The smart way to map out your business model

The business model canvas — as opposed to the traditional, intricate business plan — helps budding businesses and established organisations alike. It allows you to conduct structured, tangible, and strategic conversations around new businesses or existing ones. Leading global companies like GE, Nestlé or Lego use the canvas to manage strategy or create new growth engines, while start-ups use it in their search for the right business model.

In fact, some insiders point out to the canvas as the key to Lego’s great turnaround story. Facing bankruptcy a few years ago, the company had to reinvent themselves and re-position their brand. The canvas allowed them to smartly map out the key challenges and helped come up with direct solutions, such as streamlining the manufacturing process and adapting the kits to the modern times.

The canvas’s main objective is to help companies move beyond product-centric thinking and towards business model thinking.
It is also increasingly popular in competitions, such as the upcoming 2017 Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards. (Keep an eye out on this blog to find out more soon!)

In summary, the canvas is incredibly useful because it lets you look at all nine building blocks of your business on one page. Here’s a sleek little video explaining it in more detail:


Push yourself to the limits at the Elevator Challenge

Hello again!

Our friends over at Elevator have just launched the applications for this year’s Elevator Challenge, which will take place between the 16th and the 18th of June. This weekend residential will test your team building and leadership skills and developed through participation in physical and mental activities. You’ll be tasked with problem-solving and idea development – using your communication skills and initiative to motivate yourself and team members through demanding and unfamiliar situations.
The aim is to get out of your comfort zone – as you often will be in business.

Setting up and developing a start-up often involves hurdles which you’ve never jumped before. It is, in a way, a leap into the unknown and comfort-zone-stretching can certainly help you build confidence and resilience.

What’s more, this residential is completely FREE to participate in. It is funded entirely by Elevator, including transport from Aberdeen to the outdoor centre in Aberfoyle, Trossachs.

Are you ready for a weekend of raft-building, abseiling, orienteering and pushing your boundaries in a friendly, supportive environment of like-minded individuals? Are you looking forward to the extensive programme of pitching workshops and mentoring sessions to develop your business skills and ideas?
If so, don’t delay and give the Elevator Challenge a go. Apply HERE now.

Aberdeen entrepreneurs’ success in Converge Challenge

Converge Challenge isconverge-challenge-484x289-484x289 a pan-Scotland company development competition and start-up development programme that brings together the most ambitious, innovative and groundbreaking ideas from students, university staff and recent university graduates.

Four University of Aberdeen business ideas were shortlisted for last year’s competition, which is undoubtedly a big success. Two university academics  have been named among the Top 10 finals in Converge Challenge, and two of our social entrepreneurs made it into the Top 5 in the Social Enterprise category:

– Recent law graduate, Erika Grant, with Project TurnKey CIC – promoting social integration.

“Project TurnKey aims to empower people with the confidence to see a life beyond prostitution as achievable. My team of law students and I do this though an ’empowerment programme’ targeting the main barriers that they face. These are; a lack of legal knowledge, limited (if any) previous work experience, and low self-esteem. Through our network of partners we are also able to secure specialist support, training, work experience, or employment for individuals upon their completion of our course.”

– Dr Fiona McIntyre, Greyhope Bay Ltd., promoting eco-tourism in Aberdeen.

“Greyhope Bay Ltd has bold plans to deliver a new, world class visitor and marine education centre for Aberdeen, creating a unique platform to view the city’s most charismatic visitors – dolphins! Dolphins are regularly spotted at the site we have identified making it one of the best places in Europe to see dolphins from the shore. Built at Greyhope Bay, the centre will be transformative for Aberdeen, a signature project acting as a catalyst to establish the city as an international tourist destination promoting its unique coastal location, exciting marine wildlife and status as an international hub for marine research.”

Erika Grant snapped up the £5,000 prize in the Social Enterprise category which helped her with developing her business and widening outreach. We at ABVenture Zone are extremely proud of her hard work and success!

Yesterday we hosted a Converge Challenge information session, lead by Veronica Ferguson – the competition’s Enterprise Outreach Manager. She gave a very engaging and inspiring talk which was well-attended by our incubator occupants.

So why enter Converge Challenge this year? There are numerous reasons. Among them are:

– £150,000+ prize package – mix of cash and business support
– Hands-on mentoring
– Access to fantastic networking opportunities
– Financial planning & IP advice
– Opportunity to enhance your pitching skills
– Free access to business training throughout the process
– Market research
– Building your confidence & business skills
– Constructive feedback all along the way

There are three categories: Converge Challenge (for big, developed ideas), KickStart (for early-stage ideas) and Social Enterprise (for start-up ideas with a social / environmental mission).

Dr Olga Kozlova, Director of Converge Challenge said:

“Converge Challenge is becoming a vital opportunity for start-ups to engage with and it’s not only good for them, it’s good for Scotland’s economy. Over 80% of Converge Challenge companies go on to secure follow-on funding with alumni having secured over £34 million of funding and employing over 150 staff since 2011.”

Applying for competitions surely is time-consuming and can, at times, be a daunting process. However, there is a whole host of benefits of applying and it’s a great way of elevating your idea onto a next level, while gaining feedback and advice along the way. With the comprehensive support available from ABVenture Zone, Enterprise Campus, SIE and other organisations, it is certainly worth a shot!

We look forward to the opening of applications on February 7th and we hope to build on last year’s successes. Aberdeen has a robust and exciting base of start-ups, and who knows, perhaps ABVenture Zone is nurturing the next Converge Challenge winner?

Click HERE to access useful advice and sample application documents for the competition.

Deutsche Bank Awards for Creative Enterprise

DBACE Poster 2017

The Deutsche Bank Awards for Creative Enterprise (DBACE) is an awards programme for final year undergraduate/postgraduate creative students and first year graduates, providing financial and business support to help launch creative careers.

The programme is now in its 25th year, and since 1993 it has supported the launch of over 200 ventures.

In 2017, five winners of five categories (Art & Photography, Craft & Design, Film, Performance and Music) will each win £10,000. All winners and shortlisted applicants will also receive two days of intensive small business training. Winners will also benefit from a business mentor to support them through the process of getting their ideas off the ground.

Applications for DBACE 2017 are now open, and close at midnight on Sunday March 12, 2017. Apply online here.

Here‘s a useful guide to writing a DBACE plan. It includes tips from judges and previous winners, and while there is no standard format for a DBACE plan, there are certain elements that judges like to see covered.

Andy Murray invites digital health innovations from Scots teens


Andy Murray and the Digital Health & Care Institute (DHI) have together launched the first #TeenTechChallenge, which is seeking to find life-changing inventions in digital health and care from Scotland’s most creative and innovative young minds. The new annual challenge is inviting teenagers from Scottish secondary schools, further education colleges and youth groups to develop ideas that will help young people manage their health, fitness and wellbeing, using technology.

The initiative is a keystone of the five-year partnership between DHI and Andy Murray, who was named DHI’s ambassador earlier last year. The new challenge represents Murray’s personal ambition to promote healthier lifestyles amongst Scotland’s younger generations as well as skills development and career opportunities in this emerging market.

Groups of teenagers will compete for the chance to see their invention become reality, as well as an impressive prize package and recognition for their school, college or youth group.

Andy Murray said:

“As a professional tennis player, I use digital health technology every day to monitor my performance and inform my training regime. But digital health technology is not just for athletes. It has the potential to help everyone understand their health needs and goals better, and to make better choices.

 “By taking part in the #TeenTechChallenge, we want young people to use their experiences, creativity and digital skills to develop one big idea that can make a difference.”

All shortlisted teams will be invited to attend the #TeenTechBootcamp where they will develop entrepreneurial skills by attending a series of master classes hosted by industry experts, as well as prepare a professional pitch for their idea, which they will present to a panel of expert judges. The winner will be announced in November.

The successful team will then see their design developed into a prototype and evaluated through DHI’s own innovation processes. Support will also be sought from Scottish SMEs and investors with a view to commercialising the successful solution. The prize package includes Apple Watches for all shortlisted entries plus iPads and £2,000 funding for the winning school, college or group.

Dave Clark, CEO at DHI, said:

“Andy’s hard work and dedication is an inspiration to us all in achieving our goals. His support of our aims and personal interest in digital heath and care has allowed us to develop this unique challenge that will provide a chance for the next generation of innovators in Scotland to show off their talents. Scotland, among many other countries, faces major health and care challenges but the opportunity is there to create new solutions that will improve life quality and help Scotland compete in this important and growing economic sector.

Alison McLaughlin, Regional Director at Sopra Steria, sponsor for the #TeenTechChallenge added:

“We’re delighted to be sponsoring this fantastic challenge. Digital innovation that makes a difference is at the heart of what we do and this project aims to do just that.  We’re also excited about the opportunity it presents to encourage Scotland’s teenagers to get involved in the digital world, build their entrepreneurial skills and perhaps even consider a future career in the technology industry.”

The Digital Health & Care Institute brings together people and organisations in the public, charity, technology, design and academic sectors to develop new ideas for digital technology that will improve health and care services in Scotland. Its ambition is to address citizen needs, health and care challenges in Scotland and support companies to export proven technologies internationally, creating jobs and investment locally and abroad together with skills development.

DHI’s project portfolio is worth over £5million and includes over 100 projects engaging more than 50 companies, 15 of Scotland’s Universities and 25 third sector organisations.

Andy Murray is well known for his use of technology and data to improve his performance on court and has stated that maintaining his own health throughout the long tennis season has played an instrumental part in his road to number one status.

The #TeenTechChallenge, in association with Andy Murray and the Digital Health and Care Institute is sponsored by a European leader in digital transformation, Sopra Steria, and supported by the following organisations: Aberlour Childcare Trust, Entrepreneurial Scotland, GameChanger, Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Institute for Enterprise, Skills Development Scotland, Young Enterprise Scotland and Young Scot.

For more information and instructions on how to enter visit:

What’s Your ABVenture? // 2) Hamish Blythe, Twigd

‘What’s Your ABVenture?’ is our new series of podcasts in which we interview some of the most exciting start-ups in Aberdeen and discuss all things enterprise.

The second episode features Hamish Blythe, the founder of Twigd – an innovative, student-focused mobile network which allows you to ‘free yourself’ from recurring monthly bills. Hamish has been very busy with gathering feedback, consulting students and negotiating with local businesses to obtain discounts, which form the backbone of Twigd.
Tune in and you’ll hear a lot more about the journey and the destination which Twigd are aiming towards.


If you actually stand up and get out the door and start doing it, then it can only go well.

We talk about inspirations, travels, we find out where the name Twigd originates from and we get loads of useful first-hand advice from Hamish.
We even feature Hamish’s favourite song at the moment and a musical interlude by Oh Wonder, an exciting indie-pop duo from London.

Have plenty of ideas but are hesitant to turn them into an enterprise? We at ABVenture Zone are well placed to give you support and guide you forward. Go to to find out more.

What’s Your ABVenture? // 1) Nicole Blyth, RelocateGuru

‘What’s Your ABVenture?’ is our new series of podcasts in which we interview some of the most exciting start-ups in Aberdeen and discuss all things enterprise.
The inaugural episode features Nicole Blyth, the founder of RelocateGuru – a vibrant social media platform which helps you ‘feel like a local before you move’.

We talk about how technology can foster a community spirit, how student entrepreneurs can get support, and why Gandhi can be an inspiration for business.


‘Just do it, there’s never going to be a better time to go for your dreams. Think about what you can today to help you where you want to be tomorrow.’

Have plenty of ideas but are hesitant to turn them into an enterprise? We at ABVenture Zone are well placed to give you support and guide you forward. Go to to find out more.