If somehow, a younger version of me got to take a peek at my current life, that younger me would probably not believe what she sees. It’s a pretty strange combination – a fiction writer and social entrepreneur wanna-be. I say wanna-be because I don’t feel I’m quite there yet! But after this week, I’m certainly a few steps closer.
Perhaps the creative writing and organisational psychology background helps me study my target market with greater focus and empathy. And I’m no stranger to academic research which allowed me to corroborate my customer interviews with global analyses. This week I have been accepted onto the next phase of the Telkom Futuremakers Innotech Program – it’s a business incubator program with kick-ass facilitators and support within the Cape Town entrepreneurial eco-system. Although we started out as 16 businesses chosen from over 200 applications, at each phase of the program, we’ve been pitching to get into the next phase. We’re now a motley group 8. We’ve honed our business ideas, tested the user markets, spoken to customers that could become early adopters, hacked around free tech tools like wire-frame app builders, animated video makers and landing page creators. We’ve dived into data on our industries and have been sleep-deprived for weeks on end.
In true South African style, some of my fellows have done all of the above with the added challenges of electricity cuts, armed robberies and developers going rogue on them. But they have displayed the true mark of entrepreneurial tenacity and resilience. They did not give up and I’m so proud to be a part of this bunch. Being an entrepreneur is a lonely, tough journey. My one piece of advice to anyone wishing to start a business: find like-minded people. Nobody understands the pain and triumphs of a start-up entrepreneur like another entrepreneur can. They have been through similar journeys and more importantly, they will not tell you to go and get a real job! They might tell you that your idea stinks as did Aaron Marshall of Over. He did give us some great advice though which I see lives on his website.
A product/market fit is great. A passion/market fit is bliss.
I think we’ve made it through to phase 2 of Innotech because we took that passion and found a market fit for it. Oh and yes Aaron, the work is far from over. We are constantly checking if our customers and users might decide that what we’re offering is crap! Speaking of testing, if there are any students out there, that want to test the beta version of my AMAZING life-changing online platform MeQ, watch this video and contact me. Life as a student is great until you realise that you’re getting closer to entering the world of work. MeQ can help you make that transition with a lot more know-how that simply comes from an exploration of your strengths and increasing self-awareness.
Today may be a rest day from Innotech, but the work never stops (including plans for a second launch of Namaste Life in October in Durban!). And I love it.