Description of the event and why I chose it
To explore the world of innovation and enterprise and gain a better understanding of how entrepreneurs work, I decided to go to the event, “You Too Can Be An Entrepreneur” which took place in DCU. I chose this event because it involved not only one entrepreneur but a whole panel. It interested me that some of the speakers had not even done business but were involved in entrepreneurship. For example, Akhil and Ruairi spoke about inventing a faster mode of transport. Another speaker, Elaine developed a way to an efficient way to detect if there were infections in the bloodstream. They were all from different backgrounds and so their stories provided a unique perspective into entrepreneurship. I was able to obtain fresh insights and advice from each speaker because of their diverse experiences in their fields.
Another reason why I wanted to go to this event is because the title piqued my interest. I went to this event to be convinced of why entrepreneurship is a good way forward. What was so great about it that I should want to do it too? I will explore the answer to this in my reflection.
What I learned about the entrepreneurial process from this experience
When I was at the event, I tried to keep in mind the lean start-up method that was taught to us in the tutorial. During the talk, I made a conscious effort to link this methodology to what the speakers were saying. I thought that it made sense that rather than undertaking a very traditional method of starting a business, by first brainstorming and then developing a product and perfecting it for months or years and then taking it to the market, it is better to create a good rapport with clients and customers from the beginning so that you know the product has a place in the market. This relates to what Gary Fox told us, to start when the product is raw, even though it could be ugly. He told us that sales are important and therefore it is important to invite customers to try the prototypes and keep them involved, so they know the product exists and they can buy it as soon as it hits the markets.
In the lecture preceding the event, Roisin compared two start-ups, Rdio and Spotify that provided music streaming services. Rdio failed because while developing its minimum viable product (MVP) they were unsuccessful in publicising their service, whereas Spotify kept their subscribers updated and kept improving their service constantly. This builds on the idea of “Build, Measure, Learn” (Ries, n.d.) in which you are continually refining your product through feedback. Through Gary’s encouragement and Roisin’s lecture, I learned that there is a huge emphasis on networking and connecting with your customers in the early stages of a start-up.
Another thing I learned about this process is that to show entrepreneurship, you don’t always have to start up your own business or even have studied business. There are other ways to express entrepreneurial activity. I gained this insight through the talk of Akhil and Ruairi and their project Hyperloop. Their project was not a business, but it focused on their creativity and determination to build a new and more efficient way of transport. Their team had shown entrepreneurial spirit as they still had to come up with a new idea, develop it and find ways to source finance and then present their finished product.
How do these experiences link to my previous reading or knowledge
The thing that stood out to me the most in the event was that each speaker had their own type of creativity. It doesn’t just mean artistic creativity, but according to Biraglia et al (2017), it refers to “the development of ideas that are both novel and useful, either in the short or the long term”. Each speaker had used their creativity to contribute to their chosen fields which led to the intent to become involved in entrepreneurial activity. Along with creativity, I could sense the passion of the speakers when they talked about their projects or start-ups. The article by Biraglia et al found that “being passionate about entrepreneurial founding activities is likely going to lead individuals to get involved with the intention of a business start-up”. I believe that is indeed quite true as the speakers were passionate about something and this led them to become innovative and create a novel product or service.
Similarly, if individuals are very passionate about something, they are likely to show more self-efficacy. They are very determined and have confidence in themselves and as Dr. Melissa Cardon says, “they invest more time, more energy, more resources and they don’t quit, they persist longer in whatever it is they are working on.” For example, Akhil and Ruari showed their enthusiasm for their project and didn’t give up easily. Many people rejected their requests for funding, but they persevered and continued. They didn’t let anything bring them down. Their sheer hard work and resolve allowed them to finish their innovation for a new type of transport.
However, sometimes passion can have a negative effect if it is not carefully controlled. If you are passionate about something, you may forget the realities and try to push the idea for a product or service out, even if there’s no demand at the time. As Bill Gross said in a Ted Talk, “If you have something you love, you want to push it forward, but you have to be very honest about that factor on timing” and “not be in denial about any results you see”. Therefore, it is important to keep a check on reality and take rational and realistic risks.
The other thing I noticed during the event that was pointed out in the article by Plotnikova et al was that of motivation, whether it is intrinsic or extrinsic. Success in process innovation depends on what keeps the entrepreneur going. For some of the entrepreneurs, it was to help others such as Elaine who created a system that detects blood infection in 15 minutes. She shared a personal story of her grandmother passing away due to sepsis. She started Septec so that other people would not suffer from the late diagnosis of blood infections. For others, they may have shown entrepreneurial activity due to personal frustration, also known as “necessity”. For example, Liam Redmond created a business that creates safe spaces for LGBT individuals so that they feel secure and accepted. Liam’s creative idea arose from personal frustration when a doctor refused to check him as he was gay. Another type of motivation is that of “opportunity” in which individuals use entrepreneurship to fill a gap in the market to make money.
The article mentions process innovation and it relates to what Daniel Kyne said about ideas. He specified that ideas don’t have to be big, they could be on a small scale but they could have a huge impact. For example, an airport employee may come up with an efficient method to deal with queues leading to less traffic. This small idea can lead to more satisfied customers who will keep coming back due to fast boarding times leading to increased revenues. The article states that “Process innovation can be instrumental to reduce costs, increase productivity, improve learning and knowledge transmission, develop better work routines, increase consumers’ satisfaction and foster a ﬁrm’s competitive advantage.” All the speakers emphasized the fact that you should not be afraid to express your ideas, no matter how big or small they are because they can make a difference.
The last idea that was presented in this article was that external factors can influence the entrepreneurial level of an individual. Plotnikova et al state that secondary and higher professional qualifications can favour process innovation. Similarly, business education and university education can also improve entrepreneurial thinking. I think that this is true because universities provide different ways to encourage students to become more involved with entrepreneurship. For example, many societies create projects and allow students to develop their entrepreneurship skills such as Enactus. Daniel, a MINT student, revealed that he was very involved in entrepreneurship in secondary school. He used to create ideas and convince fellow students to participate and engage with him. He has been very immersed in the concept of innovation and entrepreneurship which has led him to organise big brainstorming and problem-solving events like TechStars and create his own projects.
How has this experience changed how I think about entrepreneurship
Even before this module, I had an idea of entrepreneurship. I was lucky enough to have an environment where the concept of innovation and enterprise was encouraged. It started in secondary school when in fourth year we had to start our own mini-companies. Utilising my creativity and DIY skills, I created customised name bracelets made out of thread and sold them. I enjoyed the process of learning how to make bracelets, advertising them, getting sponsors and the best part: making a profit for myself. Ever since, I have had a positive attitude towards enterprise as it allowed me to create something I am passionate about. After reading the academic article about entrepreneurial passion and how it can develop into intent and action, I am convinced that I have what it takes to be an entrepreneur. I have recently set up an account on Instagram to sell hand-painted canvases with calligraphy on them on commission.
I believe that my past experiences and the event I attended for Dublin Start-Up Week have led me to the conclusion that I too can be an entrepreneur.
Biraglia, A. and Kadile, V. 2017. The Role of Entrepreneurial Passion and Creativity in Developing Entrepreneurial Intentions: Insights from American Homebrewers. Journal of Small Business Management, 55(1), pp. 170-188.
Ries, E. (n.d). Lean Start-Up Methodology. Retrieved from http://theleanstartup.com/principles
Pace Entrepreneurship Lab [Dr Melissa Cardon]. (2014, October 30). Entrepreneurial Passion - Dr Melissa Cardon. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=274&v=w76UfjeS-8A
Ted [Bill Gross]. (2015, June 1). The single biggest reason why start-ups succeed | Bill Gross. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNpx7gpSqbY
Plotnikova, M., Romero, I. and Martínez-Román, J.A., 2016. Process innovation in small businesses: the self-employed as entrepreneurs. Small Business Economics, 47(4), pp.939-954