The EVOLV experience

The EVOLV experience

Matthew Murphy, a student of Advertising and Media at Northumbria University and co-founder of Giftbro sums up his experience of EVOLV Weekend and what it meant to win the competition.

The EVOLV Weekend ran from March 21 to March 23 and was about action learning, progress, victory and defeat, and growing a network of like-minded entrepreneurs with meaningful new people.

The high-energy event was hosted by Newcastle Business School and managed through start-up accelerator specialist Searchcamp. As the first programme of its type at the University, it has been hailed a huge success.

"It was such an honour to win EVOLV Weekend, especially with the quality of the other teams we faced. The entire Giftbro team agreed it had been an enormous learning curve for us all which will play an intrinsic part in taking the company forward.

The teams for the weekend were formed as a result of individuals attending the event pitching an idea on the first night about an area that interested them, which could then be developed into a lean start-up. We were brought together on the Friday night by a common interest in 3D printing and a desire to bring uniquely 3D manufactured products to market at an affordable price.

Having spent Friday night and the best part of Saturday looking specifically into jewellery, the results from identifying consumer problems, needs and wants and heading out on to the streets of Newcastle to conduct some market research, showed our most common customer need was in fact men not knowing what jewellery to buy as gifts and they feared purchasing anything unique for their wives, friends or relatives as a result.

"The entire Giftbro team agreed it had been an enormous learning curve for us all which will play an intrinsic part in taking the company forward."

To use one of the key terms from the EVOLV weekend, this was our 'pivoting point' - although we are all very passionate about 3D printing we decided to focus our attentions on this customer need instead.

We arrived at the idea of Giftbro as the gentleman's wingman when it comes to buying gifts. Giftbro is a platform which will operate via an online website and a mobile phone app offering advice, reviews and product recommendations ideal for the last minute man and guys who need a bit of help in general when it comes to choosing gifts.

We recognised that men find it difficult to keep up to date with what women want and struggle to give a surprising gift as they are often acting under the direction of the person they are buying for.

Our brand ethos is about learning what your partner or relative likes while maintaining an air of mystery. The service will also allow men to share their experiences and give advice to other users of Giftbro.

Larry and Dave come from Design backgrounds and myself and Greg both come from Advertising and PR and we had never met before the event. It was great that such a mixed bunch would come together by choice as we can all offer something valuable to getting Giftbro off the ground.

We all agreed that our biggest learning curve was discovering the legwork that goes into launching a start-up as our professions are more concerned with the later stages of the process such as product design and promotion. The guys at EVOLV were tremendous at getting us out on the street and helping us to identify and get to know our customer.  

We had already created a website and started hitting the social media over the EVOLV weekend which we will be looking to expand and improve upon very soon."

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