“Let me tell you the secret that has led to my goal. My strength lies solely on my tenacity” –Louis Pasteur
Hi, I’m Teni from Nigeria.
I am a 24 year old female, i graduated from the the University of Liverpool in 2014 where i studied Law at my undergrad level, and i am currently studying Msc Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship (IME) at Kingston University, London.
I am a feminist♀, legal practitioner back in Nigeria, and currently in the process of transitioning to events production.
I don’t really know what it means to be a blogger as this will be my very first attempt at blogging. I will however try my possible best to share with you, all my experiences as a young female international student from Nigeria, who studied law in her undergrad, is currently studying IME, and hopes to be an events producer in the near future.
I hope to meet new exciting people in this new chapter i am embarking on, and finally i hope anyone who comes across my blog enjoys all the gory details of my life😊
I hope you are well and achieving all the goals you set out for yourself, goals such as making Zmena the startup aimed at creating opportunities for growth for women a success, Lileli which you plan to merge with Zmena, with the aim of deconstructing abuse culture in young adult lives, and finally, Night Out and The Teni Fash experience, startups aimed at creating beautiful experiences for people through events. Life can be so fickle and full of surprises, so much that it can affect one’s journey and make one ask questions such as, “What really am I doing?” “Am I on the right path?” “Do I remember what it means to own a successful startup and ensure longevity?” In the event that you find yourself in such a spot, or in the event that you choose to just simply reminisce on the early days, this letter will be here waiting to guide you, hopefully the content in it is able to guide you.
I studied Law in my undergraduate level at the University of Liverpool, after which I returned to Nigeria, and practised for a bit. During that period, I realised that Law was not what I want, hence why I switched to Events production, as I realised that was what I really wanted to do. I quit my job at the law firm, and moved to an events company, where I interned for six months, during that period, I realised that although I wanted to be an events producer, I also wanted to help women, this is when the big questions came up, “how do I combine my love for events with my passion to help women” “how do I start the process owning a startup without failing at it?” In my quest to find these answers, I discovered a postgraduate program in Kingston University called Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship.
When I applied to Kingston, I must admit I didn’t really know what to expect, I was about venture into a whole new course that I had never really heard of, I initially thought the main focus would be on how to be an entrepreneur, or just subject matters relating to business management, little did I know I was about to make one of the single best decisions of my life.
Due to some other minor setbacks, I resumed in the third week, my first module was called “Design Thinking”, I remember looking at my timetable and wondering what is this about, I had honestly never heard of it, so I did a little research and learned that “Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success” – Tim Brown, Executive Chair of IDEO
I also learned that “design thinking is a non-linear, iterative process which seeks to understand users, challenge assumptions, redefine problems and create innovative solutions to prototype and test. The method consists of 5 phases—Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype and Test and is most useful when you want to tackle problems that are ill-defined or unknown” and that there are five stages of design thinking.
My little research made me eager to start this module, as I wanted to know more about these five stages.
Due to the fact that I resumed late, and had missed some classes, the at which I joined in the class was just when we were supposed to create teams to build a startup, this was going to be tough for me, I told myself as not only did I not know anyone in the class, most people had formed teams, I eventually joined a team with two other young people.
The main task was about to begin, applying the five stages of design thinking in the startup we were to build.
In a blog I read, it was stated “Empathy is at the heart of design. Without the understanding of what others see, feel, and experience, design is a pointless task.” I understood this quote in class by a simple task given to us by our lecturer, we were supposed to make a short trip to the toilet from the classroom, but not just any trip, in our teams, we were supposed to go as, a blind person, a robot and a mute person. I was the blind person in my team, and my team members were supposed to direct me to the toilet and back to the classroom. I thought this is a simple task, I have been to this toilet several times, I can definitely do this, and boy was I wrong. That singular task helped me realise just how much I take for granted having all my senses able to guide me through life, in that moment I realised in making trips to the toilet which is a part of my everyday life, I had never considered how it must be for someone who was blind, deaf or dumb. That one class taught me what I thought I knew about empathy, and made me realise that one really can not begin to think about owning a startup without having empathy, and it that class I understood that Empathy really is the heart of design.
Deciding what our startup would focus on
The next task we were given was to make a trip to the Design Museum with our team members, and pick out three designs that stood out to us, this trip I believe is what helped us determine what our startup would be about. In that trip, one particular design that stood out to me is what you call “educational toys” this particularly stood out to me because it didn’t require any earth moving innovation, the idea was simply to help children and young adults learn without needing the four walls of a classroom. A simple but brilliant innovation that would end up helping millions of people, especially people with learning disabilities, from this visit, I realised that the creators of this innovation must have had empathy guiding them to come up with something so brilliant, and so having visited the design museum, my team members and I had a conversation, and Lileli our startup idea was birthed.
After deciding what our product was going to be called, the next main problem came up, what direction did we want Lileli to take, we knew wanted Lileli to be a product and service that would help raise awareness and dismantle abuse/ assault culture, so we chose to focus on children, after speaking to our lecturer, and trying with no luck to interview children, we redirected our focus to young adults. We decided to switch our focus to young adults because we realised that it would be impossible to fully immerse ourselves in the lives of young children, and as it was stated in BBVA article of why startups fail, the number one and main reason stated there for the failure of startups is simply the failure to don’t give the market the product or service they want. Other reasons stated there are in the diagram below. 
Introduction to Lean Canvas
Having decided that we were focusing on young adults as our target audience, the next problem we had to tackle was in what way did we plan to reach our target audience, we had initially decided to go through comics when we were focusing on children, but after being introduced to the lean canvas method in class, which Steve Mullen explained as “the perfect one-page format for brainstorming possible business models, the blocks guide you through logical steps starting with your customer problems right through to your unfair advantage (often the hardest block to answer)”, we decided that we were going to stick to comics even though we were now focusing on young adults. Putting our thoughts in writing on the lean canvas for what felt like the first time, we were able to better understand what exactly we wanted to do, and being young adults ourselves, we realised that although we Lileli would be focusing on a serious issue, we did not want to create a product that would scare people away, we wanted to create a product that would help a lot of people, but also keep them interested in reading. We decided that we would make Lileli a platform i.e service, however our main method of reaching people would be through the comic, where we would share stories on various forms of abuse that young adults face.
The First true test
Having decided what our startup would be about, the product and the target audience, our first true test as a young team occurred when we had our first trade fair, it was a small one of Kingston’s campuses, with staff and students present. Unfortunately we didn’t have our prototype, and this was one of our first mistakes, as we didn’t have anything to show the judges present, it was however still a learning experience for us as although we did not have a prototype, we had surveys which we had everyone fill, the surveys were a stamp of approval for us that we were on the right track, the surveys and talking to people that came to our stand solidified this for us, it also helped us realize that the comic needed a clear line of communication, as there was a bit of misunderstanding between ourselves and some of the judges when we attempted to explain what our startup was about.
Throughout the entirety of the module, at the different stages, we had other opportunity to pitch our startup to different judges; we learned important lessons that I will carry with me forever, lessons such as;
Understanding the problem and understanding the exact solution you are presenting for the problem
Rehearsing regularly before pitching an idea (this is particularly important for me, as my weakness is being a shy person who has stage fright) I am thankful that we got to pitch several times, as I was able to work through my stage fright, I am not where I want to be yet, but better than when I started at Kingston University
Having all your product at hand so it is easier to pitch your idea to the judges, this was a mistake that we kept repeatedly making, as we did not have a prototype until the final presentation of the module, In the event that we had a prototype early enough in the module, we would have learned what needed correction and changing in preparation for the final presentation.
Conclusion & Lessons Learned
In concluding this Letter, I realise that I learned way more than I would have imagined taking the module Design Thinking, as this module placed me in a real life situation by having to create a startup with a team. Things I learned include:
Knowing my strengths, admitting my weaknesses and learning to work with a team. I had always seen myself as someone who can easily work with other people, but creating a startup with two people I had just met proved me wrong. I realise now that the main reason why we did not have a prototype early enough to test the product is because for the first half of the module, my teammates and I did not get along. We all wanted to do things our own way and that affected us and severely delayed our product.
Applying empathy in the process of designing a product, this I think is one of the most important lessons I learned.
Immersing myself in the lives of my target audience in order to create the best possible product that the said target audience needs
Continuous determination. This was a challenging module for me, and there were times I almost gave up, but I am grateful that I stuck with it to the end, as I appreciate now that things will not always go my way, and I have learned to keep being determined in order to achieve the goals I have set for myself.
Finally, being open to criticism from my peers, colleagues and seniors, being able to take in constructive criticism and learning from it in order to better myself and whatever product or service I am rendering.
Dear future Teni, I look forward to watching you apply the lessons learned from Design thinking (2019/20) in the process of achieving your goals; Zmena, Lileli, Night Out, and The Teni Fash experience, and I look forward to witnessing you achieve the said wonderful goals and witnessing the new goals you have added to the list above.
In this blog post, i will be talking about my experience at th efinal dragon’s den presentation.
In this presentation, we had to pitch our idea, Lileli to judges, this was the real deal, as this presentation contributes to our final grade at the university.
I should start by saying, by the time of presentation, my teammates and i finally had our first prototype!
The experience presentation was slightly different and better than the previous presentation, not because we hd a prototype, because frankly i was not impressed with the prototype, but because this was thankfully not my first, second or third presentation in Design Thinking class. I am a shy person who has horrible stage fright, and so although i know what i want to talk about, it has always been difficult to communicate my message to my listeners, especially professionals. By the time of the dragon’s den, my team mates and i were in a much better place of communication of what our product was exactly between ourselves, and so it was easier for us to communicate that message to the judges. Now i mentioned earlier above that i wasn’t too impressed with the prototype, i say this because like i said this was our first prototype, and like i mentioned in my previous posts, whilst other groups had the chance to showcase their prototypes at the practise dragon’s den and at the trade fairs, and had the chance to improve on it before the final dragon’s den, my team unfortunately, due to our fault did not have that opportunity, and so we had to showcase our first prototype which was not the best at the most important presentation.
I am however happy still for the experience, because the aim is always to grow and be better, although that was the final presentation for Design thinking, it is not the final pitch i will be presenting, and participating at the dragon’s den taught me to learn to listen to the judges comments, it also gave me another shot at practising how to present an idea to an audience, especially when the audience are professionals, finally i learned how to present in and communicate in a team, as we all had to learn how to have each other’s backs whilst presenting , and help one person out if they are struggling during their own part of the presentation. I am definitely grateful for the experience, and look forward to applying all i learned in future presentations.
I hope you are well, and are enjoying my posts so far and journey as a design thinking student.
In this post, i will be talking about the process it took for my team mates and i to develop our prototype, and the mistake we made in trying to achieve a perfect product, as opposed to failing, and learning, rinse and repeat.
As i stated in my previous post, when we had the first trade fair, we did not have a prototype, unlike the other teams in our class, unfortunately at the time of the second trade fair, we also did not have a prototype. I Won’t be talking much on the second trade fair, because unfortunately i wasn’t in attendance, my brother unfortunately was ill and i had to be with him at the gp, but that is by the way, as my team member Banna was in attendance, but again, unfortunately she did not have any product with her as we did not have any prototypes yet.
As you well know by now if you have been reading my blog, my team’s start up called Lileli chose to produce a comic for young adults, raising awareness on abuse. The aim was to talk about a serious issue which is greatly affecting our lives, but in a light hearted way, without scaring people away, this was to be one of our unfair advantages, as after much research, we discovered that there were not a lot of products like this.
Why did we not have a prototype on time? Good question. In trying to create the perfect product, especially because we knew we were covering such a sensitive subject, we did not want to offend anyone or bring out a product that would be so bad that it would end up preventing people from ever wanting to relate with our content. This line of thought, although not completely bad, it prevented us from bringing out a prototype on time, as because of pressure we put on ourselves, whilst our colleagues learned from their mistakes and grew their products at both the first and second trade fair, by showing people and judges their prototypes, we were unable to do that, and so three young people (my team) who had no history in ring out a product, had to figure out character, arc, story lines, the right font, colours, size of comic on our own.
The lesson i took from this is not to be afraid of failure or disappointments, we learn everyday, and the aim is to do better and be better. In the making of a product, bring out as many prototypes as early as you can, in order to test them out, and make the perfect product.
This post will be telling you about my experience in the Bright Ideas competition. I should start by saying the main reason for my excitement at the Bright Ideas competition is because knowing i am an international student studying here in the UK, my plan is to hopefully apply for the start up visa, and hopefully get it. Bright Ideas is a competition where entrepreneurs showcase their business ideas, it was created for Kingston University students, the competition had about 300 business ideas entrees submitted by about 600 participants. The plan was never to try to win, as after attending the Bright Ideas Sprint weekend, and seeing all the entries, i realised that it was going to be very difficult to win, perhaps this was a mistake on my part, i gave up too early. Either way, i am thrilled that i attended the sprint weekend, unfortunately i was only able to attend one day, the first day (Saturday), this was probably another mistake, however i couldn’t attend Sunday’s event due to personal reasons.
All is however not lost though, as although my team didn’t win, i still learned a lot, which was my initial aim, to learn and grow, rather than to win.
I attended the competition with a member of my team, Bobo, it was a good experience for us, i personally got to see a lot of students with their wonderful ideas, it helped me learn that there is really no limit to innovation, and just hearing all the brilliant ideas helped me learn and realise that there is always a problem out there that needs solving.
Another thing i took away from the sprint weekend was a confident boost, talking to the judges, about both my team’s idea, Lileli, and my personal idea (which i won’t be going into detail here) really helped boost my confidence, hearing professionals tell me that the ideas were really good, and having them genuinely interested and willing to give constructive criticism was really good for me. The last thing i learned, which i also took from the trade fair i spoke about in my last post, is the need to learn how to communicate effectively, and the need to learn how to pitch your ideas effectively, these are things that will forever be useful for me especially when i am applying for the startup visa, and in my future plans.
Hello reader, i haven’t updated the blog in a while, and i apologise for that. In my previous posts, i have been updating you on my journey owning a startup with two other people. We had our very first trade fair on the 23rd of January 2020
The trade fair was a success for a first time experience, it could have however been better. Does that confuse you? it being a success but at the same time it could have been better? I say it was a success because in hindsight it was our first time experience showcasing an idea at a trade fair, and we were able to talk to a few people, both staff and students of Kingston university, as well as judges that gave us constructive criticism on our idea. If you remember, our startup is called Lileli, and the aim is to raise awareness and deconstruct the culture of abuse and assault culture in young adult lives one step at at time through the use of comics.
I said earlier that the trade fair could have been a better experience for us, i say this because unfortunately we did not have a prototype of our product, due to the fact that we did not have a prototype, it was difficult to communicate what the idea of our start up was to the people that came to the stand, especially the judges. We nonetheless however still gained useful knowledge, as we handed at questionnaires and surveys to e lot of people, and their feedback was a good way that gave us better direction on what the content of the comic should be, it also helped confirm that we were on the right track, with regards to our decision on what our comic was about.
The main thing i learned from the trade fair is that i need to learn to communicate better, especially when i am talking to someone about a problem, and offering solution for that problem.
All in all, i am glad that i took part in the trade fair.
This will be a super short post, because like i said, i am stressed out. I have a comic to produce before the end of next week, a course work due on the 13th of january, and guess what? my birthday is the 13th of January! I know, just my luck right? I mean are God and the Universe really working with me right now? Anyway i am trying my best to finish my coursework before the end of next week, have LILELI ready, and just be further prepared for the competition, all before the 11th of January because absolutely nothing will ruin my birthday weekend!
Wish me luck guys, i have a ton of work to do and i am trying not to get anxious about it all. I mean i am excited about the work because i am genuinely enjoying it all, but it is still a lot of work.
I will definitely have a post up when i’m less busy soon hopefully, updating the blog on if i successfully completed all my work on time, had an amazing birthday, how good and full of content LILELI is, and of course how the bright ideas competition went.
So in my last post i spoke about my group members, now i will talk more on the said group, what we have been up to, and some of our future plans. Unfortunately a lot has happened, but i promise to make this post as detailed and brief as possible.
Again back in October ,(i so sorry i keep taking you guys back to last year) i joined a group in my Design Thinking class, a group of 3. This group, my group currently own a startup, is the word own correct? should it be have a startup? i have been struggling for some time now to figure out the correct terminology. Anyway, there is a startup! So my group is called Paradise, and the task given to my group/company, as well as the others in my class is to produce a product or service that solves a problem and is realistic. In about two weeks, we will be standing in front of judges at the Bright Ideas competition, talking about our product. My group’s product that we are currently working on, and have been working on since October is a comic called LILELI, coined from, LIVE LET LIVE. I will let you figure out how we got the name from the phrase. The comic aims to raise awareness on sexual and general assault in general in young adults aged 18-35 in London, funn right?
So far so good, we have presented our idea in front of trial judges to prepare us for the competition on the 18th of January, the image attached above. Its just two of us in the picture, because the third member was unfortunately ill on the day of the presentation.
Working with them has been interesting, and admittedly challenging. We all have different schedules, different ideas on how we want the comic to be, on what content we want in it, how to interview/talk to people to ensure that it is perfect, or at least close to it.
We should hopefully have our first prototype before the end of next week, fingers crossed we do well at the competition, and we are able to produce something that is actually substantial and beneficial to our target audience.
As soon as we have the first copy, i will be sure to make a post about it! Hope you enjoyed this read!
Back in October i visited the Design Museum in London with my group members (who i will be talking about in my next post) to see how design has/is been applied to problem solving. We tasked to pick out three designs from the museum that stood out to us, to discuss in class.
I should start by saying everyone should definitely visit the design museum at some point, going there, i had no idea what to expect, as i had never heard of it nor read about. The museum is about 3/4 floors and filled with amazing designs from fashion to technology, the museum has it all. it also tells us the story of how these designs were curated, the idea behind them, and what problem they intended to solve.
My group members and i started by having a general tour of the museum, and just taking in all its beauty and designs in it, and we are three in my group, so it worked out perfectly to each pick out a design to discuss in the class. I will attach some pictures of the designs that particularly stood out to me, and other designs i noticed.
The last two images are some of the designs that stood out to me, i will like to group them into what i call creative play, or educational toys.
Some of the first set of educational toys were respectively designed by; Friedrich Froebel in 1837 called Froebel gifts and Lectron electronics construction system invented by George Greger 1960s and designed by Dieter Rams, 1967.
Why did these designs stand out to me? These designs were created for the purpose of making play the main method of teaching. They were designed tackle the following problems:
Encourages the need for education in a non-formal setting, which in turn makes learning much more approachable for young children, special needs children, and slow learners, and people in general
They create an intuitive way for children to learn
They inspire young people, and help develop major skills for general living
Encourage creativity in learning, which ultimately broadens the minds of its users
Why are creative toys relevant?
The use of creative/ educational toys as a mode of learning can help children develop problem solving skills. e.g sensory play with the use of toys such as; stackers or blocks, push cars, counting toys, sewing kits etc
Educational toys help nurture creativity and imagination
Educational toys help with language development.
Since the introduction of creative play and the first set of educational toys, in many ways there has been a lot of inventions created to help facilitate learning in a much more creative and fun way. Designing the first set of educational toys in the 1960s, i hope the designers and investors realise just how much they are helping a lot of people right now. I personally have a short attention spam, and learn faster when what i am being taught is not taught in a very serious manner, and i feel like it is like this for a lot of people.
These designs stood out to me because the idea behind them was to make learning much more fun and less formal, it is more than the physical toys itself, it’s the idea that people don’t need to be in a classroom reading books everyday of their life in order to learn something, it is knowing that a someone with learning difficulties can still learn a great deal without having to feel bad about their circumstance, knowing that an elderly person who might want to learn something new but might be a bit slow because of their age can still do so in many other ways.
I’m happy that i got to go to the design museum and i got to see all these beautiful creations and designs that we use for our everyday living, creations that i had never for once thought about how they came about. My visit to the museum also reminded me to pay attention to the small things around me, be more observant, understand why and how things exist, and most importantly, what problem they are solving.
The images might be a bit confusing, but i will explain. I know the big question is what does she mean she just learned about empathy, communication and just being considerate of people in general, aren’t these things she should already know? That my friends is what i thought as well, until a short visit to the toilet and making a shoe taught me otherwise.
Design- Thinking one of my modules is where this magic happened. I should start by saying all three things; empathy, communication and being innovative work hand in hand, at least thats what i think. (i hope i’m not wrong) I think to be really innovative, we need to be considerate of people, empathise with their situations, fully understand their needs, that way creating something innovative and magical probably wont be as hard as we might imagine.
Starting with when i learned about empathy. We had a class on this very special day, i call it special because i did not expect to go back home with the lessons i learned from class that day. Anyway we were given a task to focus on extreme users. Our job was to design a toilet for an extreme user, for us to do this however, we had to immerse ourselves in an extreme user’s world. We were grouped into teams of three, one person had to be a robot, the other a mute and the third person had to be visually impaired, for the visually impaired person, they were blindfolded with a scarf. Our task was to work together as a team to get the visually impaired person to use the toilet and make it back to class. I was the visually impaired one in my group. I had initially thought ” there is no way this would be difficult, i mean i had been to the toilet a couple of times, i could get there with my eyes closed” Ladies and gentlemen, i have never been more wrong in my life!
The first thing my group had to figure out was how we would communicate effectively in order to get to the toilet without any accidents. One thing that was really important to us was communicating with one another without making each other feel horrible about our different circumstances. This is where being empathic comes in. Being the visually impaired person in my group, i had to take instructions from the robot, who in turn took hand directions from the mute person.
We were later told to map out our experience on the first diagram attached to this post, in doing this, i learned just how important communication is, as we all had to communicate with one another and trust each other’s direction. In building a toilet for the extreme user, it made me realise just how i take for granted, and just how the smallest thing can change the life of the next person. I learned about empathising with people around me, and realised that going into entrepreneurship is more than just owning a business, it is creating something substantial and beneficial to all types and categories of people.
Moving on to the other image in this post, the “shoe”. This funny enough is the first task i ever did at my university. Not only did i start the semester three week late, i was an hour and a half late to my very first class. Rushing into class that wonderful afternoon, my colleagues were on their way out to interview students on campus about their favourite shoe, and why that was their favourite shoe. Super confused, i joined a random group and interviewed students as well, it was amazing to hear how particular people are about footwear. People buy shoes for comfort, fashion, versatility etc. When we returned back to class, we were asked to create a shoe based on the interviews we had conducted, my group created that shoe because one person we interviewed that stood out to us was really particular about his shoes being versatile. Now although we were able to create this shoe, we realised that yes we did go out to talk to people, we did more of interviewing them with black and white questions, as opposed to actually communicating with them to really understand what they really liked.
What did this tasks teach me? Communication! Communication! Communication! Really listening to your audience as an innovator is really important, communicating, immersing yourself in their life, and just willing to create something for your target audience irrespective of if it is something that is a personal preference or not. Your target audience is what matters the most.