March 3, 2015


Every year I run a project called Fantasy Publishing Venture at Bath Spa University, in which teams of students have to conceptualise, brand and pitch a new business idea for the publishing industry to a panel for potential investment, in a spoof Dragon’s Den scenario.

The project encourages a broad range of skills for the teams, including product development, collaborative working, project management, design, branding, presentation skills and even some wordpress. No small task in just 4 weeks..

This year was impressive. Monday 23rd February was the date for the teams to present to the panel: Katharine Reeve, Subject Leader, and Tutors Neil Baber, Gemma Matthews and Gavin Wilshen. Also as part of the project, we were privileged to be able to have sessions on Product Management by Storm Fagan (Future plc), Budgeting by Amber Cottrell (LexisNexis UK), and wire framing by in-house tutors Gemma and Gavin.

The seven groups were: BOOKISH EMPORIUM (luxury book boxes to your door), BOOKED (literary travel agency), STORYBOOTH (wedding booth in which you write a fictional story for the happy couple), WHITE RABBIT RIDDLES (underground marketing for emerging authors based on cryptography and codebreaking), SMARTMARK (electronic bookmark and reading aid for kids), NICHEVIEW (app for niche restaurants, bars and galleries in Bath and Bristol), and FRESH (student cookbook solution for undergraduates).

The ideas from everyone were really original, and the best of the four years we’ve run the project. They really did produce responses that were viable in the real world, and as such a testament to the skills base that Bath Spa encourage in their students. Particularly noteworthy for me personally were BOOKED and WHITE RABBIT RIDDLES, but the overall winner was FRESH.

The FRESH group, in their matching t-shirts and bribing the audience was fantastic chocolate brownies, presented their idea brilliantly and energetically. The concept was simple: a stackable box marketed to first year students and their parents, which contained all the utensils and a cookbook needed for the student to gain basic cooking ability when they leave home. The more the student cooks, the more boxes they’re able to buy and gain further skill in sub-categories of cooking like baking, vegetarian dishes, the list goes on.

Their presentation included a mock cook book, measuring bowl, web page designs and consideration for how the product could be developed creating a community and following for the brand, all extremely well designed in the best all-round response to the Publishing Venture brief.

Watch out for FRESH in your local John Lewis, you never know…

Many thanks for the students for having me, and to Katharine Reeve as ever.


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