Reflecting on what I've learnt over the last three months on this module.
Venture Culture as a module is about working towards creating a credible business plan and developing a practical understanding of how to structure and start up a new enterprise.
In any task it’s important to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. The better you understand yourself, the better you can position yourself in a team.
Team Role Theory
In our first venture culture session we were asked to complete a couple of questionnaires in order to gain a better understanding of ourselves.
Belbin Team Role
The Belbin Team Role theory is used to identify an individual’s behavioural traits. By identifying your role you can focus on using your strengths to advantage and manage your weaknesses to best fit the team.
The theory categorises individual strengths and weaknesses into a number of roles; chair person, plant, monitor evaluator, company worker, team worker, resource investigator, completer finisher and shaper (Belbin, 2014).
After taking the questionnaire, I came out tied as a chairperson and a company worker, with completer finisher coming a close second.
A chairperson organises, co-ordinates and controls the group’s activities. This involves the clarification of objectives, delegation of tasks and responsibilities, and keeping the team motivated towards the completion of the project goals. I feel this is accurate as I often fall into a leadership/organisational role in group projects.
A company worker is concerned with the translation of project goals into tangible output. They often have a down-to-earth outlook coupled with perseverance in the face of difficulties.
Completer finishers work to ensure that the group’s efforts meet the appropriate standards. It involves being thorough and maintaining a sense of urgency within the group. Can be accused of taking perfectionism to the extreme. I can see how this applies to myself, although I wouldn’t consider myself an extreme perfectionist.
I feel this mix of roles go well together and I can see how they apply to myself. I’m very much focused on the end goal, which means I like to be involved with all stages of the process, from organisation, to developing the product, right through to finalising the end product.
Multiple Intelligences Test
Another test we were asked to do was based on Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences model, which is established as a classical model by which to understand many aspects of human intelligence, learning style, personality and behaviour.
The model defines seven multiple intelligences; at a glance they are: linguistic, logical-mathematical, musical, bodily-kinaesthetic, spatial-visual, interpersonal and intrapersonal (Gardner, 2011).
Musical people show sensitivity to rhythm and sound and work well whilst listening to music.
To be interpersonal is to be understanding and keen to interact with others. They work well interacting with others, are empathetic, and have common sense.
Bodily-kinaesthetic is described as being able to use the body effectively. They have a keen sense of body awareness and like being hands-on.
After taking the test I found I was dominantly musical, with bodily-kinaesthetic and interpersonal tied second. I also found this to be quite accurate as I’m a very musical person; I always work with music in the background.
Having taken these tests I feel the results have influenced the way I conduct myself in tasks. The Belbin test helped me to reinforce my strengths and pay more attention to weaknesses.
The Multiple Intelligences test also helped me learn more about how I work best. Music is already a big part of my life and a big motivational force. The runner-up results also prompted me to focus more on communicating with peers in order to better my work, as well as being more practical in my development by physically sketching out my ideas instead of keeping it in my head.
In October we were asked to prepare and present a short two-minute pitch in order to introduce our business idea. The pitches were meant to tell a story by presenting a villain and a hero: a problem and a solution, and it must express passion for the idea.
I wanted to start by talking about where the idea came from, so I started with a slide about the company I’d done my placement year with and the experiences I’d had with them. I then spoke about one of our clients, Vintage TV, who had a problem in that they had a huge audience in China but no cost-effective way to deliver to them. From there I spoke a bit more about how VideoAppShack would solve this problem and went on to explain some of it’s features in more detail.
I thought the presentation went well, though there are definitely a few points to improve on.
I introduced the problem as Vintage TV’s inability to expand into new markets in a cost effective manner. To be more in keeping with the brief of introducing a villain, I could maybe have explained in more detail the things that are preventing them from expanding and personifying it. Also, introducing the problem as a case study may have made it come across as isolated and very niche.
As for my delivery of the presentation, there was definitely room for improvement there too. I found myself falling back on a lot of filler words (like, um etc.) and moving my hands a lot. I’ll attribute this to nerves, but I’d like to work on these down in future presentations. I ended up coming well under the 2-minute time limit as I wasn’t properly rehearsed and didn’t deliver all of my points.
The five-minute pitch was given at the beginning of December in front of three external advisors that Deborah had invited in. All three of them had left jobs in multi-national companies to start their own businesses in the South West; so the pressure was on!
This pitch was to be a more comprehensive introduction to the company, including details about the company’s mission and values, branding, and competition.
I started off by giving some information about my background; not to be conceited, but to give the audience some knowledge of where the idea came from and to hopefully increase their confidence in me as the project leader.
I then gave an overview of what VideoAppShack does and our mission and vision statements. After that I spoke a bit about our competitors and where they fall short, as well as areas that may turn potential clients off them. These areas influenced what the core values of what VideoAppShack are, so from there my next slide talks about USPs. There are only two on the slide as I felt they were the most important and easiest to understand, but as VideoAppShack grows there will be a number of things that give us an edge.
From there I moved onto how I wanted the company to be run. I spoke about company values and team structure. I explained how initially I don’t want an internal hierarchy and that roles should be fluid in the hope that this will allow the company to be as efficient as possible.
I think the presentation content was good. I feel like in terms of aesthetics it was consistent though I probably could have had a few more visual cues in there. After seeing other people’s presentations I noticed that a lot of us had very different structures and I’m still not sure what would be the best.
One of the pieces of feedback I received was that there was a lack of commercials. I didn’t directly introduce my target market. While it could be deduced from the slides, I never addressed it directly. I also didn’t talk about financials or pricing structures, which would be the most important aspect for most investors.
Regarding my presenting style, I still found myself falling back on filler words and exaggerated hand gestures but it has improved. I spent more time rehearsing this presentation but was still half-relying on my notes, which I had expected to be visible to me on my screen but weren’t. Nevertheless I still managed to convey my primary points, although missing out a couple of supplementary statements. There are a couple of noticeable pauses as I recall points and try to get back into the flow of the pitch. Again, the main thing I think I can take away from this is that rehearsal is key.
Belbin (2014) 'Team Role Theory - Belbin Team Roles'.
Gardner, H. (2011) Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences.