What is the value of a year?

A lot can happen in a year. You could start your career, or pursue a postgraduate degree before starting your career. Our MSc Software Entrepreneurship offers you the opportunity to develop a number of personal skills, while pursuing the real possibility of developing a startup business. This could be a year to change your career, or even your life in exchange for a year of your time. These are possible options. You take the programme, and have the option to pursue the business ideas you work on during the year. However, you are not committed to them for life, unless you choose to do so. You can walk away from them knowing that you are a different person now with more skills and a different mindset from the person who started the programme. You could successfully walk into any number of jobs after taking this programme. You could even go back to an enhanced role with your old firm. Let’s see what some of the options look like for this programme.

You could use this year for personal goals such as, according to Daniel Pink, video summary of Drive, developing the three factors that influence personal satisfaction through internal motivation: autonomy, mastery and purpose. We’d argue that our degree enables you to pursue goals that let you provide you with a platform for this motivation. We provide you with the skills to create your own business by developing several potential businesses. We also guide you and mentor your development of these skills so that at the end you walk away with understanding of what autonomy could be for you, enough practical experience to master the skills you need for the roles you’ve created, and by having a business you’ll also have a purpose.

ideating business ideas

You could be in a startup for the money. The potential is there to make millions at some point. Realistically, this is unlikely to happen within a year though. It usually takes longer, but maybe you and your team will have an idea that takes off miraculously fast. It could happen, and it would all belong to you and your team. The university has no claim on the IP of your idea. The university would only come on board the idea during a funding round as any other investor would. Most people, however, are motivated by the idea and seeing the idea grow and develop. Most people in startups are not in it for the money. Most do it for the chance to be in charge of their own future as part of a team of founders.

You could do it for personal development and growing your skills. If you’re straight from university as an undergraduate, or if you’ve done another masters already, then this could be a year of developing your skills in a real way working on developing startup ideas to see which one(s) gain traction and seeing where they take you during the year. This is an ideal time to do this. You have little or no income, so you have nothing to give up while you pursue the MSc and your business ideas. Anything you can develop by way of a business and income during the year is a bonus.

If you’ve been working for some time and are thinking of a change, then you’ll be giving up your salary for the year. This is a bigger commitment, but is worth considering due to the potential return for your time on the programme. You bring your experience and understanding of the working world to the work you’ll do in your teams. This will help you provide a good understanding of the problems and issues businesses face, as well as a greater awareness of life after university. This provides more sensitivity to potential commercial ideas, which could be turned into businesses. You give up more to be a part of the programme, but you also have more to take away too when it is over. The more you put in, then the more you potentially take away.

If you’ve been working and decide to go back to your old firm after the degree, maybe you can convince your employer to offer you a sabbatical (maybe even with pay), then you come back to the firm with many new skills to be an ‘intrepreneur’ and help develop new ideas within the firm. You’ll be the perfect person to help oversee the development of new ideas and mini-businesses within the larger firm. You can deploy the same skills we work on to develop new stand-alone business ideas to develop business ideas within your firm. This could be a good way to help develop your career, and therefore pay you back your time away from the office rather well. If you need help brainstorming reasons why your employer, should help you with this, then get in touch. We’re happy to help.

To summarize, the return on your investment for the year on the programme looks something like this:

Background Downside Upside
Student (either UG or PG) a year away from starting your traditional career you start your ‘career’ immediately and possibly walk away with a business and any associated income
Employed and changing career lose your salary for a year and interrupt your career everything from ‘student’, plus you are more aware of your future career potential
Employed and staying with firm possibly lose your salary everything from above, plus you have a means and time to plan how to develop your future career with the firm

In each case the upside outweighs the downside as this programme will help you plan what you do after the degree. We want to leave you with transferable skills so that you are aware of your potential and with the knowledge of how to develop this further. We want you to succeed and are here to help you.  Join the conversation and tell us how we can help you achieve your dreams.


Another Weekend of Fun with Global Service Jam

The weekend of 7-9 March saw us running the Aberdeen leg of the Global Service Jam with about 14 people. We had three teams ideating three main ideas over the weekend to good effect, and everyone had a good time and learned new prototyping and ideation skills. This time we had one team pushing out a possible deck of cards that can be used by teachers with pupils in schools. While we also hoped to run the the local edition of  National Hack the Government event too, we had too few people turn up for that, and those two people who did, decided to stay working on their GSJ project.

All of our teams did many iterations prototyping their ideas on paper, with models, and with Lego bricks as you can see in the evolution of their ideas taken down via video commentary over the weekend. If you start on the last page and work forward, then you’ll see the ideas evolve. Sauron’s Box became One Box and Mad Box became EduPod. By constantly pushing the ideas further and refining them again and again over the weekend the ideas became better.

Teams used a number of tools and processes to improve their ideas. Many used journey maps, service blueprints and the Happy Startup Canvas as well as the Strikingly Idea Chain cards and Constraints cards too and prototyping ideas with Lego and other tools to hand. Most of these tools are familiar to us, and others were new ones to try and explore their potential.

Several things stand out for this year. First, we couldn’t do this without our great sponsors. The University of Aberdeen, and the Robert Gordon University for hosting our event. Fifth Ring and Neo for providing funding to feed our participants. And lastly, Stattys for providing us with their wonderful sliding products to use. Thanks to all of you, who help make this happen.

Secondly, the teams formed automagically on the Friday as people gravitated towards the ideas that appealed to them and didn’t need any encouragement to coalesce. Third, you can form a team based on a random group of people, who don’t know each other. This works perfectly fine, and as one regular said “[he’d] formed businesses with family and friends, and they didn’t work so great, so why not strangers?”. Fourth, the new Idea Chain cards were useful, and fun for ideation and we’ll need to build a better deck or two of those. Lastly, Skype chats work great as long as people focus on the key issues as time can be a factor, but it works real well to get feedback when you can’t otherwise reach your target audience.

All of these are lessons to bring back to the classroom and show that the random mix of people you find at these events  shows that a change of pace and people is a good way to get out of your comfort zone and learn something new. We’ll definitely be organising this again next year.

You can also find another write up of the event by the co-organiser Steve Milne, and collection of links at http://stevenmilne.com/blog/global-service-jam-14.