By Jack Pizzey (Co-founder, Let’s License)
Last week, Ryan Green and I (both final year students at Brunel University) spent five days at Google Launchpad – Google’s accelerator program for start up businesses. Our start up – “Let’s License”.
The concept stems from Ryan’s placement year. Ryan worked within the licensing team at Hasbro – one of the biggest toy manufacturers in the world – and soon identified how licensing is a complicated and disorganised process. In his final year at University, he focused his dissertation on developing a solution to the licensing problem – a hub where licensees and licensors could come together to ensure that licensing is done both efficiently and effectively.
Even before placement, I can recall Ryan saying how, ultimately, post university he would like to work for himself, and this is a trait we both share. There has always been talk of starting a business after university, but neither of us has ever run our own businesses, and our work experience is relatively similar. We both did placements, both working fairly low level in high level organisations. Now we are in a position where we are the founder and co-founder of a new business venture.
We were honest with Launchpad from the start of the week that neither of us were particularly business savvy. I had more of a business background than Ryan from studying business throughout my A-Levels, but even then that was only a framework. Our time at Google made us ask ourselves the following questions:
What is your market?
Naively, we had come into this program with an attitude that Let’s License was a one size fits all solution to a key problem in the licensing industry. However licensing can be broken down much further than this – publishing, manufacturing, art and design etcetera. It was clear early on that we would have to focus on one of these sectors and the subsectors within that sector. For example, publishing can be broken down further into books, magazines and journals. Licensing within each of these subsectors may differ from each other, and more still from the other general sectors within the licensing industry.
What is the least technical solution to your problem?
Both of us have come to the end of our degrees relatively competent in both coding and 2D graphic design, but Launchpad looked to go right back to the basics to identify the least technical solution to the licensing problem. This approach would save us time and money and prove that there was a need for Let’s License.
What is your unfair advantage?
This is key to any investment. If ten people all have the exact same business idea, what unfair advantage do you have over the others that will ensure your idea will be a success? This could be first-hand experience, a strong network within the industry or even confirmation from your customers that they will use your product or service for example. We identified this using Ash Maurya’s “Lean Canvas”.
Overall it was and insightful week, the criticism we received being firm but fair. Some of the teams had their ideas invalidated completely despite years of both personal and financial investments. It may be that in time we come to invalidate our own concept, but hopefully the lessons learnt from last week will reduce these chances.