When recruiting for new innovation and proposition design consultants, Market Gravity look for something different. We look for an ability to inject an entrepreneurial spirit into the projects and propositions they’re working on. That ability is like a ‘secret sauce’ to us. It’s what makes our approach and the way we help our clients deliver projects different to other innovation and propositions design consultancies.

But how do we know if someone can inject an entrepreneurial spirit into a big company? Well. A lot of the team at Market Gravity are entrepreneurs in their own right. They’ve started their own businesses outside of Market Gravity – something the company advocates and actively looks for. They know the work it takes to get something off the ground. They are passionate about ideas in the same way as our clients are passionate about theirs. They’re able to draw on their experiences in client projects.

And because we love to share, celebrate and support our team’s entrepreneurial passions, we’ve created a series of blogs about them. This month we chatted to Kirsten McIntyre one of our Principal Consultants about a start-up she helped launch – buzzumi.

Hi Kirsten, tell me, what did your startup do?

It was a knowledge market place, where people could buy or sell time with someone to give or receive knowledge, information or training. So you could learn Japanese from someone in Tokyo from the comfort of your own home. The platform provided integrated video and learning tools, appointment booking and payment handling.

Where did the idea come from?

It was a venture that my former employer co-founded. Instead of investing cash they seconded me to work on the start-up for nine months as ‘sweat equity’. I got involved when it was a kernel of an idea, pitched as ‘an eBay for knowledge’ but with very little detail beyond that, and worked it up from there.

What did you find most rewarding about the experience?

Being involved in it from day one through to launch and getting to be involved in some many different areas. I worked on it from initial concept through to launch. This included my first experience of user experience and building wireframes, naming the business and developing the branding. We worked with developers in New Zealand to build it, preparing investor decks, planning the launch and getting our first customers signed up.

I was also working with a project manager who I have since married!

 

An ‘eBay for knowledge’- buzzumi was a knowledge market place where people could buy or sell time with someone to give or receive knowledge, information or training.

What was most challenging?

Lots of things were challenging! Ultimately the start-up pivoted about six months after launch into something quite different after we failed to secure funding from investors. Instead the same technical architecture was re-purposed to provide a software-as-a-service solution to business customers. This was easier to scale without the need for significant up-front investment. The technology was used successfully by Big White Wall and Doctor Care Anywhere to launch their telehealth platforms.

Launching the original business was very challenging. Firstly, creating a market place is incredibly hard, it sounds obvious but it’s twice the effort. I’d definitely think carefully about doing that again in the future unless you already have easy access to at least one side of the market.

Our timing was off too in terms of the technology. The video technology we were using just wasn’t stable enough, delivering a poor user experience, which we ultimately couldn’t control.

Funniest anecdote?

At one point a (dodgy) decision was taken to approach psychics to get them to sell their services through the platform – definitely not an area that I would ever have envisaged myself getting involved in.

How has the experience helped you at Market Gravity?

Seeing the whole thing through end to end and how everything fits together helps me to see what’s important and what order I need to tackle things in, and which things I can park for a bit. For example, you need a stable proposition that works for customers and the business before you need to worry about branding and messaging.

The importance of focus and making decisions about what you’re not going to do is as important as deciding what you are going to do, and sticking to it. But conversely knowing that there could come a point when you have to completely change track if your strategy is not working, and being ok with that is really important. Although the business no longer exists, I’ve been able to draw from the experience and process and help clients facing similar challenges which is really valuable.

If you’d like to talk over any ideas you have to launch a new proposition or how to overcome innovation challenges you’re facing- get in touch.

Kirsten.Mcintyre@marketgravity.com

Find Kirsten on LinkedIn