You don't know entrepreneurship until you try
Three days of intensive collaboration, problem solving, and pitching, all with a focus on creating solutions for a more sustainable future - what more could happen in 54 hours?
Last weekend, I had the opportunity to participate in UTS Startups’ first Sustainability Startup Weekend. What I suspected would be a good learning opportunity ended up being a hugely enlightening and transformative experience and here’s why.
I should begin with full disclosure – I'm a UTS student in my second year of a combined degree of communications and law. I also work for the Innovation and Entrepreneurship unit at UTS as a Communications Assistant and have done so for the last four months.
Despite being surrounded by entrepreneurship three days a week these last few months, I was, as the facilitator Peta Ellis referred to it, a ‘startup weekend virgin’. In fact, this would be my first ‘entrepreneurial experience’ and turns out I’d jumped straight into the deep end.
Arriving on the Friday evening with little idea what to expect and feeling well out of my depth, I quickly became swept up in the contagious energy that filled the room.
As the night progressed, I listened to 41 unique and inspiring ideas to real-world problems and formed a team with eight complete strangers who would become my team for the remainder of the weekend.
The following two days were a challenge to say the least. Our ideas were built up, broken-down, questioned, stretched, remoulded and many hours and many, many sticky-notes later, I formed what would become my final pitch.
On the final night, I nervously stood up in front of 90 people and five judges, and pitched an online platform that would connect consumers with sustainable restaurants and cafes.
My pitch was met with an overwhelming cheer and enthusiastic applause from my newly-found friends and colleagues.
I truly felt as though I had achieved something that, two days prior, I would have never thought possible.
I’ve sat in our office for the past four months doing my best to understand what entrepreneurship actually means, and while I understand it in theory, I find it’s still a difficult concept to understand in practice.
I have had countless people try to explain it to me but the statement that comes up the most when I ask is “you don’t understand it till you try it”. And after the UTS Startups Sustainability Startup Weekend, I can honestly say that’s true.
I have a completely renewed sense of appreciation for anyone that endeavours to build a business from the ground up and I am in complete awe of those that manage to make it successful.
The other realisation I’ve had is despite the endless challenges, it is actually possible to take an idea, put it on paper and build a company.
Up until now, I thought my career path seemed pretty straight forward – find an internship, get experience and try to find an entry-level job at a big organisation and work my way up. But now, I see there’s another path open to me.
This weekend has shown me that I am in charge of my own future and I have the ability to create opportunities for myself. With that belief, the possibilities are endless.
In just two days, I went from wide-eyed-startup-virgin to the founder of my own sustainable company.
So, what advice do I have to those wondering what it’s like to be an entrepreneur?
Well I guess all I really have to say is, you don’t know until you try.
Think you might have an inner-entrepreneur waiting to be unleashed? Join the UTS Startups community and visit startups.uts.edu.au to find out more.