While aspiring entrepreneurs may look to those who have achieved success and think they have surely forgotten what it was like to struggle with the fear of failure in the early days, even the most successful of entrepreneurs still remember those same feelings – in fact, it’s often those feelings that push them to keep going.
Gen George, the 25 year old founder of job search platforms OneShift and Skilld, has in just a couple of years become a veteran of the Sydney startup ecosystem. In 2013 she sold a 27 percent stake in the business to recruitment company Programmed for $4.7 million, and this month inked a $1 million deal with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland that will enable CCIQ’s 20,000 members to tap into OneShift’s platforms.
Despite this success, ask George about the early days of her business and she can tell you about her work in extensive detail. She talks of printing up flyer after flyer and posting it up around universities and cafés, getting businesses on board with talk of a sophisticated platform complete with hi-tech algorithms. In reality, she was up at all hours manually matching businesses with job seekers.
While the idea for OneShift came from George’s own repeated, frustrating experiences as a young job seeker, great business ideas can spark anywhere and at anytime. In fact, they usually happen when you least expect it. It’s a time when you’re not over thinking and pushing for that one multi-million idea to take over your life.
Like all great things the idea for Who Gives A Crap was first conceived on the toilet. Cofounder of the organisation Simon Griffiths wanted to make a positive impact on the world and to do so he decided to create environmentally friendly toilet paper, sell it purely online and donate half the proceeds to organisations like WaterAid.
“It was one of those epiphany moments where we had been thinking about this concept of how can you create a product that uses its profit to do good. We really wanted to create something that could help every single person in Australia or potentially the entire developed world,” Griffiths told Startup Daily previously.
In 2010, while Griffiths was still pondering over the idea of changing the world, he walked into his bathroom, saw a pile of toilet paper and thought, “‘oh my god, that’s it – we use environmentally friendly toilet paper, and we use half of our profits to build toilets and we call it, give a crap’,” he said.
Who Gives A Crap managed to turn mildly unsexy toilet paper into a fun and innovative product. Griffiths admits to first start selling his product and charitable idea he was roped into sitting on a toilet while a live web feed documented his experiences until the first $50,000 products were pre-sold.
Today Who Gives A Crap has sold enough toilet paper to provide 120,000 people around the world with access to a toilet for a year. Breaking that down, every roll sold provides someone with access to a toilet for a week. This idea, which to be honest was not an easy market option, has proven to be highly successful and has a real world impact on people’s lives in Nepal, Papua New Guinea and East Timor.
Honcho helps businesses start small and grow big with their unique platform that allows founders to spend as little as $29.00 a month to set up their basic business infrastructure while they test and iterate instead of spending thousands of dollars upfront for an idea that may not work.
“You can have the best business plan and the best market research but things still may not go well,” says cofounder of Honcho, Matthew Pearson.
“The best thing for a new business is to try to validate your idea. Don’t spend all your capital at once. Just do enough to see if someone will buy what you’re selling. That way, any moment of failure is not the end, it’s just a new beginning.”
Of course, in trying to make a difference many founders and startups find it hard to take their businesses global, when their feet are firmly planted in Australia. It’s hard to gauge a sense of culture and predict how your products would be valued in other global marketplaces.
While Australians are being urged to think big from the start it’s hard to take that leap to become global straight off the bat. For Australian entrepreneur Audrey Melnik, thinking big is what enabled her business to go global from day one.
In 2012 Melnik launched WotWentWrong, a dating app to get feedback from your ex. The app was launched on Valentine’s day in the US. At the same time of launch Melnik was in Australia, however the PR campaigns she had organised were so successful that her app was covered on ABC News, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. WotWentWrong received 150,000 visitors in the first week and proved for Melnik that she had what it takes to approach the international market.
Now Melnik is at the helm of Funnel Ventures, a consultancy helping Australian entrepreneurs start off on the right foot in Silicon Valley.
No matter how big your business may get, every entrepreneur starts the same way, with the same doubts.
“Taking that leap to strike out on your own is usually terrifying,” says Pearson.
“What excites me about Honcho is that we’re reducing the risks involved: it’s like taking the leap but with a bungee cord. It changes sheer terror to amazing thrill – there’s a big difference.”
Featured Image: The Team at Who Gives a Crap | Source: Provided.
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