Our YouTube channel gets 250 thousand hits

youtube-logoWe are constantly telling our clients about the power of using video to market their product or service, as do our workshop presenters (Our Marketing Masterclass with Alasdair Inglis of Grow).

So it is wonderful to be able to show how our use of videos on YouTube has gained us nearly 250,000 hits over the last three years or so.

Very early on we created our own channel BIPCTV, and began posting recordings of our Inspiring Entrepreneurs events, and our success stories.

Having attended almost all of our events over the years, I am really pleased to see that my favourite speaker is also the most popular with nearly 23,000 views. I have to admit that having already seen Levi Roots and his Reggae Reggae Sauce on BBCs Dragons Den I was prepared to be disappointed. However, as a live performer with no script or PowerPoint slides, he was witty, charming and inspiring.

Another popular speaker is Sam Roddick, founder of the ‘erotic emporium’ Coco De Mer, and daughter of Body Shop legend Dame Anita Roddick. She describes herself as an activist first and accidental entrepreneur second.



Media maestros: Innovative strategies for small businesses – next Wednesday

Shazia AwanI’m really looking forward to our next Inspiring Entrepreneurs event, Media Maestros next Wednesday 12 October from 6pm here in the British Library.

We have an impressive panel of industry experts, including: Matthew Rock, Jonathan Moules, Louise Third and Rob Pittam. We also have a special guest speaker Shazia Awan, founder of body enhancing underwear Peachy Pink and Max-Core.

Publicity is the key to getting new customers and a mention in the right newspaper, magazine or online social network can make all the difference. Getting noticed by the press can also sometimes help to reduce the costs in your marketing budgets.

Matthew Rock is founder & editor of Real Business magazine. He will lead the discussion and also give a summary of the latest media trends.

peter_Andre_inspeach pink pantsShazia Awan is the founder of Peachy Pink and Max-Core. Her products are firm favourites with stylists and celebrities and she will talk about her experiences of gaining press attention.





Jonathan Moules, enterprise correspondent at the Financial Times

Louise Third, director of Integra Communications

Rob Pittam, television and radio correspondent, he was also broadcast presenter for the BBC Working Lunch programme

Business & IP Centre is five years old today

BIPC logoWhile I am on the subject of birthdays (Escape the City is one year old), I would like to note that the Business & IP Centre is five years old today.

My colleague Isabel Oswell, who heads up our marketing activities, has come up with some helpful numbers to give an indication of what we have achieved in the last five years.

I should acknowledge the match-funding by the London Development Agency (LDA), which has enabled us to achieve so much.

I am proud to have been involved with something that has helped so many, and want to thank everyone who has helped to contribute to our success.

To date we have helped 200,000 entrepreneurs and small businesses, and given direct advice and guidance to over 30,000 people.

Fifty percent of these have been pre-start up, and 50 per cent have been post-start up and owners of growth businesses.

They come from a diverse range of backgrounds, with fifty percent women, and 37 percent from black and Asian minority ethnic groups, and 4% with disabilities.

Over a quarter of the Centre’s visitors are from the creative industries.

An independent evaluation by Adroit Economics, revealed that, between 2007 and 2009, the we helped to create 829 new businesses for London, and a further 786 new jobs for Londoners. The combined turnover for these businesses was £32 million and 89 percent of their founders say this success could not have been achieved without the Library’s help.

For every £1 that the LDA invested over the period, the businesses saw a £22 increase in turnover. Further, these businesses, supported by the Centre, have contributed £5.5 million to the public purse.

In addition, owing to its reputation and brand, the Library has also managed to leverage its funding through sponsorship, discounts, pro bono work, positive press coverage and other in-kind benefits at an estimated value of over £10 million.



Enterprising women entrepreneurs

I have to admit that I am not a big fan of the way our lovely language so often gets mangled to create handy marketing terms. The latest to come to my attention in the business start-up world is ‘mumpreneurs’.

However, putting those misgivings aside, these enterprising women are particularly impressive in the way they are able to combine the demands of looking after their  children, as well as what can be a much more demanding dependant – their business.

Just recently they have been getting a lot of attention in the media, with a whole week of coverage on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour.

mumsnet logoAlso we had Justine Roberts the co-founder of Mumsnet, speaking at our Power of Social Media evening.

Even my local paper The Mid-Susssex Times had a feature article with one of their traditionally feeble headlines – ‘After the school run we network!’

The article is about the one year old Brighton based Mumpreneurs Networking Club, founded by Nicky Chisholm and Sarah Guiel. According to Debbie Mann who now organises the Burgess Hill and Crawley areas, sharing the experience of being mums is important.

‘It doesn’t matter if little Jack is running around screaming for a biscuit because everyone is in the same situation.’

It was nice to read that the club is not exclusive and allows non-mums and ‘even the odd man’, to go along.

As Debbie points out, ‘networking is an important part of any small or medium enterprises, but especially to sole traders who are often the head of sales, PR, marketing, accounts, admin, IT, social media, manufacturing and so on.’

I’m not sure they have necessarily picked the best web address for the group if they are wanting to reverse some of the stereotypes of women networking. However, it certainly is memorable, which is important from a marketing perspective – www.agoodgossip.co.uk

Mumpreneurs Club

The Power of Social Media – an Inspiring Entrepreneurs evening

The Power of Social Media – an Inspiring Entrepreneurs evening

Web in Feb logoAs part of the Inspiring Entrepreneurs series and in conjunction with Social Media Week, the British Library hosted The Power of Social Media last night, to show how small businesses can enhance social media to engage with their customers and reach new markets.

I am grateful to my colleague Michael Pattinson for writing this report on the evening:

The event was sold out and also streamed live at Southampton University and New York Public Library.  As befitting an event about social media, there was also a live blog at www.businesszone.co.uk as well as a live Twitter feed.

The guest speakers included Fraser Docherty, founder of Superjam, Ian Hogarth, CEO and co-founder of Songkick.com, Rory Cellan-Jones, the BBC technology correspondent and Justine Roberts, co-founder of Mumsnet.

The event was hosted by Matthew Rock of Real Business magazine.  He began by telling the audience how useful social media has been for his own business, Caspian Publishing.

FraserFirst up was Fraser Docherty of Superjam.  Fraser proved to be a very engaging and funny speaker.  He told us how he started making jam, based on his grandmother’s recipes when he was fourteen, selling it door to door and at farmers markets before securing a deal with Waitrose.  Social media and blogging provided him with a cheap and easy way to publicise his brand and communicate with his customers.

According to Fraser, one of his proudest achievements has been setting up a charity which runs tea parties for the elderly.  So far, there have been tea parties so far but he believes social media can help him create thousands of similar events around the country.

IanThe next speaker was Ian Hogarth who set up the website Songkick.com, which allows members of the public to match their music interests to the site and then receive alerts when their favourite bands are playing.  The site uses a “robot” which scours the Internet for concert and gig information.

Ian made the point that everything on the web is media and everything good on the web is social.  He said: “Good ideas spread faster than ever before – that’s an amazing thing for entrepreneurs, how the barriers of entry are changing.”

Ian talked of the importance of motivating and exciting your audience by emphasising the value of your product or service.  He also talked about how the internet had blurred the lines between product and marketing and how his product manager is effectively his marketing manager thanks to social media.

Ian had recently returned from a trip to LA and recommended that any start-ups using social media needed to spend some time in Silicon Valley because their ideas about social media were so advanced.

RoryNext up was the BBC’s technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones.  Rory has witnessed first hand how social media, especially Twitter, has revolutionised news reporting.  He used an example of the earthquake in Qinghai province in China last year which was reported on Twitter before it appeared on any other news media.

Rory had some amusing anecdotes of the pitfalls of using social media – his advice:  don’t say anything on Twitter you wouldn’t say in normal conversation!  However, he brushed aside criticisms that social media is killing the art of conversation and social interaction saying that these same criticisms were made about the telephone and email.

Justine RobertsThe last speaker was Justine Roberts from Mumsnet, the massively popular website for mums (and the occasional dad) with a phenomenal 1.2 million visitors each month.

She emphasised how social media was so effective in providing a discussion forum which can be so much more effective in selling a product than traditional advertising.  She also talked of the potential dangers of going viral with silly publicity stunts which have a habit of backfiring but her main message was listen and engage, don’t stifle debate.  She also said that you should relinquish control and let yourself go!

A Q&A session followed and some interesting issues were raised by members of the audience such as online privacy and how do you protect your intellectual property.  The speakers all agreed that you can’t expect privacy as social media is a public space.  As far as Intellectual Property is concerned, you can’t stop people from copying your ideas, you just have to provide the best forum and the most recognisable brand.  As Justine Roberts said: “this is the internet, you can’t put up walls. We don’t stop our users recommending competitor websites.”

Other issues raised by questions included how social media can be used to help B2B companies and where social media is going in the future.  Rory Cellan-Jones felt that despite the dominance of Facebook, there was still room for vertical specialist social networks and that social media was blurring the lines between B2C and B2B.

You can read the live blog replay at http://www.businesszone.co.uk/topic/marketing-pr/live-blog-power-social-media/32776

The event was also filmed and highlights will be appearing on the BIPCTV YouTube channel shortly.

Global Entrepreneurship Week 2010

We are now coming towards the end of Global Entrepreneurship Week 2010, and for the Business & IP Centre it has been a great success.

Each day we have been running informal half-day networking sessions. The Centre has been full of business experts and successful entrepreneurs advising aspiring entrepreneurs.

Our two special evening events, which I attended were also excellent.

On Tuesday our Creative Networking Evening provided an opportunity to network with other entrepreneurs and advisors.

Last night’s Question Time for Entrepreneurs offered inspiring speakers, including Deborah Meaden (Dragon’s Den), Brent Hoberman (lastminute.com and mydeco.com) and Cath Kidston.

There has been lots of twitter activity about us over the last few days, and Dan Martin’s live blog led to lots of other tweeters getting involved.

We’ve also had some nice comments about our events:

“Just got back from massively inspiring business mentoring workshop at the British Library as part of entrepreneur week. Fully pumped!”

“Enjoyed speed mentoring at Enterprise Week at British Library. Met several amazing creatives at the first steps of their business.”

“It was a great event! Interesting & challenging debate” (from Women Unlimited about Inspiring Entrepreneurs)

“Thanks for a great panel session. An interesting mix of views and media”

“Great line up for Question Time: Deborah Meaden +co-founder of Lastminute.com Brent Hoberman +Enterprise UKs CEO Tom Bewick.”

And the winners of the 2010 PRECIOUS Awards are…

I blogged recently about my role in Judging the 2010 PRECIOUS Awards. And last week was the big awards ceremony itself, held in the Conference Centre at the British Library.

Rasheed Ogunlaru and Jessica Huie the CEO of Colorblind Cards were excellent hosts, and the evening was great fun.

The Precious Entrepreneur of the Year Geeta Sidhu, founder of Nosh Detox, gave an inspiring speech highlighting her ‘riches – to rags – to award-winning business’, story.

Congratulations to the winners below, and to Foluke Akinlose MBE, the founder of the awards.

The Precious Awards 2010 | The WINNERS!

Start-Up Business of the Year
Janet M Banks – The Art of Cake – janetmohapibanks.com/

Service Business of the Year
Geeta Sidhu – Nosh Detox – www.noshdetoxdelivery.com

Creative Business of the Year
Ola Amoako – Urbantopia – www.urbantopia.co.uk/

Social Enterprise Business of the Year
Marcia Hutchinson MBE – Primary Colours – www.primarycolours.net

Leadership within the Workplace
Lydia Frempong – Business Development Manager- Media Trust –

Young Entrepreneur of the Year
Bunmi Olaye, Bunmi Koko

Blogger of the Year
Alice Gbelia – Catch a Vibe – www.catchavibe.co.uk

The Precious Entrepreneur of the Year
Geeta Sidhu – Nosh Detox – www.noshdetoxdelivery.com

Rasheed Ogunlaru and Jessica Huie get a helping hand from Jessica's daughter

Ingenious Britons: Personal journeys in invention and design

Last night’s Inspiring Entrepreneurs featured successful inventors and was organised in conjunction with our wonderful Inventing the 21st Century exhibition.

Our five speakers gave us their very different stories, but with common themes and lessons learnt.

Natalie Ellis, inventor of the Road Refresher non-spill dog travel bowl.

Natalie Tried for many years to get into the pet market. She came to The British Library about eight years ago and immersed herself in our market research reports and pet related industry  information. This gave her the knowledge to understand the market and be able to sell effectively to supermarkets like Sainsbury’s.

This is a message I repeat to all of my clients in advice sessions. If your background is not from the sector you plan to launch your product or service, you must first gain in-depth industry knowledge by reading relevant publications, and even gaining some work experience where possible.

The idea for Road Refresher came from nearly being arrested by the police, for trying to let her dog drink water while driving her car. Natalie built a very basic prototype in her kitchen in the evenings while waiting for her daughter’s dinner to cook. As is almost always the case, her initial prototype didn’t work.

She displayed her final product at a trade show and generated interest there. This encouraged her to enter a women’s invention awards competition, where she won three awards, which led to BBC news coverage. Next came the fateful invite to appear on Dragons Den. Apparently the unusual chairs the Dragons sit in, make them look small and insignificant, which inspired (misplaced) confidence in Natalie. As anyone who has seen the clip will know, the experience turned out to be awful, with personal attacks from the Dragons due to Natalie’s lack of knowledge of the size of her market.

James Caan’s reaction to her plan to take the bowl to America, was to warn Natalie that America was the graveyard of British business. All successful inventors and entrepreneurs have ‘bounce back ability’, and so a few days later when she had stopped crying, and realised she believed in her product, she decided to ignore the Dragon’s advice.

She flew to America and took a stand at a trade show, and had initial difficulties selling the product, but by the time the Dragons Den show appeared on television, it had become the fastest selling dog bowl in America on Amazon.com.


Q. Did anyone offer to licence the product?

A. She was offered a 3% licence and turned it down. The moulds are made in China, but by a company recommended by a personal contact.

Q. How to present your product to potential buyers?

A. Natalie demonstrates her product by waving a full bowl in front of potential buyers faces, and watches their reaction when no water spills onto them.

Mike Spindle, inventor of the revolutionary Trekinetic Wheelchair

Mike has a Formula 1 racing car background, but despite a lack of knowledge of the wheelchair sector or disability background he developed all aspects of the Trekinetic. He said the key is noticing the problem, and the poor current solutions in the market to address it. He thinks his lack of industry knowledge and decision not to review existing solutions or patents helped him find a truly  innovative solution.

The initial trigger was seeing a trendily dressed young man stuck in a terribly old fashioned wheelchair, painted purple in a failed attempt to jazz it up.

Mike’s advice was first check existing solutions in the market place. Then sketchyou’re your solution, and build at prototype or test concepts using Meccano. Concentrate on function first, looks come second. Ultimately the product must sell itself. A big marketing budget will only take a mediocre product so far.

Don’t spend a fortune on prototypes, you can do a lot with MDF. Try and keep what you are doing as private and secret as possible.

Ask yourself if anyone will buy it. Mike gave the example of collapsible paper basket invention. Ingenious, but not ultimately not that useful.

Can you patent your idea? Use non disclosure agreements (NDA’s) to test out invention. They found a set of wheelchair users and gave them a questionnaire to fill out.

Beware of patent agents as their time is so expensive, and they want to write your application straight away, before searching the databases to see if you qualify.

You only have one chance to get it right, so make use of help from Business & IP Centre  and the UK IPO.

If you believe in your idea, don’t give up – make it happen.

Mike’s crunch point was when he discovered the chair wouldn’t run in a straight line. It took a year to fix, but is now the best on the market and can be used one handed wheelchair occupants.

The wheelchair took six years of his life, but was worth it, and now the demand is greater than they can produce.

The key is to find customers that love your product and competitors who can’t copy it.

Michael Pritchard, inventor of the Lifesaver bottle

Michael started off by agreeing with the Natalie and Mike that it does feel very lonely at times when you are inventing.

He told us the story by the Lifesaver, which came about because he got angry during Boxing Day 2005 watching images of the Tsunami on television. People were dying due to a lack of clean water, so he decided to do something about it. But as is so often the way, work and life took over, and he didn’t pursue the idea. Then came hurricane Katrina, and the same problems again with lack of drinking water. He was appalled that it took five days to get water to the thousands of people stranded in the Superdome in New Orleans.

Needed a solution that did not require chemicals or power.

Michael then gave a very polished demonstration of the Lifesaver bottle, using very murky and smelly water from the bottom of his pond.

He talked passionately about his recent visit to Pakistan and used his own photos to show the extent of the flooding and its impact on the people there.

He said how great it felt to realise that giving them a Lifesaver jerry can took the place of a dependency on a regular supply of bottled water.

His motivation was a vision of his gravestone with nothing written on it. Also his wife told him to go for it.

Q. You on the stage tonight are the lucky ones.

A. Michael disagreed, the invention must meet and unmet need, but must also be commercial.

Jim Shaikh, the inventor of  Yoomi, self heating baby bottle

Jim was the father of a three and half month weight premature baby. Jim’s job was to feed the baby at night, but kept getting the temperature wrong. Ended up with crying baby and crying wife upstairs.

It took a year to develop the concept, a bit like a combi-boiler and a gel-pack hand warmer, re-packaged into the top of a baby feeding bottle.

It has taken six years from original idea to get into Boots and soon into Europe.

Marketing tag line ‘Inspired by Mum, Designed by Dad’.

Wants to build a brand as it is more valuable than individual products.

Jim learnt about IP in the Business & IP Centre, and raised £140,000 from Angel investors. He made the very important point that a patent is an asset that helps convince investors of value of product.

It took a year to get funding for the product.

Prototyping is expensive. Jim used it to prove to investors that his product was a worthwhile investment. Took 3-4 prototypes to get the product right.

You need a support network to help you out.

You will hit low points, but part of being an entrepreneur is being able to deal with problems.

You need to be aware that competitors will respond, in Jim’s case with price cuts. How will you respond back? Do you have the flexibility?

Mark Sheahan, the Business & IP Centre’s Inventor in Residence

Mark used his immense experience of inventing and advising inventors to come up with a list of Do’s and Don’ts of inventing:

Keep your idea secret

Has to be better and or cheaper than the rest of the market

Have a professional patent search done

Review the prior-art, and carry on searching

Do your market research – players, size, prices

Is the market I am going into worth the time money and effort

Can you make the invention, and for the right price?

Look at how you can add value with your product

What is your USP? Why kill one rat when you can kill a hundred?

Helps to be optimistic

WIT – Whatever It Takes

Your enthusiasm will become infectious

Has to become the most important thing in your life

You need to become good at business

Understand the role of IP and patents

Secrets have a role to play

Don’t write your own patent – it is a false economy

Avoid sharks – not just the rogue Patent Promotion Agents

Listen to your gut feelings when dealing with people

Take on a business mentor with a couple of percentage of your business.

Create a SWAT analysis

Choose the right business model – draw up a partnership agreement

Don’t expect money from banks or government grants.

Make yourself investable – develop your marketing line

Understand contracts and letter writing

Get good at negotiating

Be realistic about the time scales – 15 years in the case of Dyson

Experience is rewarding even if you fail

Have fun with it


Q. When should one extend a British patent to a wider market?

A. Jim S – A difficult question as it is expensive to go wider. Need to think about where your market will be. Babies are born across the world. Strategy was to nationalise their patents in their biggest markets (USA and Europe).

Michael P – Find out where your competitors are manufacturing and patent there.

Q. How can you use a patent as collateral?

A. Jim S – I put in my patent into the business in exchange for investors money.

Q. Why not licence your product?

A. Mark S – I prefer to licence my technologies.

A. Michael P – Increase the value, decrease the risk by outsourcing the manufacture, but keeping control of selling and marketing of product as it is so new in the market. Wanted to build the value first.

Q. How did you foster partnerships and collaboration to get your invention market?

A. Natalie E – all self done

A. Jim S – used friends and family as focus groups, but using NDA’ and CDA’s. Balance between protecting what you have but getting valuable feedback from potential customers.

Q. The difference between being an inventor and an entrepreneur.

A. Natalie E – work to your strengths – go to trade shows to find the right

A. Mark S – licensing is a quicker and cheaper route

A. Michael P – get product into market as early as possible – don’t show a picture, have a prototype

A. Mike S – if you are going to licence your invention, make sure you get a serious amount of money up front to ensure they are committed.

Our exhibition: Inventing the 21st century

From next Monday our new exhibition Inventing the 21st century, opens here at the British Library in our Folio Society Gallery, and runs until 28 November 2010.

It is a celebration of wonderful British ingenuity, and contains a wide range of inventions from sport to tackling climate change to the weekly nightmare of changing your duvet cover. It also includes President Obama’s favourite dog bowl (as seen – and rejected – on Dragons Den), and Dyson’s revolutionary bladeless fan.

My colleague Steve van Dulken is the curator of the exhibition and has already covered several of the inventions on show in his excellent Patent Search blog.

We are also running an Ingenious Britons evening event, where you will be able to hear from and put questions to some of the inventors.

In conjunction with the exhibition we also have an Invent it! campaign. We want to inspire the next generation of ingenious Britons to develop products to make your lives easier, from a mug of tea that never goes cold, to a smart phone battery that can last all week. Personally, I would like to have a stretchy keyboard for my Blackberry, as I can touch type, but my clunking fingers are far too big for the standard BB keys.

What would you like to see an invention for? Have your say on our Facebook fan page and Twitter using the hashtag #bipcinvent

We’ll be announcing the top ten ideas during Global Entrepreneurship Week (15 – 19 November).

Judging the 2010 PRECIOUS Awards

I am greatly honoured to have been asked to be a judge for the 2010 PRECIOUS Awards, which celebrate the achievements of inspirational entrepreneurial women of colour who are running businesses in the UK.

The Awards evening will take place on  Monday 8 November here at The British Library with Rasheed Ogunlaru presenting.

It only costs £1.00 to enter for one of the awards below, using either the Main Entry Form or the Leadership Form:

Start-Up Business of the Year:
Are you a business woman who has just started out? Do you want the business world to know how well you are doing? Then this category is for you! Nominees in this category can be from any business sector and must have been in business at least six months*.

Social Enterprise Business of the Year:
Sponsored by The Social Enterprise Coalition
Do you run a business that’s based on sound ethical principles? Are you a community interest or social enterprise company that gives back to the community? This is your chance to shine. Nominees must have been trading for at least 12 months*.

Service Business of the Year:
Is your business in the service sector. Do you run a shop or mobile business? Nominees in this category can be from any business sector. They must have been in business for more than 12 months*.

Creative Business of the Year:
Do you run a cultural and/or creative business? Is it based in an industry such as PR, design, fashion, music, advertising, marketing, or film? If you have been trading for at least 12 months then enter now*.

Online Business of the Year:
Are you committed to the online business model? Have you built an online brand you want to shout about? Is 55% of your turnover gained from online transactions? Yes? Then you could become the PRECIOUS Online business of 2010.   you must have been in business for more than 12 months*.

Inspiring Leader within the Workplace:
Are you, or do you know someone working within a business or organisation who has taken on an entrepreneurial role within the company? Do their commitment and actions influence those within and extend beyond their workplace? Get recognition and nominate now.

Young Entrepreneur of The Year:
We’re looking for a PRECIOUS star of the future! If you are running a business and aged under 26 then this award is for you. It’s a special category designed to help find the best young business woman who is just starting out on her entrepreneurial journey. To enter this category you need to have been trading for at least six months *.

The Precious Entrepreneur of the Year:
This award awarded by the judges, recognises the most passionate and dedicated woman business owner who the judges feel has overcome significant challenges to achieve outstanding business success.