November 30, 2017, by The Ingenuity Lab

Ingenuity18 Tips: Turning your idea into a Business

Emma Hartley is a University of Nottingham Alumna, and last year’s winner of the Ingenuity17 Sainsbury Management Fellow Prize. Since graduating in 2015, Emma has worked hard to develop Pulse AED – an affordable and high-quality defibrillator that is experiencing incredible success for an early-stage start-up.

I never saw myself becoming an entrepreneur. 

Scrolling through Instagram, I saw one of those “motivational” quotes that for once actually inspired me rather than making me roll my eyes.

“Dare to dream, but please also do. Because dreamers are many, but doers are few”.

I had been sitting on my great idea for over a year at this point. A product that would solve a problem that I was really passionate about and may save someone’s life. But I had this mentality of, “I don’t have a business degree. I have no idea what I’m doing.” (disclaimer: I still think that quite a lot).

But deciding to do something about it by applying for Ingenuity17 was the best decision I ever made. The tips that follow are the best lessons that I’ve learned over the past year of transforming my idea into a business that is experiencing incredible success for an early-stage start-up.


A good business idea is one that solves a problem. Validate your business idea early on, and make sure it’s a problem worth solving. Your success is largely determined by your mentality and determination. When things get hard, if you don’t have the passion and motivation, you’re not going to be able to stick with it. But if you can see how your business is going to change the world, it gives you a reason to keep going.


Are you prepared to step outside your comfort zone? Learn new things every day? Deal with set-backs and obstacles? Work more hours than you ever knew existed in a week? Of course you are – it will all be worth it. Take small steps and be consistent.


You can’t make your five-year vision happen tomorrow. Focus on setting and achieving small, incremental goals – by breaking it down into smaller chunks, it becomes more realistic. Bullet journaling is a great way to spend 10 minutes every morning setting yourself specific and measurable tasks for the day.


Every successful entrepreneur has made a ton of mistakes. Don’t be afraid to ask, “What would you have done differently?” Gain as much insight as possible from people who have been there.

A great podcast is “How I Built This” – in each episode, famous entrepreneurs tell their story, and talk about their triumphs, failures and insight – learn from it.


A good idea is great. But without the right people to help execute your idea, you won’t get anywhere. Get a good mentor. One who you can ask daft questions to, and who will encourage you. Spend time in the Ingenuity Lab if you’re a member – being around other ambitious entrepreneurs is contagious. The age-old quote of “It’s all about who you know” has never rang so true. Grab every networking opportunity with both hands. Perfect your elevator pitch. You never know who you might meet.


Be passionate about solving the problem – not the solution. When obstacles come up you can sit back and look at the bigger picture – what other angles can you tackle the problem from? How can your idea be tweaked to get over that hurdle? Your entrepreneurial journey is not linear. You will come across problems big and small. It’s going to require you to be flexible, change things, and try, try, try again. So learn to adapt, and enjoy the journey.


– Emma Hartley, Director, Pulse AED


If you would like to find out more about Ingenuity18, please visit, or come along to one of the Ingenuity18 Taster Sessions, happening at your local campus.

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