Make It Global Business – Moving Curtains launch an app with the help of a UEL student

Curtain-App---news

A University of East London student and a businesswoman have launched an innovative app to make choosing and buying curtains a walk in a room.

PhD software engineering student Ivan Semelis designed the mobile app for Moving Curtains owner, Jean French, to make it much easier, quicker and simpler to get new curtains.

The Moving Curtains app, for mobile and tablet devises, has various features including camera usage to capture windows, colours and fabrics and it enables users to mix and match colours, transparencies and apply fabrics or patterns to each image. It can generate reports, save and load projects and can calculate the amount of fabric from your measurements giving a breakdown of costs.

Ivan, 25, who lives in Dagenham, and spent six months designing the app said: “The Moving Curtains project has given me extensive practical and theoretical knowledge in app development and programming generally. I’m delighted the app is now launched, fully working and people are happy with it.”

The pair were introduced by Ivan’s supervisor, Dr Usman Naeem, from the School of Architecture, Computing & Engineering who met Jean through the University of East London’s ‘Make It Global’ project, which supports London-based companies that are majority female-owned and want to expand nationally and internationally.

To read the rest of the article please click here.

To see what student internship opportunities you can also receive from the University of East London please click here.

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5 steps towards effective business development

Guest post from Tigris Management

BD-photoIt’s the start of the year and no doubt you have asked your business development team to dig out their lists of targets for 2014 and review.  There is a renewed effort to get more meetings and win more business, right?

But how can you check whether you are focusing on the right activities and in the right way?

Here are 5 steps towards making your business development efforts more effective.

1.    Remind yourself of your overall corporate strategy. 

  • Does your business development strategy meet the company’s overall objectives?
  • How do the companies on your list of targets meet the overall corporate strategy?

2.    Review your management information. 

  • What does your sales pipeline information tell you about where your revenue is coming from?  If it doesn’t, what do you need to include to understand this?
  • How profitable is the business you have won?
  • What is your win / loss ratio?

3.    Review your sales and pitch processes. 

  • Where you’ve been successful, what has worked?  Where you’ve been unsuccessful, what feedback did you get?
  • If you didn’t ask for feedback or didn’t record it…why?
  • Talk to clients that you have pitched to successfully and unsuccessfully for their honest feedback.

4.    Understand the behaviours and attitudes of those people in your business who are most successful at winning profitable business and then share this information!

  • Start creating a culture of business development across your business
  • Solicit opinions more broadly across the business, too.  Sometimes the expert is the person sitting next to you.

5.    Identify opportunities to cross-sell and grow business from existing clients. 

  • What are your clients’ overall corporate objectives and how can you help them achieve them?  How is this documented and regularly reviewed i.e. in an account plan?
  • If you ask open questions and listen to your clients carefully, you may hear a cry for help and you might know another team within the business that can support.

This blog post was a contribution from Make It Global beneficiary Rakhee Verma Tigris Management.

A small business guide to alternative funding

Man holding empty wallet

There’s plenty of support for startups and growing SMEs seeking financial backing outside of the banks

Banks seem to be closing their doors to startup businesses, but that shouldn’t deter entrepreneurs from seeking funding. In fact, there are more funding options open to startups than ever before as new services have emerged to fill the gap.

Emily Brooke, founder and chief executive of Blaze, has tried several different sources of funding for her business which provides innovative products for urban cyclists.

Early on she used Seedrs, an equity-based crowdfunding platform, and Kickstarter, where she achieved her target of £25,000 in just a few days. She chose the crowdfunding route for three reasons: “Firstly, proof of concept and the ability to validate the idea before speaking to distributors, retailers and manufacturers; secondly, to get feedback from early adopters; thirdly, to increase awareness,” Brooke says.

She has also used business angels (individuals of high net worth) which she found to be a fairly easy process, as well as venture capitalists (“much more complicated”). Angels provided individual support, though they lacked the “deep pockets” she might have needed down the line. Venture capital was process-intensive and a big decision to take on, but provided “incredibly valuable learning and validation of the business”.

Boundaries between the different funding routes are blurring as crowdfunding becomes mainstream and more traditional funding providers embrace the channel. Angels Den in Scotland, which runs “speed funding” events (where startups can pitch in three-minute bursts to up to 30 investors in one day), now also provides online crowdfunding supported by its angel network.

Meanwhile a newly launched crowdfunding platform, kriticalmass, lets projects court sponsorship and endorsement from major brands and celebrities, in addition to generating funds and sourcing volunteers.

To read the rest of the article click here.