When John and Zuzi Morgan decided to pursue their dream of opening Thirsty Meeples, the UK’s first board game café in Oxford, getting to grips with marketing featured prominently on the to do list. Hiring Games Gurus and baristas was a priority, but hiring a marketing manager was simply unrealistic. Keeping start-up costs low was a key factor in inviting marketing mentor Flo van Diemen van Thor to support the business in the run-up to the launch of the café.
Working side-by-side, John and Flo discussed priorities, desired outcomes, the tone and spirit of marketing activities and of course the budget. They then came up with several ideas, one of which was to approach a local Further Education college and engage business students in the design of the launch campaign for the new café.A detailed marketing brief was produced and sent to the students, who pitched their creative ideas to John, Flo and their tutors a few weeks later. This approach satisfied several needs for John and Zuzi’s new business:
- testing their business model with one of their three key audiences, young people
- sharing the ‘creative burden’ of designing a campaign with an exceptionally talented cohort of students
- being an active part of the Oxford community
Having the satisfaction of knowing they were giving young people an opportunity to work on a real, live marketing project and collaborating with a local college fitted John and Zuzi’s philosophy perfectly. At the same time, the students’ creative ideas and enthusiasm for the café provided a very welcome boost in confidence during the start-up phase.
Thirsty Meeples opened in July 2013 and ranked #28 out of 482 restaurants in Oxford by March 2014.
Orca Massage Therapy
Swedish-born Josephine Horn set up her independent massage therapy practice in early 2014. Having experienced the aches and pains of pregnancy twice herself, Jo - as she is known - decided to specialise in pregnancy massage, helping new mothers remain fit and healthy and baby massage.
To set up on her own, Jo made the daunting decision to leave the job she had had for several years and return to her first passion: Swedish Massage. Handing in your notice to start a business very often means having to do everything yourself, from researching the market to fixing IT problems!
"These mentoring sessions have been extremely valuable for me as I have been going through the process of starting up my own business. It has been immensely useful to have these opportunities to have a chat and bounce ideas off on someone who is unbiased and to get some tips and suggestions on different aspects of my business."