Like Fire Fighting, Entrepreneurship is a specialized activity with specialised needs. You wouldn’t run into a fire without the right gear and the know-how required to use it. You wouldn’t go in without a plan, and perhaps even an exit strategy. The riskier the activity the more effort needs to go into preparation and training, and few things are riskier than starting your first business.
I was first introduced to the gen[in] program through my school, Megan Short – the Project Manager from gen[in] came and ran a workshop with us, I thought it sounded absolutely awesome! My dad tells me to be selective – not to volunteer for everything, but my business teacher, Mr Boardman, was very persuasive. It was mid term, and I had multiple assignments due, but on my 15th birthday mum arranged for me to present my idea to actual firemen which completely reordered my priorities. Did you know that 48% of firefighters die from overexertion? I didn’t.
It’s about the people
All of a sudden business was about lives – it transitioned from theory to practice, from a training exercise to a rescue mission.
What made the difference? It was the people. Knowing your customer makes it real, especially when lives are in the balance.
It’s about the connections, the mentors, the relationships
Firefighters were no longer theoretical customers, they were real people with real needs. They welcomed me in. I presented my idea and they listened. They explained what they really needed, and I listened. The crew commander even gave me a turnout coat so that I could use it to build a mockup of something along the lines of what they actually needed.
So with all this new information and my new turnout coat, I set about rewriting my presentation. My mentor from gen[in] was there to help. As were some friends of my parents that supply fire fighting equipment to industry. Finally, another friend of my parents – Stephen Pronk who happens to be an Angel investor helped me refine my pitch, and specifically flesh out my pricing model.
It’s a systematic approach to business
Stephen also told me that you need to take a systematic approach to business – if you just run in, then you’re going to get burnt. My mentors, my potential customers, and prospective distributors were all telling me the same thing. You need a robust plan…. and you need money.
Mum and dad lent me a couple of hundred and I cooked a couple of pies. Inside joke, sorry, but here is a photo of what I am referring to as a pi.
This is a Raspberry Pi Zero W. You can attach sensors to it, and it can send the data up to the cloud. They are a great little computer, but apparently, it is quite easy to cook them.
It’s fun, it’s challenging, it’s competitive
So that was fun, and it is quite a challenge to get this “Internet of Things (IoT)” technology to work, not to mention the coding side of it, but fortunately I had google, and my dad.
It’s about winning
My dad tells me that – “Competition in markets is the pursuit of excellence in the service of others”. When you win, your customers win, and business is all about serving your customer’s needs. It is about understanding their requirements, and solving their problems.
It’s about the money
It is business. Of course it is about the money. Money is how customers tell you whether you are winning or not. Customers use their money to value what you do. The money not only allows you to keep doing it, but it directs your efforts into what is of most value to your customer.
It’s a great start
Apparently, there’s an old joke where a tourist is lost and asks a local how to get somewhere. The local replies, “Well, if I were going there, then I wouldn’t start from here.” Gen[in] gets you where you need to be to make the best start. It helps you develop a plan, to refine your product, and to know your market, and then connects you with experienced mentors to guide you. It is like being fire-hosed with success, you’re just a lot less likely to crash and burn when you are awash with good advice, direction and support, and a systematic approach to the risky business that is entrepreneurship.