Creative Industries Bootcamp

Friday, 2 September, 2011

The Creative Bootcamp will focus on building creative start-ups. It is designed for graduates from product, jewellery, ceramic and experience design; graphic and communication design; textile design; service design; and social innovation. It is aimed at developing new start-ups as well as those at an early stage that need to take the next ‘step up’ towards being a scalable business.

The Bootcamp starts from the premise that business is fundamentally a creative undertaking and you already know how to be creative. It's just a matter of learning how to manipulate a new set of tools and materials--and we don't mean spreadsheets. It's also not a course in linear business planning. Just like other crafts, entrepreneurship is a journey of exploration which necessarily includes uncertainty and surprise. Our job is to help you zig-zag with confidence in the direction you'd like to follow. We will help you develop an entrepreneurial mindset as a creative habit.

How will we do this? We use the same principles of experimentation, innovation, risk-taking, questioning and discovery, within a highly supportive learning environment, that are used to teach creative disciplines at St. Martins. Through a series of progressive assignments inside and outside the classroom you will take the first steps to designing a sustainable business portfolio that harnesses your individual talents and fits your personal values and ambitions.

These are not just exercises, you will determine what your initial product line might be, craft your presentation to potential customers, and make the initial contacts with those who are best placed to help you launch your business.

The Bootcamp is a 5-day programme run over 4 weeks a follows:

Day 1: Personal Engagement and Opportunity Recognition

The focus of the first day is on personal mastery and business as a creative endeavour.
We start by introducing the central idea behind the elements of Venture Design which inform the course, and the overarching concept that being entrepreneurial is a lifetime creative habit. We then introduce some tools for cultivating this habit on a daily basis.
We move on to building the first element of a successful enterprise: personal engagement. We cover practical exercises to identify the relevant values, skills and means that each student wants to bring to their venture, and clarify their ambitions are for their business. The result is a clear sense of authentic purpose as the foundation for personal engagement.
We then spend significant amount of time in exercises to develop the ability to recognise market opportunities, identify potential customers and match these to the skills, motivations and resources defined above.
Before the day ends, participants organise themselves into teams in order to plan for their first field challenge.

Day 2: The Field Challenge

The second day starts with The Field Challenge. This has been recognised as a powerful learning curve by past participants. Each group is given a small amount of seed investment for a pop up business and challenged to come back with as large a profit as possible by early afternoon.
In the past we have seen groups develop innovative ideas, work hard and produce impressive profits. Regardless of their idea or success, students always remark that this challenge has a powerful and transformative effect on them. They learn first hand what it takes to develop something people will value, to work with people they’ve only just met, implement their vision under difficult circumstances, find customers, communicate their value proposition, and make a profit. This is an early opportunity for them to test themselves through every stage of the entrepreneurial cycle.

After debriefing the result of the Field Challenge, the rest of this day is spent introducing a set of strategy tools for designing the business. By the end of day two, all students are in teams committed to developing a business plan around a specific market opportunity.

Day 3: Value Mapping and Business Modeling

Day 3 shifts the emphasis to students' own projects. Students are provided with a robust and effective set of strategic and financial tools to design and plan their business venture with a focus on value mapping and a business model. These tools help them to quickly focus on the critical factors which will either make or break their business idea. By the end of the day, they have developed the framework for a prototype business. They understand and can describe their business prototype in terms of the following key venture components:

• Market Niche
• Minimum Value Proposition
• Differentiation
• Business Model including delivery, distribution, marketing and finances
• Resources and Management
• Initial implementation plan

The students are assigned to spend the next ten days implementing the first steps of their business model, contacting prospective customers and partners in order to field test their ideas.

Day 4: Reality Check and Pivoting

Day 4 is a key transition day. Building on the previous day’s work, the students have built and the first iteration of their plan and tested its viability through contact with potential customers and suppliers.

They then learn one of the most difficult lessons in all planning. To paraphrase the military, “no plan survives first contact with the customer.” They are forced to adapt their plans to the insights gained through direct contact with customers. In some cases, initial ventures concepts are scrapped and teams reform around a second generation of ideas and founders. This does not mean failure, only learning.

The day ends with the teams developing promotional materials to succinctly convey the value of their businesses.

Day 5: Networking

Day 5 is spent improving presentation and communication skills. A panel of experienced entrepreneurs and distributors is invited to comment on the teams’ ideas at the end of the day. The students are helped to present their ideas in a succinct and compelling manner. As the purpose of the presentations is not investment, but recruiting key partners, the students are encouraged to think carefully about what kind of feedback, help and introductions they need.

The day ends with an informal networking session, where the students can begin to build relationships with the local entrepreneurs and distributors who have found their ideas compelling.

Date: 29th September, 3rd, 4th, 13th and 20th October