This Big City

Software partnership

February 3, 2010
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This week, we decided to focus on the software side of our product. We all know that this is our weakness as none of us have any programming knowledge, so to make the most of our student contacts, we arranged a meeting with Karel Riha to discuss our technical needs and the possibility of working with some other MA students on the programming of the site.

He told us that his students need a project with 600 hours of work, which even though that sounds like a lot we can definitely provide that when you think about all the list of features we have considered for our project!

Fingers crossed when we get the chance to pitch this idea some of the students will be interested in working with us.


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Lost in leadership

January 24, 2010
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This week things were a bit different in class. We had Miguel teaching us about leadership, and I didn’t really respond positively to his teaching style. Frustrating this as Leadership and the Creative Economy is a totally new subject to me and I really needed the info!

Oh well, at least we are making progress on the business front.

We’ve made more progress with website interfaces, which we did using playful prototyping and which I shall be turning into some Photoshop mock ups quite soon:

We’re also still talking with newspapers and publishing agencies, but waiting on the yesses is taking longer than anticipated…

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Where do I want to be in 5 years?

January 19, 2010

Last weeks class was interesting. I was a little disappointed to hear such materialistic ambitions from people. Personally, I don’t care if I have a house on every continent, or a fast car, my primary goal is creative satisfaction because, in my experience, once I have that, everything else I need follows. Having said that, I definitely want to be earning more than i currently am! So what are my actual goals for 5 years time? I have no idea really. I want to work in sustainable urbanism I guess, and I want to write about it too. Basically, I want to be busy busy. I have no idea where I want to live, and I definitely am not driven by what material possessions I have by 2015. Although I definitely want a new iMac by then.

It sure is great to be back on MACE. I am fired up and making good progress with Tshaped. We have been talking with newspapers and magazines, and whilst it is a much more lengthy process than any of us anticipated, we are getting somewhere for sure. It’s amazing how much I have learned from all this so far! Everything from how to sell ideas, what is the best way of approaching organisations, and how different the culture is between newspapers and magazines.

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Holiday blues

January 2, 2010
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Progress is slow over the holidays. We have recently emailed all the national newspapers, but because its silly season, so many people arent in their offices or at their phones, and emails are getting lost.

Team mates are on holidays so hard to keep in touch with, and my interest levels are lagging.

Everyone is back in the country soon though so hopefully we can be full steam ahead once again, and I’m sure the moment we sit down as Tshaped my interest will be back!

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A letter to next year’s MACE students…

December 20, 2009
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Dear next years MACE students,

Go to the Trade Fair.

You might not make any money at all, and the wine wasn’t great, but the opportunity to interact with potential customers and potential business partners is unmissable.

You should make your stand look unique, making people want to visit it. We took my Mac with me, and it automatically gave us something different to everyone else there. Although if you all follow this advice it won’t be unique…

Dress up your table in whatever way you can, and brings some pens and paper, because you are going to want to take as many email addresses as you can so you can make more sales in the future!

Talk to everyone, or as many people as you possibly can. By this point in the course you should hopefully know how valuable one opinion is, well this trade fair is a whole room full of opinions so go get them! Don’t be scared, remember that everyone at the fair is either in the same boat as you or has specifically come because they are interested in what you are doing!

Don’t be late, because you’ll get a shit table.

Maybe take some sweets.

Joe xoxo

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Trade Fair Reflections

December 17, 2009
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Going to the trade fair was absolutely brilliant and a great thing to do. It was good to interact with potential users of the service, hear their opinions and ideas, and also to talk with business people and hear their advice. And also to take their email addresses so we can bombard them when we launch! We learned so much from being at the fair that we probably would never have learned otherwise, and we also made some potentially valuable contacts for the future.

The feedback we received from potential users was interesting, and got us thinking about ways we could expand on the concept of our idea. What was great, was that some of the ideas we heard repeatedly were ideas we had considered already, and the fact that other people were thinking about it too showed us that they had real potential!

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Dragons Den

December 5, 2009
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This Fridays class was super fun. Pitching to our Dragons was no way near as scary as I anticipated, in fact, it was actually very enjoyable!

We tried to get across the most important info in our pitch, but also have some fun and make it enjoyable for our audience. At this stage, I think it’s pretty clear that Tshaped are having a great time creating our product Hold the Front Pages and pushing it as far as we possibly can, and based on the 2 million pledged to our business it seems people like what we’ve done so far!

It was great to hear people’s feedback on the logo. We have done so many ideas that it has been hard to judge what is the best, so to hear what people had to say about our ideas was really valuable in choosing the final logo. As well as talking to people in class, we have also requested feedback from family members and friends to get a range of backgrounds involved in our feedback.

Things are getting serious now, with our next step being interacting with the newspapers to get the service running. Its exciting but also very scary to be at this stage.

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This Friday’s class

November 21, 2009
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This friday, I realised that we made the right decision when discarding our hamper business idea.

That was a joke.

Pricing is super important obviously, but we are planning on launching a free product so there is no pricing to do! However, there are expenses to consider and we will definitely be considering these over the next few Tshaped meetings.

I feel like class is no longer the area where most of my learning is coming from. Tshaped meetings are becoming more regular, our research more ambitious, and our developments are becoming more technological, and as I am learning so much from all of this, class seems to be losing its relevance.

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Reflecting on our visit from the young enterprise guys

November 21, 2009
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It was great to have the young enterprise guys come visit, although it was equal parts informing and disappointing.

The attitude we seem to be taking in our team is that even though we know we have a time limit on this business, we should treat it like a real business. We are pushing hard and not looking for easy routes to profit or turnover. Its an idea we all love and support, and even if we never make it to launch, I really believe that we will have learned an enormous amount from the experience. However, the guys from young enterprise seemed to suggest that because this wasnt a ‘real’ business they could justify some ridiculous rules about how we can operate our businesses. Ultimately, the only reason this isnt a real business is all these limits they chose to impose upon us. I’m not particularly bothered by this, I personally feel like we can set the rules ourselves as long as we don’t behave stupidly, but because we are being very ambitious with Tshaped it was a bit disheartening to hear 2 guys come in and suggest to us that the way to make money is selling tights and pencils. I’m really not bothered about turning a profit, I’m involved in this course and this project because i want to learn new and relevant skills for the next chapter in my life, and I don’t believe that selling tights and pencils is the way to get them.

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Pitch Reflections

November 11, 2009
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Hearing all the businesses pitch ideas at last weeks class was really interesting. It was great to see how teams had bonded, which roles people were playing, and all the exciting ideas being developed.

It was clear that some ideas were stronger than others, some teams had rushed their product development, and some teams didn’t present a united front. Overall, it seems that running a business is an incredibly hard task for everyone!

What surprised me is how few teams were heading down the digital product or service route. Our team are working digitally for many reasons, but one of the main ones is we believe that the skills we will achieve by doing this are desirable in the real world. An online presence is absolutely necessary for every company, and we believe that working as a digital design team will improve our employability once the MA is over. I can’t help but feel that people are scared by what they dont know and going physical as a result, which in my opinion is a short-sighted view.

We were happy with the feedback we received. Most people raised points we had considered during our product development, and we also had some questions that we will definitely be asking ourselves further down the line. Our idea seemed to meet a positive response, which is great for us. You can spend so much time on an idea and eventually become a little blind to it, so everyone’s feedback was much appreciated.

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About author

Joe Peach is an Artist and Designer based in London, UK. At present, he is studying Sustainable Communities and the Creative Economy at Postgraduate level in Kingston University.