The group met The Princess Royal during celebrations to mark 100 years of Business Education at the University of Edinburgh. The meeting came just four months after they decided to create the first scratch-off map of Edinburgh to raise money for charity. Giselle Gonzales, one of the group's leaders, couldn't believe they were given such a rare opportunity:
"We were already extremely proud of what we'd achieved but being asked to present our work to a member of the British Royal Family made it extra special."
Designed in collaboration with recent Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) graduate and illustrator, Ellie Walker, ScratchEd Maps feature famous landmarks, lesser-known local attractions and some fun facts about the city. The project is part of Dragon's Glen, a Scotland-wide challenge pioneered by charity Children 1st. It asks aspiring entrepreneurs to put their startup skills to the test to turn a £500 investment into a £5,000 profit to support vulnerable children. Find out more and show your support at the ScratchEd Maps site.
Sales of the maps recovered the team's £500 initial investment in less than 48 hours after they were released in December 2018. The ScratchEd Maps team has since gone on to raise more than £2,500 but the process has been a steep learning curve. Seattle-raised Giselle (24) spent four years as an Adventure Guide and Expedition Leader in the international travel industry before joining the MSc E&I Programme:
"We all had different professional experience, from corporate finance to engineering and sustainable tourism, but none of us had developed a project before. We were sure a scratch-off map that tapped into Edinburgh's status as a vibrant destination for international visitors was a good idea. We believed we could make it work, but it was difficult to know where to start."
The team applied classroom learning to their real business challenges. Fellow American Mally Smith (32) ran a successful yoga and mindfulness business and a juice bar in her native Boston before joining the programme. She worked with Giselle to steer the project through these early stages:
"It was a very focused and intense learning experience. Suddenly we had to create a business plan, find suppliers, and convince vendors to sell them. We had a particularly vivid moment of inspiration during one Managing Innovation in Context Class. As soon as the break came we ran into the hall to get our lecturer Dr Raluca Bunduchi's feedback on our early prototype."
The group also drew on the Business School and wider University's community to find collaborators, explains Mally:
"Finding an illustrator was a complete stroke of luck. Standing in line at international student registration, I got talking to an ECA student about the project and she suggested we get in touch with her friend Ellie. One look at her website and we fell in love with her style. One of our dragon business mentors also introduced us to Cavid Nadirov, who runs the online independent tour guide marketplace, GetGuided. As a Business School graduate, he was really happy to help and gave us some local tips and a quiz we could use on the back of the maps."
The Dragon's Glen experience has really inspired us, and we're now looking at how we can give ScratchEd Maps a life beyond the competition.
Local retailers John Kay's Shop and Blackwells agreed to sell the maps and donate all of the proceeds to Children 1st. Team ScratchEd Maps also partnered with online web-development platform, Wix, which donated one of its VIP e-commerce websites to the project.
With nine people to coordinate, Giselle and Mally learned some valuable leadership lessons:
"Many hands make light work, but the size of our group also gave us an opportunity to learn what motivates and inspires different people, how to build consensus and work with individuals from really diverse backgrounds. The Dragon's Glen experience has really inspired us, and we're now looking at how we can give ScratchEd Maps a life beyond the competition."
The group is planning a series of events including a charity bake sale and yoga breakfast fundraiser, in their final push to meet the £5,000 target ahead of the competition's end in March 2019.