THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Innovation and enterprise blog

22 posts categorized "Inventions"

22 May 2015

Inventing Chocolate with Amelia Rope

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Starting your own chocolate business is something many of us only dream about. Amelia Rope is one woman who has immersed herself in the chocolate industry and has come up with new and innovative flavours to tantalise our taste buds. But how does one become a chocolatier or even begin to make the dream of owning a chocolate business a reality? Amelia is a current participant on the Business & IP Centre Innovating for Growth Programme and we had the chance to ask her some of our questions. 

Ly12_13-8-12_chocolate
Photo credit: Lucy Young

Hi Amelia, where did the idea come from to start your own business?

I have always wanted to have my own business from a young age.  Looking back I think I always wanted freedom and independence from anyone controlling me financially. During my 20’s and early 30’s I was a PA for small businesses, large corporates, hospitals and doctors surgeries.  I qualified as a massage therapist, studied nutrition, herbal medicine and qualified as an aromatherapist and my last ‘proper’ job before starting my business was as a Practice Manager. It took some time to finally get where I am now – I founded Amelia Rope Chocolate in September 2007 and now my chocolates are sold in hotels and department stores across the UK, in the US, Dubai and Malaysia. 

I appeared on Masterchef twice - I am definitely not a chef but it gave me the courage to contemplate life amongst food. Also having a life-coach helped me believe in myself, and encouraged me to take a risk which helped me convert from a Practice Manager to a chocolatier. Another key turning point was when a well-known food editor flippantly said I could be the next Juliette Binoche (I don’t think they had any idea I would take it literally!) and when my chocolate diamond geezer Patrick Reeves, who believed in me so much, put in a commission for 1,000 chocolate bars to get me kick-started. I was then lucky enough to meet Ewan Venters (then Director of Food Halls, Selfridges) who spotted my first two bars and stocked them in Selfridges. 

Amelia6
Photo credit: Mary Wadsworth

Tell us about what makes Amelia Rope Chocolate so unique

I believe small businesses are unique in that they allow the personality of the business owner to shine through in their products, and this allows them to really make their mark in their industry.  Chocolate confectionary is generally a completely crowded market. However, when I entered the premium chocolate bar market there were very few of us – in fact it was not such a flooded market then as it is now as there isn't as much space in this area.  When you look at the brands in this sector you will see each of our own characters/individual stamps coming through. I love splashes of colour, design and have always had a very distinct palate for what I like to eat, loathe and crave.  Put all of these together, and a mind which whirls around with lots of ideas, and I suppose you will get something different!  Some of my recipes are traditional, but the end flavour I believe is different. Perhaps this stems from the way I create my recipes which are as if I was developing an aromatherapy blend.  My love of sea salt influences my flavours and chocolate is such a good medium to carry salt: especially milk and white chocolate. 

How did you know there was a market for your premium chocolate bars?

By complete luck! My bespoke products just hit the spot with consumers immediately after a press drop off to most of the national newspapers and magazines.  My business featured in Stella Magazine, and it just rolled on from there.  The chocolate bars were my most effective product to market in the range. I also went to the Business & IP Centre, whenever I had time to learn about trends, markets and begin to think of strategies and I still visit the Centre today when researching markets and developing my business plans. 

Untitled
Photo credit: Mary Wadsworth

 

What hurdles have you had to overcome in your journey so far?

The main hurdle is lack of funding to really propel forward at the pace I want to.  My aim was to crank it up and have an opportunity to sell out within five years.  It is also difficult to achieve a good work/life balance – for so many years I worked every day and for crazy hours.  I found I let go of friends, family and relationships because my business consumed me.  Now I take time off at the weekends (unless it is the busy seasonal times or I am travelling on business), go out at least 2-3 times a week in the evening and go to the gym regularly.  Mentally and physically I feel so much better as a result. I have very high expectations of myself and all the people I work with but each hurdle has been worth overcoming to get where I am today.  

How did you first hear about the Innovating for Growth Programme?

On twitter and I immediately went to the website to explore more.  I was amazed when I won a place and it has delivered way beyond my expectations. It has given me a chance to really focus on my business.  For some time I have wanted to strip my business right down to its core, cross-examine it in a critical way and then to put appropriate pieces back together, alongside bringing new facets in such as streamlining my production.  With a team of experts and one-to-one sessions my learning curve has been intense, tough and challenging at times, but I have learnt so much and feel in a much better position with my business than when I started.  Life is about learning and transforming – with Innovating for Growth I have begun to do both and I can’t wait to see how much further I grow with the help of the programme to build a good, effective team to support me and my business and grow significantly both in UK and globally.

Amelia-Rope-1
Photo credit: Mary Wadsworth

What tips would you give to any entrepreneurs looking to scale up?

When you set up try and bear in mind that your product may be a hit, which will lead to scaling up.  Have a plan about how your product can do this, the costs involved and how it will work for your brand.  Applying for Innovating for Growth can certainly help anyone on this journey. Be prepared to have a good stash of cash too!

If, like Amelia, you want to scale up apply for Innovating for Growth today.

ERDF Logo Portrait Colour Web

Innovating for Growth is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund 

20 May 2015

The future is looking Fab (Lab)

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In this superfast, digital, tech era we often hear people questioning the need for libraries - 'I can just google it’ or ‘I can get it online’ are common phrases batted around. This is of course overlooking the far wider benefits that libraries bring to local communities, the positive impact on health and economic wellbeing, or even the economy itself. Indeed libraries act as ‘the great equaliser’ - safe, trusted and impartial spaces, where anyone from any walk of life can access services. The success of the British Library’s own Business & IP Centre service is evidence that libraries have an important role to play in helping businesses to innovate and grow. 

If all that doesn’t produce a flutter of excitement in their steely hearts, then perhaps something that will appeal is the idea of the library as a maker space, a rapid prototyping hub, a place for creative collaboration and sharing of ideas. Sure you can join online forums to share ideas, but you probably don’t have a CTR TMX12 Laser Machine in your garden shed!

Exeter Library’s FabLab is one such space; ‘an open access, not-for-profit, community resource where anybody can invent and make just about anything.’ It is the first ever to open in a UK public library and boasts a plethora of machines such as a Pro-Router, Vinyl Cutter, the aforementioned Laser Machine and of course the obligatory 3D printers.

So successful have they been, that the library hosted a Fab Futures conference last Friday 15 May, bringing together experts from across the UK and the globe to talk about how libraries can support innovation and creativity in the 21st century, and how they’ve done it in Exeter.

The day offered a local perspective with the lab volunteers and library staff talking through the prototyping equipment, offering hands on introductory taster workshops and showcasing the versatility of the machines.

 

Textile designer- Fran
Local textile designer Fran used the digital equipment to create her laser cut designs
 
 
Digitally printed items in delegate packs
Goodies in delegate packs made in the Fab Lab

 

Speakers attending from Mak Lab Glasgow,  Fab Lab Manchester and Fab Lab Ellesmore Port, talked about the social significance and impact of the UK Fab Lab Network through engaging local communities, older people and disability groups as well as charities and businesses with the possibilities of digital manufacturing.

 

Laser cut mdf
What happens when you put MDF in a laser cutter

 

A Google Link up with Chattanooga Library in Tennessee showcased their innovative 4th floor ‘public laboratory’, highlighting an intuitive partnership with Etsy, where their digital equipment is used to manufacture products which are then sold on the Etsy platform.

Take a look at the full programme for the day and the storify of the event.

Fab Lab Exeter is a great facility for local entrepreneurs and creatives to access low cost or free digital making in a shared learning environment, and the perfect space to develop prototypes for new products and designs. To complement the Fab Lab, in the next twelve months Exeter Library will be joining the British Library’s National Network of Business & IP Centres in city libraries across the country. The Business & IP Centre will connect the Fab Lab’s innovation activities to intellectual property support and business information resources, helping to create healthy and sustainable businesses across the region. The current Business & IP Centre National Network provides support for entrepreneurs and inventors in Newcastle, Leeds, Sheffield, Liverpool, Birmingham and Manchester which also had a Digital Demonstrator Suite.

Here in the UK the libraries’ ‘maker movement’ has been a bit slow off the mark compared to our cousins across the pond, but it’s starting to gather momentum. Led by the likes of Exeter’s FabLab, or indeed Common Libraries National Science Experiment, we might in the near future find that people are as likely to pop to their local library for a ‘raspberry pi jam’ as they are to borrow a book.

Does your local library run any ‘maker sessions,’ ‘raspberry pi jams’ or ‘library hacks’? If so, get in touch, we’d love to hear more and visit one of our National Network of Business & IP Centres soon.

David Gimson and Hanna Fayaz on behalf of the Business & IP Centre

21 April 2015

Copying – right or wrong?

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Across the Business & IP Centre National Network, we believe it’s important for everyone to have a think about copying. We want individuals and businesses to know about their rights to use content and creations that are either in the public domain or under an open license - and to learn more about copyright generally. As we say in our intellectual property workshops make sure you “don’t infringe!”

Copy-right or copy-wrong?

We know that to copy something is wrong; it’s been ingrained in us since we were children - and as we grew up copying took the name of ‘plagiarism’. Whether your interests are listening to music, appreciating artwork, watching films or TV series, we know copying a song, a film or a TV show without permission is wrong. Every time we watch a DVD we are told that copying the DVD is piracy. Websites are often closed down because of infringement of copyright – the right given to creators or owners of the intellectual property to control what is done with their works and YouTube videos are removed. Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams were more talked about for being found guilty by a US court of copying the late Marvin Gaye’s songs than for their musical talent (the court did not make any comments on the latter).

CC BY-NC-SA Chris Messina (cropped)
CC BY-NC-SA Chris Messina (Cropped ; Original picture on Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/factoryjoe/6709784133)

And yet, I copy. Yes. You do too. We all copy. As you can imagine, I would never admit to doing anything illegal and I am certainly not accusing you, of committing any crimes either! That must mean there are cases where copying is right, legal and even encouraged. For example, you buy a CD, then copy it onto your computer, then copy all the tracks again on your MP3 player so you can listen to the album on the go. That is perfectly legal - and it has been very clearly so in the UK since the last changes to copyright law came into force in November 2014. So let’s see what the law does allow.

When it is legal to copy

-       Copyright does not last forever - even though new laws can change its duration, copyright has an end – in most cases, count 70 years after the end of the year in which the work’s creator died. What happens to the work after that? It enters the public domain – it belongs to everyone, and anyone can use it, without asking permission.

-       Copyright exceptions - the law recognises that there are cases when we do not need to ask for permission to re-use a work. For example, when we make a copy for private use (like with our CD), or we copy and publish an extract for review purposes, or when creating a parody of a famous picture by copying it and adding something humorous to it.

-       Open licenses - sometimes the copyright owner will publish their work and tell you it is fine for you to copy it without asking for their permission. The most common way to do this is to use Creative Commons licenses – like the ones on the pictures illustrating this post. CC BY-SA on the image below means “this work is licensed under a Creative Commons license; you can use it without asking for permission as long as you credit the author and share it under the same license”.

CC BY SA Nina Paley - Permission (2)
Mimiandeunice.com CC BY-SA Nina Paley

Copying, business and innovation

But let’s get back to business. How does all this apply to you as an entrepreneur? When you create something, you are proud of its originality and inventiveness (and rightly so); you would be horrified if someone copied you. In business, entrepreneurs legitimately want to stop others from copying them: if a competitor copies your unique selling point, then how are you going to differentiate yourself in the market? In the Business & IP Centre Network and the other PATLIB centres you can discuss with an adviser how best to protect your creations against copying. We will tell you all about copyright, but also designs, patents and trade marks.

Some large companies, like Dyson, have an impressive intellectual property strategy to protect their ideas. However, other companies like the one behind the Sriracha sauce has a more lenient strategy and encourages others to use their product name in order to generate free advertising and Elon Musk recently announced that other companies are now welcome to copy and use Tesla’s patented technology. Each company needs to think about what is the right approach for their business.

There are also industries that thrive on a type of copying – one that is called “inspiration”. Think about fashion, music, art, etc. It poses some pertinent questions for business owners; how would you react to another business copying you? Would your reaction be different if you were copied by individuals? Do you think people who copy and share your content on social networks without your permission are right, or wrong? This World Intellectual Property Day take the opportunity to get informed and discuss the role of intellectual property to encourage and control innovation and enterprise in your business.

Aude Charillon on behalf of the Business & IP Centre Newcastle

Aude is Library and Information Officer at the Business & IP Centre Newcastle and leads the Commons are Forever project, which aims to empower participants about our rights to use creative works that are free of copyright, and to in turn share what we create with others.

20 March 2015

Five tips for understanding intellectual property

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Every business has intellectual property (IP) of some sort. However, when working out how to manage and protect it, it can be hard to know where to start! Below are some of our tips for businesses who want to begin understanding and managing their IP.

1.       Understand the different types of intellectual property

There are many different types of intellectual property protection, covering areas from art to inventions. The main ones are copyright, trademarks, patents, and designs, but know-how and trade secrets are also forms of IP commonly found within businesses. Your business may have more than one of these types, so understanding how they work, how they’re protected and the differences between the different types is essential.

2.       IP audit

Conduct a basic IP audit of your business. What IP do you have, is it protected, and how long does that protection last? Do you licence any of your IP to other people? Is there any associated costs/income? Putting this information together in one document will help you to plan your IP strategy, and keep track of your assets.

3.       Check your agreements and licences

IP use is often governed by contracts and licences. If you are commissioning work, is IP covered in your agreements with the contractor? If you licence other people’s IP, do you keep records of the licences? Employment contracts often also include an IP clause, and you may have non-disclosure agreements to cover trade secrets. An overview of your paperwork will help ensure that you haven’t missed anything.

4.       Embed IP within your business strategy

IP doesn’t exist in isolation from the rest of your business. Whilst IP can be a business asset, applying for protection often has associated costs, so it’s good practice to assess your IP strategy as part of your overall business plan, rather than separately.

5.       Seek help!

There are plenty of resources for businesses looking to find out more about intellectual property. Here at the Business & IP Centre we run a number of workshops and webinars covering IP topics. Our next webinar ‘Intellectual Property for Business’, funded by the Intellectual Property Office, is coming up on the 27 March 2015, and will give you a good understanding of the basics.

The Intellectual Property Office also has a number of tools to help businesses, including the ‘IP Health Check’ and ‘IP Equip’.  

For legal advice, the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys and Institute of Trademark Attorneys are good places to start. We strongly advise you to ask a patent or trade mark attorney before proceeding with using or applying for rights.

Sally Jennings on behalf of the Business & IP Centre

30 January 2015

Intellectual Property Matters

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It is said that 'The meek shall inherit the Earth', but for now it's the inherently rich and shrewd.

Intellectual property rights (IPR) include patent, registered or unregistered trademarks, design rights, copyright, or more commonly a strategic combination of each. Protecting your intangible assets can be as rewarding as protecting your physical property, but it can be a complex and expensive job to secure, maintain and defend them.  Therefore it is important to remember that you may not have to keep your idea or product secret in order to protect it - there are other formal ways to do it.

IP
The key is to get impartial professional advice early on and formulate an IPR strategy. I clearly remember my confused state, of trying to understand all the processes involved (not just on IPR protection, but the inventing business in general). The learning curve was enough to drive me mad, although I do say 'The nearer to insanity I get, the better I invent' - the trick is getting back!

Getting into the nitty-gritty world of how to protect your invention with a patent, with some do's, don'ts and tips on IPR's that I have learnt, sometimes the hard way.

Patenting steps - do's and don'ts

  • To patent something it needs an inventive step, never to be thought of before anywhere in the world ever and something that someone schooled in the art would not have thought of.
  • Do have a professional patent search carried out at the British Library Business & IP Centre. The 'new' part I mentioned earlier is important, before spending significant amounts of time and money on the idea, only to find it has been done before and is protected or is in the public domain already greatly weakening your position.
  • Don't disclose your invention to anyone without protecting any protectable IPR's first or get them to sign a confidentiality agreement.  If not, it may prevent you from obtaining a patent later.
  • Don't write a patent yourself.  It may save money, but it is a false economy. If your idea is a success, you will regret the day you did that. Ifyou intend to licence, sell outright or defend the invention you will look amateurish when the patent is reviewed.  And, more critically, you may have left something important out, or worded something wrong, making it vulnerable (easier to get around).  Remember, a patent can be the most valuable asset a company owns. Poorly written and all could be lost.

Top tips

  • You have twelve months, from filing a patent application, to file foreign applications. At that point, do your homework, to get the broadest country’s protection (on where the product will be sold and manufactured) at the lowest cost possible. You can do this in the Business & IP Centre London or in one of the National Centres. The trick is to know your market, so it may be possible to file in the smallest number of countries to cover most of it (note, you can delay this stage by eighteen months using the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT)).
  • If you have kept your invention secret, within the twelve month period from filing the application, you can withdraw the application and re-file, but note, you lose the original priority date and risk that someone filed something similar in that lost period.
  • I tend to keep things secret and file the patent application late.  I do this because if you are still developing the idea, it could be very different after the twelve months, so might need significant changes or a total rewrite.

Using the British Library

As a regular user of the British Library facilities, for research and patents information, in the past and being their first ever 'Inventor in Residence', I offer free one-to-one hour long confidential meetings, called 'ask an expert'.  It is disturbing and frustrating to commonly see, the ownership of great ideas slip through the inventor's fingers, because they made it public before protecting it (frequently with university student projects), or got misdirected and over charged by a so called professional Patent Attorney.

 

Mark Sheahan Med plus res 2014Mark Sheahan, 'Inventor in Residence' for the British Library, President of the 'Institute of Patentees and Inventors', a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and Vice Chairman of the 'Round table of Inventors'. 

 

 

25 November 2014

An umbrella with style and strength - the Senz° XL storm-proof

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Senz umbrellaIt's looks alone were enough to demand the attention and curiosity of my colleagues. And it was certainly easy to spot amid the forest of standard umbrellas, drying in a corner of the office after a particularly wet morning commute.

And I have to admit one of the reasons for buying the XL storm-proof umbrella from Senz°  was its unusual shape. It reminded me of a stealth fighter jet or perhaps something Batman might pull out if caught in a downpour.

The other reason - and the cause for the umbrella's striking silhouette - was the company's claim that it is capable of withstanding winds of up to 70mph without turning inside-out - or inverting to use the technical term. This was backed up by an impressive and, at times, hair raising demonstration video, which indicates it would handle anything that our weather here in London could throw at it. Although I do not recommend that anyone try the test at 1.48 minutes.
 



Senz° joins a long line of anti-inversion brollies (a quick keyword search for "windproof umbrella" in Espacenet found close to 200 patents), each with their own take on how best to resist the elements. Senz°'s offering is unique in that its asymmetrical, aerodynamic shape channels wind flow across its surface: preventing wind resistance that would flip a normal umbrella inside-out. It will also automatically twist into to the best position for it to battle the wind - as long as the handle is not gripped too tightly.

The invention was the 2004 brainchild of Dutch industrial engineering student, Gerwin Hoogendoorn. In classic inventor style, he decided there had to be a better way after the frustration of experiencing three broken umbrellas within a space of a week.
 

The dream of making Senz - IDE TU Delft from IDE TU Delft on Vimeo.

Having made the initial drawings and producing a prototype on his grandmother’s sewing machine, Gerwin approached fellow students of Delft University of Technology, Gerard Kool and Philip Hess, to brainstorm bringing it to the market. Within nine days of the umbrella’s launch in 2006, they had sold all 10,000 of their initial production run.
 
It has since won numerous awards, including:
•         Red Dot award for design 2007
•         Dutch Design award 2007
•         IDEA (gold) award 2008
•         Good Design award 2008
•         Gold International Design Excellence Award 2008
•         ICSID Star of the Observeur award 2009
•         iF product design award 2009

Sexy Senz

So much for the theory, but how has the XL storm-proof umbrella served me against London's ever changeable weather? After six years (by far the longest any has lasted) and some fairly testing storms later, it has held up well with only a few scratches on the top cap from the times that I had used it as a walking stick (which Senz° explicitly state in their care instructions I should not do... sorry). More significantly, it has not inverted once during the six years I have owned it.

So a case of style and substance, rather than style over substance? In this instance I would say definitely yes.

William Davis on behalf of the Business & IP Centre

17 November 2014

Loom Bands - the toy sensation of 2014

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Rainbowloom-logoWhen we look back at the toys of 2014, it will be remembered for Loom Bands. Cheong Choon Ng created a plastic loom for his children to weave colourful rubber bands into bracelets and charms, and Rainbow Loom is the registered trade name of his invention.

From his beginnings in Malaysia to his current his life in the USA, his story is interesting and inspiring.  The idea came about when helping his daughters with their rubber band craft making, but he admits that his biggest challenge was to convince his wife to risk their life savings to invest in his invention. “I am the one in the family with all the crazy ideas, and she is my reality check”.  A couple of years later and Rainbow Loom is a multi-million pound international business.  You can read Cheong’s story in his own words in the Guardian newspaper, Experience - I invented the Loom Bands.

Choon Ng and his wife Fen

Loom band inventor Cheong Choon Ng with his wife Fen

The Rainbow Loom website is a splendid example of how it has become a global sensation, showcasing tutorial videos, press stories , a ‘Loominaries’ community  and Loom network.  In A craze for 'loom bands' Richard Gottlieb, from consultants Global Toy Experts, says “It wasn’t driven by advertising or big companies… there’s a difference between creating a product that sells, and a phenomenon.  There’s a bit of magic about it”. The products made by Loom bands range from bracelets, to dresses, shoes, handbags, brooches and pimped products such as watches Rainbow Loom Creations Pinterest board and on Rainbow Loom’s twitter feed @RainbowLoom.

Loom band example

When something is so successful, others will inevitably try to copy your idea. This is what has happened with Cheong Choon Ng’s invention, with copy-cat products and similar sounding names.

I am sure that Choon Ng’s children played a great part in getting his product to gain traction and impact, and he calls this the ‘Rainbow Loom ecosystem’.  I particularly like that this has encouraged young children and adults to become creative and entrepreneurial with loom bands. I was given a bracelet by a young relative on holiday in Italy as a sign of friendship, and I was asked by another to buy one in my national colours for the Notting Hill Carnival to raise funds for her school trip. 

Rainbow Loom’s executive, Philo Pappas, attributes its success to the product’s inherent customization and social aspects, “with kids and tweens now it is all about creating something unique and personalized, which is exactly what the Rainbow Loom does. Plus Kids love to come up with new designs and share them with each other, so there’s a social element too”. 

So the question is - have you got a toy idea or product that can capture everyone’s imagination? I know that we often advise visitors to the Business & IP Centre with their toy ideas. Through one of our Business and IP Clinics I met chess board designer Purling London who has create a handcrafted under-lit chess board for fine art collectors and professional chess players.  The idea came from trying to play chess on a beach in the dark. However in this case Simon Purkis is aiming for the premium end of the market. Our Toys Industry Guide gives a pointer to which toy trends are up and which are on the way out, as well as the key companies, and links to help get started such as the British Toy Makers Guild.

Chess board

Bang-logoOur partner Bang Creations runs regular workshops to help get your idea to market. They work through your unique selling point, who are your customers, how to get into production, how many you need to make, and how reach your customers.

Some of their toy success stories such Laser Strike Jet Combat are featured on their website.

Laserstrike1

Play is an important part of life, and if you are looking for inspiration have a look at the British Library’s Playtimes portal. It brings together 100 years of children’s songs, rhymes and games, from conkers to singing games, rude jokes to fantasy play.

In closing, I wanted to share a quote from Choon Ng, “I knew that not many inventors have their dream come true like this one.  But living it now, I treasure every moment of it. I would say this is the best time of my life”.

Seema Rampersad on behalf of Business & IP Centre London

06 June 2014

Pop-up Businesses – here, there and everywhere!

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There is no doubt that effervescent pop-ups are sweeping across a town near you. I had the pleasure of researching them over the last few months, checking out pop-up shops in many places - from local areas in London to all the way over in France. Most of the pop-ups are surprisingly varied, covering a wide range of different concepts, ideas, services and industries – from yoga sessions, food stalls, technology shops, gardening, community groups, makers, art collectives, artists and creatives.

I live in Waltham Forest, North-East London and I am really pleased to see that my local council aims to catapult businesses by providing dedicated pop-up business spaces in the form of semi-permanent shops in Leytonstone and Walthamstow. Following their award-winning ‘Love your High Street’ campaign, this is a positive signal to budding start-ups, entrepreneurs, community groups and local artists that the council mean serious business! On the high street, they have set up large rooms with plain walls as a blank canvas for selected businesses to participate in and customise for their own purposes. This is one of the few times I have felt compelled to praise my council as they are encouraging something fabulous and entrepreneurial. Personally, I would love to see this replicated across the UK.

POP-upLYHSlogoThe council have kindly provided the following feedback on the Waltham Forest pop-up programme’s progress: “Waltham Forest is home to thousands of small businesses and has a wealth of entrepreneurial spirit. In order to encourage new enterprise, the Council has transformed a vacant shop unit in Walthamstow into a hub for start-up businesses and community groups. Over the last 6 months, these organisations have enlivened the Town Centre, offering fresh and diverse services to residents, including a yoga studio, book café and community arts centre.”                         

I had the privilege and pleasure of visiting some of these fabulous pop-ups on the high street. Most of them were able to generate interest amongst local residents using social media and good old-fashioned ‘word of mouth’. To give you a flavour of what was on offer, here is a summary of the array of businesses I saw taking part in the pop-up shop:

Massis Tea @Massistea – Redefining and innovating with the Art of Tea to make the ‘Tey Latte’, which tasted very nice. I have since seen Massis Tea popping up in other places - even Westfield Stratford City. 

Pretty Please London @PrettyPleaseLDN – Patisserie that shared the space with Massis Tea.  It was here that I had my first Crodough, that is, a Croissant-Doughnut hybrid.   

All you Read is Love @allyoureadlove – Independent bookshop and Scandinavian-inspired café, serving simple, responsibly sourced cakes and sandwiches, quality coffee and alcoholic craft beverages. They held music and literary events for the community too. I particularly liked how they customised the space to give the feeling of being in a living room …you could stay for hours.

  AllYoureadisLove

Blank canvas to night time musical venue for the ‘All You Read Is Love’ pop-up

at Hoe Street Central.

Healthwatch @Healthwatch_WF – Health and social care consumer champion in Waltham Forest and also across the UK.

Yoga Me Happy @yogamehappy1  - 'Yoga Me Happy' yoga training and classes with a mission to make Londoners happy …with yoga! There are even classes in a local park.

Amarachi Jewellery @AmarachiJewels – Professional dancer turned jewellery designer who created such a buzz amongst people who came across her designs, she soon started receiving requests for her work.

Good time Girls @goodtime_girls - Retro and vintage clothing and accessories with some photography on display too.

Nicky Carvell @nickycarvell – An artist and designer making items inspired by the pop band East 17. The theme of the exhibition was 'Peace from East 17'.  Towels, cushions, T-shirts etc were colourfully designed  and made with special materials.

Plantnation @plantnation_e17 - Gardening initiative selling plants, running activities and classes for all ages.

Floor Story Ltd @FLOOR_STORY – Rugs designed in the UK, but handmade in India using Tibetan techniques. I particularly liked the Tattoo range!

 

  SailorFloorRug

Rug from the pop-up Floor Story Ltd.

This flourishing of pop-ups is not just happening in one part of London, but in various pockets across the city. You can find listings, advice and locations with maps on London Pop-ups. Pop-up shops are also soon to be rolled out across underground train stations as Transport for London has signed a deal with online property agency Appear Here,who provide brands, designers and entrepreneurs with access to prime retail spaces in Central London. Both big brands and independent merchants are looking for flexibility in the way that they reach consumers – a fine example is our Innovating for Growth client Squid London, who has been successful in acquiring a place at the House of Fraser pop-up shop. Footfall and market research plays a large part in selecting the location of your pop-up shop and we have a London Business Information Guide to give you some statistics, several global market research resources in the Business and IP Centre and our wiki page - just to get you started.

My colleague Neil Infield has written on his ‘In from the Outfield’ blog about street-food pop-up Kerb and also beat me to reviewing and recommending the book ‘Pop up Business for Dummies’. 

Alasdair Inglis, a marketing expert from our partner at Grow, explained that businesses are mainly starting off organically and online, so the pop-up shop model is a great way to test the waters. He told me that “it's amazing to see how fast the London pop-up scene is developing. There's no doubt that it's a tough retail environment for small businesses, particularly with the unstoppable rise of ecommerce. The incredible variety of pop-up experiences in the UK is a testament to the innovation and creativity of British entrepreneurs. I was recently at Fairground, which is a three-storey pop-up in East London. I ate the best pulled pork bun I've ever had. Hung out in the sitting-room styled ‘Granddad Lounge’, heard a great talk from a Twitter expert, took a table tennis class with a professional table tennis coach and played in a table tennis tournament (I didn't win)". Phew! Alasdair also recommends We are Pop-up for more ideas.

Alasdair continued, saying that "many of us may be glued to Facebook and smart phones, and more and more of us are shopping online. However, the thriving pop-up scene shows that people want amazing eating, shopping and entertainment experiences in new and interesting places. The high street isn't dying, it's changing and its risk-taking British entrepreneurs with great ideas who are leading the way". 

These are the same ideas we are promoting on an international level with our lean startup workshops, which we are working on with our Open Innovation Partners in Europe, such as the Neoshop in Laval, France.  The Neoshop is not just a shop for business start-ups to get to market - it allows you to provide feedback on products too.  The Neoshop has also taken part in product testing, in pop-ups in Box Park Pop-up Mall, London; and in Paris recently. Hopefully this post will inspire you to peruse some pop-up shops yourself, or even to start your own pop-up business. 

Seema Rampersad on behalf of Business & IP Centre

Follow Seema on Twitter: @SeemaRampersad

25 April 2014

From Rock Stars to Orchestras – making music in the Business & IP Centre

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Flashback to a few months ago, and I was really pleased to help a leather-clad American rocker in the Business & IP Centre. He was here to research the School of Rock franchise (not to be confused with the School of Rock film).

Both names are registered as trademarks on the UKIPO’s website – the former as a music school and the latter by Paramount for the film. Our customer reminded me of David Coverdale the lead singer from UK Rock band Whitesnake – it’s not every day that a rock-and-roller comes into the Centre. Although we do have a wide range of musicians from Disc Jockeys to Death Metal guitarists to classical orchestras, using the Centre for their market research.


School of Rock logo

Photo Source: School of Rock Trademark - “Inspiring the World to Rock on Stage and in Life”

Our Innovating for Growth programme has advised the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO), one of the most successful free-lance orchestras in the UK.

The Orchestra prides itself on its diversity, and ability to give crowd pleasing performances with a small group of musicians to an intimate audience, or a full 80-piece orchestra at an outdoor event. The National Symphony Orchestra is also Katherine Jenkins’ orchestra for live concerts and UK tours.

They are regularly invited to perform in Russia, Scandinavia and across the rest of Europe.Their aim  is to introduce symphony music to the masses.
 
National Symphony Orchestra

At the heart of these businesses is music itself, which has seen unrelenting innovation in the way we produce, consume, and enjoy music over the last ten years. By 2012 there had been nearly a billion digital tracks sold.

If you are looking for more statistics on the music industry, see our Music Industry Guide. This is a very useful starting point for anyone researching the music industry or starting a business.

Included in the guide is ‘Music 3.0: A Survival Guide For Making Music In The Internet Age’ by Bobby Owsinski. He covers changes from sheet music in the 18th century through to vinyl and the present day digital formats. Owsinski describes in detail what he calls the ‘Six life stages of Music’.

The book covers the pros and cons of recent developments, and includes interviews with leading industry figures. Owsinski also looks at the use of social media as a marketing tool, as well as for distribution and brand development.

If you are looking to find answers to: What has changed? Who are the new players? What are the new technologies being introduced that will influence how you sell or market? This is the book for you. To quote one of his reviewers - “I own close to a dozen books on the topic of the changing landscape of music and how musicians of the new era might fit in; and while some of these books were helpful, “Music 3.0″ was by far the best and most useful of them all”.

Musical Inspiration

However, if you are looking for inspiration to create music, we have that in abundance too. From across the British Library, you can listen, see and feel music from our Sound and Vision archives and at our events. I recently visited our Listening Service, ordering items from the catalogue, where we have  collection of 3.5 million sounds, including LPs & singles from 1950s to the present.  ‬‬‬‬‬‬‬ Why not have a look yourself?

Jazz album cover
You may also be surprised at what you find on our events page, and you can read more on our recent Inspired by Vinyl.  A few weeks ago I attended a talk at the inaugural symposium ‘Keeping Tracks: Music in a Digital Age’, where Sacha Sedriks Creative Director at BBC Future Media, spoke about the ways the BBC have had to innovate. Sacha also showed a video on the new ways users are consuming music, and how they are using technology to make the experience interactive, immersive and personal. The presentations and talks have been published and will give you insight from experts, as well as the clues to the future of digital music.

Needlessly to say, we have quite a few resources in the Business & IP Centre that provide insights and statistics on the worldwide music industry, including digital music trends. Geoff Taylor, Chief Executive of BPI, sums up the future in Digital Music Nation

“The music consumer in 2013 is dramatically different from the music consumer of 2003 and it is to the credit of everyone in this ecosystem – labels, artists, publishers, digital services, technology companies – that the platforms are in place to meet their growing expectations.”

For businesses and consumers, the landscape is changing, and so are the formats and channels. But reassuringly, our love of music remains the same.

Seema Rampersad on behalf of Business & IP Centre
Follow Seema on Twitter:@SeemaRampersad

08 April 2014

Portobello Business Centre Ask the Expert session at Imperial College

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Michael Pattinson webOn Friday 28 March I attended an excellent Ask the Expert event hosted by Portobello Business Centre and sponsored by Lloyds TSB.  The event, held in the prestigious Rector’s House, Imperial College, comprised of six experts who circulated round the room at twenty minute intervals to sit with tables of three or four budding entrepreneurs and offer advice and expertise.  The event was chaired by Colin Rutt from Portobello,  who used a judge’s gavel to notify the experts when to swap places!

The experts included IT consultant Sunil Patel, Chris Smith from the Intellectual Property Office, marketing expert Chris Griffin  founder of marketing agency Pi Global, Uday Thakkar from Red Ochre, Bob Lindsay from Thames Productions and Howard Carter, entrepreneur and founder of Incognito.

The delegates were mainly small business founders and start-ups, with a variety of products and services.

Portobello Business Centre logoAfter some brief words of introduction from Colin, my table welcomed Sunil Patel.  Sunil has an extensive knowledge of the whole IT spectrum but it was on the subject of websites and ecommerce in particular that the delegates were keen to pick his brains.  He offered some excellent advice on how to set up your online presence distinguishing between the different types of sites – blogging sites, shop fronts – and their suitability.  He stressed the importance of business owners familiarising themselves with the processes of web development but ultimately the advice was to get someone in who knows what they are doing.

Speed Mentoring Session at Imperial College 3Once his twenty minutes was up, Sunil was replaced by Uday Thakkar, founder of Red Ochre and a familiar face to all of us at the Business & IP Centre.  Uday has a wealth of experience in business mentoring and support, but it was the subject of raising finance that he was focusing on specifically.  The conversation quickly settled on the subject of crowdfunding which has become a popular alternative to traditional forms of funding such as bank loans which are becoming increasingly difficult to secure in the current economic climate.

Uday stressed the importance of momentum when looking for crowdfunding so try to build up a good support base of family and friends to get the ball rolling.  It is also important to offer incentives to encourage people to participate.  If you are asking for gifts, offer something in return such as a free sample of your product or an invitation to an event.  Uday also mentioned the importance of timing.  Don’t start asking people for contributions just before Christmas or when they are about to go on their summer holidays.

Bob Lindsay from Thames Productions was our next expert.  Bob has an engineering and manufacturing background but he was keen to find out what each of the delegates was doing and tailor his advice accordingly.  He provided some particularly useful advice about approaching buyers.  He emphasised the importance of being prepared for the types of questions buyers usually have, and being able to assure them the correct procedures are in place.  He used the following examples of the types of issues they are concerned with: complying with ISO standards, logistics and complaints procedures.

Speed Mentoring Session at Imperial College 2

Following some refreshments, we were joined by Chris Griffin, founder of marketing agency Pi Global.  Chris underlined the importance of knowing your customer and explained that for a new business, word-of mouth was the most powerful marketing technique because it established a high level of trust.

I was keen to listen in on Chris Smith from the IPO to hear his take on Intellectual Property.  He provided a very helpful overview of how businesses can protect their IP focusing specifically on Trade Marks and Copyright.  Although you don’t need to register Copyright, it is a good idea to have a record of when you created a piece of work so he suggested sending a copy to your solicitor or even posting it to yourself by recorded delivery.  

Speed Mentoring Session at Imperial College 2

The event finished off with a question and answer session.  Uday mentioned the Business & IP Centre as a great place to conduct further research into some of the issues we had discussed throughout the day so I took my cue and managed to say a few words about the Centre and what we offer.

I didn’t get a chance to speak to Howard Carter but he spoke a bit about his experiences as an entrepreneur.  He expanded on a theme touched on by some of the other advisors, that all business founders make mistakes along the way but the secret is to learn from them and don’t lose heart when things don’t go your way.  Passion and perseverance count for a lot!

Thanks to Colin Rutt and the rest of the team at Portobello Business Centre for hosting the event and for their hospitality on the day.  Also thanks to Lloyds TSB for sponsoring the event.

Michael Pattinson Business & IP Centre Team