Why did I apply to Spark?
When I first saw Spark advertised I decided to go through each of the set questions for a very rough idea I had for a business. I decided that it couldn’t harm to share my idea and gain the feedback of others, it also gave me the opportunity to look at the idea in-depth which I had never really done. I hadn’t really given it too much thought before, but by working through the questions it helped me to shape and define the idea fully and I found the whole process extremely helpful for actually developing the rough idea into a concept which began to sound more thorough. It was the direction in which the application led me which allowed me to rule out elements which were totally unfeasible, and find areas which could be further researched.
I found the bouncing back-and-forth of ideas particularly useful for refining the idea, as well as feeling the assurance that someone one else appreciated ‘my vision’.
How did Spark help?
Taking part in the pitch aspect of Spark was extremely useful for many reasons. Firstly, I was able to practise my presenting skills and share the idea with others in a succinct and interesting manner.
Secondly, the extra research put in to enhance the pitch was extremely useful for many other situations and gave me a firmer idea of statistics relevant to the industry. Some of these supported the idea I had, and some actually made me re-think certain elements to move in line with what the figures were suggesting.
Finally, the judges’ questions can expose potential problems or new ideas which may not have been previously thought of. While these may seem daunting on the day, they are very beneficial for making the overall idea more watertight, and helping to show you how well you actually know the idea and related industry. If you decide to pursue the idea then these greatly help.
If you win then the funding available can help to get the idea started or, at least, research the idea more fully.
Who would I encourage to enter Spark?
Anyone, especially if you’ve ever had an idea for a product or business. It doesn’t matter how little or how much you’ve thought about the feasibility of the idea. More than anything, Spark actually encourages you to sit down and think about every aspect of the idea, check to see that it doesn’t already exist, what competition there is – all the aspects that tend to be overlooked when you first have the ‘Eureka moment’ for your new business.
If you already have a strong idea of how the business could work then perhaps entering in the ‘Plan’ stage would be more suitable. This is generally when more research around the business has been performed but it hasn’t quite got to the launch stage. Even at this stage, new ideas for development or more efficient or cost-effective ways of delivering the end result can be formed from the interaction with the Enterprise staff and from the business people sitting on the panel.
If your business has already launched then entering gives you a chance to gain some extra funding, and the opportunity to extend your reach and contacts.
Overall, I believe that Spark is extremely rewarding at every level and is a great benefit even if only to give you an idea of what sort of questions you could be considering. Without applying I don’t think that I would have had the opportunity or the confidence to fully develop the business and I’m very grateful for the motivation it gave me to pursue my idea further.
If this isn’t enough to convince you to apply, then just look at some of the success stories that Spark has produced:
River Huang entered the Ideas stage of Spark and managed to bring the idea of PingPong Digital – a UK-based Chinese social media management agency – to life. River won the ‘Most Popular Idea’ category and “really appreciates all of the work that Cardiff University Enterprise has done for all the young entrepreneurs like me”.
Spark alumnus Amrita Singh felt inspired to develop her skill and passion for cakes to launch The House of Bake. Amrita thought that Spark “really was fantastic to get involved in as it made me have to think about important things (a business plan!!) that can be so easy to push aside and put off until ‘tomorrow’!”. You can find out more about Amrita’s business at http://www.thehouseofbake.com/
So don’t just think about it, do it. Fill out the application here and gain support for your idea or turn your hobby into a business.