At SIE, we think that entrepreneurship can be fun. To prove it, we ran a little Christmas competition over on our Facebook page last month. We challenged people to get their creative brains working over the festive period and come up with an enterprising idea for using Santa’s sleigh all year round. After all, his sleigh is only used for one day a year. What a waste of resources!
Entries were posted directly onto the Facebook page, so people could see what everyone else was suggesting. Of course, we do believe in protecting your Intellectual Property, but sometimes you have to talk about your basic idea (without giving away trade secrets) in order to get feedback. It may have been ‘just for fun’, but it was fascinating to see how many great ideas were generated, using the same resource.
The winning idea was by Abigail Macleod of Napier University, who reckoned it would make an ideal vehicle for a breakdown recovery service. Her idea in full :
“I think the solution would be for santa to set up a break down recovery business.
He can get to any break down super quick regardless of traffic as he would go by air.
His reindeer would be able to haul even the heaviest loads when it comes to stuck lorries or vans as they have a weight allowance of up to 6billion presents.
When mechanics fail, north pole magic or elf assistants will be on hand to find an alternative solution.
This would be a social enterprise where all profits would be used to provide for existing reindeer and also future reindeer in training with the average membership costng 365 carrots with the additional option of paying for one set of elf tools in order to recieve a sleigh ride home if there is no hope left for your car/van/snow mobile.”
What we liked about it was that it identified a clear customer need, it made full use of Santa’s resources (elves & magic as well as the sleigh itself), it had a clear revenue flow (membership) with bolt on packages (elf tools to get you home), it planned to invest in staff (reindeer) training and, as a social enterprise, provide support for reindeer.
What can you learn from this competition?
Almost anything can become a business, with some careful planning and a real understanding of customer and market needs. Some things may be possible right now (using a sleigh as an alternative to boat rides), others may take a little while in real life for the technology to make it possible (unlimited instantaneous travel). However thinking about something that seems really wild right now may help you to start thinking about the problems that exist with current products or services and how you might be able to improve them, even if its just by incremental improvements until the big technology breakthrough.
So maybe Santa won’t move into the breakdown recovery business any time soon, but maybe 2012 could be the start of your entrepreneurial journey. If you think it might be, and you are a student or recent graduate from a Scottish University, then talk to SIE.