Ah, it’s now week 7 and we’re halfway to the end of semester. The unfortunate thing with mid term break is that people scatter and not much gets done. However, 3 out of 4 of the DD team were working hard.

Good news is that we were one of the winners of the xChallange, winning $250. We now have the opportunity to win up to $40,000 in the next stage, the Accelerator.

We haven’t had any interest in our ads on the AUT careers website. However I see this as an opportunity to create a business plan our way, and for Kylie and I to learn some new skills as we both haven’t created an indepth business plan before.

To help us do this, we have been attending workshops twice a week provided by the Accelerator competition. So far, we have learned about our strengths as individuals and what we bring to a team, marketing analysis and discovering who your customers are.

I was not too surprised to discover that I am a Leader, followed closely by being the brain of the group and a friend, who always is aware of how everyone feels and offers support. The last category, Achiever was my weakest area – I don’t always do whats expected of me or over-delivers. However, if I have the right team makeup, this area will be filled by another person. Kat, Kylie and I all attend this workshop, and we found that between us we have a leader (me), and achiever (kylie) and a friend (kat). So our team dynamics is pretty good. However, we don’t know what Sophie is – I feel that she would either be an achiever or friend, leaving me in the dual role of leader and brain.

Understanding who our customer is has taught me that Doodle Dolls have two main customers – those who will purchase the dolls directly such as parents, collectors and education providers; and users of the dolls being children and educational institutes.

This has allowed me to tailor our marketing campaign to the right demographic. What I realise we need to do is some market analysis via interviews of people to confirm or deny our assumptions, to make sure we pinpoint the right demographic and that we are producing something that people want or need.

I also learnt that a part of market analysis is doing research using marketing databases such as the Roy Morgan Research database, and performing analysis’ such as SWOT (strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and PESTLE (Political, Economic, sociological, technological, legal and environmental).

I am learning to use the Co:Starters canvas, which is similar to the lean canvas, which I have only come across once before:

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I have found this to be a good tool to understand your idea and highlight pitfalls as well as benefits of your idea. For Doodle Dolls, we have the benefit of having a very unique idea in a space that is yet to be fulfilled by competitors. Our closest competitors are Eat My Lunch and charities. However, our company has the transparency that charities don’t, namely that you know that a percentage of the profits go directly to the child in need. Some pitfalls are understanding how we are going to get our message across, distribution channels and working out appropriate price points to make our product viable and also allow use to contribute financially to children in need in a meaningful way.

Week 7 was also about recollecting and, as team leader, distributing tasks. We have two clear divisions – the business division (Kylie and I) and Product Design (Kat and Sophie). I have been instrumental at providing the vision and direction of Doodle Dolls, including the original idea and DD 2.0. As leader, I have had to look at my teams strengths, weaknesses and interests, and divided tasks according to this.

Kat, being artist extrodinarie has been tasked with writing a children’s book featuring numerous doodles, and illustrating it. She is also working on a short animation to represent our ambition to make an animated series of the Doodles.

Sophie will be concentrating on packaging, logos, filming and video editing.

Kylie and I are putting together a business plan using CO:Starters methodology, and are preparing a comprehensive document that we will use to enter the Accelerator challenge and use as the basis of a book to be presented for assessment.

So far, this project has developed to be a lot more involved than I originally thought, although I feel that a testament to the potential of this idea becoming a real company. Happily, each new development has created more excitement amongst our team, and we’ve had brilliant feedback from Sabrina and Praveer at Co:Starters who are also excited by our project.

My next hurdle is to have our Accelerator entry prepared by the due date of Oct 4th. Kylie and I are doing Friday sessions to complete the document. I feel a little stressed about this, as I am a perfectionist and it means the world to me to make it to the finals – and time is running out fast.

I had feedback from Ben that my blog lacks reflective knowledge of our project, but I think I have taken this for granted as this is an idea I have been exploring for a year and a half.

My natural inclination is towards social enterprise and helping those in need, being someone who was in need not that long ago. I understand the effects of poverty, and the lack of opportunities or real action from those outside poverty that help those in need. There’s a lot of talk but very little action.

On the other hand, we see the rich getting richer and corporations making up to billions of dollars in profit. Some give back to charities and foundations, but these have very little impact on home grown crisis like child poverty, and the lack of transparency and knowing where donations go leave little trust. In fact, it is know that most money donated go to running not-for-profits rather than to those in need.

My vision was to tackle several things:

  1. to prove that for-profit companies can have business models that do social good in a real, transparent and tangible way
  2. A company can provide opportunity, hope and inspiration for our young and/or under privileged
  3. A company can tackle more than one issue in the production of their goods or services: Doodle Dolls tackles sustainability, Child poverty and, in the future prisoner reintegration, which also provides jobs for New Zealanders in New Zealand
  4. To be a part of the solution to our worsening child poverty statistics
  5. To create a company that is transdisciplinary, diverse and multifaceted and that combines creativity with business acumen.

I’ve had the fortune to work with my awesome team who have help me to bring this vision alive. With the help of the Co:Starters team, my dream is proving to have the legs to tackle the 5 points above. Hopefully Doodle Dolls will be the start of a new breed of company that actions real and positive change.

Children are my focus of the company because what happens in their early years effects there mental, physical and spiritual health for the rest of their lives. I am living proof of this, having grown up in a house of domestic abuse and poverty. Simply, I want to try give hope and change to those whose plight I know and understand.