My Journey When I was 16, I met my first entrepreneur, Dave. He was interesting because he wasn’t doing things the “normal” way. He quit university to set up his own online business from his parent’s home in rural Northumberland. He taught me things like .com and .co.uk weren’t the only possible endings for web addresses; the word “shmooze”; and most importantly he suggested I might love working for a small company.
A few years later, having graduated with a Drama degree in the middle of a rescission and with no idea which “proper job” I wanted, I opted to study Event Management in Newcastle. Dave invited me to a Thinking Digital event, Think and a Drink, and with the latter in mind I happily accepted! The majority of the talks went straight over my then tech-sceptic head. Only one guy caught my attention and so having indulged in both the pre and post-thinking drinks I announced, “I think you’re amazing and I want your life!”
Dave Erasmus became my second entrepreneur-called-Dave and my first startup boss. He introduced me to Ignite 100, taught me what iCloud was and let me in on the big secret; most people in business make it up as they go along. He also demonstrated the importance of investing time and generosity in those around you because it’s those people that will help you in return along the way. This advice really came to fruition when my course neared conclusion and I needed to get a job. With the help of my new network I secured an interview, coined myself Vic Whittington and got on the next train to London.
Unlike other interviews, at Central Working I didn’t feel that I had to regurgitate my CV. Here my story and my experiences – both successes and failures – were what mattered, and I left there, on my first day living in London, knowing not only that I wanted that job, but quietly confident I already had it! In the 18 months that followed I learnt to work with a vast spectrum of people; to kill things that didn’t go my way with kindness; and finally, to be brave and believe in myself. Based in Campus London I thrived on working with everyone from the earliest stage innovative startups to Google employees and the wealth of experience and expertise that their name attracted. I completely immersed myself in the startup ecosystem; if I wasn’t helping to run events, I’d be attending them. And as anyone in London’s startup scene will tell you, a great place to start it Silicon Drinkabout!
So often I hear that people have ended up in startup by mistake. My journey to becoming Event and Community Manger at the 3beards is no exception. However entrepreneurship is now cool, and whilst Brandson made it seem exciting, Zuckerberg has made it accessible. Throw in a global recession forcing more people to think creatively about their careers, to take risks and opportunities, just as I did, plus the rise of corporate awareness and support of innovation, we now see startup communities springing up all over the place, regenerating communities and reinvigorating a generation. Newcastle, where it all started for me, is certainly no exception.
I would like to see more young people exposed to the world of startup so they can make an active choice to be a part of it. To any parents, teachers or mentors reading this please pass on the lessons I’ve learnt. There is no such thing as a “proper job”! It’s amazing working in a small company; you learn as you go! Invest time in those around you, be brave and really believe in yourself!