisles we had used and the scrabbled letters confused the people in the trade fair.

When we had our second trade fair at Kingston Eden Walk, we made sure we used the feedback we received about our branding especially in order to improve our stand. However, this time we did not win the best product but we did win the best sales team and came third for best trade stand. This had shown the improvement we had made as a team. I personally learnt on this day that standing around does not help you need to talk to new people in order to get responses for your product and engage with people and who knows they may become your customers.

The great achievements which we had made as a group from the trade fairs, the Bright Ideas competition where we came second runner up with £250 and being selected for national competition was a great a motivation for us. It felt so unreal but we knew we could do this if we work together and work hard as nothing is impossible. This was not possible without the help and support of our lecturer, business mentors and the feedback we received from our classmates and potential customers too. One key lesson I have learnt is that in future it is important to know the target audience as well as to know if there is a market need for the product or service in order to meet the customers’ needs.

This experience of the real world has helped me a lot and will help in future too when starting up my own business in the fashion industry. From creating an idea to making it a real life product the whole journey as amazing and with the help of my team I was able to become a better and more confident speaker whether it was in front or judges or potential customers in trade fairs.

Link to my blogs:

Business Models Inc. 2020. The Business Model Canvas: Tool To Help You Understand A Business Model. [online] Available at: <; [Accessed 9 May 2020]. 2020. Business Model Canvas Explained | Enterprising Oxford. [online] Available at: <; [Accessed 9 May 2020].

Leigh Brown, J., 2020. Empathy Mapping: A Guide To Getting Inside A User’s Head | UX Booth. [online] Available at: <; [Accessed 9 May 2020].

Mullen, S., 2016. An Introduction To Lean Canvas. [online] Medium. Available at: <; [Accessed 9 May 2020].

Final Dragons’ Den

The stress

It was time for our final Dragons’ Den, the stress of the presentation was increasing as well as the stress of the Corona virus spreading across the country and the world, there was also news of the virus in Kingston. Within just only week to finally complete and fix any errors in the team presentation slides and business report with the feedback received from the mock Dragons’ Den. It was finally the time to find out which two teams have been selected from the national competition out of the four teams selected on the same day.  

The final Dragons’ Den day was quite a stressful day for us especially because we were waiting for our cards to be printed the same day. We kept contacting the printing company to be printed on time, which they were eventually ready just few hours before the presentation. They had been collected by one of our team members and ready to show during our final presentation.

Our Card Game

We finally had our product, our card game: It’s Not Just a Game was in our hands, we could only wish if it was ready some days or weeks before. The reason for this was so our pre-orders that we received could have been orders with payments with cash in hands given to us. There is not point in regret or thinking about the past, the only thing we could do is make our present and future better. I have learnt that there is not use of regretting as every thing happens for the better and we can only learn and improve.

Final Presentation

During our final presentation that we had practiced many times before and during the same day again and again. One of the team members also came with the idea of video recording our practice run so we can see ourselves and look at our body language and any mistakes we had done. As soon as we entered the room where we had to present in front of the judges, we took our table placed down in front of the judges with our card game on to of the table positioned for the judges to see. Also, we had given the judges a pack each to all of them, for them to feel and see the quality as well as the card game itself. I was in charge of the remote for changing the slides, as soon as it was in my hands, I knew I had big responsibility of changing the slides according to when it was each member turn to speak. I think that I did a good job in clicking the remoting mostly at the right time only once I skipped the slide but quickly pressed the back button.

At the end of the day, four teams were selected and we were one of them. All four teams had to pitch for two minutes and then one of the judges asked two questions, in order to select two final teams for the national competition. It was great to know that we were of the teams that was selected for the national competition to represent our Kingston University.

Team Work and Submission

Team achievements

It was time for the reason that we have been working so hard for, it was time for the submitting our team presentation and business report, the deadline was 12th of March 2020. All that hard work we as a team had done and put in all our effort for the past two semesters was coming near the end of this design thinking for start-ups module. Time had gone so fast and it was the end of this roller coaster journey. An experience to be well remembered with great new friends and a team that I have learnt a lot from.

As every team has a leader of the group, in our team we did not officially have one leader. The reason for this was because we considered everyone in the team a leader. So, everyone in our team was a leader equally and we took in turns to be leaders for example; when one person knew a skill or was a better at a skill than the rest of the team members then he or she was the leader they would guide or lead the team. This was not maybe the best idea as it did sound for us, in some areas it did create conflict however, everyone did have the right to say something when they felt they needed to be heard.

It is important to have a leader of a team as they offer guidance to all members of the team to ensure they are fulfilling their roles (Smallbusiness,2020). A leader in any type of team or business has responsibilities to motivate all the team members that they are leading. The leader is there to deal with any issues or any conflicts that may happen between the members of the group and they must handle the situation in proper and good manner.

Working in a team was not always easy, the reason for this was because we all came from different countries and had different background as well as learning style. There were some days when some team members were not as motivated as others. We all made sure we dealt with that well and there was no pressure for them and if they felt they were put into pressure; the team members would make sure they were aware of that and sit down to talk about it. There were times when I personally felt that working as a team had its positive points as well as negative points but that is a normal in every team.

Overall working with a team especially when they are all from different parts of the world with different culture and they have different learning style is a plus point I believe. As this can help you to learn about each and every member learning style and maybe also about their culture which is great. I personally like meeting different people from different parts of the world mainly because to learn about their culture and I love learning a new language. 2020. Importance Of A Leader In A Team. [online] Available at: <; [Accessed 5 May 2020].

Mock Dragons’ Den

Photo by fauxels on

6th of March 2020 was out Mock Dragons’ Den; this was a great opportunity my team and the other teams to have a practice run in front of the judges. This helped us to be prepared and improve our pitching skills and take out any mistakes we have done during the mock in order to be well prepared for the actual real Dragons’ Den.

We were just a week away from our real and final Dragons Den. Also, less than a week away from submitting our business report as a team, which was due on 12th of March. On the Mock Dragons’ Den not only did we receive feedback for our presentation but also for our business report. It was quite tough as the submission was just a day before the actual Dragons’ Den plus the submission date was my brother’s birthday. However, the business report was due at 4 pm on the day, so I did have time to celebrate my disabled brother’s birthday with him and family. As well as doing a great job as a team, there were times where we felt demotivated and I personally felt confused too. As they say hard work pays off and it did, we received an A for our business report which was a great achievement!

Unfortunately, our final product was not produced and we still had prototypes due to issues with the printing company as they were not able to print the cards in the time we wanted. It was near the end of this module and the key learning and teaching we have learnt as well as experienced in this time will be remembered. It was a real-life experience and practical module which I really enjoyed out of all the modules in my Masters, and it did not feel like a module at all apart from the submissions. I really enjoyed working with my team and each and every member of my class.

Before we had presented during the day, we had to prepare our table in which we presented our card game prototype, and then we practiced and practiced till it was time to present, this made me feel quite confident and happy with our preparation so was a my team happy and confident too like always. My team really helped me to become confident and be less nervous when presentation, one of my team members would joke and say just pretend that everyone who is watching us present are farts this made me laugh and forget we were presenting to get graded, it made me feel like we were just presenting in class however, that wasn’t always the case when it was my turn to speak.  After I starting speaking, I knew what needed to say and it would just flow even if I miss some words, I said in the practice run it did not matter as no one knew apart from me and my team, what I wanted to say exactly.

Eden Walk Trade Fair

On the 22nd of February we had our second trade fair at Kingston Eden Walk, it was a cold and very long day. However, it was a good experience for me as I was able to interact with the general public. It was an opportunity that I will always remember.

The Kingston Eden Walk trade fair was a good chance for me as I was able to test my skills as well know how to communicate with the public and potential customers in a good manner. The trade fair was set up around 8:45 am and it started at 9 am. During this time, I made sure I was relaxed by talking to my team members and other teams, this helped me to be not so nervous as I thought I would be.

Due to the weather conditions getting worse as it was really cold and the end time which was originally 5:30 pm changed to an earlier time. I had really enjoyed this whole new experience and my team had won best sales team on the day!

People from the public playing our card game- It’s NOT Just a Game

As we still did not have a final product, we were only taking pre-order from our potential buyers. In total we received 12 order for our card game; It’s Not Just a Game! This was an extremely great opportunity for our team to test our product with people in Kingston. Not everyone was interested in playing the game with us, but many did like the idea of the game. The feedback from the people during the trade fair were very useful, they had given us comments such as; it was interesting and a clever idea and some even gave suggestions on how to improve and expand our start up.

It was difficult to grab attention of the public to begin with in the morning. As the time and hours past, I was able to build my confidence in talking to people. I learnt that in order to meet your target market, it is important to test your product or prototype with the target audience. There were different groups of people who visited our trade stand, from elderly people, couples, employees and many more. I realised that in order to gain attention from the different people, I had to use a different tone of voice and speech to make sure I was grabbing their attention. It was quite difficult to begin with because it was a very cold day and nearly everyone was in a rush either to shop or get somewhere.

Overall, near the end of the day we found out who had won each of the prizes from best product, best sales team which we won and best trade stand which we came third place in. Even though we came third place in the best trade stand this had shown improvement since our last trade fair. In this trade fair we had met many people from different backgrounds with great comments and feedback and suggestions, some in which will be remembered.

Bright Ideas Grand Final

I was really happy to find out that our product made it to the Bright Ideas grand final and top of that we had won £250 for runner up in the competition. This shows that the hard work we put in really brought us to this place. Everyone in our class has worked really hard and we have all made massive improvements which really shows. The next step is the trade fair at Kingston market which will lead up to potential customers. This is a great opportunity for us all to be able to showcase our product to the public. I am really nervous but excited and cannot wait to receive the feedback from the public.

Reaching to the grand final has really encouraged us as a team to work even harder with our product. Practicing pitch in empty classrooms until we presented our pitch in front of the judges, as practice makes perfect. This has helped me to become more confident with pitching even though I still need some more work with it. As a team we kept helping one another with our speech and instead of trying to memorising our speech, we made sure we know what we speak about it a confident manner and ensuring we know our product well. By observing each other’s body language and tone in order to make sure we presenting properly and look good too!

In the grand final of the Bright Ideas competition the wait was long as we were literally the last team to present out idea/ product to the judges. The feedback we were given from the judges seemed like some of them were impressed with the product. During the grand final ceremony, we sat in the room feeling quite excited to find out the winners of each of the categories. When our product was called for winning, we were so happy. It was really a great experience for all of us and enjoyed our day.

Our next step is the trade fair at Kingston market and we are working really hard to prepare for it. We are trying our best to create a better prototype and finalise the design of our product with packaging. For the trade fair day at Kingston market we need to make sure that we present our product in a good way and not how we had done before in the university trade fair. Also, we need to make sure we grab a lot of attention and one of the ways in which this can be done is by involving the public to try and play our card game.

Great experience to be added to my CV, working in a team with starting up a business and reaching to the grand final and winning £250 runner up. Also, being a part of a business idea/ product making would make my CV stand out as well. All the skills I have used and gained while working with my team on this product will be useful in future too.

First Trade Fair!

Before the Trade Fair I felt so nervous but excited at the same time. I was not sure what to expect from the trade fair as I have never taken part in any types of trade fair. However, the experience was great and really enjoyed it all. Me and my team made sure we were prepared for our first ever trade fair. For the trade fair we made sure we developed our prototype into a better and improved version. We received many positive comments and feedback from people visiting the trade fair and also the judges. There were three awards in which we had won best product for.

The trade fair was a great opportunity for us as we needed to gain feedback for our product and also know what we needed to improve on for our product. The purpose of the trade fair was to showcase our product and sell to the public and this was the first time to experience in talking to potential customers. This was very important for us as we needed to test our product with our potential customers and the public. However, rather than selling our product our aim was to show our product and test it on the public and gain feedback from them.

Our product is a card game that enhances your creative abilities both individually and collectively among a team in any environment such as; classrooms, workplaces and at home. The game encourages and to help its users to come up with ideas through simple activities. The game also helps to improve ideation, team work, time management and presentation as well as pitching skills.

Trade Stand Presentation

For our trade stand we had prepared for the trade fair it did not show what our trade stand was selling or what our product was even. On our trade stand we had small canvases with easels and used scrabble letters to write our product name. This had changed the whole atmosphere of our trade stand, as it did not show our brand or what the product was. Few people were little confused at first when they came towards our trade stand because it looked like art to them or a game of scrabble due to our product name was written with scrabble letters.

One of the main feedback we received from the judges was that when we were asked who our target customer was, we had many answers and this had confused our judge. We were told we needed to focus on one customer target and not different customer segments. It is important for any type of business to know target customer in order to meet their expectations and needs.

We had won best product and this had really made me even more motivated with our business idea. We still need to improve on some areas but knowing that we won best product made us really proud and to know that our product has a great potential is motivating.

Dragon Den Pitch

Preparing ourselves for the dragon den pitch was fun but quite tiring at the same time. The reason to why I found it quite tiring was because we practiced a lot which was good but it did make me more nervous and frustrated as well. There was a moment I felt like I needed to step out and be alone and after few minutes I came back and felt so much better as my team was very supportive and understanding.  However, the fun part was getting along as a group helping each other out. We even created a prototype for our product.

When it came to creating the prototype, we had so much fun, as we came up with the design, colours, features and content to make it as unique as possible as well as fun to use and play with. Before finalising our final idea, we had many ideas for example student notebook that is not only personalised but student friendly to use with all the information they would need for their course and University information included. However, when we thought about it properly and with the feedback given from our lecturer and classmates. Then we knew it was not the best or a unique idea to work on as it could get complicated. The idea for our product was to create a unique educational purpose card game for our potential customers to use.

Near to the dragon den pitch day we practiced so much and it helped us so much and I believe it also gave me confidence in speaking and knowing what I wanted to say.

The day of the dragon den pitch the judges did make us feel comfortable, but it was still quite a stressful atmosphere. Seeing everyone present and hearing the questions and feedback they received was a great opportunity to know what we should do and not do as well. One of the main feedback most of teams received was that do not focus just on the problem but also give the solution for the problem and so on. However, everyone overall received good comments about their product/ service which was great!

When we had presented, we used our time quite wisely I think and completed on time. There were both positive and negatives points maybe but overall, I believe our presentation was good. The judges gave us few questions but more comments about our product and one of them even mention how our idea in the longer run could become a B2B which was great to hear!

It was great to hear feedback from the judges as well as before in our practise run from our fellow classmates as it encouraged us to do well and also think about the questions that may be asked too.

Now next time is to make our prototype even better to turn it into a real product to test on people and see their reaction. It is important to create something that we can use to find out if it will work in the business world and whether or not people will like it.

The Lean Canvas & Business Model!

Before starting the design thinking start-up module, I was not aware of the lean canvas at all. I knew start-ups use business plans and business models before start-up their business idea.

Lean canvas was created by Ash Maurya; it is a one-page business plan template. It was created to help getting ideas across with the key assumptions. The lean canvas was adapted from the business model canvas created by Alex Osterwalder. The learn canvas is less time consuming, where as creating a business plan is very time consuming.

The lean canvas helped me and my team as well as the other teams to I believe. Our team were able to use the top three ideas we had to work on for the lean canvas in class and after class in our meetings. I would be carrying the lean canvas in for most of our meetings at beginning until we felt we knew what we had to do next. The lean canvas was simple but also a lot work needed to be done by us in order to get it right. We struggled the first time however, our lecturer helped us a lot which made it easy for us and straightforward for completing for our ideas we had.

The business model canvas was created by Alex Osterwalder as mentioned before in this blog. The business model is to develop thinking with the nine different areas that combined into one. These are as follows customer segments, value propositions, channels, customer relationships, revenue streams, resources, activities, partnerships and costs. All these areas a very important, this is because it helps people to make sure they know where their idea stands as each area is needed. The business model canvas helps to understand what is needed for a business to work and to be able to launch it all components are essential.

The difference between both the canvas is that firstly visually you can see that label of each components is different from both the lean canvas and business model canvas. When we used the lean canvas at first, we were little confused but as we discussed more about it then we got to learn and did a good job with identifying where our ideas each belong. For example, which idea belongs to which segment and their unique competitive advantages and so on.

I believe that both business model canvas and lean canvas has its own advantages. The business model canvas is great because it helps to give a unique way of creating a business where the potential customers will like and enjoy the product or service. The lean canvas focuses on the problem more the idea which is great, as your then able to understand the idea more.

First Idea Flop/Failed!!

As they say never give up and failure leads to success!

Me and my team struggled with coming up with a good and unique idea. However, we really needed to redesign an idea that was already a product or service. As a group we sat in the University library researching and researching!

Good and unique ideas always take time!

When we had few ideas we liked as a team then we did a little interview session with students in the library. The one to one with students went really well they had given great feedback and advice, as well as liking some of our ideas which was great!

However, when we picked our first idea to present in class as a roleplay in terms of problem and solution. We found it easy to roleplay it out and we practice a lot too for it.

The day of the roleplay presentation we felt quite confident with our roleplay but I myself felt quite confused and I was not sure if our idea would be approved few other team members felt the same, I think as that’s what it seemed liked. In a team its important to hear all members of the team and agree to a final decision and be confident with it.

So, the idea we decided to present was very different and very redesigned, we did not even do survey or interviews with people to ask about their opinion. We did not spend much time or research into the idea to see what is already available in the market.

After we presented our idea in front of our lecturer and classmates, we received many questions from our classmates and comments as well. However, our lecturer killed our baby aha!

Which we agreed to and did not regret!

Our idea was to help the visually impaired people fit in with everyone around them, and not let them feel left out. It was a quite a tough idea when we receive the feedback. Our aim was to change the way people see blind people and also to remove the white stick they use to a cap.

The cap was to help navigate visually impaired with voice over and alerts to keep them aware from hazards and objects approaching them. When receiving the first comments our lecturer it made us realise that we are taking away their identity from the stick to a cap. This can cause many issues and difficulties for them as they have always been identified with a white stick and black glasses too.

However, we did not fail but we learnt from this lesson to take another step to arrange more meeting with team and get our head down a good idea that would succeed. We had meeting and calls and group texts through WhatsApp to keep the team together and on pace. This was to ensure we do not leave members thoughts and opinions behind but to encourage our team members and have the same goal which is to succeed to a good idea as a team.

Unfortunately there is no images of the cap or any other images support this blog.

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