A little while ago I went to one of Campus London talks put together by AIESEC UK. The event promised six speakers to discuss the UK economy and what opportunities and difficulties there for new businesses. There was a particular focus on start-ups. At first, I thought this would be great and valuable for my future as I was pondering upon an idea of opening my own start-up once graduated from MACE.
The first talk was by a 25-year-old Business Development Manager from Crowdcube. Mostly he spoke about crowdfunding and how Crowdcube, in particular, can support start-ups financially in exchange for equity. Frankly, it sounded as if he was there to promote his workplace. I’m not suggesting that he shouldn’t have mentioned Crowdcube as a potential way to finance one’s start-up, but then there are a few other major crowdfunding platforms that can fund the start-up; The type of crowdfunding platform will mostly depend on the stage the business is at. It reminded me of an ad in the form of sponsored content, just like you would find in media sites such as Facebook or Instagram. The only difference here was a medium.
In contrast, the second speaker was great. His name is Rav Singh Sandh, the founder of Market Mogul. He shared his very own journey how had put the Market Mogul together. I was fascinated and touched – the story was told on a personal level. Despite the fact that I think of myself of a sceptic – borderline cynic (especially when it comes to events like this), I trusted what he was saying – the words went just right through me.
Fast forward a couple of weeks and I continue writing this blog post and reflecting upon the event. There’s a possibility that the first speaker wasn’t actually that bad as I may have made out. The content he said was plausible, just too advertise-y. And I’m really not a fan sponsored content. However, put the personal preferences aside, another answer why I may ‘erupted’ against him was because my team is not in the position to sell equity on a platform such as Crowdcube – probably we’d be better off with Kickstarter. In other words, I couldn’t resonate with him as much as I could with the second speaker, and thus my conclusion was somewhat bias.
A panel discussion followed the two speakers. It wasn’t really a discussion though, more like a Q & A session. And that’s not bad in itself, just not what was advertised. There were four people sitting face to the public, answering public’s questions. It was definitely interesting to listen to them. However, the discussion meant that I could have gained some sort of access to their way of thinking. When talking about start-ups, from an angel investor’s point of view, ‘picking’ their brain through observation of them discussing, was exactly what I wanted. Moreover, it was promised in the brochure. Misleading. Of course, it was insightful, but it just wasn’t it.
Overall, I’m glad I had a chance to attend the event. It was very insightful, especially what Rav had shared. It made me question entrepreneurship vs. wantrepreneurship . Moreover, it seems that media glamorises startups at the moment. Moreover, films about inspirational figures such as Steve Jobs, or films when one decides to quit everything and look for happiness like Eat Pray Love adds to the pot. Start your life by quitting everything or stop listening to everyone else and just blindly (and ignorantly) do what you want. The truth is that 9 out of 10 startups fail. And it will be very hard at times. The valley of death is a real thing. Throughout the year, this module gave us the tools, and allowed to practice them very adequately – enabled to go through the entire process of a lean startup development. It’s priceless, and now I’m as ready as I ever will be. The question is whether this a life I want.