Our First Prototype And Logo

After the feedback we received from the judges at the Dragons’ Den, we decided to focus on how to build our first top prototype. We started by doing some research on which materials were more appropriate for our product. I went to an area in West London called Hammersmith And Fulham, where I was able to find countless textiles stores. Here, I entered every single store and explained to the employees what we were trying to create so they could recommend me the most suitable material to use. I took numerous samples of fabrics and foams.

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The next day we had a group meeting to test all the materials and decide which ones we will buy to build the prototype. After some trials, we decided to produce the top with a dark blue breathable fabric and 1-inch foam for the protective areas. But, we realized that we didn’t have a lot of time to finish it since we need it a few days later for the Kingston Business School Trade Fair. For this reason, we ask a friend of Kaja who owns a sewing machine to manufacture the t-shirt and sew the foam to it. Two days later, our first prototype was ready!!

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We also designed a logo for DANZA. We believe that a logo that represents the values of the company is essential for our communication with the customers. Sheng-Yi designed on his smartphone some logos combining the name of the product and dancing figures. These were our first sketches:

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Pretty good, right? Which one do you like the most? During the next meeting, we will decide which logo we are going to use from now on. Also, we will prepare our selves for the Bright Ideas competition and Kingston Business School trade fair which is in two weeks! We have too much work to do!

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First Dragons’ Den

Having already chosen DANZZA, we began to analyze in deep the problem we wanted to solve. Also, on Friday, December 7, we had our first Dragon ‘Den: an opportunity for all teams in the class to pitch our idea in 5 minutes in front of a panel of experienced entrepreneurs. In order to be as prepared as possible, we had to hold a group meeting in which we discuss various issues related to our new project.

We started the meeting by taking some pictures of Kaja (a team member who is a contemporary dancer) doing some advanced dance moves to show the judges the critical moments of this discipline.

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After this, we started designing our first prototype. We discussed for hours on how to create it according to the type of fabric, padding material, and which are the most critical areas where dancers get hurt. Finally, we designed our first sketch of the product:

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The next step was to decide which materials we were going to use to produce the top. These materials should be comfortable, flexible, light, and good-quality in order to provide dancers the protection and freedom they require while performing. Due to the lack of time, we were only able to find one protection material for the padding areas, which was a regular foam. In terms of the fabric, Vivien offered to bring a breathable top that she manufactured on her fashion designer undergraduate. We decided to use it to show the fabric we will use in future productions.

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Two days later, the Dragons’ Den arrived. It was our first presentation of this project. We felt nervous and excited at the same time. During the presentation, we explained the problem that we aimed to solve for the dancers. We showed pictures of the advance- movements, the breathable fabric and the protective foam, the product’s sketches, and some injuries pictures that dance students sent us to prove that the problem we intend to solve was a regular problematic for most contemporary dancers.

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After the five-minute presentation, the judges asked many questions, mostly about how we pretend to manufacture a product that lasts in time according to the necessities of our customers. Finally, they provided us with many useful pieces of advice to improve our product and strategies in the future. Now, it’s time to work hard on our weakest point for our next pitch.

Which one should we choose?

Last post we ended deciding between the pick keychain and the protective shirt for contemporary dancers. After a SYDER meeting, we decided to start developing the…(drums sound)…

Protective shirt!!!

This week we started working on it. First of all, we found which was our specific customer. We decided to focus the product only on contemporary dancers, even other types of dances like hip-hop have similar injuries. After this decision, Kaja started speaking in deep with her friends who are contemporary dancers. All of them were extremely excited about our idea, and they couldn’t wait for us to launch the product. It was a positive beginning.

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It was time to start building the entire product. We started deciding the name of the brand. “Safe and dance”? “Baila”? “Danza”? We liked the last one. DANZA. What does it mean? Danza is the Spanish translation of the word dancing. We asked some people and they like how the brand sounds.

We defined the costumers, the name of the brands, now we needed to start building the prototype. So, we began making sketches according to the areas that contemporary dancers frequently hurt. After some research, we realized that the shoulders, shoulder blades and the spine are the areas that they mostly get hurt.

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The next step was to prepare all this information for the Dragons’ Den. Which is an event that we will have next week during the class where judges from different areas will hear our product ideas and ask us any question they have. We have to convince them that our idea would succeed. For this reason, we have to practice a lot and leave the judges speechless. We mustn’t leave any question without an answer. We have too much work to do….

Time to re-think.

After last Friday experience, it was time to start all the way over and came up with new ideas. We had a team meeting at my place on Wednesday. We started speaking about last class presentation, after that, we did a new brainstorming saying all the problems that we or our friends and family have. After some pizzas and beers, we choose three products to create.

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The first one was a guitar pick keychain. Thanks to Vivian`s music bandmates, we knew that losing the pick for guitar players was a big headache. And having them on the guitar cover or any other place, it would be easy to lose them. Keys are a thing that all of us always have with us, that’s why we choose to make it as a keychain.

The second one was a portable ashtray. In London, both trash baskets and ashtrays are hard to find. These make people throes their cigarette filters making a dirty and more contaminated city. Also, if a police officer sees you doing this, they will fine you. This portable ashtray was compact so you can carry it on your pocket or bag.

And the third one was a protection shirt for contemporary dancers. Kaja is a contemporary dancer, and every time she practices, her shoulders, and lower back area were hurt. This made her stop training every day because she needed time to heal the wounds. It was impossible to practice with such pain.

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We couldn’t decide which idea was better. That’s why we let the class decide. Instead of presenting one idea, we presented the three of them and wait to see the reaction of Janja and our classmates. During the presentation, we were confident, we had three ideas so it was hard not to find the correct one. We started speaking about the pick keychain and most of them liked it. After that, we explained the portable ashtray. Our classmates were excited about the idea because even if they don’t, they know someone who smokes and would need this product. But, after some discussion, we realized that selling a product that is made for smokers (which is a habit that everybody tries to reduce) wouldn`t be well seen. In the end, we present the contemporary dancers’ protection shirt. They loved it! Even some of the classmates wanted to have one ASAP.

After the presentation, we had two ideas that had survived: the pick keychain and the protection shirt for contemporary dancers. Which one should team SYDER choose? You will find out on my next blog post!!

Underground lines?

I just arrived home from uni. I`m exhausted!! Today was an amazing day. My team SYDER and I did the first idea presentation for the Design Thinking for Start-ups class. During the last weeks, Alice teaches us how to create products to solve people problems. She taught us how to find these issues and think like the people that are facing them.

On Tuesday, we have our first group meeting outside the class. Sheng-Yi, Vivien, Kaja and I went to Kaja`s flat during the morning and started the meeting. The first thing we did was to brainstorm the ideas we already had. During the previous two weeks, we wrote down every single problem we found out in our daily life. After 4 hours of debate, we decided that the problem we should focus was crowded underground platforms. We realized that on peek ours, when you get off the train, it`s really hard to quickly find the way to the exit or even to make connections with other lines. These platforms are so crowded that, for the first 10 seconds you can`t see any sign to know which way you should go.

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To solve these issue, we came up with the idea of painting lines on the underground platform floor, so when you get off the train you can instantly follow these lines to your destiny. Why on the floor? We thought that everybody watches the floor while getting down the train to make sure not to stumble. The color of the lines accords to the train lines or exits. For example, if you need to make a connection to the Piccadilly line, you must follow the blue line on the floor.

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We did sketches, draws, we practice the speech, and after 8 hours of meeting, we went back home. During the way home I stayed 20 minutes at Covent Garden’s platform making sure that every train stopped on the same spot. And fortunately, every single train stopped on the same place, so the lines on the floor would always be able to be seen by the travelers as soon as they get off.

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Friday arrived. I woke up a little bit nervous. It was my first presentation in English! We met with the team 1 hour before the class to ultimate details. We were ready. After some groups, it was our turn to present. We started speaking about the problem and, with the help of some classmates, we did a representation about the situation. Whit real underground sounds, Kaja and I acting as travelers, the classmates being other travelers, and Sheg-Yi and Vivien acting as rude people, we recreate the “crowded station”. The acting was funny and the class was relaxed and ready to listen to our idea. While we were explaining the solution, I could saw the approval expression of the classmates and the seat with their heads. Janja, which was her first class teaching us, was also happy with the idea.

But… there is always a “but”. Having a constructing conversation with Janja and the rest of the class. We all realised that it was very difficult to make profits of this idea, given that it is not a product that we can build and sell. Even we all agreed that the idea was amazing, we also agreed that it would be very difficult to negotiate with TFL (Transport For London) to include our idea. So, for next week we should think of a new product. But I know SYDER team can make it!!

At the end of the day, I believe that this experience was enriching. Even we couldn`t make our idea real, we grew up as a team, we had a new presenting experience altogether. And for next week we will be more than ready to success!!

Wheelchair Bodystorming

Yesterday, at the Design Thinking for Start-ups class, Alice gave us the task to find how to improve the Business School building making it easier to navigate for people using wheelchairs. So, to find solutions in the best possible way, we did a “bodystorming”; this technique consists on physically experiencing a situation to understand the users and create new ideas.

We were divided into teams and the bodystorming started. We took turns with the rest of groups to perambulate through the building pretending one of our team members was using a wheelchair. To made-up this situation, we took a computer chair. Without our help, she was supposed to go to different places inside the building like the coffee shop on the ground floor, the bathrooms on the 2ndfloor and back to the classroom on the 3rdfloor

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During the route, we realized that the building wasn’t 100% adapted for disabled people. The first problem we faced happened as soon as we exit the class. While we were going to the elevator, we came up with many fire security doors that were too heavy to open for someone on a wheelchair. The next problem was coming back to the class and trying to pulling the door, it was again too heavy and almost impossible to do it in one single movement. The last issue that we find was when trying to seat at the class tables, we realized that the wheelchair wouldn’t fit under it, so the person must take his own desk or table.

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To solve all these problems, we redesign both the building and the wheelchair. In the case of the building, we came up with the idea to draw some lines on the floor to show disabled people the shortest and fastest way to go wherever they want. We also thought about an app including a map of the building that can make it easier. And about the wheelchair, we designed a sketch that solves some problems I mentioned above, like being shorter to fit on every single table. After the experience, we presented our ideas to the rest of the groups. It was my first bodystorming and actually, I really enjoyed it. It gave us the opportunity to put us on others shoes and realize how disabled people make huge efforts to go to anyplace.

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Can 3D printers replace actual product development process?

Last week we went with the entire class to the Design Museum’s exhibition: “Designer Maker User”. The exposition included designed items viewed through the angles of the designer, the manufacturer and the user. During the exhibition, we saw really interesting things such as a prototype of the new London tube train, a wall including old TVs, radios and video games, and even a section where all the Apple products released in their history were exhibited.

 

But in the last sector of the exposition, I saw what most caught my attention; a huge 3D printer. For the ones who don’t know this product; this printer, guided by computer software, lays down layers of material into a particular shape creating a three-dimensional object. I had seen 3D printers before but this one was massive! While I the machine was working, I was thinking on how this new technology could modify the industrial production.

 

ABS plastic and PLA are the most popular materials used by 3D printers. But imagine improving the printers so they can support metal or iron as printable materials! This would change the way products manufactured nowadays. Big factories would be replaced by medium size sheds with just space for a 3D printer and a warehouse to stock the products. And the big quantities of employees would be replaced by a few software operators to control the production. This would generate less manufacturing cost and fewer employees for the company, so the price of the products will decree dramatically.

 

Every time that I think about this kind of innovations, I get worried about the number of workers that would lose their jobs. So, what could be the next step to improve the manufacturing industry without affecting the workers?