Advertised during the Build a Business evening sessions held at Said Business School the Future Business Weekend course looked intriguing; everyone who has ever watched The Apprentice knows that given the experience they would surely do better than the contestants, here was the perfect opportunity to have a go!
Following an inspiring ‘rags to riches’ story from Marcelo Bravo, one of the assisting entrepreneurs, Jeremy started the weekend off. I was unsure how the groups were going to be picked however his enthusiasm for us to take the initiative was apparent when Jeremy opened the floor for pitches.
Despite a slightly hesitant start, everyone’s confidence grew as more people took to the floor to pitch their ideas. This opening set the scene for the weekend and provided one of the first lessons; we were in control and what we were going to get out of the weekend would depend on what we put in.
Groups were self-selecting and once I was settled the ideas began to flow. Thankfully I had teamed up with Julian a serial entrepreneur and Fujia an F1 product designer, their fantastic skills set were perfect for developing ideas for a light weight, easy use travel cot-Space Cot! This was second lesson; find a team with complementary skills set that you can happily work with.
From here on in the weekend became a rapid blur of activity all geared towards a final pitch. With a work load reminiscent of finals revision the satisfaction of creating a real business spurred us to carry on to the Sunday afternoon pitching session; however we wouldn’t have gotten far without the advice given in our initial pitch and the help of the course mentors.
I’m not sure whether it was an intentional lesson but I would say that constant (and genuine) interest of the mentors in what we were doing acted as an opportunity to validate our ideas though continual assessment. Therefore I would consider the third lesson of the weekend to be tell your your plans to someone, once that idea is out there, its a lot easier to test whether it is going to work or not!
But finally, at the end of the weekend I think that the question I entered the weekend with had changed its focus from could I do better than The Apprentice contestants, to could Alan Sugar meet the support and enthusiasm from mentoring that was offered at the weekend.
Ester Miller – Oxford 2012 FutureBusiness Weekend Cohort