Curtin Alumni Gordon Owili and David Tham were brought together recently by our “Innovators Assemble!” event. With a wealth of entrepreneurial experience between them, Gordon and David spoke to an audience of budding entrepreneurs from Curtin as part of our Careers For Tomorrow Festival.
As Commercial and Financial Manager of AWE Limited, Gordon holds a Masters in both Business Administration and Business Law, and is the author of the book ‘Disruption: Game Changing Startups’.
David is the founder of the multinational training provider nanoKnowledge, and has worked in a number of start-ups across industries ranging from publishing to broadcast media to telecommunications to global travel. He is most noted, however, for his pioneering work in internet enterprise, social media marketing, and e-learning innovation.
Start Ups and Entrepreneurship
The terms ‘start-up’ and ‘entrepreneurship’ are not new concepts. All companies would, at one stage, have been considered a start-up, and their founder an entrepreneur.
Entrepreneurship can seem intimidating. There’s the fear of failure and what can seem to be an immovable mountain of hard work standing between you and success. But it’s important to remember that you are not the first person to feel this way, nor will you be the last.
“My students are experiencing the same emotions now that I experienced when I first started out as an entrepreneur. The starting up, the anxiety, the initial failures, the success, fear, joy, complacency, indifference – it’s all still the same. It’s an experience of learning, feeling, and picking yourself up again, and again.” David Tham.
While the emotional experience of entrepreneurship hasn’t changed, the opportunities and knowledge available to today’s entrepreneurs have grown steadily.
Something interesting is happening
Over time the tools and industries have changed, but there will always be room for new ideas and innovations. The world is in a constant state of change, and entrepreneurs are benefiting from this.
The landscape of connecting consumers with product is a little different these days:
“Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate. Something interesting is happening.” Tom Goodwin, Senior Vice President at Havas Media.
The growth of social media and popularity of services such as Uber and Airbnb has created a whole new market place for entrepreneurs to take advantage of.
Innovation and resilience
Both Gordon and David advise future would-be entrepreneurs to seek advice and learn as much as possible when first starting out.
“You can read many stories about successful entrepreneurs online, but if you really want the truth of what it means to be an entrepreneur, you need to speak to one face-to-face”, said Gordon. “As an entrepreneur you need to be resilient, have a clear vision, and be able to execute that vision.”
You also need to be driven.
“Before you actually put your foot on the ignition, think about how you’re innovating yourself, because if you can’t innovate yourself on a personal level, how are you going to innovate other people?”
Both of our panel members had some great advice and tips to share with the audience and – for those of you who couldn’t be there – here’s a summary of some of 8 of their best tips.
- Find something you’re passionate about.
- Be innovative and active in your own personal life.
- Speak to an entrepreneur in person to get a more in-depth understanding of what it takes to be an entrepreneur.
- Have a backup plan
- Be methodical in your research – know your market and your possible investors.
- Money matters – You need to have at least some capital before you get started.
- Find a mentor and start networking.
- Be open to change and learning new skills.
If you’re not sure if you are entrepreneurial tap into our online module or browse Careers For Tomorrow for related articles. You never know, you might have a brilliant idea that is just waiting to start-up!