Event Recap: Panel Discussion on the Future of Entrepreneurship

To celebrate entrepreneurship week, the Hult Founders Lab (HFL) was honored to have a panel on the Future of Entrepreneurship with three wonderful guests; Dhiraj Mukherjee, the co-founder of Shazam, Andy Jefferies, the co-founder of Dock & Bay which featured on an episode of Dragons’ Den, and Dr. David James, one of our wonderful professors who has taken an active role in promoting entrepreneurship on our campus. Those in attendance were blessed with great information that we didn’t think should be confined to just this talk, so we decided to summarize some of the key points for you here in hopes that if you were unable to make it, you can still learn from their wisdom.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Develop your Product Globally

With today’s advancements in technology and shipping, the world is smaller than ever! If your company sells a product in one country, then chances are high that you could be selling to so many different markets at the same time. Andy Jefferies said that Dock & Bay is looking to be in the Australian Amazon market as soon as possible so that they can get an advantage over their competitors, even though they are based out of the UK. If you haven’t asked yourself why your company isn’t selling worldwide, then you could be losing valuable sales every day for no reason.

  1. Don’t Wait for the Future to Come to You

When asked about Brexit, all three panelists agreed on two things; first, that they didn’t know what Brexit would look like exactly, and secondly, that the most important thing was to keep working. Entrepreneurs act instead of sitting around and talking with no end. There are endless arguments that could be made about Brexit and the effect that it will have on businesses in the UK and around the world, but talking about it isn’t going to change anything. Unless you have the power to change something, the entrepreneur’s role is to make sure that he/she continues to move forward with their idea through the uncertainty that they have no control over. David James says, “Starting a business is hard enough without the distractions of things outside of your control. For example, major political and economic events like ‘Brexit’ are tempting issues for you to get involved with the form of debating, sharing thoughts on social media and worrying. For an entrepreneur, I think these are saps of your energy and easy diversionary events to give you an excuse for not actually executing on your ideas. Stop the intellectual foreplay and get on with starting-up!” Strong words of encouragement to let go and get going!

  1. Embrace the Unknown

One of the biggest reasons why potential entrepreneurs fail to move forward with their idea is because they fear the unknown. Whether it be the unknown of success or failure, or not having the know-how of certain technical skills, the unknown is a scary idea for a lot of people. You will never know everything there is to know about how your idea will pan out and so the first step is to move forward with what you do know. While all three panelists agreed that dealing with the unknown is a necessary skill for entrepreneurs to develop, they offered very different ways of coping with it. Dhiraj gave the story of the founders of Shazam, three MBA students, having a great idea, but no idea how to develop the software it took to make it a possibility. Instead of giving up, they decided to find the best audio technician around and hire him into the company to help them make the software that was just bought by Apple for an estimated $400 million. Andy, on the other hand, talked about the practice of learning along the way. He has learned so much in the past year that he would have never learned if he hadn’t started acting first. Andy could have spent the beginning stages of his company on learning all the potential skills he might need and wasted valuable time, or he could have started with what he knew and built from there, learning along the way. The great thing about this advice is that neither of these tactics for tackling the unknown is one size fits all and both Dhiraj and Andy have used both.

  1. Learn how to handle failure

When asked about failure Dhiraj, Andy and David all agreed that good entrepreneurs know how to fail well. Every time you start something new and try to innovate a specific industry, you will make mistakes and there will be ideas that end up failing. The question then becomes, not how to avoid failure at all costs, but what your attitude will be when you do fail. Entrepreneurs of the future need to accept failure as a process of refining their ideas and visions and look to it as a teacher. Once the entrepreneur learns to keep getting up after getting knocked down, the possibilities for success are limitless.

 

We hope that this summary was useful to you and your journey to creating something incredible! Let us know your thoughts in the comments and we can’t wait to see you at the next Hult Founders Lab event!

On Becoming An Entrepreneur: 4 tips from 2ClickSolutions

Many thanks for all of you who were able to make it out for the 2Click Solutions presentation last week! It was great to hear from former Hult students about the path that they have taken since leaving Hult and the lessons that they have learned along the way while starting their global company!

Bernarda Matic and Guiseppe Lamele met at Hult, and when their studies started to wear down they decided that they were going to build a company together in Vietnam. They decided from the start that they were going to “build a company not develop a business” because “we don’t want to solve problems, but we want to build on strengths!” Fast forward to three years later and they have created a global company with representatives around the world that makes bespoke software for companies. Amongst the many accomplishments, they talk about a machine learning platform that they created to reduce bias in managerial assessment which is leading to more inclusive and happy working environments! While being able to talk about their successes with pride they don’t act like they haven’t had failures or mistakes in their past, but rather say that they have learned just as much from their missteps and it has made them who they are today. Here are the four key points that they say have been the most instrumental learning points that they have accumulated along the way:

  1. Accept Chaos

“Don’t plan too much. You will never win against randomness, respect it and lean on it for part of your day!” Instead of trying to plan out 100% of your day or week, like you can account for every second of the day, try to only plan out 70% so that you can be open to unexpected events and outcomes! If you try to have a tight grip on what happens during your day you’ll always end up disappointed, but if you leave your day open for the unknown you’ll be much better prepared to handle it when it comes your way.

  1. Explore more

“Don’t rush to choose. Imagine yourself in different opportunities.” One of the biggest mistakes that we can make after graduating is rushing into the first opportunity that comes our way. If we allow ourselves the space to find something truly worth doing, then we will be more likely to enjoy what we are doing for years to come

  1. Avoid Giants

“This is the era of impact, not the era of weight. Always chose the option the majority avoids.” Guiseppe believes that life isn’t about the title that you have or the company brand that you work for, but about how much impact you are making. Look for opportunities to make an impact and it will be much more satisfying than achieving “weight” as he calls it.

  1. Build Soft Skills

“Make your free time the most important part of your day and defend it.” Instead of defining ourselves by what we must do, we should start defining ourselves by what we want to do. Focus on the activities that make you feel alive and keep them sacred in your day-to-day because that is the only way to truly live.

Thank you all for coming out and learning with us! We look forward to seeing you at the next speaker series!

Event Recap: Andrea Knopova, ImpromptMe

Event Recap: Andrea Knopova, ImpromptMe

Last Tuesday the Hult Founders Lab was able to host Andrea Knopova, an alumna of Hult, as she launched ImpromptMe here in London. ImpromptMe is a social media startup that aims to connect people in a very disconnected world. “Technology connected the world, but disconnected people” is the problem that ImpromptMe sets out to solve by creating a platform that’s sole purpose is to get people to meet face to face. Previous social media platforms have acted like messaging or “liking” can take the place of real conversations with people but instead, have driven farther into isolation than ever before. This is where ImpromptMe comes in. Instead of being able to build artificial relationships through our mobile devices, ImpromptMe doesn’t allow for any conversation between its users except to set up meeting times and locations in public areas. Once the meetup has been created ImpromptMe lets its users be human and experience real community with one another!

It was great to hear Andrea’s story and what has driven her to create such an incredible platform that you can check out here or in the App store by searching “ImpromptMe”. Thank you all for coming out to hear Andrea speak and we look forward to having you at our next HFL event!

START Summit Recap

The START Summit is an international entrepreneurship summit that takes place in St. Gallen every year, bringing together entrepreneurs, VCs, investors, and speakers from all over the world for a couple of days of intense networking, pitching, and brainstorming. It is the leading student-run entrepreneurship conference in Europe and brings together over 2000 participants to foster innovation and entrepreneurship. Several Hult students were able to take part in the 2018 summit and greatly enjoyed their experiences. Two of our Founders, Adriano,and Monica Fantino, a bother and sister pair out to start their own company, were part of the Hult delegation and let us ask them a few questions about their experience!

  1. Why did you decide to go to the summit?

Adriano: It always great to join such events where you can meet new foreign people coming from different countries and schools from all over the world. This event had several interesting pitches, international entrepreneurs, speakers, and investors. That was an amazing opportunity to share the same interest and passion with other people and to increase my network.

Monica: I decided to go to the summit, mainly because it was a great opportunity in terms of networking and the high level of experts and investors attending the event. I was also drawn to the numerous interesting and useful practical workshops to participate in.

 

  1. What impacted you the most during the conference?

A: The organization was outstanding, and the quality of content shared with all the people involved was really relevant and valuable.

M: I was highly impacted by the numerous real opportunities offered during the event to connect with the right people and to got to share my business idea with them. Thanks to the application available during the entire event, I had the opportunity to book a private slot speaking session with a few investors and was able to receive their trustworthy feedback about my business idea.

 

  1. It sounds pretty educational and informative, but did you also have fun at the summit? What was the most fun part?

A: I really enjoyed my time at the workshops by having fun while working with other international students.

M: The most fun part was being able to take part of a series of pitches delivered by the entrepreneurs, followed by a series of questions coming from the most influent investors/ businessmen within the most influent global industries. From this, I learned how to deliver a great pitch to the investors, useful for current and future endeavors.

 

  1. How would you say this event helped develop your business idea?

A: The event gave me relevant insights on how to improve my business idea. Also, listening to some experts from the sector helped me a lot to achieve it. Every single event was important to me for getting more information and knowledge.

M: It was extremely useful in terms of high visibility and in terms of the high impact of the audience. Moreover, it was more than rewarded, since I and my brother had a real chance for our start-up idea to reach a targeted and high-level audience of investors. A few of them showed a real interest in it and proposed a further follow-up meeting for a more detailed understanding of it. To sum up, it was a great springboard.

 

  1. Would you recommend this to an entrepreneur for the next year?

A: Absolutely. Sharing your business idea and talking about it to others, may help to improve your actual business idea. The event itself is a great opportunity to expand your network and to get insights from all the speakers.

M: Yes, absolutely. Great opportunity to kick-off your start-up, perfect atmosphere, and international networking opportunity. I will recommend it!

Entrepreneurship Panel Recap

Celebrating the Week of Disruption at Hult is no ordinary thing. With panelists from Y Combinator, Zipcar, Founders Factory and many more, the Hult Founders Lab was able to join in the discussion about start-up ecosystems, everyday life at a start-up and the implications of Brexit to the bustling London scene.

The panel was packed with practical info about how to find your true calling, pitching tips and advice for keeping up with the ever-evolving world we live in, from machine learning to quantum computing to blockchain. Speaking of these new technologies, one interesting comment we heard was the idea of not fitting these evolutions inside the customer experience, but rather reverse engineering what consumers want and then trying to find a medium on how these technologies can be fitted to those necessities. Ideas can change but technology is limited, so try to focus on the experience rather than the technicalities. This is a common theme that has been spearheaded by the likes of Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos and is more relevant today than ever before.

The conversation then veered towards practical recommendations in terms of what investors want from a pitch. An interesting analogy made by YC was that pitching is like “peeling an onion”, where each layer is a level of risk and ideally you want to peel off as many layers as possible to make the investors feel more comfortable with your proposal. Essentially this is showcasing your risk management and explaining it in an attractive way. This may also include Brexit risk, which is a hot topic in London right now and rightfully brought up an interesting discussion, led by Clustermarket, on trying to create the best possible product and company, in which “you are so good they can’t ignore you, Brexit or no Brexit”. Founders Factory (another incubator here in London) noted that accelerators and investors look to invest in teams of great people even if their ideas are far-fetched as most ideas tend to be in the beginning (think of Airbnb or Uber).

Needless to say, the panel was extremely insightful on what it actually means to be a founder or work for an incubator, and the panelists left us more motivated than usual, something we all desperately need in this period.