Data Visualisation Project

Demonstrating the impact of national GDP and life expectancy.

This work was completed as part of a project in my Data Scientist course. The conclusions are pretty light, but the purpose was to show some analysis and graphics of an open database.


There is a clear correlation between GDP levels and life expectancy. Clearly there is a complex system underlying the correlation which would involve factors including money invested in the health system, affordability of medicines and treatment and basic levels of education about health matters.

The charts below show, for a number of countries, the movement of GDP over time and the movement of life expectancy.

The first chart shows 6 countries where the trend is clear.

GDP vs Life Expectancy (includingZimbabwe)
GDP vs Life Expectancy

Another way of looking at this is to show them all on the same chart

GDP vs life expectancy all on the same vchart
GDP vs life expectancy all on the same vchart

Looking at Zimbabwe alone, we can see the great leaps in life expectancy for relatively small increments in GDP

Zimbabwe only
Zimbabwe only


If we remove Zimbabwe which has such a low GDP, it makes the impact for other countries difficult to see. The picture is even clearer:

GDP vs Life Expectancy excl Zimbabwe
GDP vs Life Expectancy excl Zimbabwe

Finally let us look at China which seems to reval waht the other plots are hinting at: we can improve life expectancy with improved GDP.  If we start at a low base, then expectancy initially increases rapidly, however over time this impact flattens out.

GDP vs life expectancy China only
GDP vs life expectancy China only

Although does Germany tell another story?

Germany GDP vs expectancy
Germany GDP vs expectancy

So we will end with a conclusion that life expectancy does increase with GDP and initially at low GDP rates the change is pronounced.

However, it might be that in certain places, the curve of improvement against GDP increase begins to flatten at at higher levels .

However, that change is probably dependent on other factors as well and so not all countries have the same curves.


India 2019

India 2019

One month to go

On 10th March I will be heading to Delhi to give a series of lectures to the Naropa Fellowship. On 16th March, Virginia flies out and we meet up in Delhi at the start of our India adventure.

Watch this space for our journey updates.

The incredible Watsapp founder story

The incredible story of Jan Koum, co-founder of Watsapp.

Jan Koum, at the age of 41 is a billionaire and #48 in the Forbes 400 wealthiest people in America.

But did you know he arrived in the US at the age of 10 with his mother and grandmother who were basically penniless and needed state assistance to get a small apartment? He swept floors to help his mother pay the bills. His mother died of cancer when he was 24 and he also suffered the loss of his father (who never made it across from the Ukraine).

Being of Jewish descent in the Ukraine, in the 70’s and 80’s most communication was monitored by the state. When he was in the US and his father in the Ukraine, it was really expensive to contact him. These are two of the factors that played a role in wanting to develop something like Watsapp (inexpensive, secure communications). And that was the product that took him from penniless to a billionaire when he eventually sold to Facebook for $19 billion!

Want to learn more? Then listen to Vijay Peduru’s podcast (part of his excellent Amazing Founders Stories series) on Jan Koums journey (or check out Anna Vitals infographic on his life below).

Click on the link and be inspired!!!!

Amazing Founders Stories


This infographic from the wonderful Anna Vital traces his story

Jan Kims journey by Anna Vital's infographic
F&F infographic from Vital

At Mashauri, we provide acceleration platforms to universities to allow them to give experiential entrepreneurial education to their students where they get to build their own new ventures as they learn how. Contact for more information


Is it really important to be strategic about your startup brand? You bet it is!

Is it really important to be strategic about your startup brand?
You bet it is!

Guest blog from Mate Kovacs, branding consultant, founder of Water Lily Pond and co-founder of TLA CEE

Executive summary

You know your startup inside out. But have you ever wondered how your brand is related to your startup, product and customers?

When you found a startup and start to interact with people (your users, customers, employees, contractors, suppliers, investors, partners, etc.), you also plant the seeds of your brand – no matter what industry you are in and what stage of product development you are at.

The great thing about your brand is that it can help you forge relationships with people as you progress, and it will ultimately enhance your business. The results are going to be deeper relationships across the board, more and happier customers and better sales.

But without strategic management your brand may not unfold in the direction of its purpose and it never unlocks the bulk of its potential. So it’s up to you to decide whether you want to consciously manage this process. Because it’s your choice how much control you want to take over your brand, or more precisely, over the portion of your brand that your actions can directly (or indirectly) influence.

In this article, we focus on the basics and keep it simple by providing you some inspiration to help you become more conscious of your brand. We are going to briefly discuss the role of branding and what it can do for your startup and product when interacting with your users or customers.

It doesn’t matter whether you have launched your product or you are just about to become an entrepreneur. You may be toying with the idea of founding a startup or you are a startup founder/co-founder with a ready-to-go business plan, developing your MVP to validate your idea for investors. It’s never too late or early to start working on your brand strategically, it will always benefit your startup.

Offer: if you like what Mate has to say, why not head over to our startup products page and book a free consultation with him at Startup Branding essentials

Full article on strategic branding for startups

We are living in incredibly complex and fast-changing times.

These are complex and fast-changing times with myriads of market players, disciplines, tools and media options. In all industries and in every marketplace there is a huge information overload. In this increasingly saturated environment when the noise and the number of touch-points between products and people are soaring dramatically, it’s more and more difficult to connect with customers.

Market players can tap into the power of branding to help them succeed.

In order to increase their chances to connect with customers and generate sales, now, more than ever, startups must be aware of the power of branding and learn to use it to their advantage.

So, what’s the role of a brand, how does it work and how does it relate to your startup and product? Why differentiating the product itself doesn’t guarantee success? What’s branding, when can you start doing it and what can it do for you?

[Note: all references to ‘product’ include both goods and services.]

Beyond differentiation: A quick recap on the basic definition of the ‘brand’.

What are brands and what do they do in relation to your startup and product?

In the process of getting a closer look at your brand, let’s explore first what a brand is in general, based on this terminology: ‘A brand is a name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other seller’s’.

Yes, the most common understanding about brands is that they can certainly differentiate the products through naming, visual identity, colours, design or a slogan. And differentiation is an essential role of brands, but is that all they do?

Here is a list of some well-known companies. There are some established and mature companies first, which are some of the biggest global corporations. Then there are some growing and younger companies, followed by a few breakthrough startups, some of which are unicorns.

  • > Google, Nike, Cola-Cola, Apple, Samsung
  • > Amazon, eBay, Salesforce, PayPal, Tesla, Xiaomi, Netflix, Skype, GoDaddy
  • > Uber, Spotify, Airbnb, Snapchat, Dropbox, Vice, SpaceX, Slack, Pinterest, Buzzfeed
  • > Waze, Lemonade, Stripe, Deliveroo, Flipkart, Github, SkyScanner, WeWork

I have selected these companies because they also make great (and valuable) brands.

Everybody is pretty familiar with the names and logos of the biggest brands here. Most of you could probably mention quite a few products that belong to these brands (company brands and/or product brands) and describe what typical physical attributes or features, such as colours, shapes or design elements, are associated with them. Then you could notice that you have your own thoughts (and probably opinions) regarding them. And if you look a bit deeper, you can realise that beyond those thoughts and opinions, some products may even evoke some feelings in you.

It doesn’t really matter whether there is a chance to use the products, but obviously those feelings and thoughts are more complex and more likely to arise, once one actually tries the products or owns them.

Manage your brand space in the customers’ minds.

So how does this all work? Can your startup somehow manage these feelings and thoughts in your customers’ minds about your brand?

When customers interact with products, they perceive them through the five senses (sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch) and, as a result, various feelings and thoughts appear in their minds about the products. These feelings and thoughts are based on the tangible and intangible attributes or features of the particular products.

All products have tangible qualities (physical, practical and concrete) that define their functionality, role and value to the customers. There are more substantial tangible qualities (in relation to the product itself) such as a legal firm specialised in agricultural law, an electric car or portable speakers. And there are smaller, more specific qualities such as parking sensors or Bluetooth in cars, gluten-free options in food items or waterproof technology in hiking shoes. From the customer’s perspective, these tangible qualities appear as functional benefits as they formulate their own thoughts, ideas or concepts about the products.

But are these tangible benefits the only reason why customers prefer and choose one product over the other?

Closely related to the tangible qualities, all products have intangible qualities (emotional, experiential and abstract) that define how the products make the customers feel. They can feel the car is beautiful, the delivery service is reliable, the hotel room is comfortable, the wardrobe is spacious and the beverage is tasty. These intangible qualities are translated into experiential benefits for the customers, such as tasting of the soup can make them feel like a child again, using the skincare product can make them feel beautiful and better in their skin, owning the latest mobile phone can make them feel tech-savvy and versatile, and sleeping on the new bed mattress can make them feel supported. These feelings are rooted in instinctive emotions that are the same in all customers, as all humans experience the same basic emotions such as fear, happiness and others. Of course, the feelings are still subjective as they are mixed with the customers’ previous life experiences and ultimately are affected by their thoughts, ideas, concepts or beliefs.

And it’s important to briefly mention symbolic benefits that can appear for the customers alongside functional and experiential benefits. These are centred around prestige, pride and trendiness, which are related to social conditioning, social expectations and acceptance, or self-expression and self-esteem.

To conclude, due to the tangible and intangible attributes or features and the resulting benefits, a unique ‘space’ is created in the customers’ minds for the products via the feelings and thoughts generated by the perceptions through the five senses.

Branding is the process of managing this ‘space’ in your customers’ minds (therefore, let’s call this the ‘brand space’). Thanks to your brand space, your startup and product will not only occupy a significant and differentiated presence in your customers’ minds, but also in the marketplace.

It’s important to mention though, that branding is a complex and adaptive workstream in the lives of companies, especially these days, and it’s filtered through every bit of the company and its product(s). Branding efforts are mainly used in relation to the startup brand, the product brand and marketing communications, but it also flows through the whole marketing mix, via the 4Ps (product, place, price and promotion). It’s involved in everything, including, but not limited to, the creation and selection process of brand name and logo, distribution channels, product features, price and offer strategy, social media strategy, customer relationship management, team members’ personal profiles and company HR.

Product differentiation in itself is simply not enough to stand out in the marketplace and make a lasting effect.

Why is it not enough to simply differentiate your product itself? Wouldn’t that automatically create your unique and differentiated brand space in the customers’ minds?

Product differentiation in the increasingly saturated local and global marketplace is more important than ever. However, as everything changes constantly and so fast, it’s more and more difficult (and in fact, it’s increasingly unlikely) for any companies to come up with unique products. It’s much easier and more prevalent to differentiate the products based on the tangible and intangible qualities, and come up with better, cheaper or more innovative product alternatives.

It’s true that we can see some lucky startups or companies that manage to become true disruptors in their marketplace. But is that enough?

And in all of these cases, the question is how long will the differentiated status last?

  • > Having a one-of-a-kind product, even if it happens momentarily, it’s very uncertain and unstable. If there is a source of business there, many others are onto it, whether the creators behind the product know about the competitors or not.
  • > Having a better or cheaper alternative to products that are already available in the market may or may not be enough to stand out in the crowd. And even if it is enough, the customers may be looking for something more than just lower prices or something else than just more functional benefits or better experiential benefits. And this is a vulnerable position anyway, as it will not last long until the competitors catch up.
  • > Being an innovator is great, but the advantage probably won’t last long based on the exponential growth and speed of innovation adoption in the market. The innovative tangible qualities and symbolic benefits are going to draw innovator and early-adopter customers but the technology (patented or not) will be available and used by others sooner or later in some kind of shape and form.
  • > Being a true disruptor of the whole marketplace, industry or product category is a fantastic opportunity that may last for a while, but it has a lot of challenges due to the many unknowns and, eventually, things always change – that’s inevitable.

Managing the tangible and intangible product qualities may not be enough to stand out in the fierce competition and succeed as a business in the medium and long term. Your startup can use branding to influence your brand space in the customers’ minds and achieve a more lasting differentiation for your products. It will also help you attract new customers, generate sales, and grow and retain the loyal customer base by creating an engaging relationship with them.

Branding must be done continually and with consistency. It takes time, commitment and investment from everyone involved, and it must be constantly adapted to the fast-changing market conditions.

It’s always time to start managing your brand strategically.

So you made a decision that you want to take as much control as possible over your brand.

But which is the ideal time point in the lifecycle of your startup and product when you can start being more conscious of your brand?

You can do it whenever you want, but the earlier you start, the easier it becomes for your startup from a time and cost-efficiency perspective.

However, there is some necessary information that you must have in order to start working on your brand strategically. Here is a quick list of the questions you need to answer before starting the thought process about your brand. Hopefully, those who already have a written business plan can easily answer these questions. And for others, it can serve as a brief guideline to help the ideation process.

  • > What’s the name of your product and how does it work?
  • > What’s unique about your product?
  • > What’s the competition like?
  • > Who are your customers?
  • > What value will your product add to your customers’ lives?

These are just the key points that any startup needs to think about at the start of the branding process. Here is a  downloadable checklist for startups that provides an even wider perspective, anticipating what other questions need to be answered later on during the process. Request download by clicking here: Checklist for Startups

Branding can help you create mutually rewarding relationships with your customers, based on true value exchange.

And what can branding do for your startup and product?

Ultimately, branding is there to promote awareness, recognition, trust, reliance and identification with the startup and its product in the customers’ minds. At the same time, it will help generate customer acquisition, engagement, loyalty and endorsement.

Assuming it’s managed properly, continually and with consistency, your unique brand space will help connect your product with your customers, keep it in the top of their mind and help them know what to expect from your brand. Customers will be ready to interact with your brand again and again, make purchases, stay loyal, recommend it to other customers via word-of-mouth and sharing, and advocate for it.

But let’s not make the mistake of thinking that the relationship between brands and customers is only in one direction. In order to function properly, it must be a mutually rewarding relationship adding value to the startups and their customers’ lives as well.

The ultimate potential of branding is to maximise tangible brand value, share of life and customer advocacy over time.

Finally, what is the ultimate and long-term potential of brands? Just how much further can branding take your product in your customers’ minds?

A consistent and differentiated brand that is present and available across touch-points and devices, accessible quickly and helpful to the customers at the various points of their journey in decision making will make more acquisitions.

And once acquired, customers want to enjoy personalised recommendations and interactions, and exceptional customer service across their entire journey and relationship with the brand in order to stay loyal. That is why Amazon and Apple are in the top 20 brands in both the US and UK in terms of customer experience.

Then, here are a few examples of everyday products showing how brands can make a substantial difference in preference and price, even when compared with generic or other brand competitors that sell pretty much the same products.

It’s widely known that customers are happy to pay so much for Apple and Nike products despite the high margins that these companies make and the similar or better products that are available cheaper. They are also ready to pay more for branded drugs than generic ones despite the fact that they have exactly the same ingredients. And there is a substantial difference in supermarkets as well, where identical products of generic brands can cost 20-30% less than branded versions.

A cola drink taste test may help explain why this happens: cheaper, generic cola drinks performed worse in taste tests than more expensive brand-name ones (Coca-Cola and Pepsi), even when the actual soft drinks were almost identical. It’s about less fear in the minds of customers, reliance on the familiar product and more rewards thanks to the rewarding process in the amygdala.

Before we finish, let’s look at how deeply brands can be embedded in people’s lives, and in culture and language.

The phenomenon of strong customer loyalty is well known – just look at Apple, Amazon or Google topping the loyalty list – but there are brand fans who even advocate for their brands passionately, believe in their products, actively use them and are highly likely to recommend them to their peers just to help them. Their long-lasting love for the brands is authentic, so no wonder that 92% of consumers trust brand advocates. Both Netflix and Airbnb appear in the top 10 of the most recommended brands in Australia.

Actively listening to the market, identifying customer advocates and collaborating with them is essential for brands in building the much-desired community around them, just like how GoDaddy collaborates with its tribe. Airbnb wants to become the world’s first community-driven brand and it uses customer stories to promote itself, just like Skype or Salesforce do.

Brands participate in local and cross-country culture for a long time, some of them becoming icons that resonate with the dynamics of the society in many countries across the globe. A recent example shows how an iconic brand like Nike can actively influence culture by promoting diversity, not just in marketing communications but also via its products. Yes, today’s customers do expect social commitment and active involvement in the society from brands.

It has a somewhat controversial impact on brand value, but the brand name can even be used as the product name so it acquires a life on its own, also in the language. Usually this happens when the brand is an industry/category disruptor that changes the face of its marketplace forever, so it’s embedded in the society and used widely for several years. ‘Do you have a Kleenex?’ – as many of the US customers refer to paper tissue. ‘Let’s just Google it!’ – used as a synonym to ‘search for something online’. ‘Just put a Post-it on the fridge!’ – it’s the universal name of sticky notes across languages. ‘Photoshop!’ – exclaiming many people when noticing the signs of photo manipulations.

To sum up, your brand can add a significant value to your startup and product: the tangible value is presented in market share, customer share, local/global reach, business assets and revenue. While the intangible value is shown as brand equity based on share of life, popularity, preference, engagement, affinity, loyalty and advocacy amongst your customers.

And branding can help you achieve and maintain a high level of both tangible and intangible brand values.

It’s essential to monitor the activities of direct competitors and learn from other startups, but researching and studying the branding and marketing communications of big brands, growing companies and recent unicorns is one of the most important (and free!) tools that any startups can use when developing their own brands.

Tap into the power of branding and increase the chances that your startup and product will succeed – key takeaways

Now let’s answer the question that we started with in the introduction, about how your brand is related to your startup, product and customers.

  • > Product and brand are inseparable: From the point your startup or product interacts with people, you plant the seeds of your brand. Your brand belongs to your customers but it’s your challenge, responsibility and opportunity to consciously manage it and strategically shape your brand space in your customers’ minds.
  • > Branding efforts are intertwined with everything you do, and it’s more than worth it: Branding must be done with continuity and both consistency and flexibility. It requires some commitment, time and investment, and in order to unlock its benefits, you need to know your startup and product very well. It’s better to start early, as branding flows through everything you build over time… but yes, you will already see some benefits early on.
  • > Your brand is there to help you, as well as to help your customers: You never want to have a one-sided connection with your customers – maximise your brand value and aim for a mutually beneficial value exchange and relationship enriching the lives of all participants.

About Mate Kovacs

Dedicated to Help Brands Adapt to Change

Founder at Water Lily Pond

Co-founder at TLA CEE


With over 13 years of diverse experience in global brand development and marketing communications, Mate is dedicated to help brands build mutually rewarding relationships with customers and adapt to the fast-changing market environment. As a consultant, he works with early/late-stage startups and SMEs in the US and in Europe, and he is a mentor and contributor to various European and global accelerators and organisations in the startup ecosystem. Mate is the founder of Water Lily Pond, a 100% distributed but tight-knit collective of international experts in branding, creative design, content and tech. He is the co-founder of TLA CEE, a non-profit organisation promoting the London tech scene. Beforehand, he was working with big global brands (such as Pfizer, Heineken, Colgate, Bayer and L’Oreal) at advertising agencies (Publicis, DDB, Grey, Ogilvy, Saatchi & Saatchi, CDM, etc.) in London, Prague and Budapest.

About ‘Simple, Efficiently’

The concept of ‘Simple, Efficiently’ was created to help businesses adapt to the incredibly complex and fast-changing times that we are all living in. With myriads of market players, disciplines, tools and media options being present in all industries and in every marketplace, there is a huge information overload. In this increasingly saturated environment when the noise and the number of touch-points between products and people are soaring dramatically, it’s more and more difficult to connect with customers. Businesses must take a step back, get back to basics and do simple things in order to navigate as efficiently as possible in this fluid and ever-changing market environment.

How entrepreneurial is your university – and why you should care

 Article synopsis

Developing an “entrepreneurial university” is becoming increasingly important to universities across the globe to impact on the success of their graduates and in positioning themselves in both the community and the market. The process of instilling an entrepreneurial mindset in students is not yet an exact science, but through understanding the entrepreneurship ecosystem within the university and its links to the outside world, we can obtain some perspective on what is being done and what requires further attention.

We believe that through using a mapping system (such as the UEEC mentioned here) and beginning to measure the entrepreneurial outcomes, rapid progress could be made in moving towards the objective.

The article contains 2 free downloads: an infographic summarising the key elements of the two foremost HE league tables measuring entrepreneurship and a tool that helps review and measure the entrepreneurial ecosystem inside your institution. Download them here.


Are you producing innovators who are changing the world?

Are your students seeking creative ways to solve the social problems of the community or the world?

Are your alumni running their own businesses - that they started thinking about while studying?

Do local investors recognise your institution as a source of new business creation?

As a vice-chancellor, professor, incubator leader or technology transfer head, these may not be the things keeping you awake at night ….. but perhaps they should be!

The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship defines the entrepreneurial mindset as “the set of attitudes, skills and behaviours that students need to succeed academically, personally and professionally. These include: initiative and self-direction, risk-taking, flexibility and adaptability, creativity and innovation, critical thinking and problem solving”.. See sidebar below for more details.

Developing an entrepreneurial mindset among students is rapidly becoming an important desired outcome for students, parents and institutional heads alike. Clearly such a mindset is important for potential entrepreneurs, but these characteristics are as important for graduates seeking “normal” employment as it equips them with skills and an outlook that increase their value to would-be employers. This in turn is important to the institutions themselves as they strive to stay relevant and increase employability - which in turn helps them to attract the top students.

This is why there is increasingly more attention paid to how “entrepreneurial” are universities and there are some respected agencies rating universities and business schools against this scale. The two most important ones being the Times Higher Education Entrepreneurial University of the Year Award and Princeton Review’s entrepreneurial rankings. (Note there are several other “League Tables” such as the FT and the Guardian, but they do not rank entrepreneurship per se. If you are interested in finding out more about these League Tables, what they measure and some of the issues around them, take a look at HEPI’s report: A Guide to UK League Tables in Higher Education).

What makes a university “entrepreneurial”

Many institutions provide a range of entrepreneurial activities from curricular courses on entrepreneurship to extra-curricular activities such as hackathons and bolt-on services such as incubators - and so it becomes challenging to find a rating score that provides a comparable measurement of how “entrepreneurial” is a university. We have therefore unpacked the scoring system of the two agencies mentioned above, added in a little more from our personal knowledge of the topic and skimmed the web for other clues to help institutions think about measuring themselves on some entrepreneurial scale.

At a high level, although both research studies looked at inputs and outputs, the US studies tended to be more outcome focused (number of spin-offs, amount of funding), while the European studies had a greater focus on the intention and inputs such as vision, strategy and policy.
The diagram below shows an infographic of the key measurements used and grouped into 5 areas that inter-link. I am certain that over time (probably with the help of some big data type analysis) we will really be able to identify the key factors that make the difference and focus on those. Unfortunately at the moment, the list of factors being measured is too long and if you have too many measurements, you lose sight of the essence. Furthermore, as George Orwell said: ““All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”; and although all these factors are important, some should definitely earn a higher weighting when measuring entrepreneurship in universities.

Infographic of key elements of an entrepreneurial university
Entrepreneurial university infographic

Enter your details and we will send you a pdf version of this infographic

[rainmaker_form id="11170"]

Side panel: developing an entrepreneurial mindset

From the document: “The entrepreneurial university: from concept to action" by National Centre for Entrepreneurship Education

Thanks to the NCEE for this useful input.

The Enterprise Concept focuses upon the development of the ‘enterprising person and entrepreneurial mindset’. The former constitutes a set of personal skills, attributes, behavioural and motivational capacities (associated with those of the entrepreneur) but which can be used in any context (social, work, leisure etc). Prominent among these are; intuitive decision making, capacity to make things happen autonomously, networking, initiative taking, opportunity identification, creative problem solving, strategic thinking, and self efficacy. The ‘Mindset’ concept focuses not just upon the notion of ‘being your own boss’ in a business context but upon the ability of an individual to cope with an unpredictable external environment and the associated entrepreneurial ways of doing, thinking, feeling, communicating, organising and learning.

The Entrepreneurship Concept focuses upon the application of these personal enterprising skills, attributes and mindsets to the context of setting up a new venture or initiative of any kind, developing/growing an existing venture or initiative and designing an entrepreneurial organisation (one in which the capacity for executive use of enterprising skills will be enhanced). The context is therefore not connected to business but is equally applicable to social enterprise, education, health, NGOs and mainstream public organisations (e.g. universities and governments).

Entrepreneurial mindset

What to measure

The first challenge is in framing the problem and thinking about the desired outcome. This could fall anywhere on a spectrum from encouraging students to start entrepreneurial ventures through to improving employability of graduates. At Mashauri, we frame it as the degree to which a university encourages an entrepreneurial mindset among its students. There is plenty of evidence suggesting the link between an entrepreneurial mindset and improved employability as well as the obvious connection between students who are exposed to this thinking who end up launching a venture - either at university of after graduation.

Developing such a mindset cannot be simply taught in a classroom session. It requires an experiential, more immersive experience involving doing as well as learning - in fact more of the doing! It has long been recognised that the strength of an entrepreneurial ecosystem (be it at national, city or campus level) plays a significant role in developing successful entrepreneurs and offering this immersive experience. We therefore believe that a useful way of assessing how entrepreneurial is a university would be by measuring the strength of their entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Therefore, if you are prepared to follow this somewhat-experimental approach, we have developed a “University Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Canvas” (UEEC) roughly adapted from the ecosystem canvas developed by the Founders Institute. The canvas can be used to:

> Map what is currently available in a systematic format - and then identify areas that could be improved.

> Allocate responsibility to the critical areas and establish a focal point or group to manage this

> Make the output available to all the ecosystem players (obviously students but also faculty, alumni and external partners to encourage them to use it.

Our UEEC Canvas is a work in progress that we will continue to develop with our partner universities and the industry, but we have started with 8 elements:

> Leadership and commitment

> Events, clubs and promotions

> Teaching (curricular, co-curricular and extra-curricular)

> Faculty entrepreneurial experience and interest

> Available space

> Support of entrepreneurs

> Networks (internal and external)

> Measurement of outcomes

We have developed a digital beta version of the Canvas that incorporates all the above elements and has been designed to be a practical tool that helps a university consider what they might do to strengthen the ecosystem and thereby their entrepreneurial drive. If you would like a copy of this UEEC which includes examples of how it might be used and some clearer definitions around the elements, please request a download below. We would be delighted to get your feedback.

[rainmaker_form id="11179"]

(If you have any problem with the download or format, drop us a line and we will help:


Developing an “entrepreneurial university” is becoming increasingly important to universities across the globe to impact on the success of their graduates and in positioning themselves in both the community and the market. The process of becoming entrepreneurial is far from an exact science, but through understanding the entrepreneurship ecosystem within the university and linked to the outside world, we can obtain some perspective on what is being done and what requires further attention.

We believe that through using some standard mapping system (such as the UEEC mentioned here) and beginning to measure the entrepreneurial outcomes, rapid progress could be made in moving towards the objective.

If you are interested in finding out more about how we help universities create entrepreneurs, develop entrepreneurial mindsets and position themselves as entrepreneurial institutions, please drop us a mail at or


Mashauri in a tweet

We impact employment & economic growth by training students to be entrepreneurs via online acceleration programs while leveraging off the strength of universities.

Putting the uni in unicorn

Putting the uni in unicorn

The Centre for Entrepreneurs in the UK published an interesting article earlier this year called: "Putting the uni in unicorn". Beyond being a fantastic name, it also has some great content.There is a link to the full article itself at the bottom of this blog and I recommend a read for those of you who are interested in the topic and have the time to read the 45 pages.

For those who do not have the time (or want to get an overview first), here is our summary (plus own thoughts) on what the article is about. Note: although it is UK-focused, there are plenty of lessons for educators in other regions too

Research (Global Entrepreneurship Monitor and others) shows that many young people aspire to be entrepreneurs, but many do not act on this aspiration. Although this may not be totally surprising, the gap between aspiration and action is far too wide.

Universities are increasingly undertaking activities to stimulate entrepreneurship, but could and should certainly be doing more - and by doing so could close the gap mentioned above. The main problem (states the article) is that universities are engaging with students to increase the level of "enterprise thinking" and pre-startup activities rather than actually helping entrepreneurs startup businesses. Furthermore, the majority of the effort is aimed at undergraduates, while graduates do not get enough support - and this is the group that really have the time to launch a new venture. 

To digress from the article slightly and use some information from the"Enterprise Effectiveness Guidance" (released by the QAA for Higher Education), where they say the ultimate goal of enterprise and entrepreneurship education is to develop entrepreneurial effectiveness which arises from three areas: enterprise awareness, entrepreneurial mindset and entrepreneurial capability and is best shown in the diagram that follows (taken from that paper):

Developing entrepreneurial effectiveness

At Mashauri, we agree with the QAA that students should be given the opportunity to develop this entrepreneurial effectiveness by receiving practice, training and support in the areas of awareness, mindset and capability.

Returning to the "uni in unicorn" article, they go on to describe the need for universities to supply incubators with a specific focus on, or at least track for, graduates of the university. There is a recognition that a large number (78% in the UK) of universities do provide incubation, but only 37% of those have any targeting at graduates. They are mainly aimed at spin-outs and external SME's; furthermore the definition of incubator had huge disparities from supplying a few hot desks through to proper office and lab facilities with business support.

A few other interesting points made were:

  • * In comparison to our US peers, we are far behind on tapping into the alumni network
  • * The American universities also have a far greater focus on incubators for graduates - sometimes combined with acceleration programs.
  • * UK universities are facing uncertainty re funding with the proposed abolition of the Higher Education Funding Council and the impact of Brexit on EU funds
  • * Student debt is also having an impact on the propensity of graduates to start a business versus the less-riskier full-time employment role.

A useful output is a summary of a research survey conducted among some incubator managers and the conclusions are a useful guide for anyone launching or upgrading their incubator. They cover topics including: who uses (should use) university incubators; what sort of businesses are started; how do incubators raise awareness and how do incubators define success.

The article concludes that supporting graduates in university incubators is necessary to close the gap between intention and action within a group of people who have the wherewithal (time and motivation) to do so. They offer some practical recommendations for universities and policy makers; and also comment on the type of metrics that are required, but seldom measured at the moment.

Mashauri supplies cost-effective online acceleration programs to universities to support them in developing "entrepreneurial effectiveness" among students and graduates. Please contact me at for more information - or simply have a look around our website.

The original article can be seen below (there is a download button as well). 
Note that some browsers require a refresh to see the document

Download (PDF, 1.95MB)

Download article

Edtech around the world

The global education tech landscape

Admittedly, this may be more interesting to investors in education technology and/or entrepreneurs operating in this space, but even educators themselves may find this a fascinating read. If nothing else it points to some of the way our lives as entrepreneurial educators might change in the future.

I am referring to the work done by Navitas in mapping edtech initiatives around the world. In the process, they have also devised a system of categorisation which no doubt will change over time, but gives a good start to helping us think about innovation in education.

They have 16 clusters which they allocate across 6 themes:

  1. Content – Publishers, Content Distribution and Digital Learning
  2. Platforms – LMS, Analytics and Social Learning
  3. Access – Recruitment and Employment, Admissions and Financing
  4. Immersion – VR/AR and China Edtech
  5. Learning – Formal/ Accredited and Informal/ Non Accredited
  6. Progression – Peer to Peer and Tutoring, Language and Literacy, and Testing and Credentialing.

In summary, Landscape 3.0 maps 26 clusters of innovation across 15,000 companies in the next generation learning lifecycle and $50 billion of investment around the world. There are over 60 pages of market maps and profiles including analysis of each cluster on the dimensions of scale, investment, traction and disruptive potential. It offers analysis across eight stages of the next generation learning lifecycle, providing insights into market size and investment, innovation traction and disruptive potential .

The report is downloadable at: Global Tech Landscape 3.0

Mashauri supplies cost-effective online acceleration programs to universities to support them in developing "entrepreneurial effectiveness" among students and graduates. Please contact me at for more information - or simply have a look around our website.


Mastering scale – doing things that don’t scale is the path to scaling!

Masters of Scale - doing things that don't scale

Masters of Scale Episode 1:

“In order to scale you have to do things that don’t scale.”

Brian Chesky of AirBnB


[icegram campaigns="8224"]

The purpose of this blog is to offer a summary of the key points of each of the episodes of Masters of Scale, together with a few insights. In the first of the series, Reid Hoffman talks to Bran Chesky of AirBnB about getting early customers.

I think it is a great example because we all know AirBnB as a tech-industry giant now, but like most startups it was not easy in the beginning. The founders had maxed out on their credit cards and only had a bout ten to twenty users. Their strategy: really get to know these users and what they wanted (and did not want) and hunt down new users one by one. Was that scalable? Definitely not - but it allowed them to build a firm platform off which they could then find more automated ways of getting new users - and they could not do that until they were sure they knew what their customers really wanted and loved.

Key lessons:

1 Get personal  and detailed feedback from you early customers as early as possible - that mens talking to them.

2. Use judgement in terms of what you take on board - you should not try and implement everything you hear.

3. Understand what might be the perfect user experience - and then try and build in an appropriate level of "magic" to your product. (Click the link if you would like a free tool to help you design the experience: "the 11 star customer experience template"

4. Do not start with a product that is immediately scalable (it will probably be wrong anyway), but using Chesky's words: "Do everything by hand until it's painful". There are plenty of examples of founders using their own phones or emails as the primary customer service touchpoint.

5. Designing a customer experience and scaling that experience are two different skill sets.

6. When you finally do reach scale, do not lose the ability to innovate as you did in the pre-scale phase. Large organisations quickly kill innovations that do not look operationally efficient.

7. I really like this final point they make as it resonates with so many of our early stage entrepreneurs. If you are "pre-traction" - do not despair. This is the best opportunity you will have to really design a product that your users will love. The impact you can make at that pre-traction stage has the potential to have a massive multiplier effect on the future of your business.

Pulling these ideas into "lean startup" thinking, we offer the basic diagram below as a guide:


Steps to scale

For those looking for another example of gaining customers in a non-scalable way, have a look at this article (and the additional material below):
"Why I spent hours conducting research for my first clients - before I was paid a dime"

Tip for university entrepreneurs/professors:

If you are going to start a business at university (while you are studying), select your initial market in close proximation such as other university students, people in the community or local businesses. This will allow you to far more easily "do things that don't scale" with early customers than if they are difficult to get to.
For more about our programmes for universities, visit: Mashauri for Universities.


Look out for our next article from the Masters of Scale podcast, coming soon:

"Always raise more money than you need."

You can listen to the podcast by subscribing at Apple iTunes or the Android store; but you can also go to the website at Masters of Scale and listen to the podcasts.


Additional material only for those seeking more in-depth knowledge and cases on doing things that don't scale.
(This material is not part of the podcast.)

Doing things that don't scale - part II

A few years ago, Y Combinator launched an excellent video series on starting startups. In our old Mashauri site, we ran a series of blogs on the series (similar to what we are doing on Reid Hoffman's podcast). One of their videos was on "doing things that don't scale" - so we have reproduced the article (with video) below for those readers who want an even more in-depth look at the topic.


This is an interesting video lecture with 3 different speakers:

> Stanley Tang from DoorDash – a company that undertakes deliveries for small businesses. Stan discusses doing things that do not scale.

> Walker Williams from Teespring, a startup that makes T-shirts for organisations without “risk, cost or compromise” – you can see our previous blog on Teespring at Teespring Case Study. Walker also discusses doing things that do not scale

> Justin Kan, founder at Kiko and, talks about the tactics of getting publicity.


If you are short of time, I would listen to Walker Williams first, then Stanley Tang and finally Justin Kan. Although Justin has some interesting views, most are pretty straightforward and may be less relevant for early founders – but you can skim our notes below and make your own call on what you watch.

Here are my key take-aways from the video lecture:

Stanley Tang: DoorDash

> Get the most minimum “minimum value product” out there – especially if you are not sure if there is a real market (and that goes for most of us).

> Mashauri caution – we recognise that not all products can be entirely basic if that does not allow you to deliver a good customer experience; so work out what really is the minimum for you. The advice in this video though is that your product requirements are probably far more basic than you think.

> Remember that if customers do have to struggle a bit to do what you want them to do, if they still try then it is probably a stronger sign of an underlying, unmet demand.

> Do not worry about automating your product or delivering seamless service at first. Rather use the method of simply doing it yourself. Not only is this cheaper in the short-term, it also prevents you from building things that people do not want. The example is the founders taking calls and making all the deliveries themselves.

> Another big advantage in doing it yourself is you get to understand what is really required before you build the model. It plays to a previous lecture where the advice was to become a real expert in what you are doing.

> Finally, Stanley reminds us that doing it all yourself is a competitive advantage you have against more automated customers. You have the chance to deliver a really tailored service and get instant feedback.

Walker Williams: Teespring

Walker focussed on three areas - we summarise each in turn below:

Finding your first users
Turning those users into champions
Finding product/market fit

Finding your first users

It is really tough to find your first users and there is no silver bullet. It all boils down to the founders spending time and effort. It could be sending hundreds of personal emails, sitting on the phone or trawling events for people to talk to. It is simply a hard slog – but “scrappiness” is what makes good entrepreneurs.

Do not think in terms of ROI when winning these customers – you will spend huge effort for limited numbers in return. Just make sure that you have users who really value your product (if possible, DON’T give it away for free).

You are probably going to be bad at selling, you will not really understand customers pain points and do not even have testimonials or cases to help you. Tough it out. (Or as I overheard a friend saying to his daughter: “suck it up princess”)

It will get easier as you get more users; but certainly for a long time the way that you win new customers will not be a scalable strategy.

Turning your first users into champions

Delight your users with an experience they have never had before and will remember – do whatever it takes to make this happen.

Spend as much time talking to customers as possible – and really listening. Answer all mails and queries yourself. Scan social media to find out what they are saying about you – and if something goes wrong: make it right!

Proactively reach out to those customers who leave. If you cannot get them back, at least you can find out what was wrong and do something to stop others leaving for the same reason

Finding product/market fit

Realise that the product you finally ship is unlikely to look much like the one that takes you up to the point where you think about scaling – so do not get too fussed about perfection. Speed is more important than a clean product.

A rule of thumb is only to worry about the next order of magnitude of customers – so when you have ten users, think about the next 90, not the next 900!

Do things that do not scale for as long as possible – keep talking to users, keep iterating as fast as possible; only give up doing un-scalable things when it is finally “ripped from you”.

Justin Kan: Kiko and

> Be aware of what you are trying to achieve with public relations – that should guide everything from resource spent to the media that you target.

> Remember, outside of achieving specific goals (eg awareness in a certain town among a certain sector), the rest of publicity is just vanity. Something that makes your mother happy.

Justin is a successful entrepreneur and his advice is not bad, but unless you are specifically looking for publicity now, you can probably skip this part of the lecture.



Mastering scale – getting from startup to corporate

Masters of Scale - an introduction

Reid Hoffman - LinkedIn boss


A while ago we produced a series of articles around Y-Combinator's excellent series on how to start a startup. Now I am pleased to say that we are starting a new series based on Reid Hoffman's (co-founder at both PayPal and LinkedIn) new podcast "Masters of Scale.

First acknowledgement to Tim Ferris (4 hour workweek, etc) whose podcast highlighted the series for me - it is well worth listening to Tim's series too.

There are a lot of really rubbishy articles, videos and podcasts that come out of Silicon Valley - many misleading, often overly-hyped and some frankly dangerous to a new founder who might take them to heart. But Reid is clearly different. He has been part of a number of incredibly successful businesses, part of a number of failures and has an eye for angel investing that is almost magical - some of his early investments include Facebook, AirBnB and Flickr. His insights are sharp and he is not afraid to take a contrarian view and so you will generally find his work really interesting. The excellent part of this series is that it takes place through interviews of top entrepreneurs who share their own experiences and wisdom including the likes of Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Eric Schmidt (Google / Alphabet) and Brian Chesky (Air BnB).

The focus of the Masters of Scale series is about scaling i.e. rapidly growing a business where the business model has been tested. However,  there is plenty (maybe 50%) of information around the startup phases as well i.e. where you are searching for and trying to find the business model that works. In Tim Ferris' podcast he briefly goes through all "ten commandments" - listening to this is a useful way of getting an overview. The commandments (and time in Tim's podcast where they appear) are: 

Commandment 1: Expect rejection. [09:14]

Commandment 2: Hire like your life depends on it. It does. [19:26]

Commandment 3: In order to scale, you have to do things that don’t scale. [25:37]

Commandment 4: Raise more money than you think you need — potentially a lot more. [36:18]

Commandment 5: Release your products early enough that they can still embarrass you. Imperfect is perfect. [44:45]

Commandment 6: Decide. Decide. Decide. [1:00:16]

Commandment 7: Be prepared to both make and break plans. [1:03:13]

Commandment 8: Don’t tell your employees how to innovate. [1:07:21]

Commandment 9: To create a winning company culture, make sure every employee owns it. [01:12:32]

Commandment 10: Have grit and stick with your hero’s journey. [1:23:22]

Bonus Commandment 11: Pay it forward. Use the momentum of your own success to move the success of others. [1:26:03]

You can listen to the podcast by subscribing at Apple iTunes or the Android store; but you can also go to the website at Masters of Scale and listen to the podcasts. Finally, for fuller immersion, I recommend the site where they host the series and add some of their own perspectives as well - Entrepreneur Masters of Scale.

I know many of you are time-strapped and would like to get an overview of the episodes before investing your time in listening to them - and so over the next few weeks, we will produce short summaries here to give you episode highlights peppered with our own views. Look out for our next blog:

Masters of Scale Episode 1: “In order to scale you have to do things that don’t scale.”

Note to university professors and faculty heads: Mashauri work hard at ensuring our programmes for students contain the type of material that is encompassed in this series. Not only do we believe that the practical experience we give student entrepreneurs in their courses is essential, we also believe that exposure to true entrepreneurial experts is a critical part of the learning process. For more about our prgrammes for universities, visit: Mashauri for Universities.


Ayudanos “Crowdfund” una novela empresarial: “Elegidos o atrapados”

“Elegidos o atrapados”

Aprende de emprendedor mientras disfruta un novel – y ayuda nuestra colega Isidre March crowdfund su libro.

“Elegidos o atrapados” está ambientado en una original y realista trama de ficción y aporta al lector una visión nueva y crítica sobre los directivos de grandes compañías, los jóvenes emprendedores, el ecosistema de Silicon Valley o la gestión de las start-ups Todo ello explicado por medio de dinámicas conversaciones entre los personajes, buscando una reflexión proactiva en el lector.

Los testimonios recibidos de los lectores de la versión inicial en pdf han sido positivos y resaltan el estilo fresco al tratar temas empresariales de actualidad, los giros inesperados en la trama y la intensidad emocional de los personajes.

Ahora, tras la buena acogida del formato pdf, se ha decidido a publicar “Elegidos o atrapados” en formato libro impreso. Está ya disponible a través de la plataforma de crowfunding verkami:

Verkami es la plataforma de crowfunding lider en España, totalmente fiable y respetada. Las reservas sólo se abonarán por parte de los mecenas si la campaña culmina con éxito. En tal caso, el envío de los libros al domicilio del suscriptor o en mano, lo realizará el autor personalmente en septiembre.

Si te motiva la lectura de ficción y además descubrir planteamientos novedosos sobre temas empresariales de máxima actualidad, participa en la campaña de crowfunding, con distintas opciones de recompensas, desde el libro individual a partir de 12 Euros hasta el pack institucional con el envío de 20 libros, opción ideal para asociaciones empresariales o de apoyo a emprendedores.

Además, si la campaña culmina con éxito, Isidre March lanzará a continuación mi nuevo libro “Emprender en Silicon Valley: mitos y realidades” con todas las claves para desembarcar con opciones en el ecosistema emprendedor líder mundial. Landing

Descubre “Elegidos o atrapados” el thriller empresarial del momento, escrito desde Valencia para todos.