“I’m not an entrepreneur, Startup Weekend isn’t for me”
A guest post from Mansfield Startup Weekend Team member Edward Akinyemi
This is one of the most common points of resistance we get when we pitch Startup Weekend Mansfield to potential participants.
“I’m not an entrepreneur, I’m just a regular person working in a factory/a company/a shop downtown. Entrepreneurship is only for young people with business degrees, coders, developers, and that type of folk.”
But what is entrepreneurship, really? Is it just those cool kids in Silicon Valley riding on their fancy scooters to their cryptocurrency startups? Is it just the multi-billionaire trailblazers like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates? Absolutely not. Here’s what Investopedia has to say about entrepreneurs:
“An entrepreneur is an individual who, rather than working as an employee, founds and runs a small business, assuming all the risks and rewards of the venture. The entrepreneur is commonly seen as an innovator, a source of new ideas, goods, services and business/or procedures. Entrepreneurs play a key role in any economy. These are the people who have the skills and initiative necessary to anticipate current and future needs and bring good new ideas to market.”
This definition says nothing about technology, nothing about cryptocurrency, nothing about age, nothing about software developers, coders, designers, and so on. Entrepreneurs simply “bring good, new ideas to the market.” They solve problems, provide new ideas, and take on the risks and rewards of their efforts. That’s it. It’s not limited to any group of people or any specific type of industry.
Too many people think that entrepreneurship is not for them because their definitions and perceptions of entrepreneurship are flawed. So many of us stifle our great ideas because we think we don’t have or deserve a seat at the table, that we don’t belong, or that entrepreneurship is only for the fancy tech guys in the world.
Startup Weekend Mansfield is our attempt to break all of these myths. We brought this event to Mansfield exactly because we want to show the community that every idea is welcome. Each and every profession/industry has a place here.
We found a few success stories of entrepreneurs (from Startup Weekend and other related events) in an effort to prove to you that every person in the world with an idea that solves a problem, any problem, is an entrepreneur.
Zhou Qunfei, founder of Lens Technology, quit her factory job due to the “boredom, harsh conditions, and poor hours.” She went her own way and set up a workshop with some of her relatives where she repaired and designed factory machinery. She taught herself complex screen-printing processes and other techniques that allowed her to improve prints for curved glass. In July 2017, Lens Technology was worth approximately $11 billion and was making glass screens for mobile-phone makers like HTC, Nokia, Apple, and Samsung.
When the Skila cloth factory in Rantakylä, Finland closed down, many workers found themselves unemployed. As a result, the majority of them went the route of entrepreneurship and formed a business together called Viis'tikki. In this business, they used their skills and expertise in the field of sewing (skills that they learned at their previous employment at the cloth factory Skila) to provide sub-contracting services to the clothing industry. To date, the success of the Viis'tikki Sewing Company has been tremendous. In fact, “the workload has become such that apprentices have had to be hired for various tasks. Demand for the subcontracting work has been profitable and the prospects for the future are positive.”
Claire Coder (yes, that is her last name) is the founder of Aunt Flow and started her company in response to a very simple problem: menstruation. When she attended Startup Weekend Columbus in 2015, she unexpectedly got her period on the Friday night of the big event. While in the restroom, she thought to herself “Wow, it is so wild that companies offer toilet paper and paper towels, but not tampons or pads.” Just minutes after this experience, Claire pitched the idea of “ensuring everyone has access to menstrual products” to other participants, got a great team to work on the idea, and the rest, as they say, is history. This story teaches us an important lesson. That is, Claire encountered a problem and created a solution to fix it. That, ladies and gentlemen, is entrepreneurship. Is it easy? No. But you’re not alone. We are creating a community in Mansfield to make it possible for everyone to become an entrepreneur.
No matter who you are, you do have a seat at the table. Your idea, your effective solution to a problem, deserves to be heard. So hurry up, get your tickets, and join us on September 28, 29, and 30 at IdeaWorks! What are you waiting for?