Let me ask you this, do you see yourself as an entrepreneur?
I used to be unsure of how to answer this question and when I arrived at the Get Started conference, I didn’t know what to expect. To be honest, the prospect of sitting for four hours listening to people talk was not the most appealing one. However, it turned out that I barely noticed the time passing. The talks given by the speakers were so individually captivating and inspiring that I wanted to hear more. I’ve heard the word entrepreneur countless times and read various definitions but the Get Started conference drastically opened my eyes to what an entrepreneur is and what it takes to be one. I used to think you needed plenty of money, resources and contacts before daring to start your own business. Now my mindset has completely changed. Anyone can be an entrepreneur, if they have an idea, the determination and never give up.
Philippe Brodeur, chief CEO and founder of OverCast, told us all about his start-up. Using his 40 years’ experience in the broadcasting industry, he has created a video platform that has been described by The Daily Mail as ‘google docs for video’.
He reminded us that (unfortunately) these things don’t just happen. A successful start-up requires time, energy and TRACTION. Entrepreneurs need to prove that their business is worth investing in. Philippe talked a great deal about differentiation. This resonated in my mind as it’s a word I’ve often heard in maths but in the context of business it simply means that a start-up needs to have its own unique attributes to make it to stand out from the crowd. I strongly agree that as an entrepreneur, one must think outside the box! According to Philippe Brodeur, there are 5 reasons why start-ups succeed:
I learned that to be taken seriously as an entrepreneur, you need to take action. You need to find people who share your goals and believe in your idea. You must plan and act when the timing is right if you want your start-up to be the one that succeeds. We can’t all win the lottery, hard work is necessary and when an opportunity strikes, take it!
Philippe’s speech provoked me to do a bit of research of my own into the most important factors that lead to success and I found an interesting video where Bill Gross, co-founder and co-chief investment officer of Pacific Investment Management Company LLC, discusses his findings. Bill Gross discovers that timing is extremely important, just as Philippe also discussed. So, when you come up with your award-winning idea, make sure the market is ready! But first, have a look at the video !
‘Do not fear failure’
Two young entrepreneurs, both former DCU students, spoke of their business ventures. Their company CitySwifter, is an award-winning technology platform that connects commuters and event attendees.
Brian and Alan captured the attention of their audience immediately and I think the reason for this was that we felt we could relate to them. We are all in the first year of our respective business degree and will one day graduate and be immersed in the working world. I think I can safely say that we are all striving for success. We all want to be the one to come up with that amazing idea. However, there will always be mistakes made first and you will more than likely fail a few times. But what the two men did was kept on going and used their mistakes to their advantage. Their advice was simple: do not fear failure. Their first start-ups, Busman.ie and concertbus.ie were unsuccessful but from these failed start-ups they learned what not to do. I was extremely impressed as the pair are only just out of college and already have their own thriving business. How did they manage this, you may ask? And the answer is simple. They focused on a problem and finding the solution to it. They built their network, got to know their competitors and believed in their vision. They sacrificed social lives and invested themselves into their start-up. They were prepared to do what others wouldn’t and it sure did pay off! The speech given by Brian and Alan really made me believe that entrepreneurship is an option for me. I now feel more motivated to take risks and build my own future!
‘Do things that don’t scale, then build things that do’
Building a business without being a ‘techie’
Elva Carri was the first of two female speakers at the conference and her speech was one of the most intriguing. She is the founder of GirlCrew, the innovative cure to the epidemic of loneliness! What surprised me about Elva was that she had no experience with computers or managing a business and had no desire whatsoever to be an entrepreneur. Her idea started out as a simple request for some friends on Tinder and now it has grown into a platform with over 50,000 members from all over the world. Impressive, right? Elva’s idea to create a platform where females can interact locally and offline is such a simple idea, yet extremely scalable. It just shows that your winning idea doesn’t have to be extremely complex, simplicity works when the demand is there! From Elva, I learned that there are challenges that you will undoubtedly face in being an entrepreneur. For Elva, it was the problem that she had no real knowledge about technology. Yet she had the confidence and belief in her idea to overcome that challenge. She was brave enough to go out and find a ‘techie’ and create the team that has made GirlCrew what it is today.
Elva’s speech inspired me to do a bit of reading and research on females in the world of entrepreneurship. Perhaps my findings will come as a shock to you, because they definitely did to me!
In Ireland, there are more challenges facing female entrepreneurs rather than male entrepreneurs. In 2014, of the 20,400 people who started a business, 14,400 were men (70.5%) and 6,000 were women (29.5%). But why? Data, put forth by National Women’s Enterprise Day, says that in female business failure the main reasons are: lack of proper financing, lack of training and lack of prior experience. Studies show that less women perceive themselves as entrepreneurs and therefore steer away from courses designed for ‘entrepreneurs’. In Ireland, 58% of men in the general adult population perceive that they have the skills needed to start a business compared to 37% of women. I believe this perception is ridiculous and more women NEED to gain the confidence to build their business. As part of the DICE module, we have a group gamification project and my team has more girls than boys. After reading articles about female entrepreneurship and hearing Elva’s story, I am now fully confident that us females can lead our team to success! As a female, I hope to do my part in narrowing the gender gap just as Elva and other female entrepreneurs have done. Women of Ireland- don’t hold yourself back!
‘If not me, who? If not now, when?
Gavan Walsh is the CEO and founder of iCabbi, the global leader in dispatch technology. A Entrepreneur of the Year finalist, Gavan is an extremely successful man. So, what is the key to his success? The key is GET STARTED. From his speech, what struck me the most was his fierce ambition. Risk is scary and therefore most of us avoid it, but not Gavan. His system that he has built in the cloud was not the first idea he had. He sold Christmas trees and even had a go in the fashion industry. He took risks and every time went past ‘the point of no return’. When he had an idea, he acted on it straight away and that is what entrepreneurs need to do. You don’t want to be that person who doesn’t act and then years down the line find that someone else has succeeded with your idea! Yes, your risk may not pay off every time but it’s worth a try. Gavan has inspired me to speak up more and voice my ideas, the approach I intend to take while working on my gamification project and in life in general! As I looked around at the other business students in the Helix, I thought to myself, we are the future of entrepreneurship and nothing is stopping us from getting started, right now.
People before Profit
Iseult Ward, social entrepreneur and CEO of FoodCloud, was our other female speaker and she definitely gave me some food for thought (pardon the pun). I was in shock with the statistics that she shared with us. Globally, almost 30% of food produced is wasted! As a college student, Iseult began to work on her company that is helping to solve a global problem. If that’s not impressive, I don’t know what is. FoodCloud is a non-profit organisation that is reducing food waste immensely. I strongly advise you to have a look at their website and learn more! From Iseult’s speech, I was reminded that it’s not always about the money. Sure, we wouldn’t complain if we managed to create a multi-billion dollar company but on the other hand, wouldn’t it be great to say you’re solving a problem and helping millions of people along the way? So, when you’re brainstorming and getting started, let’s not forget that money isn’t always the most important thing. There’s plenty of problems such as homelessness, obesity and hunger that need to be solved and who’s to say one of us can’t solve it?
Over the four hours of the Get Started conference, I gained so much insight into the entrepreneurial world and its workings and came out of the Helix inspired. I admire each speakers’ courage to stand up and talk about their mistakes and I applaud them all for never giving up and succeeding with their start-up. Andrew Keogh spoke about the importance of public speaking and being able to tell a good story and without a doubt each story that day had me captivated! Andrew finished off the day with the story of Ireland’s own economic rollercoaster and how the once neglected offices built beside the European Convention Centre in Dublin are now full to the brim with business. This proves that the world is constantly changing and there is always a need for new ideas. John F. Kennedy said ‘Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.’ So, I am encouraging you all to get started, look towards the future and act upon your ideas. Make mistakes, learn from them and move on.
Now when I am asked if I see myself as an entrepreneur, my answer is yes. I certainly do.
- google images
- powerpoint presentations on loop