My Enterprising Week 4- Ready, Set, MVP!

I took a break last week from writing as was keen to ensure that a new pilot project I have been working upon I was able to talk about in this week’s post. I am pleased that pilot has now been successfully completed.

Last week, at the University of Liverpool I completed my first full Minimal Viable Product (MVP) workshop with approx. 15 MSc International Students. I have been studying MVP for some time now and how it links within the Lean Start-up framework, however, until now had not had the opportunity to test this in a live environment within a University. I was thrilled to get this opportunity to work with such an inspired and wonderful set of students from every corner of the globe, it really was an International affair!

Students from University of Liverpool working on an MVP Workshop

I have been taking inspiration from several other Enterprise Educators globally around what can be realistically achieved in a short space of time and I have to say what occurred went beyond my wildest ambition.

The challenge I set both groups of students, six within each group was to come up with a form of business concept around the product of coffee, this could be a new coffee shop, blend or bean, whatever they wished, however it had to focus in some way around coffee. I used the coffee business for the simple reason its something we all know about, and I didn’t want to waste time that could be used generating the MVP with students overthinking the topic area, for this activity the topic area wasn’t really the driver. It was very much about the action and ‘doing’.

I gave them two hours to complete the challenge, some basic instruction upon how to use WordPress and the ask was that they must provide a basic functional website landing page which was live (this was important, we needed to press the all important publish button), all copy and imagery produced and embedded (royalty free of course), a form of data collection to find out the thoughts and feelings of potential customers and at least one social media channel connected, live and with a call to action.

The students really got into the swing of this very quickly with the help of some fantastic mentors I had working with them. What was produced in the two hours was terrific and it gave me great enthusiasm to run this session again with some small changes. With switched on, ambitious students the amount of work, from an absolute standing start that can be created in 2 hours is quite something. Look at one of the landing pages produced from a group, as I mention, these students had no idea what the challenge would be on arrival and indeed had never even met each other. I was really very impressed indeed. If you would like more information about this, do get in touch.

The key learning we looked at within this session was the premise around what an MVP is, and what it isn’t, the difference between MVP and Prototype and more broadly the sheer amount of work and speed of work that can be produced when all are pulling in the same direction with a clear objective.

Another interesting video I came across in the last week was tweeted by a gentleman called Martin Lackeus from Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden. I think I have mentioned following Martin in previous posts, you can follow @mlackeus its well worth doing so as he often brings valuable and interesting points to the table in all areas of Enterprise Education, I find many of them quite fascinating.

The video tweeted this week is called The Diamond: A definition framework for understanding what being entrepreneurial means. Have a look at this, my understanding is this is a beta test video so changes perhaps could still be made, but it’s a really very interesting piece of work. I really like this especially the area of entrepreneurial responsibility. It poses some questions for educators about if we perhaps sometimes over emphasise certain areas of Ented, I think I have been guilty of this myself; this video does give me another perspective about ensuring all sections of the ‘diamond’ are given adequate consideration.  

As so often I try and keep aware of courses that I see and hear about and this week was no exception. Through LinkedIn I was made aware of two courses that could be of interest to Enterprise Educators.

The first is a beginner’s course called; Empower every student with an inclusive classroom. This is part of the Microsoft Edu Community package of courses which is free to access and very short, its anticipated to be completed in approx. one hour. This course is designed for educators of all subject areas who want to empower students to utilise tools to unlock their full potential by addressing a diversity of needs. 

I’m quite impressed with the Microsoft Edu Community, it might be something you wish to get more involved within, if so, the link is here.

Another course which seems to be part of a much wider paid package I noticed from a trainer called Andrew Sillitoe. I don’t know much about Andrew aside from what I have read from his LinkedIn biography but a promotional video posted called ‘Live Your Vision- Improvement Goals’ essentially, what things you wish to fundamentally require or change to achieve your goals, did spark my imagination.

I would look at the video and see if this or any other areas of the larger project are of interest. I feel I am at a stage of my career where I am very much trying to align my own personal vision to allow me to reach my goals, so perhaps the video just hit home at a personal moment, but nevertheless I would be interested to know more about this, or indeed if anybody has completed any of Andrew’s online courses- do let me know.

Finally, before I go, an article which did make me smile. As a father to a three-year-old I know only too well the daily challenges that come with parenthood and watching your child make mistake after mistake but being able to actively observe that inherent drive to keep going until they get things right.

A really nice article published by Forbes this week was ‘A Toddler’s Guide to Entrepreneurship’, essentially the article looks at how many of the principles of entrepreneurship are simple enough for a toddler to understand. I especially liked the four areas whereby the author claims entrepreneurs and toddlers need to strike to succeed, these being; Be ready to Iterate fast, Learn from the Pain (so true), Have no fear and Use what you have. A wonderful little article that certainly made me smile!

Thanks for reading and see you all very soon.  

My Enterprising Week 3- Reflection and Observation

This week has been an opportunity, after the previous hectic fortnight to take in some reading and observation around my world of Enterprise Education.

Before I begin, and to blow my own trumpet, as somebody who hadn’t always fully excelled in academia, I was thrilled this week to receive my first ever Distinction within my MSc, Innovation Management Module.

I am studying this Degree with Edinburgh Napier University, and it was a massive boost to score 80% on this module, coupled with my previous module narrow miss of 69% (70% needed for Distinction, that’s so harsh isn’t it…) from New Venture Planning, this shows my marks are moving in the right direction. It was hugely satisfying to see this result, and the hard work is paying off, completing this Degree with a full-time job and young family hasn’t been easy!

Outside of my own personal work, I have mentioned in previous posts about some of the positive feedback which had come from the recent Young Enterprise UK Start Up Final which I project managed.

Some colleagues from attending institutes on Social Media this week posted pictures of feedback from their own students. This was wonderful to read, that the students value their work and efforts in such high regard. Its never easy working in education but this type of feedback does give you the belief that we do what we do for the right reasons. Look at the comments, how fantastic is that.

A hand written letter from student to a colleague I work alongside from Loughborough College following her Start-Up experience.
A note of thanks from a student at Grimsby Institute to their Ented teacher describing their Start-Up experience. The last sentence seems to sum it up for me.

There has also been this week several observations about opportunities for Entrepreneurial students to involve themselves with, I like to keep on top of these as its value added we can give to our students that we work with.

I often talk about trying to be ‘giving’ with the sharing of information. Look at the Twitter post from a gentleman called Juan Felipe Campos from UC Berkley who has provided a link to his own Google Drive folder of Start Up Resources. I think this is brilliant, it isn’t somebody packaging them up and trying to sell them, its simply the sharing of knowledge. You can find the direct links by checking Juan out on LinkedIn.

I am sure most people reading are fully versed with the Strategyzer website, you will know their love for all things Business Canvas and Lean Start Up. This week I noticed a nice simple table with their thoughts on the key differences between the Business Plan and Business Models. This snapshot is useful, and I think I will include it within a slide for an upcoming Ented session I am running with University of Liverpool MSc International students.

An interesting app which has been launched this week by Intrinsic EU. It claims to be the first European app ever to monitor the entrepreneurial mindset in higher education students, its now ready for testing. I had a quick look at this, and it may well be something you would like to find out more about. You can find more information below.

Another really fabulous website launch that Enterprise Educators and students should take a look at this week is Disciplined I am sure many of you will follow Bill Aulet and will have read his books, this website looks brilliant and will take me some time to run though, its packed with resource, frameworks and video content, its looks really very good indeed. Do take a visit, it could well enhance teaching and learning in the field.

In the spirit of sharing information, if you are a very early start-up or with an existing but not yet trading business there looks to be a great opportunity with Baldwins Kickstart Competition. There are prizes of several thousand pounds available to UK Start-up students aged 18-25. You have until August to get your application in, this could be hugely useful to share with students who you think could be at suitable and what a great financial incentive to move a business to its next level.

Finally, this week I follow a gentleman called Martin Lackeus closely on Twitter. Martin is a Researcher in Entrepreneurial Education at Chalmers University in Sweden. I love his tweets and he provided me with lots to think about. Have a look below at some of Martin’s comments regarding Intrepreneurship and the various definitions around this interesting topic. Intrepreneurship is an area I want to study further, as I believe the students, I am working with can develop this mindset via the programme I run. The definition, however, hasn’t always been easy to explain so I found this most interesting, there are also a selection of books to accompany if you have an interest in Intrepreneurship.

So, that’s my Enterprising Week. Its been enjoyable and always things to read, watch and visit. Thank you for continued support of the Blog. I look forward to writing every week and please do share the link with other educators and students that you think could benefit from hopefully, having a digestible, weekly update of just some of the things going on in the sector. See you next time.

My Enterprising Week 2- Days like this are why we do what we do.

Students from Liverpool Hope University attending Young Enterprise Start Up Final 2019
Video to accompany blog post.

Well this has been some week. Normally I wouldn’t overly focus on my own personal work as I want to share my thoughts on that which is going on around me, but this week I will concentrate the majority of my blog post on the Young Enterprise UK Start Up Final which I led on Wednesday.

I have worked on this project for several years and its sometimes been difficult as to bring Colleges and Universities on board with Enterprise Education. It takes time and perseverance to make the connection and embed our programme into curriculum areas. It also requires generating the confidence of tutors that you know what you are doing and can add value to their work.

This week I led an event at Chessington World of Adventures whereby students from all over the UK came together to compete for The Overall Start Up Company of the Year, and what a wonderful event it was. A company called The Goat Tree from University of Chester, a small co-operative selling Moroccan Argon oil and using profits to generate projects commissioning tutors to teacher traditional Berber women how to read and write were declared the winners, and will now go forward to compete against European counterparts next month in Oslo. What a story for that small group of two students- amazing!

Young Enterprise UK 2019 Start Up Winners- The Goat Tree from University of Chester

I have been with the Young Enterprise organisation for a long time; however those days do re-invigorate you and make you feel proud of your work, and that you genuinely are making a difference to young people. As well as the award winners its actually some of the personal stories you come across which make you feel very humble, and some of the feedback on social media post event makes you consider the journey of some of our students that perhaps have had challenging times. I hope the photographs and video gives you some idea of what I mean.

A Social Media post from a tutor at Grimsby Institute describing his feelings after watching his team perform.
A University of Bolton student describing how Ented has helped him improve his confidence

I haven’t had a great deal of time to do much reading over the last seven days, however, I have for some time been strongly pushing the notion that Enterprise Education doesn’t have to belong only within the Business School. I was really pleased this week to kick off a project which will formally start in September at the University of Liverpool, working through Ented to support Level 5 and 6 Psychology students. This coming year as well as many Business Schools ill also be working with Sports Science and Digital Media, alongside the Psychology School, so things do appear to be slowly turning and this is hugely encouraging.

Lecture one for a new ented project with University of Liverpool Psychology School

This feeling was further demonstrated by a report I saw from the ICA-Edu Colloquium 2019 entitled ‘Let the entrepreneurial genie out of the bottle! How will we stimulate the nascent entrepreneurial skills of our students?’. This again presses home that belief that ented is becoming a more University wide approach and not simply the domain of the Business School.

It probably wouldn’t be a normal week if I didn’t share some link from Teaching They produce such consistently good content and this week is no exception. Take a look at the article ‘Textbooks Don’t Work’, it builds on the foundation belief of David Goobler ‘for most students, we need to shift our focus from what it is we say to what it is they do.’  I couldn’t agree more with that statement, it’s a great article and well worth a read, do share your thoughts.

Finally, from me this week, a resource I really like Fiverr, has several new courses available for freelancers and entrepreneurs. These seem to have been very recently released so I plan to examine these in more detail over the coming weeks. Take a look on the link below:

So that’s it for this week, a lot of images, video and links to share with you. I hope you enjoyed reading and see you next week. Do give the post a share or like on Social Media, I do really appreciate the support and hope the content keeps you interested!


First post- this is me.

Hi, I’m Andy and welcome to my first blog post!

As somebody who has been working in the Enterprise Education sector for the past 12 years, I have been fortunate enough to work with some fantastic professionals and brilliant young entrepreneurs.

Pictured presenting Start Up event in Loughborough, 2018

As time has moved forward, I have wanted to start to blog about my experiences within the sector, the thoughts and views of others and the general developments in all things enterprise.

Firstly, a little about myself.  My name is Andy Firr and I am married to Gemma. I have a little girl and we live in Wirral, a few miles from my place of birth Liverpool.

For a great many years, the sector of enterprise and entrepreneurship has been of great interest to me. I have been that person who has in their back bedroom built several small businesses. These have ranged far and wide, from chutneys to Vietnamese coffee, football stickers to educational resources, its been an interesting journey!

My brother and I on a Vietnamese Coffee trip, Ho Chi Minh City, 2014

I have been fortunate enough to visit many countries on my enterprise journey including Belgium, Finland, Latvia and Vietnam.

Hotel Torini, Helsinki, Finland 2017, part of the jaeec17

My current role primarily allows me to support young entrepreneurs from Universities and Colleges around the UK as Start Up Manager at the Young Enterprise organisation. It’s a great position and I get to work with some fantastic professionals from a huge range of industries.

Pictured at Enterprise Celebration event, Riga, Latvia 2018

Over the coming months I’ll be sharing industry insights, my own thoughts about the sector and moving forward providing resources that you can hopefully use with colleagues.

The blog is for all and anybody interested in enterprise, ented, innovation, new venture and start up.

I would LOVE to hear from you if you have articles you wish to share, thoughts or opinions.