In this series, three student entrepreneurs on the LaunchBox programme at Trinity chronicle their adventures. Here, in their third diary entries, they talk about lessons learned and the people they admire in business.
Anika Riley – Work Smarter
During my MSc of Entrepreneurship program, we covered a lot of ground, but we didn’t focus on many of the technicalities of founding a business. Founders’ agreements, vesting shares and some of the legal points around investment might not be the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of being an entrepreneur, but messing up any of them can kill a company regardless of how good the product is. The speakers that have come into LaunchBox have really pushed us to think about these things early and manage many of these legal necessities on a startup’s budget.
Someone who I very much admire is Céline Lazorthes, the founder of the fintech companies Leetchi and Mangopay. As a female CEO in the financial services sector, she and her female CTO heavily emphasise company culture and are a welcome glimpse into a more diverse future. And, while she is an impressive woman on all accounts, the fact that she founded Leetchi straight out of university resonates with me in particular.
“Work Smarter exists because we sincerely believe that freelancing should not come at the cost of financial security.”
Jumping over to an entirely different sector, I am consistently impressed with the ethics and transparency of the company Dr Bronner’s. What I find most inspiring is their refusal to accept the status quo and their unwavering commitment to a vision. In pursuit of this vision, they hold themselves to high standards such as by capping the CEO wage at five times the lowest paid warehouse employee.
Building such a vision-driven company is what my co-founder and I aspire to. Work Smarter exists because we sincerely believe that freelancing should not come at the cost of financial security. This vision is what drives our company and gives us purpose.
Lizzy Hayashida – Change Donations
I’ve learned a lot since we first started working on Change Donations. It’s been a whirlwind of trying to learn to juggle the MBA and focusing on building the business. Of everything I’ve experienced so far I would say the most significant learning has been not to be afraid to reach out for help and advice when we are stuck, or just have questions about something.
“Everyone that we have reached out to so far, whether it’s been teachers, charities, or lawyers, have all been so ready and willing to help.”
We started working on Change a few months into our MBA, and only a few months after moving to Ireland so there was a lot to learn in a short amount of time. Because we had so much to learn, we didn’t have a choice but to reach out for help. Had I been back home, I think that I may have been more self-conscious and been hesitant to reach out for help, but in the long run, I believe that we were better for having done this early and often.
Everyone that we have reached out to so far, whether it’s been teachers, charities, lawyers, etc., have all been so ready and willing to help us however they were able. I think the biggest (and best) surprise I’ve had since we started Change Donations is learning how open people are to meeting up for a quick coffee to talk through questions we have or problems that we are currently facing. We have met some pretty amazing people and have been surprised (and so grateful) for how willing they are to helping us along our journey.
Cian Fogarty – Greener Globe
In the business world, you are continually learning and adapting to keep up. Perspectives, ideas and rules change every day, so you have to be in a stage of constant personal development. Coming from a science background, I never had a natural knowledge of business. It really was a case of getting thrown in the deep end and learn as you go or you’d drown. The beauty of the business world is that it’s very intuitive; you can develop your own ways of doing things. There are a million ways to do the same thing. And there are many fantastic business people who you can look up to for guidance.
“We are creating products to help people reduce their costs while reducing the world’s water and energy wastage.”
One of my business idols is Elon Musk. I feel, in mindset, we are very similar. He’s from a STEM background too and uses his knowledge of physics to invent in the business world. I admire his work ethic and would love to emulate it, although maybe with a little more work-life balance! I also respect his businesses. The whole Musk empire of Tesla, Solar City, The Boring Company – they all aim to advance the human race but are still profitable. That’s precisely what we intend to do in Greener Globe. We are creating products to help people reduce their costs while reducing the world’s water and energy wastage. I’m a big advocate of building businesses that work for the consumers and improve global sustainability. If you can create a company that really helps people, you’re on to a winner.