It seems to be a week of awards. Sadly not ones that I am personally winning but they are ones I have been attending nonetheless. Having said this, Friday saw me come pretty close to picking up the coveted Veterinary Marketing Association award for Young Marketer of the Year 2011, which was sponsored by British Dairying. This award was open to young (under 30 years of age – just snuck in there then) professionals within the animal health sector who have demonstrably shown promise in the field of marketing over the past twelve months. Each contender was nominated by their line manager, or otherwise, with Penny Evans of Moor Cottage Veterinary Hospital very kindly putting me forward. The winner was decided following an interview yesterday morning, right before the annual awards ceremony itself. As you may have guess, I did not end up walking away with the top prize, although did receive a rather snazzy certificate as a Highly Commended Runner-Up. The top prize went to the very deserving Jemima Scott, Vetmedin Brand Manager at Boehringer Ingelheim, who I daresay I wasn’t anywhere close to being a true competitor to. A deserving winner indeed.
The awards themselves were fantastic! Held at the Globe Theatre in London in the exhibition area beneath the theatre, the scene was one of mesmerising and magical light, with a truly Shakespearean feel to the entire room. They even had a tree in the middle of the banqueting area! A tree I tell you! How can that ever NOT be epic?! I had the very good fortune of spending the afternoon with some very fun and interesting people and got to see a side of the animal healthcare industry that very few in practice ever get to. The clear winners of the afternoon, other than Jemima, were Boehringer Ingelheim, who walked away with no less than 9 awards. They were certainly the runaway winners and the head of their advertising agency who, from where I was sitting, bore a remarkably uncanny resemblance to Robert DeNiro, ended up spending more time posing on the stage and brandishing polished marble than he did sat at his table. I think at one point it was suggested that his table actually be moved up there to save him the walk!
Now, I like my food and have had experiences of balls and other such events before, with the general experience being one of being underwhelmed by the catering. Not so yesterday. I think I can safely say that the medieval feast put on by the team at The Globe was by far and away THE best meal I have had at such an event and if I were ever to stage an event then I would definately be considering picking up the phone to the organisers and booking the same venue.
Here’s to the work of the Vet Marketing Association and the professionals who keep us entertained, informed and generally aware and abreast of the latest products and innovations in the animal healthcare sector. Roll on next year. I for one very much hope to be there.
I love entrepreneurism and there is one society that really seems to embody all that is exciting and fun about seeking new ideas and opportunities, and that is the Oxford Entrepreneurs. Each year they hold their famous TATA Idea Idol competition for new business ideas and each year the entries simply get better and better and better. This year was no exception.
The format is basically the following:
- Stage 1: Hopeful future business tycoons submit a short description of their business idea for initial consideration by the board.
- Stage 2: Those fortunate enough to be selected are taken through to the semi-final, of which there were 40 this year, whittled down from over 200 initial entries. I am proud to say that the apps (Mucky Pup & Purrfect Paws) were among the semi-finalists this year, something I am personally hugely proud of. Following an afternoon training session on writing a great Executive Summary (1-2 page summary of the business plan), we had one week to complete and submit our summary.
- Stage 3: Just six business ideas make it through to the final, with the lucky six receiving further training in pitching their business ideas before the big night of the final itself.
- The Final: Each team, or rather one individual from the team, has just 2 minutes to present their business idea to the packed lecture theatre in the Said Business School (Oxford) and then 5 minutes of grilling by seasoned business experts and entrepreneurs who make up the judging panel. This year’s judges were Melody Hossaini (CEO of InspirEngage International and The Apprentice fame), Gary Frank (CEO of The Fabulous Bakin’ Boys), Will Chadwick (VP of Tata Interactive Systems), and Leo Johnson (Co-founder of Sustainable Finance Ltd).
The pitches were amazing and the business ideas presented exceptional. The six companies vying for the grand prize were, in no particular order:
- Rehabox – a personalised service to manage prescribed movement rehabilitation exercises for many conditions, including back pain, osteoporosis, injuries and following strokes.
- Oxford NanoSystems – a novel re-design of heat exchange systems found in boilers.
- BaNaPads – a social enterprise, initially focused in Uganda, providing locally manufactured female sanitary pads made from banana pseudo stems, an abundant organic waste, and a significantly more cost-effective material for pad manufacture.
- InVision – software that recognises hidden emotions by detecting facial micro-expressions with video technology.
- Medopad – a mobile health start-up providing hospital doctors with secure real-time access to patient data, images and lab results via iPads.
- FoetoH – provides home-based monitoring for babies before birth.
The ultimate winner was judged to be FoetoH and the team, led by Dr Michelle Fernandes, won the grand prize of £10,000.
It is rare that something crops up on Twitter that makes you sit up and say “Hey! That is truly awesome!” Today, however, was one of those days. I was casually flicking through my Twitter feed glossing over the usual fare of celeb announcements and product plugs when lo-and-behold this cracking story made itself known… True genius on an epic scale!
Nat Morris, an IT consultant and dog owner from Wales, put his technology skills to legendary use by rigging up a fun system that provides his Border Terrier, Toby, with a treat every time a message is tweeted to @FeedToby. The system, which incorporates a mini-computer, that receives the tweets and drives the funky device, sounds a buzzer to alert Toby of the imminent arrival of a tasty snack, and a camera that snaps a pic of Toby and tweets it back to Nat so that he can see that Toby has eaten the food. There are, however, self-imposed limits on the system to prevent Toby get overfed as a result of being the recipient of loads of well-meaning tweets!
The full story can be viewed here.
Okay, so part of me sort of feels like I have been had whilst another part of me actually feels like my recent purchase is pretty cool. What is it? Well, I will start by saying that it is something to be used with the iPad – which I actually love, by the way – and is a very simple peripheral but one I had actually been looking for and then chanced upon it at a local branch of Curry’s.
So, my new toy is a Wacom Bamboo Stylus. A what?! It is basically a ‘pen’ with a specially designed spongy, soft tip where the nib would be on a normal pen, and is intended primarily to be used with their free app ‘Bamboo Paper.’ The app itself is a simple notebook app but the pen makes it feel so realistic that for someone who loves jotting notes, or doodling crazy designs etc it’s great to have a digital equivalent to real paper. The main reason I was even looking for a pen, however, was that I wanted something to use with another app I have (Sketchbook), which is an art app and which I couldn’t help feel like a five year old child finger-painting whilst using it.
Anyway, needless to say I am looking forward to getting creative with the new pen and posting more nerdy designs right here. Watch this space 🙂