Innovation and enterprise blog

The British Library Business & IP Centre can help you start, run and grow your business

8 posts from November 2013

29 November 2013

Innovating for Growth success story - Socially Bright

With mobile and apps growing all the time, we’re seeing a lot more of these types of businesses using the Centre and applying for our Innovating for Growth programme.

So we asked Socially Bright to share their experiences on growing their company with the advice and help they received at the Centre.


“Socially Bright help agencies and brands to create apps that are beautifully designed and deliver impressive results. We are a Facebook Preferred Marketing Developer but are also familiar with all network APIs such as LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube. Everything is built on our platform, Bandstand, which contains a suite of tools for managing app content and facilitates rapid production and deployment.

Our journey with the British Library Innovating for Growth programme began when our Technical Director saw an advert.  Having already had the idea of creating a new software platform ‘Bandstand’ for our clients, we hoped that being part of the programme would kick-start the development process and that the expert business advice we received would double our efforts and help us focus on the long term growth strategy of the business. 

We were thrilled to be accepted onto the programme and received a number of one-to-one tutorials from industry experts ranging from product development to finance and intellectual property. 

There was also the opportunity to attend some really interesting talks outside of the scheduled programme sessions such as Inspiring Entrepreneurs: Marketing Maestros, where speakers including Jo Fairley, founder of Green & Black’s and Will King, founder of King of Shaves shared their experiences and innovative strategies.

Having recently completed the programme, we are now working on implementing a number of recommendations received from the programme with a view to making Bandstand the most robust and intuitive platform it can be. 

Alongside this, we are also working on the transition to a license model for the platform thereby giving us the increased security and predictability of a fixed income that will allow us to budget more effectively in the future. 

Most recently, we’re very proud to announce that the ‘Cif the Web’ app we developed for our client DLKW Lowe picked up the gold award at the Campaign Big Awards.

Socially Brighr5
The Campaign Big Awards aim to champion and celebrate the very best work, in any and all media, in one place on one night. They bring together the brightest agencies and the smartest clients from across the advertising spectrum to applaud and reward brilliant British advertising. The Big Awards are now recognised as one of the UK’s most important barometers of creative advertising in the UK.

We’re looking forward to using the Business & IP Centre a lot more as our business develops and grows."

If you’re an ambitious London-based business looking to grow, apply for Innovating for Growth now for the chance to get tailored support and advice to get your business to the next level.

Socially Bright on behalf of Business & IP Centre

27 November 2013

University innovation: using the wisdom of the crowd

The innovation strategies of universities should focus much more on ‘connection than protection’. This was the over-riding message that emerged from The Open Innovation & Higher Education event at the British Library.  

This approach contrasted an inward-looking and secretive approach to assessing and developing ideas characterised by risk-aversion and decision-making by committee and an emphasis on use of intellectual property protection, to one in which universities worked with external business, funders and others (‘the crowd’) to turn ideas into innovative new products and services.

The former approach had led to a graveyard of interesting ideas which were never taken to industry as their potential was not seen or the institutions did not posssess the knowledge or skills to develop them.

Each of the speakers looked at a different aspect of addressing the challenges of engaging with ‘the crowd’.  


Stefan Lindegaard

Stefan Lindegaard from 15inno talked about the need for a major cultural change within high education whereas Daniel Hulme from UCL spinout Satalia looked at how algorithms could be used as a way of involving and engaging external communities in a focussed way.

Brian McCaul specified three pinch points in the innovation process in which ‘the crowd’ could play a role. These were:

  • Validation - this involved addressing the question: ‘does this idea have any legs?’
  • Business development - this involved using external resources, knowledge and skills to take an idea forward
  • Funding - linking up with potential investors potentially using options like crowdfunding.

Brian described the example of The Innovation Commons, a successful online community of universities, businesses and funders which had developed in the North West of England.



The Innovation Commons logo

Els Delaere from Voka Chamber of Commerce in Flanders looked at an earlier stage in the process, that of unleashing the entrepreneurial talents of students, by talking about the annual Ghent Mega Brainstorm in which 200 students take part in a 48-hour ideas competition.

The event formed part of the British Library’s contribution to the Interreg IVB funded Open Innovation Project. Previous events had looked at how open innovation can be applied by businesses and public services.

Videos of the presentations from this event, as well as the lively panel discussion can be found online

Nigel Spencer on behalf of the Business & IP Centre

25 November 2013

Aartizen – a healthy fruit and veg success story

Aartizen logoOne of the best things about my job is hearing from our customers about how we have helped them start or grow their business. And this can happen in the most unlikely of circumstances.

It would appear that my daily source of for coffee and croissant is turning into an adopter of Business & IP Centre success stories. First I discovered that Sourced Market in St Pancras station was selling the amazing Amelia Rope brand of chocolate, which has now become an occasional treat for me or lucky recipients. But just yesterday I discovered Aartizen cold pressed fruit and vegetable juices.

While waiting patiently waiting for my Monmouth Street cappuccino to appear I was asked if I would like to try a sample of a new brand of juice. I plumped for the Beetroot, blackcurrant & apple juice, and found it delicious, and noticeably less sugary than more familiar brands. The friendly and persuasive stall holder encouraged me to try the remaining three flavours of Carrot, orange & apple, Orange & Wheatgrass and Apple, cucumber & kale. After chatting for few minutes about her new venture I offered my business card in case the Centre could be of help in growing her business. It was at that point I discovered Aarti Bhanderi-Shah had been using us for several months to research the market and plan her business, and that she is a big fan of the Centre.

AartiAarti felt she was too new a business to be counted as a success story. But to me, the fact she has pursued her dream of becoming her own boss and established a strong brand with four delicious products in new niche sector of cold pressed fruit and vegetable juices is a great achievement. I also love the way she has combined her name with a suitably artisan sounding trademark.

On her leaflet Aarti explains the advantages of cold pressed juice.

Most juices you buy in the shops are pasteurised or flash pasteurised so they have been heat-treated using at least 60C or 140F to preserve them. The heat destroys many vitamins and minerals so you end up drinking a sugary stew.

We don’t like the idea of losing nutrients so we use a cold press method that does not use any heat and respects the ingredients. The final result is a fresh and delicious juice bursting with goodness and vitality.

Contains juice AND pulp… as Nature intended
This wonderful pulp contains fibre to help your digestion and maintain a happy tummy. So shake the bottle, smile and drink up for a glorious glow.

On her About Me page Aarti talks about her inspiration:

As a pharmacist and alternative health practitioner, my mother appreciated the power and necessity of conventional medicine as well as recognising the healing powers of alternative therapies. She would recommend her patients with skin conditions such as eczema to consume "good fats" such as avocado, nuts and seeds. To help treat colds, a soothing hot drink made from fresh lemon, turmeric and honey would be recommended alongside Benylin. As a society we are starting to realise that Mother Nature usually has something in her precious garden that will heal and repair.


As a foodie and a nutritionist-in-training, I am fascinated by the concept of “you are you what you eat”. Consuming fresh, natural produce that is minimally processed will boost your energy levels and you’ll feel truly alive. Sadly, many children and adults overload their bodies with processed foods that tend to be high in salt, fat and sugar. And this is what lies at the heart of the obesity and diabetes epidemic.

  Aartizen juices

22 November 2013

Local area business information in the Business & IP Centre

Quite often start-up businesses as well as existing businesses are looking for business information and relevant statistics in their local area. Many times, growing businesses that are looking to expand are in need of information on other areas as well.

Quite a few businesses that are in our Innovating for Growth programme are looking for specific local information and statistics in areas outside London, such as suitable premises, local demographics, labour statistics etc, because they are planning to expand all around the country through franchising.

A couple of very useful information sources that are available online are provided by the Office for National Statistics, organised in a way that summarized and/or detailed statistics can be accessed within specific geographic area, searchable by name or full postcode:

  • Neighbourhood statistics, allowing you to find local statistics on demographics, education, health & care, housing, local economy, crime & safety etc.
  • Labour market statistics – Local Authority Profiles, allowing you to find local labour market profiles, including the most recent available figures, which can be also compared with the relevant figures of other areas and the whole country, on population, employment, occupation, qualifications, earnings etc

Nomis official labour market statistics

Another useful source of local business information, which can be accessed in the reading room of the Business & IP Centre, is the COBRA (Complete Business Reference Adviser) database. COBRA is a business encyclopaedia covering all aspects of starting and running a business.

Cobra local area profiles

The Local Area Profiles (LAPs) is a specific section in COBRA. Each Local Area Profile lists local information sources for prospective start up businesses in that area and for existing businesses seeking sources of business support in their local area, including relevant web links on:

  • Business support and advice sources
  • Financial support sources
  • Resources providing details of available business premises
  • Business networks
  • Business directories
  • Libraries
  • Local authority trading licenses and business rates

Capturing and combining information and data from all these sources can be used by businesses, who want to operate in specific geographic areas, in order to understand the local business environment and potential customer profiles.

Irini Efthimiadou on behalf of Business & IP Centre

20 November 2013

Inspiring Entrepreneurs: In the Den with the Dragons

In celebration of Global Entrepreneurship Week 2013, we hosted an Inspiring Entrepreneurs which brought together a panel of formidable Dragons from the very first series to the latest on the topics of winning pitch and how to scale up your business. Our Chief Executive, Roly Keating, coincidently was the commissioning BBC2 Controller of the TV series Dragons’ Den. 

Also joining us remotely were our network of Business & IP Centre libraries as well as an audience online by Twitter and live webcast. 

Matthew Rock, our moderator for the event and newly appointed Business & IP Centre Ambassador introduced Lord Young Special Advisor and Businessman who reflected on how difficult and long-drawn out the processes were when he started a business when all correspondence were sent by post.  He praised the Internet for its easy access to information and all the opportunities that are available, including startup loans and mentoring in a startup industry. 

   Piers Linney web

Piers Linney

The first Dragon up was Piers Linney who is the co-CEO of Outsourcery. Piers started his first business when he was thirteen as a newspaper boy when he was saving to buy a BMX and, although he always wanted to be his own boss, began his career in law and venture capital companies. Eventually Piers said he wanted to do the deals himself. He likes the ideas and early stages start-up processes of businesses and so enjoys the journey with getting things to market.  He stressed a good working ethic, which was instilled by his parents and that you should believe in your vision. His advice is that it takes about 10 years to build a business.   

  Kelly Hoppen web

Kelly Hoppen MBE

Up next was current Dragon and owner of Kelly Hoppen Interiors, Kelly started her business when she was 16 years spurred on by her passion for beautiful houses.  Self-taught,  she mentioned that she felt as though it was not normal for someone so young but she had the tenacity and ‘refuse to give up’ mindset that helped. Kelly’s advice was to be open and communicate with customers, stakeholders and your network.  She has her own ‘Kelly Bubble’ to enthuse and excite the people around her!

Be informed, and never be afraid to talk to people about failures as it is the failures that make you a success in business. She stressed to “think outside the box” and be flexible to change..     

  Doug Richards by Ant Upton_M5876 onEdition

 Doug Richard

The final speaker of the evening was serial entrepreneur, founder of the School for Startups and the School for Creative Startups, and original Dragon Doug Richard.  Doug started storytelling to us on his big mistakes as they make better (learning) stories.  What a story and by gosh was he funny too! He said he doesn’t know what we will make from his story but had one piece of advice which was to “take the cash”! His stories of starting a tech company 20 odd years ago was indeed hair-raising at times but had a great ending.  Seriously the moral of the story was that there were failures and setbacks but to make the deal you must be aware of the risks and treat the process as a learning experience.

With a lively Q&A session at the end, there was the opportunity to ask questions via Twitter and from our Business & IP Centre national network.

The key answers?

  • The success of any business relies on a motive other than money. Remember passion!
  • Be prepared to hustle with the little you have
  • Recognise the risks you take and keep things simple
  • Keep in tune! Our needs are changing all the time and so it is important that your business can grow in line with what people want
  • Network and build relationships not just with high level people but across the level and with other businesses
  • Be confident and determined
  • Due diligence with Intellectual Property is important and do your research at the Business & IP Centre to know your market and customers.  

It was an enjoyable and very entertaining event with lots of advice and tips to take away. The archive web cast and videos will be available on our YouTube channel soon. 

15 November 2013

Duke of Edinburgh visits Business & IP Centre

The Business & IP Centre hosted a royal visit this week as His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh was taken on a tour of the Centre and met some of its users.

Led on a short tour of the Centre by our Entrepreneur in Residence, Stephen Fear, Director of Audiences, Frances Brindle and Head of Business and Research Audiences, Isabel Oswell, the Duke also met some of our Innovating for Growth businesses including Simply Organic, Yoomi, Squid London, Love Brand & Co and Ohyo.

Isabel Oswell, The Duke of Edinburgh and Jim Shaikh, Yoomi

Gail Mitchell, Sally Ann Russell and Michael Pattinson, who all specialise in offering business and IP advice in the Centre were manning the Reference Desk and Gail showed the Duke a range of patents from the Library’s collection, with examples ranging from the historic Dambusters bouncing bomb design and a stabiliser for four-in-hand carriages, to more recent innovations including the Dyson bladeless fan and the Ohyo collapsible bottle, which the Business & IP Centre helped to create. 

Gail Mitchell and The Duke of Edinburgh

Talking to a few users of the Reading Room, the Duke discovered that all kinds of research was taking place including an oncologist developing a new breakthrough drug, a couple of fashion designers and a champagne importer.  The Duke did enquire how one would go about conducting research into organic farm shops, which aroused suspicion that he could be sending the Prince of Wales here soon!

The Duke’s visit arose after a chance conversation with the Library’s Entrepreneur-in-residence Stephen Fear over lunch with a number of business leaders and dignitaries in Bristol, after which point the Duke accepted an invitation to come in for an informal visit to see the Centre and to learn more about the work it does supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses to start, grow and run a business.

Our recently appointed Business & IP Centre Ambassadors including Tim Campbell MBE, Doug Richard, Matthew Rock, Lord Bilimoria and Shazia Awan all spoke to the Duke about the important work of the Centre and our national network in supporting entrepreneurship across the country.

From royalty this week to the Dragon’s next for Global Entrepreneurship Week, who knows who we’ll have in next!

Chloé Titcomb on behalf of Business & IP Centre

07 November 2013

The Internet has revolutionised marketing

If, like me, you use the Internet frequently, but still need to improve your understanding of online marketing, I recommend that you attend the Online Marketing Masterclass, taught by Alasdair Inglis of the small business marketing consultancy Grow.

Right from the start of the class, Alasdair made the most of the available time by taking us through the essential elements of online marketing, including:

  1. The importance of thinking about lead generation in terms of inbound marketing
  2. Email marketing – the grandaddy of low-cost marketing
  3. SEO and keyword research
  4. Google Pay-Per-Click (PPC) – the reason why yellow pages is worth pennies
  5. Content marketing
  6. Blogging
  7. Facebook PPC

 Alasdair explained the technical aspects of the above topics with the help of graphics and visual cues, which made everything easy to understand. He also gave us exercises that were good for networking with other workshop attendees – in my case with Rachael from video content company Vividecho.

One of the most useful exercises was the keyword-ideas exercise, which showed us how to do keyword research and set up SEO. This information will be extremely useful in a competitive market, as it will help you make the ‘first page of Google’ and get people responding to your online advertising.

Google records every search people make for phrases and keywords in every country in the world, and makes this data available to everyone.  Alasdair showed us Google AdWords, which allows you to make a list of keywords, so that when someone types one of your keywords into Google, your company will show up above the competition.  To do this effectively requires dedication and persistence, as well as a good business strategy – it’s advisable to have a clear strategy for your search campaigns.

Online activity can make marketing accurate.  Be it art or skill, your company can use these techniques to ensure a good Return on Investment and a good success rate. 

Trance party

Trance Party

Photo Source: WikiMedia

Another exercise we carried out was searching for keywords related to trance music, and ads based on the fact that one of the attendees, William, runs the trance- party business, Sydiom.  It was a revelation to me that by using this technique alone, we found out not only the number of searches for ‘Trance Parties in London’ but also that people were searching using the term ‘Progressive Trance’. This information was right on track (pardon the pun) to help William promote his work.  

One interesting but strangely challenging exercise was creating an AdWords and AdGroup example.  It was more difficult than I expected trying to fit the right words into limited space to get the highest impact!

 Another tip from Alasdair when setting up your PPC campaign was to use keywords that target locations relevant to your business. For example, you could target phrases such as ‘Bicycles in London’.

Personally, I found there were only a few technical things you need to understand to optimise your online campaigns. This workshop explains how to use the various techniques and provides a good introduction.  It might also help you decide whether you want to outsource this aspect of marketing to an SEO expert! Either way, you should definitely be doing this for your business and if you get it right - you will benefit.

Content marketing, such as books, podcasts and video are other forms of online marketing that can be effective. You can use the Content Marketing Matrix to ensure that your strategy and marketing remains effective.  It was also suggested that you look at what content your competitors are sharing – since your ‘competitors are your best friends’!

Blogging and Facebook PPC were tools mentioned, with the latter targeting customers by location, town, city, gender, connections etc.  I think most of us will be used to these ads by now. However, you’ll learn to be on the other side, pushing them out to potential customers. 

The Online Marketing Masterclass was very detailed, so I am unable to put everything in this post. Do attend the workshop if you want to get that competitive advantage. Doing the right research the right way will always lead to better results.

Seema Rampersad on behalf of Business & IP Centre

01 November 2013

Setting Profitable Prices by Marlene Jensen

Setting Profitable Prices Setting Profitable Prices: A Step-by-step guide to pricing strategy without hiring a consultant by Marlene Jensen is a recent addition to our Small Business Help collection in the Business & IP Centre.

This book is a very useful guide to for business people who need help setting prices for their products. It gives practical guidance on pricing, with very specific details and step-by-step information on how to apply pricing to products.

" Setting Profitable Prices by Marlene Jensen is a very well–written book, easy to read, and contains demonstrative examples of how optimal pricing decisions are made by examining the consequences of various pricing approaches on financial and brand–specific outcomes. Grounded in years of research, the book provides a scientific and practical foundation for how pricing should be done, and is a highly useful resource for anyone involved in making pricing decisions." — Hooman Estelami , Professor of Marketing, Graduate School of Business, Fordham University



Table of Contents:

Chapter 1 Why Pricing Is the Key to Your Success

Chapter 2 Why Most Companies Stink at Pricing
(and How You Can Do Better!)

The “Myth” of Creating Demand Curves
How Your Competitors Are Setting Prices
Cost-Plus Pricing
Match-Your-Competitors Pricing

Chapter 3 Analyzing Your Competitors’ Prices

You Do So Have Competitors!
How to “Pick” Your Competitors
Direct vs. Indirect Competitors
How Consumers Evaluate Prices
How to Get Profitable Ideas from Your Competitors

Chapter 4 Environmental Factors That Can Affect Your Pricing

Environmental Factors Overview
The Economy
Government Regulation and Legal
Social Trends
Technological Change

Chapter 5 Pick the Positioning of Your New Product

There Are Only 3 Choices!
The Psychology of Price Positioning
Penetration Price Positioning
Skimming (or Premium) Price Positioning
Competitive Price Positioning
Learning More about Competitive Pricing

Chapter 6 Analyzing Your Buyer Benefits/Drawbacks Relative to Your Competitors

Uncovering What Buyers Really Value/Hate about Products in Your Marketplace
Learn More about Calculating Buyer Valuation of Different Features

Chapter 7 Picking a “Ballpark” for Your Best Price

You Will Not Be “Stuck” with Your Decision!
Can’t Make a Profit at that Price Range?
Not Sure about Your Results?
Learn More about Buyers’ Reactions to Price Ranges

Chapter 8 Evaluating Your Costs

The Ideas Behind “Target Costing” and “Target Engineering”
Types of Costs
The Hardest Part of Calculating Costs
Reasons for Launching a Product that Doesn’t Cover Overhead
xii Contents

Chapter 9 Is Your Profit Potential Acceptable?

If You’re Happy with Your Potential Profits
If You’re Not Happy with Your Potential Profits
Next Step 66

Chapter 10 Psychological Adjustments to Your Price

Understanding “Barriers” in Prices
Staying below Barriers
Increasing Prices up to Barriers    
Numbers that Say “Discount” to Buyers
Test Your Knowledge!
Visually Appealing Prices
Selling to Businesses
Learn More about Thresholds    
Learn More about the Effect of Numbers

Chapter 11 Testing Prices

The Psychology of You—in Setting Prices
Can You Test?
The Difference between Testing and Research

Chapter 12 Using Google to Test Prices for Free (or Almost Free)

Two Methods for Almost-Free Testing!!
Using Google Optimizer to Test Multiple Things

Chapter 13 Pricing Services

Imagine No Chapter 13!
The Complications of Setting Prices for Services
The Myth of Pricing Based on “What You Want to Earn”
Pricing by the Hours versus the Job    
Finding What Service Competitors Charge
Picking Your Price Positioning
What Your Price Says about Your Firm
How to Charge Higher Prices to Those Willing to Pay More

Chapter 14 Pricing New Products/Services, Part 1: When Your Brand Is Unknown

The Problems in Pricing Something New
Price Equals Quality Buyer Perception
Does Quality Equal Likelihood-to-Buy?
Understanding “Bargain Hunters”
Price Preferences by Product Type
Detailed Research on Buyer Price Position Preferences

Additional Research on Preferred Prices
Learn More about Risk and Pricing

Chapter 15 Pricing New Products/Services, Part 2: Competing with Established Brands

When Your Competitors Are Established Brands
Risk Avoidance
Price Premiums for Known Brands
Discounting Differences
What Causes Customers to Switch to a New Brand?
What Happens after Buyers Switch?
Shocking Findings on Brand Names
So What Does it All Mean for Pricing a New Product/Service?

Chapter 16 Pricing with Discounts

Discounts: A Double-Edged Sword
When Discounts Worry Consumers
Determining Best Discount Levels
Discounts’ Effect on Quality Ratings and Purchase
Concluding Thoughts on Pricing, and Especially on Testing Prices


Julie Boadilla on behalf of the Business & IP Centre

Chloé Titcomb on behalf of the Business & IP Centre - See more at:
Chloé Titcomb on behalf of the Business & IP Centre - See more at: