Monday, 8 July 2013

Royal Holloways entrepreneurial students: Fabian Hansen

Fabian Hansen is a final year BSc (Hons) Management student with a flair for entrepreneurship.  Earlier in the year he emailed me with the following request:

"I was wondering if it would be possible to come to your office on Monday at 10am to ask you advice for a business idea that I have ?"

Fabian had noticed a gap in the market and sought was convinced that it had huge potential. He was keen to garner my opinion as a professional marketer. Now, I have lots of these kinds of ideas, which generally are either enormously flawed (relying on suicidal investment strategies) or just too difficult.  I'm convinced everyone has a few pet 'get rich quick' concepts up their sleeves, but in reality it is rare to hear even a half decent proposition.  

I recommended that Fabian look to participate in the BBC sexed up business venture capital raising show "The Dragons Den".  Several Royal Holloway students have featured, the best known of these being Jess Ratcliffe with an interesting software peer-to-peer trading marketplace.  It appears (perhaps smacking of sour grapes) that several failed pitches said their motivation for being part of the show was the free promotion afforded by a national TV series.  (see camper loo as seen on TV or dooh in a bag on a stool as I like to explain it )

This particular branded merchandising idea benefits from a mature and considered pitch.  Fabian had spotted that in his wide European travels the market for tourist souvenirs was highly competitive, but lacked any copyrighted concepts.  (e.g. city name, I heart city name)  A pretty decent market analysis that drew on Asian production of lowish cost, lowish quality souvenirs by overlaying his creatives on this existing business model.

Whilst this would have been pretty good (but odds not looking great) as a business concept, Fabian had taken things quite a lot further.  He had tangibilised his concept (an owl like cartoon character with a back drop of city skyline icons) which looked pretty good on paper and with the samples.  Not the functional output, as I'd expected, of a professional artist, but created by Fabian himself, using software he'd learnt specifically for this purpose.  The words of Dragon Dens' Deborah Meaden "I'm not sure about the product, but I'd like to invest in you !" came to my mind. 

Permission for image use granted by originator Fabian Hansen

As a fairly typical, bright and engaged Royal Holloway student, Fabian was a member of both the Royal Marketing and Royal Holloway Entrepreneurs Societies. He had also looked at SIFE.  The Royal Entrepreneurs, thanks to sponsorship from the Arora family, run a version of Dragons Den in the students union early each academic year.  Many of the ideas are pretty strong, some even launch following the event.  However, I've yet to see a patented concept with a commercial deal to licence across the UK with the number one player.  This is how far the business concept had been developed (alongside studying for a demanding management undergraduate programme) in around a year.  

In fact, we were so delighted with Fabian's confident businesslike demeanour and impressive business concept that we invited him to share his concept with the MSc Entrepreneurship group.  You can imagine how sceptical the masters group were with the idea of an undergraduate presenting to them.  However, it didn't take long for them to be won over, lots of cracking Q&A exchange ensued, and quite a strong feeling of respect was present at the end of the session. 

Fabian, the last time we spoke, was pondering whether to follow this concept further, or to sign up for a masters degree or look for another business venture to get behind.  

I've a feeling that this is someone with enormous potential and whose career is going to be worth tracking.