THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Innovation and enterprise blog

4 posts from September 2019

12 September 2019

Follow JRPass' Director through the Innovating for Growth programme: Branding

Each quarter, we pick 18 high-growth businesses to take part in our Innovating for Growth: Scale-ups programme, where businesses receive £10,000 worth of tailored and bespoke business support and advice. Not only do businesses gain three months of guidance, they also receive automatic membership to our Growth Club and their own Relationship Manager.

This quarter, we’re following Haroun, Director of JRPass, a train travel company for those exploring Japan by rail. Haroun will talk us through each session as he progresses through the programme to get the successes and challenges of what it’s like to run a growing businesses. You can see Haroun's previous posts about intellectual property, financial management, product innovationmarketing strategybranding and research and developing a growth strategy on our blog. In his latest diary entry, we join Haroun on his branding one-to-one...

Branding hasn’t previously been a large concern for us. We are named in relation to our main product, however we now have projects at JRPass that may lead us to launch new websites. We have been struggling with questions of whether to promote them as distinct entities in their own right or to leverage our base at JRPass.com and cross-promote. If we choose the latter then how do we present a group of offerings with a distinct overlying ethos and value set. This one-to-one came at the right time as what we are in essence talking about here is brand architecture.

Instagram2

With Alistair from ABA agency we discussed the various brand models. These include a distinct house of individual brands, a monolithic strategy (e.g. IBM, IBM Watson, IBM xxx) or an endorsed model. For us it was agreed that the endorsed model is best and we need an identity all the websites can sit comfortably under e.g. JRPass by New Brand Name,  xxx by New Brand Name. There’s a a lot of further work to do here in terms of naming strategy that we did not have time to get into, but the overall parent identity needs to be something that reflects the values we carry across each unit i.e. Japan origins, explorer identity. The individual website names also need some effective research and we talked about polling and customer surveys. A lot of further work to do!

Visit our website for more information about the programme and how to apply.

09 September 2019

Meet our delivery partners: Alasdair Inglis, Grow

Alasdair Inglis has been running marketing masterclasses at The British Library Business & IP Centre for a decade and is our Marketer In Residence.

Grow pic

He runs two marketing masterclasses at the British Library Business & IP Centre.

About the Digital Marketing Masterclass

The digital marketing masterclass helps entrepreneurs gain clarity about their digital marketing strategy, so they can focus their spending and efforts on gaining new customers.

The masterclass covers inbound marketing, email marketing best practice, the basics of SEO and keyword research, using Google Ads, content marketing, blogging and paid Facebook marketing.

The masterclass demystifies digital marketing so every attendee understands the key areas of digital marketing. Everyone gets a 25-page workbook with plenty of step-by-step instructions. There are opportunities to meet and work with other entrepreneurs during the workshop and questions are encouraged throughout. Every attendee will leave with a step-by-step action plan to improve their digital marketing.

Grow

About the Marketing Masterclass

The marketing masterclass helps entrepreneurs focus on their marketing strategy and business model. The masterclass covers understanding customers' key problems, how to focus on ideal customers, learning how to increase revenues from every customer, mapping out and improving customer journeys, creating a system to gather testimonials, how to create offers for new customers and where to hire part-time marketing people.

There is lots of partner work during the workshop and all attendees get a 26-page bound workbook. Questions are encouraged throughout. Every attendee will leave with a step-by-step action plan to improve their marketing strategy.

Grow workshop

Who should attend the Marketing Masterclasses?

Alasdair’s masterclasses are aimed at start-ups, aspiring entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs with established businesses. His practical no-nonsense style of teaching and the in-depth workbooks enable people with differing levels of knowledge too all benefit.

What can attendees expect in the Masterclasses?

Attendees can expect a fast paced, practical approach to learning marketing with minimal theory and jargon. Expect to meet with and work with other entrepreneurs during the sessions. Alasdair understands that a lot of learning comes from group discussion and questions so expect some lively interactions.

In every workbook there’s an exercise at the end to create your own personalised marketing action plan.

About Alasdair Inglis

Alasdair has taught his marketing masterclasses to thousands of entrepreneurs, and is the BIPC’s marketer in residence where he offers pro bono sessions every month to established business owners. He has taught marketing on the prestigious Goldman Sachs 10,000 small business programme, and teaches and mentors at The School for Social Entrepreneurs in London and at Idea London, a tech incubator.

Though his company Grow Alasdair has mentored hundreds of Scale-up entrepreneurs from the London area and he lives and breathes marketing. He comes from an entrepreneurial family in the highlands of Scotland where his father and uncle ran restaurants for over 50 years.

06 September 2019

Follow JRPass' Director through the Innovating for Growth programme: Maximising your intellectual property

Each quarter, we pick 18 high-growth businesses to take part in our Innovating for Growth: Scale-ups programme, where businesses receive £10,000 worth of tailored and bespoke business support and advice. Not only do businesses gain three months of guidance, they also receive automatic membership to our Growth Club and their own Relationship Manager.

This quarter, we’re following Haroun, Director of JRPass, a train travel company for those exploring Japan by rail. Haroun will talk us through each session as he progresses through the programme to get the successes and challenges of what it’s like to run a growing businesses. You can see Haroun's previous posts about financial managementproduct innovationmarketing strategybranding and research and developing a growth strategy on our blog. In his latest diary entry, Haroun discusses what he learnt in his one-on-one session on intellectual property and how it’s important to every business...

Again this session was really packed and I had a lot of questions for our advisor from Briffa who are Intellectual Property legal specialists. We covered the following main areas:

Copyright – Since the founding of the company we have used a lot of designers for our website. Many get caught by this, but the default position for designs is that copyright remains with the designer unless signed over. We discussed having everything in place contractually for our external contributors to sign over rights as necessary.

Trademarks – We discussed our current situation with regards to current trademarks and opportunities going forward both in the UK and US now that our website is well established. This is really important when you have spent a lot of time and money in creating a brand. You need to protect that goodwill and mind-space effectively.

Logo

Commercial Contracts – We reviewed our external contracts with third parties e.g. developers to ensure that our IP is fully protected and cannot be exploited by others.

Data Protection – I’m sure we have all been grappling with GDPR ad nauseam and Data Privacy! Once again we reviewed and ensured that we had proper policies in place that are tailored for your specific company, and reflected this in our terms and conditions and on our website. For us, as a company who depends on online payments, this also feeds into PSD2 and SCA changes which are coming in September (you can read more about the changes here: https://www.visa.co.uk/dam/VCOM/regional/ve/unitedkingdom/PDF/visa-preparing-for-psd2-sca-publication-version-1-1-05-12-18-002-final.pdf).

HR – We agreed to review and incorporate IP and Data Protection in our employee contracts. This is something that did not occur to me previously so was good to catch this one.

As you can see there was a ton covered here and a lot of i’s to dot and t’s to cross that can affect your daily working practices. I think we have been ok with these areas previously, but as any company expands rapidly it is easy to lose sight of these basic legal protections and responsibilities to the point that it could easily prove to be a banana skin down the road. It’s the type of thing that many companies just kick down the road or ignore until it’s too late as we all would prefer to concentrate on the fundamental nuts and bolts of our companies. However it is really important to make sure this is all organised competently and safely, and this session really brought that home.

Visit our website for more information about the programme and how to apply.

04 September 2019

Follow JRPass' Director through the Innovating for Growth programme: Financial Management

Each quarter, we pick 18 high-growth businesses to take part in our Innovating for Growth: Scale-ups programme, where businesses receive £10,000 worth of tailored and bespoke business support and advice. Not only do businesses gain three months of guidance, they also receive automatic membership to our Growth Club and their own Relationship Manager.

This quarter, we’re following Haroun, Director of JRPass, a train travel company for those exploring Japan by rail. Haroun will talk us through each session as he progresses through the programme to get the successes and challenges of what it’s like to run a growing businesses. You can see Haroun's previous posts about product innovation, marketing strategy, branding and research and developing a growth strategy on our blog. In his latest diary entry, Haroun discusses what he learnt in his one-on-one session on financial management, a new module on the programme...

This week I had my financial management session with an adviser from MetaValue, a well-established business consulting firm. The adviser was very helpful and ever so patient as I peppered her with questions to the point that we overran our allotted session time. We covered a lot, including areas such as price sensitivity analysis and company structure. But the three main takeaways I had from our session were:

New Opportunity Margins

As I’m sure you can understand, I can’t go into detail about this element of our discussion, but there is a good opportunity for an ambitious expansion for JRPass into a new area. In my one-on-one we looked at modelling the potential income, factoring in our suppositions and working out potential profit. This was useful in guiding us on how we test and tweak the model to help us achieve profitability. We have previously done some price sensitivity testing with services such as our meet and greet service.

Financial Plan

I actually laughed when this was mentioned as we have grown organically and haven’t spent a lot of time on developing an actual plan for growth, however given that the business is now entering a new area we agreed that we should put together a strategy around the investment and costs required e.g. covering new hires and forecasts for pricing and volumes. I was provided with some example spreadsheets with pre-built formulae to do this as well as for the financial modelling that I previously mentioned. You can see one of these below. 

Financial management

Exit Strategy

Our priority has always been to grow and scale-up the business, but it is also useful to hear about our options if we ever wish to exit. For founders of businesses, it is understandable that over a period of time, their ambitions can change, based on life events, market events, offers from other companies etc., so we need our governance to support this. We talked through a few scenarios and the advisor mentioned we should consider an independent valuation just for our internal use going forward. VC or Private Equity investment was mentioned and I agreed this wouldn’t be right for JRPass as we enjoy working under our own direction, but potentially a trade sale could work. It is worth considering early on who potential minority shareholders/investors or future acquirers could be and, based on that, effectively growing the business so that it is attractive to them.

From this one-on-one, some conversations were a broad stroke and some in detail, but as with all of my sessions so far, I am finding it very useful to keep this all in mind as we scale-up.

Visit our website for more information about the programme and how to apply.