Last week, on Tuesday 7th March my team was at the University Business Challenge (UBC) 2016/17 semi-final round in Sheffield, one of four semi-final rounds.
The day was split between four activities, each giving points depending on how well each team did. The four activities were:
- Start up
- Scaling up/continuity
A creative activity, each team had to come up with up to three product ideas incorporating a hen theme. A fun starting activity, the team came up some interesting ideas including:
- Egg on the go: An app allowing people to locate and buy eggs from local producers.
- Chickflick: A subscription service for chick flicks films.
- Hen Bomb: A novelty item that causes chicken feathers to go flying everywhere.
The creative juices were flowing all around, and it was a pleasure when our ideas were mentioned among the top five groups that the judges liked.
The planning activity introduced two new concepts that I had not come across before: the problem matrix and the business model canvas, both of which I’ll expand on in a future post.
The activity itself covered putting together a business model canvas for the social enterprise Social Bite. The canvas itself is an interesting concept and one I’ll look to apply in the future.
Starting after the planning activity, the third activity was a simulation split into three parts throughout the middle of the day to allow for the results of each period to be calculated.
This activity was probably the most intense for me on the day, where we had days to come to a decision in the first round of the UBC here we had minutes. While we had an hour to make our decisions for the first period, this included having little prior information expect for basic financial information (rent, utility bills, and cost of materials/labour) and marketing information. Additionally, we also had to decide on the type of location (small, medium and large) to run the business from, which would affect our initial starting capital. The second and third periods we had 20 minutes to analyse the previous period’s results and make our new decisions.
Imaging that we’d been running a business for at least two years we had to put together a 60 second elevator pitch. Of the 40 minutes given for this task we spent more than half coming up with an idea and managed to crack together the who, why, and finances in record time. We were also fortunate that one of our team members is great at presentations and was able to pull it off without a sweat.
While not one of the core activities of the day, the last before the results given, we were ‘encouraged’ to speak to members of different teams and lecturers. I do feel however, while understanding why this was at the end in order to put together the final scores, that this was not the best time to encourage networking on the basis that at the end of the day the majority of attendees to me seemed, to one extent or another, worn out from the day. Which for me at least isn’t the best of states to be in when networking!
Overall I enjoyed the experience, with the team placing 5th out of 30. While this did not guaranteed us a place in the finals we have entered into a pot with the remainder 8 runner up teams from the four semi-final rounds, with one team being randomly picked to go through. With luck we’ll be picked and going through to the final, but if not I would like to end this post with two sentiments.
The first: To the team, thank you for a truly enjoyable experience. It has been a pleasure and while as a team we may not compete together again next year, it would be an honour to compete together in other competitons.
The second: To anyone reading this and thinking of entering two words, do it. You will not regret it, and will learn a lot, not only about business but also about yourself.
Best Part of the Day: The best part of the day was the team work, with the pressure of limited time to complete the activities
Worst Part of the Day: The pressure to complete the activities within short time periods.