Skip to content

Eclectic Eccentric Posts

Main London Universities

London is a world-class city with a history that goes back 2,000 years. It also has some of the oldest universities in the world, and some of the most prestigious as well. So, what are the top universities in London? There are several, but these are some of the best. They offer a wide range of courses, perfect for anyone who is looking to expand their knowledge with a post-secondary education.

University College London

Usually ranked in the top 10 universities in the entire world, including as high as fourth, this university is incredibly popular with international students who make up 33 per cent of the body of students.

The UCL university offers 10 faculties, and its campuses and teaching hospitals are located right in the middle of central London. Easily one of the best universities to enroll in.

Imperial College London

Another university that often ranks high in the QS World University Rankings, Imperial College placed fifth in 2014, this science-focused institution puts extra importance on laboratory work to go with the excellent research and teaching that can be found at the school.

International students make up about 33 per cent of the student population, and it is located near the centre of London, close to Hyde Park, Royal Albert Hall, Harrods and some of the best museums in the entire city.

London School of Economics and Political Science

The UK’s only university that specializes in social sciences. Ranking 68th in the world, it does much better in subject rankings and it is seen as a world-leading university in subjects such as politics, sociology, accounting and law. Students from over 150 countries come to this school to learn from their extremely qualified instructors.

King’s College London

Ranking 19th in the world, this college is a leader in academics and scholarship opportunities. It has five London campuses, with four sitting on the banks of the Thames, right near the middle of London. This university excels in a number of subjects.

Queen Mary, University of London

Offering teaching and research in several subjects including medicine and dentistry, 10 per cent of the students are from other EU countries, and 30 per cent come from elsewhere in the world. It is located near several important landmarks and it is an important university within London in a number of subjects.

Royal Holloway University of London

Considered to be one of the most beautiful universities in the world, it is a global university with 100 students coming from other countries, offering a wide variety of degrees and courses in a number of areas including arts, humanities, social sciences, economics, management and science. It is located about an hour away from central London via public transit.

City University London

Located within the historic financial and commercial district of London, it offers many different classes and features some world-renown universities including the Sir John Cass Business School, the School of Health Sciences and City Law School. A total of 17,000 students are enrolled here, with 16 per cent coming from elsewhere in the European Union and 28 per cent coming from elsewhere in the world.

Brunel University

Named after Kingdom Brunel, one of the greatest players in engineering in history, it is one of the top engineering and design schools in the entire world. In the eighteenth century visionary Kingdom Brunel took a number of gambles with innovative engineering designs and this often paid off with projects such as tunnels and bridges.

Brunel University offers several other courses as well, including business, law, information systems, sport and health sciences. It has 15,000 students, many of whom come from over 100 other countries in the world. It is located in West London, about an hour away from the city center via public transit.

Birkbeck College University of London

This is the only university in London that allows students to complete full three-year degrees through evening courses, while providing all the benefits of daytime study. Located in the Bloomsbury area, students are able to complete a day’s work before they attend class. Birkbeck teaches many different students ranging in ages and abilities. The average age of students is 34, and students come from 100 other countries to enrol.

University of East London

Tracing its roots back to 1892, this university offers classes in psychology, arts and digital industries, bioscience, law, business, engineering and much more. With three campuses, it boasts 28,000 students coming from 120 countries around the world.

University of Greenwich

Established in 1890, the subjects taught here range from architecture and business, to humanities and natural sciences. There is a strong research focus at the university, with well-established links to the scientific community. It features a total of three campuses, with 27,723 students attending.

1 Comment

Lessons from Shark Tank: Stupid Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make

shark tankShark Tank as is common knowledge is a TV show where inventors try to promote their product to potential investors in front of a live TV audience. While most of us will never pitch to investors on television, the pressure we feel in the investment “shark tank” can feel just as intense.

While some entrepreneurs can get things off the ground without investors, many can’t. They need to persuade investors to take them seriously in order to get their endeavor going. Unfortunately, all too often, stupid mistakes prevent that from happening.

Let’s look at 3 mistakes wannabe entrepreneurs made while presenting their case to the investors, and how you can avoid making these with the judicious use of common sense, paperwork, tools and partners.

1. Have Clear Plans (and Present Them Clearly)

During episode 24 of season 4, a stuntman named James LaVitola, along with his friend Brian Pitt, pitched the Shark Tank investors on a movie they had planned, called Track Days. They were asking for just $5 million: not much at all as far as movies go, really.

They didn’t get very far either.

In fact, they set a record nobody would ever want to have: the fastest “I’m out,” ever. Mark Cuban simply couldn’t convince himself to put up any cash for the movie.


Simple. James and Brian had barely introduced themselves before it became clear that the “movie” had no script, no producer, and no actors signed. With nothing more than stuntman James to bring any kind of expertise to the table, the Sharks had absolutely no reason to open up their wallets for a single dollar.

The logic behind their pitch was laughable. James and Brian were asking for $5 million so that they could get the talent they would need in order to get a good script and actors involved to make the movie.

Here’s the thing: James and Brian probably didn’t need to be filmmakers or have a script in hand in order to get money from investors. All they needed was a clear plan. Even if it’s all for fun, sticking to the basics helps give direction and legitimacy to the project (all the more because of the investment involved).

For example, they could have:

  • Spoken with several screenwriters who had written profitable movies in the past.
  • Got in touch with independent directors who had directed at least one profitable movie.
  • Contacted several independent actors who had played parts in profitable movies.
  • Spoken with a producer who could get involved and who could estimate the cost of the special effects, equipment, taxes, and other unexpected costs.
  • Negotiate signed payment agreements with the parties discussed above.
  • Add another 50% or so for good measure.
  • Design an in-depth project plan using a multi-device collaboration app like WorkZone or Asana that all parties involved can actively put to use until project completion.

Then they could have approached the Sharks with a clear plan regarding what the money was going to be used for, who it was going to, and why the talent that they had on the books was going to turn a profit.

These lessons aren’t limited to Shark Tank. They’re valuable insights that you can carry with you when you approach investors, talk to banks, or even launch a crowdfunding initiative on a platform like Kickstarter.

As the entrepreneur, you don’t necessarily need to be the “product expert” or have a specific skill relevant to the product you’re producing. In fact, sometimes product experts make the worst entrepreneurs.

What you do need to have is a clear plan and proven talent. When you ask for money, you need to be extremely unambiguous about what it’s going to be used for, preferably with written agreements backing up where the money is going to be spent, and a track record of profitability.

2. If You Are the Product Expert, Find a Business Expert

This lesson doesn’t necessarily apply to everybody, but the uncomfortable truth is that most product experts are not business experts, and haven’t learned the skills to lead a team, market a product, talk to investors, or turn a profit. And while you certainly can learn those skills, it’s generally not worth the effort.

The division of labor is the hallmark of capitalism’s success, allowing us to focus our efforts on the skills we’re good at, and contract out the ones we aren’t so great with.

This is a lesson that Donna McCue of “Fat Ass Fudge” could have used when she went on Shark Tank.

Donna is a former comedian who has been making gluten-free fudge based on her grandmother’s recipe since 2008. She’s had experience making it in several restaurant kitchens in her area. Made with organic goat’s milk and butter, the fudge is a good choice for people with both gluten and lactose intolerances, and those who have a preference for organic foods.

She’s also been selling the fudge from her “Fudgemobile” as well as online, and she seems to be making a profit.

But when she asked the Sharks for $250k in order to get a 5% share in Fat Ass Fudge, she fell flat on her face.


The Sharks loved her fudge, it was apparent that she is making a good product; it was obvious that it had a market, and with $60,000 in sales, she was profitable. Why would the investors turn her down?

Her personality was just a little bit too colorful.

Donna’s background as a comedian shines through during her presentation in front of the Sharks. The Sharks liked Donna. Mark Cuban was the last to say he was out, and said he felt she would probably do fine without his investment. But, at the end of the day, the investors simply weren’t willing to trust their money with somebody who had so little business experience, and such an outrageous, if enjoyable, personality.

Her appearance on the show has helped business, and as Cuban said, she probably will do just fine. But if she ever wants to scale, she’s going to need to partner up with somebody who isn’t a product expert. Somebody who can talk to investors, market a product, and grow a business.

3. Patent Your Tech (and Have Some Humility)

Ben Wood pitched his apparel company called Viewsport to the Sharks during Season 3. His company sells shirts with sweat-activated technology. When the wearer sweats in the shirt, a motivational saying like “No one has ever drowned in their own sweat” appears on the shirt.

While Barbara Corcoran found the idea of the shirt disgusting, the guys were interested at first. Unfortunately, Ben made two decisions that killed it for the investors.

For starters, the technology was not patented.

This is a big problem for products whose primary selling point is innovation. Obviously, not every product idea should be patented and many can’t. But when the idea can be patented, and it’s your product’s entire unique selling proposition, you obviously need to just get it done.

At bare minimum, you need to be in patent-pending status.

In Ben’s case, he was patent-pending. This was a good step and it might have been enough for the Sharks if he hadn’t made another crucial error that left them skeptical.

He asked for too much.

Way too much! Ben asked for a $500k investment in exchange for a 20% stake in the company. In other words, we was valuing his company at $2.5 million. When he went on Shark Tank, he only had $140k in sales. While most of the sales had taken place in just the 3 months prior, this was simply asking for the moon from the investors.

Both errors were fundamentally the same. Ben Wood was asking for too much, too soon. If he had given himself the time to reach a fully patented status, and demonstrated enough revenue to justify his asking price, he probably would have succeeded.

Like “Fat Ass Fudge,” Viewsport will probably be a successful company, but it will struggle with scaling until Ben can get his tech patented and his asking price under control.

Master the Basics

While all three of these mistakes might seem obvious in retrospect, it’s surprisingly common for entrepreneurs to make them when they talk to investors (or try to run a business in general). Most entrepreneurs fail not because they failed to learn some crucial piece of expert advice, but because they failed to master the basics.

To recap:

  • Know exactly where the money is going to go, preferably with written agreements in place, and present those plans clearly.
  • If you’re a product expert, you’re probably not a business expert, and you need to partner up with somebody who is.
  • Don’t pitch too much too soon. If you’re in an innovative space, get your product patented. Ask for reasonable investments and value your company based on existing revenue or conservative projections.

So there you have it. Stick to the fundamentals and you will put yourself ahead of many of the entrepreneurs competing for attention in the investment shark tank.

Comments closed

The American Presidential Election

January 2017 marks a big change for America. The country will have a new head of the state and the planet’s largest military force will have a new commander-in-chief. It is a big role and the race is becoming bitter as the 8th of November, Election Day, is fast approaching.

The latest poll published in the Telegraph shows Clinton leading the presidential race by 3.6%. An article from New York Times, however, shows that final election result can still differ by about four percentage points. With the numbers between Clinton and Trump being too close, it is reasonable to assume that this election is still far from over.

In other words, it is now, more than ever, that Americans need to vote. How does this work?

America’s 50 states award a candidate Electoral College votes, which depends on the state’s number of Congressional members. This also means it is roughly based on the population of a certain state. This Electoral College vote is more important than the popular vote. So this means that if, for example, Clinton’s campaign wins in big Democratic States such as California, New York, Illinois, and New Jersey, these populous states could elect her as the new President of America.

To put this in context, Obama, in 2008, received 68% of Electoral College vote. This means the outgoing president was backed by the most highly populated states of the country.

What are swing states?

We always hear about the swing states in discussions about the elections. But, what is it? The Telegraph defines swing states as the battlegrounds where a presidential candidate wins over the other. These areas are identified based on the thin margin between the two candidates. In other words, the result can still go either way.

This makes the Electoral College in these swing states crucial to the final election result especially since they make up 270 votes, a significant number to win the election. There are no fixed swing states for every election. They vary depending on the most debated or controversial topics during the election. Regardless, these states are definitely the target areas for a presidential political campaign.

An interesting trivia is that Ohio has always been mentioned in campaigns as an important area. This is because the candidate who wins in Ohio wins the election. This has been true since the 1964 elections. This makes Ohio a busy state during the campaign season especially since the average margin of victory here is only 3%. With the current poll results however, any state is a swing state at this point.

Why are the polls neck-and-neck?

Both Trump and Clinton are unpopular both to the public and even to their own parties. There are Republicans who refuse to endorse Trump, while Clinton is suffering the same lack of endorsement from the Democrats.

Surveys from CBS News and New York Times reflect the public’s lack of trust to both candidates. For example, when it comes to honesty and trustworthiness, Clinton received 33% while Trump received 35%. When it comes to values, 57% of Americans say that they do not have the same values as Clinton, while Trump received 62% in the same category.

This election is also an interesting time as far as the division of demographics in America is concerned. More whites and men support Republicans, while ethnic minorities and women support Clinton.

Race is one of the biggest demographics that could dictate the result of this election. Trump is not very popular with Hispanics and black people, who account for a considerable percentage in key swing states. On the other hand, education, another big demographic, is more in favor of Trump than Clinton.

Under the US constitution, the new president will be inaugurated on the 20th of January, 2017. After the election, given the vote is decisive, the winning candidate will begin crafting a policy agenda as well as assembling a cabinet. This is when the real work starts. At the moment, however, the world is focused on who the US electorate decides to put in the Whitehouse.

Comments closed