Lots of our companies here at MSP were taking part in #Movember so we decided to hold a little bake sale - or, as we rather grandly called it, “The Great MSP Movember Bake Off” - in order to help the mo brothers and sisters.
We had some amazing entries, including a fabulous tiramisu, which technically isn’t baked but was so delicious we let the chef off, and lots of people popped by to donate generously.
Everyone got in the spirit and the free stick on moustaches were worn with glee, sometimes to slightly sinister effect.
A HUGE thank you to all those who got baking or bought some cake and a big well done to everyone who manfully grew a ‘tache over the month.
#turingsunflowers update: BAD SQUIRREL
The property news press today was dominated by a mystery project called “Tomorrow” and a highly confidential brief on behalf of an unnamed collaboration of global companies, which until now, has simply been known in the property world as “Project Digital”.
‘Project Digital’ involves this collaboration of companies taking space in 20 Manchester buildings, totalling 180,000 sq. ft. in preparation for the launch, each with a 10-year commitment. Announced along with the official name was a shortlist of the sites and we are proud and delighted to say that Manchester Science Park was among them.
From the press release:
“Each site will host ground-breaking technology that will enable local firms to explore and access business solutions, knowledge and data in an intuitive and interactive format that is completely innovative and unprecedented. The technology will be linked across all 20 buildings to facilitate collaborative problem solving, new product/service development and commercial innovation.”
We can’t say any more than this at the moment (heck, we don’t even know any more at the moment!) but what we can say is how utterly thrilling this is for the science park to be part of such a revolutionary, innovative project that so perfectly matches our own ambitions of bringing companies together and helping them grow.
It’s all about connectivity – in all senses of the word – and this is something MSP specialises in. We can offer our companies 100mb optical fibre broadband at a ridiculously low price, thanks to an arrangement our friends at Melbourne, which means companies can work harder, faster, stronger on a global level. But we never undervalue the importance of face to face connections and work hard to facilitate collaborations and connections among our occupiers and with our networks and the networks of our partners and shareholders.
It is fantastic to see a project like this come to a city like ours. We’re as excited as everyone else to get the full reveal on ‘Tomorrow’ and we hope all the companies on our site as are proud as we are that Manchester Science Park is part of it.
Guest Blog from @MalinkoApp on going global
We have a guest blog from one of our tenant companies, Liquid Bronze, today! They’ve recently taken their product, Malinko, global and wanted to share their experience.
Some thoughts on going global…
Hello! I’m Antony and I work for Liquid Bronze, a software house that produces a product called Malinko – a scheduling and CRM programme that allows companies to organise workforces effectively and with the minimum of fuss. We like to say that we free businesses from the shackles of the whiteboard.
We’ve recently taken the decision to make the Malinko software globally available, rather than only offering it in the UK. We wanted to blog about this because, as a small northern startup, we like to share our experiences with the rest of the tech community in the hope that others will do the same – we can only get stronger if we learn from each other. But, I digress.
Malinko is cloud based, which means our customers can access the software from anywhere in the world. So why didn’t we make the software globally available right from the start? It solves problems that are just as relevant in Buenos Aires as in Bolton.
The answer is that, through the combined experience of the team, we’d learned some lessons about how to roll out and develop a new product as a small start up – which we want to share here.
1. Does it work?
It might seem obvious, but if you are going to offer a product around the world, it has got to work around the world. For a long time, we took a look at the time zone issue and thought, “eek! That is incredibly complicated!” There was the whole issue of the server being in one time zone, the user being in another, and what if they moved from one time zone to another for a job? It got very confusing. Then we suddenly realised that it doesn’t matter what time zone you are in. 10am for you is 10am for you and the system would not need to have any concept of your time zone. If you are moving from time zone to time zone then you can make the manual adjustment accordingly. Anyway, as our target market is micro businesses upwards, there is not going to be much demand for global travelling.
2. Get it right
Just because you can do something – should you? Some say dive in, but with a small team like ours we had limited resources to firefight if things went wrong, never mind if things went wrong at 4am in the morning across the other side of the world. So we decided to invest a lot of time into getting the software to a place we were confident to roll out in beta and use our early client base to get key feedback from. We also learned how much we had to be involved to help with any problems and gradually managed to automate solutions to the most common issues.
It’s also worth mentioning that the cloud technology – integral to us offering the service
internationally - was not as strong or secure as it s now when we first launched Malinko. Amazing what can happen in a few years.
3. What would we want?
If you were going to buy a new gadget, spending a lot of money on it, wouldn’t you be pleased if you could take it home and put it through its paces, see if it matched with your lifestyle and was easy to use? We would (take note Apple…). And we knew, as a small company, that this went doubly in business – particularly over the last few years when companies have had to husband their resources carefully. So we introduced the ‘try before you buy’ 30 days free offer which has gone down really well. And we ask ourselves ‘would we want this?’ when considering other product and marketing developments.
We’ve got to a stage where the product is working well, our customers rarely have any issues and we’ve been able to automate our helpdesk to a certain extent. So we want to expand our reach. We think we have a good, scalable model in place. But to grow we need more people. To get more people we need more customers. So it all comes down to people/power – the power of the purchaser and the performance of our people. (How much wood would a wood chuck chuck if a wood chuck could chuck wood? Wow, that’s even hard to type.) Ultimately it is our relationships with our customers and prospective customers that will allow us to grow – but this relationship will only flourish if we are selling a great service. And to do that, we need talented employees who enjoy working for us.
It ties in with the ‘would we want this?’ philosophy. We need to keep thinking of everything from a human perspective.
So there we go. And here we are. Going global. Wish us luck!
We love to share knowledge – please let us know of any good business lessons you’ve learned in the process of developing new products or trading internationally.
Getting technology at the top of the news agenda
GUEST POST: Ruth Devlin and Fritzi Wemheuer of Judge & Howard share their top tips from their workshop on May 15 at MSP:
‘What is news? How the media works and how to get your business on a journalist’s radar.’
Innovative businesses like the ones we met at MSP have many fantastic news stories to share, but too often they either don’t know it or don’t know how to go about it. Here’s a quick summary of what news is, how it’s made and how to reach journalists.
24 hour news
Even in the age of social media, most news still goes via a journalist’s desk. Staffing cuts and rolling online 24 hour news mean that journalists are often slaves to their computers, keeping abreast of minute by minute newsfeeds, online news sites, Twitter, Bloggers.
Reporters on scientific and technology titles often work across several titles owned by the same publisher. These days, journalists are really stretched – churning out two or three stories a day and at the same time, they have a lot of news to choose from. Specialist technology journalists get up to 100 emails a day.
Earned versus paid for
‘Earned media’ - getting a journalist to write about you or your products instead of buying advertising space - has several advantages:
1. It’s more credible – because it comes from an independent source.
2. It’s more affordable – because it’s free.
3. It’s more powerful – because it’s a story that people choose to read
The three Rs
Successful news outlets live by three rules – it’s worth keeping them in mind if you want to get your stories at the top of the news agenda.
- readable – it’s written in a language and style that appeals to readers – meet them on an equal level
- relevant – it’s tailored to your readers’ interests, everyday lives and jobs. Emphasise the human angle - what does this mean for my potential clients?
- resonant – it has something fresh and new to say – in short, it’s worth reading.
Keep these in mind when writing news about your business:
• Show why it’s relevant to readers – use case studies
• Explain and give context using simple examples or scenarios
• Provide figures – journalists love stats
• Provide good pictures – they help sell the story
• Have all the facts at hand – make it easy for the journalist
• Provide a quote – and a media-friendly spokesperson from your business
For more advice, please contact us. We’d love to hear from you.
firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
For examples of how we have helped technology clients make the news, visit
www.judgeandhoward.com or tweet @judgeandhoward
Struggling to get your company noticed? Here’s how to punch above your weight
Last Friday we had Linsey and Deborah from Bell Pottinger come in and run a seminar on ‘Punching Above Your Weight” - advising our tenants on how to get their company noticed by the right people, a very relevant topic for some of our younger companies.
They’ve kindly drafted a guest blog for us summarising the key points. Excellent advice, no matter what sector you’re in!
Your prospective customers face information overload every day. They tackle an expanding in-box of emails; they learn ‘something new’ from twitter, LinkedIn and instant messaging; whilst fitting in meetings, conference calls and events. It’s no wonder that as a start-up business, you can find it hard to get noticed.
Experienced in raising the profile of start-up organisations, leading to successful trade sale or IPO, we’ve developed a short list of hints and tips to help you gain an unfair share of voice with the media and other influencers. With the right approach, you can build a profile disproportionate to your actual size, equivalent to the market leading players.
1. Identify your court of public opinion
Rather than try and approach your target market directly, first take a step back and look at who influences them; where they turn to make purchasing decisions. Are they peers? Investors? Vendors? Industry analysts? Trade associations? Media? Bloggers? Government? Or market analysts?
For example: analyst firm Forrester recently reported that 84% of us look to peers and colleagues when making business purchasing decisions. For many companies, ensuring that you make the most of your customers will have the biggest impact. This could be far more than simply writing up case studies, and more to do with aligning your customer stories to the sales process, and mapping who are your most valuable advocates and clearly seeing the programmes ROI.
2. Profile the opinion formers
Before developing your marketing plan, conduct specific research into the key opinion formers relevant to your business and market. You may know that ‘the media’ is important, but each journalist is very different, interested in different subjects, motivated by different needs. Develop a relationship ‘map’, profiling each person, and detailing your current and target relationship. This will shape your priorities and activities.
3. Take a 360 degree of your assets
Lots of companies approach influencers leading with a product or service message. However in many circumstances opening with another aspect of your business or how you fit into your market will resonate more effectively with your target audience. Think about all of your assets. Are you based in a relevant or interesting location? How do you fit or compete with a leading vendor? How do you link into upcoming legislation? What is of interest about your management team? It’s also important to think about what the media cover and how you can fit into their pages.
4. Map and motivate your endorsers
It’s no good simply building a relationship with your influencers and creating collateral that documents their endorsement. You need to create a platform that encourages and prompts them to deliver that message to your target audience.
For example, trade associations and large vendors are often looking for members or customer examples to support their product or service launch. You would be surprised how hard this can sometimes be for them. Be proactive. Let them know what you are doing and that you would be willing to participate in press releases, interviews, events etc. Don’t wait for them to think to include you.
If you adopt, one, all or none of these tips, we would urge you to think from your customers’ perspective when developing your marketing plans; look at who else can deliver your message for you, and think wider than the product or service message. In our experience, adopting this approach will make it easier for you to punch above your weight.
If you would like to talk through any ideas or challenges, we would love to hear from you firstname.lastname@example.org
Closing remarks: Day 1 Beyond Digital Health (Manchester) 2011
The Beyond Digital Health Manchester 2011 conference took place last week and was a great start to what will now be an annual event. The closing speech on day 1 by Dr. John F Stageman, Chairman of Bionow Ltd, was a real show stopper and he has kindly written up his notes for us here.
Looking for funding? – It’s rather like going fishing!
msp tenant, Going for Grants, recently gave a very well attended seminar on finding grant funding. Joint MD, Tom Bathgate, has written a quick summary of his presentation:
Funding is essential and a crucial priority to keep in front of us on any given day in our business or organisation.
Looking for funding of any kind takes time, demands focus, requires energy and a ‘never say die approach’ if you truly want your project to succeed. This becomes even more so when it comes to searching for, identifying and applying for grant funding.
Whilst grant funding is ‘free’ it is certainly not ‘cheap’ and everyone who would like it must learn to appreciate that funders have criteria which must be met, guidelines followed and milestones achieved. In addition, once an application has been successful, there is always more work ahead to ensure the funds are released for the project.
That’s part of the reason why we say looking for funding is like going fishing.
You have to really:
- Need to catch the fish - Funders can easily spot those who have a hobby or just an idea from those who have a passion, vision and a project they desperately require funding for. They will know from our story whether or not if we don’t catch this ‘fish’ (ie the money we need), our project will die and we will be gutted.
- Know the fish we need to catch – We must know the amount of money we require, why this amount, what it is for and how the funds will be spent.
- Identify where this fish can be caught - Identify the funding pond which fits best with our project, time-table, and sector is a crucial part of looking for funding.
- Know the rod we intend to use to catch this all important fish – Having a methodology is so essential when we go looking for funding. For example, knowing how and where to start looking is where it begins. Many go fishing (looking for funding) not knowing clearly the ‘fish’ they need to catch, the correct ‘pond’ to fish in and the ‘rod’ (their methodology) to use to catch and land the fish.
So we recommend that before we start complaining that funds are hard to come by (and they are not easy to come by), or we think our project is too small or insignificant to attract a funder, we begin by clearly knowing the amount we need (and can prove we need it), which funders do we think are most interested in our project and sector, have ready the bait we intend to use to attract interest (our business plan, financial forecast and human resource) and, how we intend to go about looking for this vital amount of funding (our methodology in searching, identifying and making the approach to the funder).
Going For Grants
email@example.com / 0161 226 7799
MMU Usability Lab - improving the user experience
Our Innovation Project Manager, Anne Dornan, recently visited MMU’s new Usability Lab – here’s her write up on the service.
“Manchester Metropolitan University recently launched a new Usability Laboratory, a facility unique in the North West designed to capture and analyse human behaviour as people interact with a host of technological devices including computers, mobile devices and video game consoles. It offers an ideal environment for the design, development and assessment of a wide range of hardware and software, including:
- Full User Experience and Usability analysis
- Eye tracking (for website assessment etc)
- User Centred Design (including formative and summative assessment), focus group based design
“The video data is digitized in real-time, and observed behaviours, including user engagement measured using heart rate monitors, can be fed into the latest behaviour analysis software - Noldus Observer XT 10.
“Businesses using this unique facility include msp alumni PRWD, who are the North West’s leading usability & conversion optimisation consultancy.
“Prior to the MMU facility, PRWD carried out its lab based user testing in London as there were no comparable spaces in the North West. This means the company can now offer their clients, including Speedy Services, Lakeland, Speedo and Manchester Tourist Board, user testing in Greater Manchester using locally recruited users from Manchester and the North West.
“Overall, this is a valuable facility to a range of businesses from digital media marketing, web design and video game developers looking to improve user experience of their technology based applications and services. It’s also an innovative way of identifying collaborative R&D opportunities with academics in the area of user experience and usability engineering.”
For more information or to access the Usability Laboratory please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Hidden Science Map – calling everyone working in science in Manchester!
Think back to when you were sixteen… what did you think you could do with a science degree? Did you think about becoming a brewer, bioethicist or a clown that uses the medium of balloons to explain geometry?
A new project led by the Science Council aims to uncover ‘hidden’ careers in STEM subjects so that teenagers can see that they are surrounded by science, at all levels and being done by all sorts of people, which will hopefully persuade them to continue to study science.
The Hidden Science Map aims to make a real variety of interesting STEM careers visible to teenagers.
How can I get involved?
This pilot project is developing a website, set to launch on 10 March 2011, which will present photos and profiles of people in ‘hidden’, surprising, interesting, in fact all STEM careers across the UK. These profiles will be dotted across a Google-based map, set to eventually cover the whole country but starting in a few cities with a strong science community, including Manchester.
The project leader, Katie Walsh, is looking for anyone and everyone who studied science, technology, engineering or maths post 18, and uses their qualification in their work life to upload a profile and picture.
The map will have another layer of organised portraits of STEM places of work, featuring lots of individual STEM workers there, if you’d like to plan and submit one of these for your organisation please get in touch with Katie, otherwise any individual STEM people should stand by for further info of how to upload a profile and picture when the Hidden Science Map is open for business in a week or so.
Katie Walsh can be contacted at the Science Council via email: K.email@example.com.
Blog content taken with kind permission from the Manchester Science Festival blog