A month or so back I entered myself into a miniature competition at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) to be part of their team of 6 travelling to Bristol to take part in a Annual competition ran by Working Knowledge, known as FLUX500.
Having been chose to represent the University, myself and 5 others travelled to Bristol, the location for this years Flux. Here is a rough account of my experience there.
What is FLUX500?
Well, in Working Knowledge own words:
In a nutshell, teams of six spend 36 hours solving real business problems with experts from some of the UK’s most dynamic companies, judging them in Apprentice meets Dragon’s Den-style pitches and challenges. FLUX is a fantastic, fast-paced and fun and is open to all who would like to challenge themselves and boost their employability skills and meet potential employers.
From someone that has been through it I would only confirm that it is what they say it is. It’s an intense competition not for the fragile business person. The experts do take it seriously, and as team UCLan found out at the end of the first day, if your idea isn’t bulletproof, one of the Experts will pick it apart publicly Alan Sugar/Duncan Bannatyne style. On day One, the groups were split into three streams, with each stream having a winner on day Two who would battle it out for the prize.
What do you get out of it?
Well, not exactly. The winning team is granted £3000 (that’s £500 each) in cold, hard cash, placed in your hands on announcement of you being the winner. Winning the FLUX500 looks a little something like this:
Regardless of win or lose, you take a lot away from the competition. For a start there is the business knowledge. Over the course of the 2 day competition you spend a lot of team developing a business plan, planned out visually using a game known as Xing.
As well as the business planning at the end of day one there is networking with the Experts and other Universities taking part in the competition. This year there was around 35 Universities taking part and senior members of companies mingling in:
On Day 2 the business experts are sent out into the teams for 15 minutes, where the teams have to go and quickly pitch their ideas to try and get tokens, there was a miniature prize of a box of Roses this year for the winning team from each Stream. This was a cut throat experience as time was short, with some teams really taking their time with each of the Experts there was a battle to get your palm into the Experts hand for that winning handshake to get their attention away from other Groups.
That’s all The Apprentice, but where does Dragon’s Den come in?
The Dragon’s den part comes in near the end of day Two. After a series of meeting with experts to get some last minute advice on your idea you have to do a pitch in the style of Dragon’s Den to a panel of Experts, and they take it seriously!
Each member of the panel will be a leading business expert in their field, and will put your business plan under much scrutiny, attacking your finances, your marketing and even the concept itself, probing for a weakness.
Following this while the experts assemble to grade everyone and decide on a winning team from each Stream, everyone is presented a challenge which they have 45 Minutes to prepare, to do another presentation should they be the winning team from their Stream.
This years challenge was to achieve similar results as promised during the first Presentation, but with your budget slashed in half. This time the presentation had to be delivered to all the students as well as four more experts. But this time you had to win over the crowd, not the experts.
Sign In – 1pm
Introduction – 2pm
Business Planning with Xing – 2:30pm
Round Up and Summary of Day Two – 6pm
Networking with Experts and Students – 6:15pm
Introduction to Day 2 – 8:45am
Preparing for Sales Pitching – 9am
Sales Pitching – 9:30am
Sales Winners – 9:45am
Meetings with Experts – 1pm
Prepare for Presentation – 2pm
Stream Presentations – 3pm
Final Challenge Preparation – 4:30pm
Stream Winners Announced – 5:15pm
Final Challenge – 5:30pm
Vote for Winner – 6:00pm
Winners Announced – 6:30pm
Afterparty/Networking – 8:00pm
Did you go? Would you like to? Let me know!
Leave a comment below and let me know about your FLUX500 experience, or if you would like to attend next year. A BIG congratulations to this years winners the University of the West of England (UWE).
Firstly, I would like to say thank you to James Lott and the Working knowledge team, as well as the various Experts from Experian and all the other companies that took part.
I would also like to thank Anthony Camm of ACC Media who was the “Champion” AKA Chaperone for the UCLan team and kept us working in a team when times got tough and made sure we were out of bed for the competition each morning (in theory).
Lastly I would just like to say a big thanks to the rest of the UCLan Team, Tony, Stacey, Amy and the two Emma’s, we may not have won this time but I think we all learned a lot from it, and hopefully some of us will be back next year to lay hands on the cash!