One of the core values at my company, Hawke Media, is “get sh*t done.” Our team defines this (in more polite terms) as: “Move quickly, and seize every opportunity.”
While that sounds simple, many entrepreneurs do the exact opposite. That’s why I was so taken last year with our new intern, Daniel Newman. Simply put, Daniel is ahead of the curve for making things happen. While most college students are going to bars or catching up on sleep, this young man is applying every life experience to his advantage.
That’s why I wasn’t surprised in the least to learn that Daniel had recently organised and operated the first student-run Shark Tank-style event at his school, the University of Southern California (USC), and that the event turned out to be a massive success.
The guy who brought sharks to college
As vice president of operations of USC’s TAMID (which helps business-minded students connect with Israel’s economy), Daniel said he’d seen a lot of students hesitate to pursue their startup ideas. The problem: They felt too young or too inexperienced.
With TAMID Tank, Daniel proved those biases wrong: He showcased USC’s top three student-led startups and demonstrated that even student-run companies can get venture funding. He and his TAMID team organised the whole event, raised $14,000 from various corporate and institutional sponsors and then chased down VCs by sending cold emails, calling their offices, catching them at events – you name it, they did it.
Ultimately, they secured three well-known Los Angeles investors:
- Eytan Elbaz (co-founder of Render Media, Scopely, Social Native and Applied Semantics, which was acquired by Google and is now known as Google AdSense),
- Effie Epstein (COO and managing partner of Sound Ventures)
- Laurent Grill (venture lead at Luma Launch).
Leading up to the event, Newman designed a schoolwide startup competition to find the university’s top three startups, then executed a marketing campaign to hit every corner of campus and ensure that everyone knew about TAMID Tank – which subsequently sold out.
USC’s top three student-led startups (Aqus, Drops and Reefer) pitched their companies and received valuable feedback and coaching, and the event raised the profile of TAMID and entrepreneurship across campus – especially after the club won an award from the Marshall School of Business for “Most Innovative Event” during the 2016-2017 school year.
How did he accomplish all of this at such a young age?
I wanted to find out where Newman’s passion and drive came from and what advice he had for young entrepreneurs moving forward. After talking with him, here are the three things I learned:
1He learned from his refugee-parents how to deliver more for less
TAMID Tank may have been his most recent success, but Newman learned to “get sh*t done” well before he arrived at USC, drawing inspiration from his parents, who escaped from Iran during its 1979 revolution, with no money, no English language skills and no family in the United States. That didn’t stop either of them from learning English and studying to become, respectively, a pharmacist and an optometrist.
Seeing his parents succeed against such odds had a huge effect on their son’s desire to push himself to success, he told me. He considered working as a tutor for about $15 an hour but realized he could start a tutoring company himself, call himself the founder and charge twice as much for the same services.
Although he didn’t intend for that venture – TutorYou Beverly Hills – to outgrow his own reach, before long, other seniors started asking him to hire them. With more employees came more demand; just like that, he had a real business. “I learned two huge lessons in that experience,” Daniel said.
“First, deliver more, and you’ll slowly gain market share. Second, execute an idea shortly after it comes – move fast while you’re still inspired.”
2He quickly seizes (and maximises) every opportunity
With those philosophies in mind, Daniel and his best friend quickly developed another company. They’d noticed a barrier to entry for people who wanted to use geofilters on Snapchat but weren’t graphic designers; so the pair decided to help small businesses reach their younger targets on Snapchat’s platform. Drawing inspiration from the success of TutorYou Beverly Hills, Daniel and his partner planned and launched Geocasion almost overnight.
One obvious thing about him is that Daniel has never taken his smarts for granted. People hard-wired for entrepreneurship can be overconfident. And when they believe they’re smarter and more equipped for success than others, they may find it hard to know how much more they need to learn.
Not Daniel. In fact he’s taken several internships to make the connections and fill the knowledge gaps he sees in himself. That’s where I met him: in his role as a business development intern.
Eventually, our company, thanks to his diligence, promoted Daniel to my point person, allowing him, among other things, to develop proposals, referral agreements and service agreements for onboarding clients and driving revenue. These are rare and valuable opportunities for an intern and aspiring young entrepreneur. And he was grateful: Aside from learning the ins and outs of marketing, Daniel credited his time with us for helping him get Geocasion off the ground.
“I increased my marketing knowledge tenfold within weeks, which gave me the foundation to launch this company in the first place,” he told us.
“Without that experience, I might never have seen the gap that existed between small businesses and Snapchat’s geofilters – and Geocasion wouldn’t have existed at all.”
3He finds inspiration in challenges and setbacks
If a start-up takes off, that’s excellent – but even a failed startup provides valuable experience that compounds and leads to exponentially better results in the long run.
In Daniel’s view, young professionals have little to lose by pursuing a venture, and a lot to gain. Most college students don’t have to worry about rent, kids, a spouse or even a job. Moreover, younger entrepreneurs have a high risk tolerance and the highest level of energy and motivation they’ll probably ever have. At that point in life, they should experience anything and everything – while the stakes are low and the upsides high.
And just so you don’t think Daniel’s story is one of invariable success, Geocasion actually shut down recently. As the market evolved, there was no longer space for the service. Nonetheless, Daniel told me, he still believes that the time to act on an idea is always now. Even if the venture doesn’t turn out how you envisioned, you’ll meet other entrepreneurs, investors and professionals who will remain in your network.
Without chasing his ideas, Daniel would have no reason to meet people who will provide massive value throughout his career. For example, Daniel met TAMID Tank shark Laurent Grill during his own time running Geocasion. Although he and his partner closed that startup, the connection helped Daniel land Grill for the event that experienced so much success.
As Steve Jobs said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”
To that, Daniel adds: “Have a reason to create those dots in the first place, and you’ll be surprised to see the odd and miraculous way they connect when you look back.”
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
SA Entrepreneur Takes First-Of-Its Kind Business To An International Level
Jo Farah shares some insights on his entrepreneurial journey as Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) gets underway.
South African-born entrepreneur and creator of the world’s first environmentally friendly sneaker care product – Jo Farah says entrepreneurship has always been part of his DNA, and making a valuable contribution to society his ultimate goal.
The founder of Sneaker LAB – an innovative business that’s managed to create a first-of-its-kind, biodegradable sneaker care product, delivered his sentiments on entrepreneurship and his entrepreneurial journey as Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) kicked-off in 170 countries around the world this week.
Farah, who’s been mentored and groomed by his entrepreneur father, says developing a successful business has always been part of his life’s plan. And while he managed to establish a few start-ups during his entrepreneurial journey, which includes founding a guerrilla marketing agency in South Africa, and producing ads for the likes of Adidas, New Balance and Puma it still wasn’t enough.
After returning from the United States in 2008 with just one thing on his mind – to help cure South Africa’s conundrum by creating jobs for the unemployed, and in-turn fostering economic growth, Jo invented a one-of-a-kind sneaker care product, and put shoulder to the wheel to establish his business in 2013.
Starting a sneaker care product range was a natural choice, especially considering Jo’s passion for sneakers, street wear and urban culture. He also wanted to create a complimentary product to accompany the list of sneaker brands that has inspired him over time. Jo’s work behind the scenes commenced in earnest and in no time he conducted enough research to support his theory – there was a gap in the market for branded sneaker care products. He knew that he was on a good wicket.
“There already was a range of non-branded products on the market, but my research revealed there was a healthy appetite for branded, environmentally friendly sneaker care products. That spoke directly to my business model,” he says.
Today, Sneaker LAB has placed Cape Town on the map with its premium global status – it’s the only sneaker care product range in the world to be Green TAG certified, environmentally friendly and biotech driven. Its products are water-based, readily biodegradable, and the packaging is suitable for recycling. The business also operates internationally, in 50 countries across Africa, with an experiential brand store in Braamfontein Johannesburg; as well as downtown Los Angeles in the USA; Asia and Europe. The business is growing by the day, with a store in Tokyo set to open soon.
As an entrepreneur he’s grown in leaps and bounds, and despite many changes along the way, his sentiments on entrepreneurship remain.
“Inspiring potential entrepreneurs to develop an entrepreneurial mindset and embark on an entrepreneurial journey is one way of solving some of the world’s most critical problems, and freeing the economically marginalised,” Jo says.
He urges young aspiring entrepreneurs with an entrepreneurial mindset to take the plunge and to channel time and energy into developing their business ideas into something tangible and workable that could generate good long-term financial returns.
“People will tell you that it can’t be done, but believe me, it can. All you have to do is to believe in your idea and to work hard and smart and you’ll reap the benefits,” Jo says.
9 Ways Successful Entrepreneurs Spend Their Weekends
All work and no play makes for a very dull entrepreneur.
Successful entrepreneurs have a passion for what they do, so working hard is part of their DNA. But anyone who is successful also recognises that life and work are a marathon, not a sprint. Even they need downtime on the weekend to ensure they’re up to the task of being creative problem solvers and innovators Monday through Friday.
Sure, they may spend some time catching up on administrative work. They may spend time on a big project that needs special attention. And they should definitely spend time thinking about the future and considering the big picture.
But what successful entrepreneurs don’t do is spend the entire weekend buried under work. We all need a break, and entrepreneurs are no less immune to burnout than anyone else. Their weekends are spent restoring their bodies and minds, and getting prepared to function optimally come Monday.
Here are nine things successful entrepreneurs do over the weekend to unwind and re-energise for the week ahead.
1. Wake up at about the same time
Successful entrepreneurs understand that staying on track for the week ahead means keeping the same sleeping patterns, even on weekends. That means going to bed and getting up at about the same time all week. This is because your circadian rhythm will stay consistent, so your body will naturally know when it’s time to sleep and wake up.
As tempting as it might be to sleep in, doing so can throw off your sleep/wake cycle, disrupting sleep patterns and giving you a poor night’s rest. Make sure you aim to get seven to eight hours of sleep every night to avoid a sleep deficit. Also, getting up early means you’ll be ready for whatever the day brings and you’ll have time to accomplish all the things you hope to do.
2. Spend quality time with loved ones
It’s no surprise that weekdays can be hectic and filled with obligations. There’s a good chance you spent more time in front of your computer (and with co-workers and colleagues) than with the most important people in your life. Make sure you’re tending to the quality relationships in your life by making them a priority on the weekends.
Have a date night with a partner. Go for a long walk or enjoy a leisurely lunch with a friend. Make sure you’re building and maintaining those relationships by really listening to them. And then share what’s on your mind and how you’re feeling. The support and connection you feel with others will give you resiliency and can support you in stressful times.
3. Pursue a passion
Is there some hobby or activity you’ve been wanting to try but have never made time for? Dedicate some weekend time to pursuing a passion that’s outside of work and beyond your normal day-to-day obligations. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn to paint, take up photography or write a novel.
Whether it’s a long-lost hobby or a labor of love you’ve dreamed of embarking on, stop telling yourself that you’ll get around to it “someday.” Set aside a quiet weekend morning or afternoon to work on it. Pursuing your interests beyond work improves your mental health and reduce stress levels. Plus, focusing on activities outside of work will improve your creativity and give you a chance to look at life from a new perspective.
4. Find time for a mini-adventure
Weekends give you a chance to unplug from life, put aside your daily responsibilities and go have some fun! Let loose and break out of your rut by taking yourself on a mini-adventure. Get out of the house and find a change of scenery.
A mini-adventure means sticking close to home, so hiking the Grand Canyon may be a bit much, but an overnight camping trip or a day hike is totally doable. Spend an afternoon at the beach or take your bike out for a long ride. The point is to get out and make a memory that will give you a smile for the rest of the week.
5. Fuel their creative mind
Successful entrepreneurs make sure they take time to feed their creative minds by finding ways to connect with the arts. You don’t need a degree in art appreciation or music theory to enjoy the benefits of engaging with the arts. Simply visiting a local museum or spending time listening to music will suffice.
Viewing art can be like a mini-vacation for your brain. It activates areas of the brain that are involved in processing emotion and engaging your pleasure and reward systems. Listening to music can have an even more dramatic effect. In fact, music has been found to stimulate more parts of the brain than any other human function.
6. Relax, reflect and renew
Savvy entrepreneurs have learned that they must give themselves the space and time to decompress and mull over the events, issues or dilemmas they face. Giving yourself time for self-reflection allows you to link and construct meaning from your experiences. Reflection is one of the main ways we gain insight and foster complex learning and personal growth.
In our busy world, we are often dealing with packed schedules and juggling multiple issues. Make sure you find time on the weekend to disengage from your hectic schedule and just chill. Try journaling, going for a walk, taking in the beauty of a sunset or even just focusing on the present moment and being aware of all the sensations you’re experiencing.
Related: Get Your Weekend Started
7. Get outside and exercise
Whether it’s getting out for a walk through the neighbourhood, shooting some hoops or taking a run through the park, high-achieving entrepreneurs get outside on the weekend to stretch their legs and soak up some vitamin D. There are some great benefits to an outdoor rather than indoor workout (although the most important thing is getting exercise, however it works best for you).
Getting some natural sunlight may be a welcome reprieve from artificial lighting if you spend most of the week in an office. Studies have found that adults tend to exercise for longer when they’re outside. You also tend to burn more calories and work slightly different muscles because of the wind resistance and changes in terrain. Perhaps most important, you’ll have a chance to admire nature and the outside world, which is good for your mental health and well-being.
8. Socialise and network
Successful entrepreneurs realise that any event or gathering is a chance to get to know other people and learn something new from someone you haven’t met. Set aside time to socialise with friends and family or get to know colleagues and workmates. If everyone else is busy this weekend, look for other opportunities to socialise and do something fun and interesting.
Check out a local community event. It could be a great chance to learn more about where you live and network and make connections with others. You could also look for a volunteer opportunity with a charity or nonprofit you’d like to support, such as a local animal shelter, senior centre or food bank. If you enjoy active sports, join a local team or club. If you’re into less strenuous activities, consider a joining a bowling or bocce ball team.
9. Catch up on rest
It’s been a busy week, and you’re feeling sleep deprived and run down. While sleeping in isn’t a good idea, successful entrepreneurs know when they need to catch up on some much-needed rest. A 10- to 20-minute power nap may be just the thing to help you feel refreshed and alert – a short snooze is actually much more effective than a cup of coffee in providing an energy boost.
It’s best to keep naps short: 30 Minutes or less. Longer naps are more likely to leave you feeling groggy and can interfere with your nighttime sleep quality. So when that wave of post-lunch sleepiness hits, go ahead: Indulge in an mid-afternoon nap and enjoy the rest of your weekend!
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
How Lorenzo Escobal Bootstrapped His Way To Competing With Titans And Attracting Top-Tier Clients
Inception Automotive Detailing was founded in 2011 by Lorenzo Escobal. He was only 18 at the time, and the business started small, but Lorenzo has grown it significantly over the last few years and aligned it with top brands. His secret to success? Being proactive and not being afraid to ask for what he wants.
- Player: Lorenzo Escobal
- Company: Inception Automotive Detailing
- Location: Toronto, Canada
- Established: 2011
- Visit: inceptionautodetailing.com
As is often the case in the world of entrepreneurship, Lorenzo Escobal launched his own business purely out of necessity. Attending university in 2010, he realised that finding a job shortly after North America had experienced a financial meltdown wouldn’t be easy. If he wanted to be sure of an income, he would need to create it for himself. So, having detailed cars for friends and family since he was 15, he decided to launch his own operation called Inception Automotive Detailing.
He bootstrapped the business — launching with just $1 200 — and grew it slowly. Today, the company boasts clients like Google and Tesla. Here are Lorenzo’s tips for bootstrapping a small business capable of competing against much bigger players and attracting top-tier clients.
1. Build a great website and market online
The fact of the matter is, your company is judged largely by the quality of its website and online presence these days, especially if you’re taking your product/service to the client. Even if you don’t have fancy premises, you can create a professional appearance by investing in a great website.
Most people are going to find you through your website, so make sure it instantly impresses. Also, invest time and money in creating effective online marketing campaigns on Google and Facebook. Funnily enough, Google approached us about detailing work by finding us on Google.
A good website and good online reviews got us a foot in the door. From there, we could prove ourselves through our work.
2. Learn to network
Attracting clients online is important, but real-world networking shouldn’t be neglected either. There is immense value in joining professional organisations and attending conferences. It’s a great (and affordable) way to market, and you never know how the connections you make may pay off down the line. Networking and being in the public eye also builds credibility for your business. I’ve put a lot of time into getting my name and brand out there, but it’s been worth it.
3. Remember that no one is truly ‘self-made’
Every entrepreneur benefits from the wisdom and hard work of others. I’ve had great mentors who have helped me immeasurably in growing my business. I’ve also had the privilege of working with a great team who has helped me make the business what it is today. I do my best never to forget this, and I view myself not as a boss, but as a part of a team. Sure, I attend a lot of conferences and events, but I also jump in and help when there’s a lot of work to do.
As an entrepreneur, you need to be willing to get your hands dirty and do whatever’s needed — even if that means grabbing a mop and cleaning a dirty floor.
4. Make things happen
As an entrepreneur, you need to create opportunities, not wait for them to fall into your lap. I managed to get work from Tesla, for example, simply by asking for it. I filled out the contact form on the Tesla website and got a reply three days later.
Many entrepreneurs think that it’s pointless to approach large organisations because they’ll never want to do business with a small operation. Never simply assume that. Just ask, and see what happens. Sure, you’ll have to deal with a lot of rejection along the way, but that comes with the territory. Great entrepreneurs are never afraid to put themselves out there.
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