Me, Entrepreneurs and a Roomful of Ideas!

Fast Growing Business with Rocket and Computer - Project Start-U
Image via Freerangestock

Recently I was part of a panel at this year’s Creative³ conference talking about “Kindness In Design”. My fellow panelists were Rowan Lamont, an amazing industrial designer from Designworks. Rachel Burke an artist and designer creating specialty, wearable art pieces and communal art projects. Rachel documents her creative journey and daily art practice on her Instagram page @imakestagram, you should check it out. I love her tinsel clothing art pieces which she has delivered for the likes of Kesha and Dani Minogue amongst others. And yes we did discuss a potential tinsel inspired waistcoat! Watch this space.

Creative³ is for entrepreneurs in the creative industries and is the brainchild of QUT Creative Enterprise Australia. It’s pitched as an event “created for curious minds who have a love for design, the arts, and all things creative industries” and states that “Creative³ is the only event of its kind in Australia, featuring a series of dynamic presentations from the world’s leading creative game changers.” It has keynote speakers, a panel and is where four finalists pitch their new business ideas. The winner’s prize is a trip to Copenhagen to represent Australia at the Creative Business Cup (it’s like a global Eurovision Song Contest for Start-Ups!) and then onto London to work with Virgins StartUp mini accelerator programme, StepUp.

Now if you’ve followed my blogs you’ll know I’m a bit skeptical about people calling themselves entrepreneurs, as most people who use this label are just starting a ‘business as usual’ company. Admirable and brave to have a go and I always wish them the best of luck with it, but in my view it’s not entrepreneurial.

This event however, wow, this was a chance to meet true entrepreneurs who really want to change the world. The finalists were:

    1. World’s Biggest Garage Sale (WBGS) 

WBGS is a Brisbane based startup that offers solutions to commercialise the circular economy.

WBGS is building a company that maximises the value of goods already in the economy, through resale, recycling, repurposing, rehoming, renewing, restoring and re-commerce. In doing so, they are diverting landfill, drawing wealth from waste, and creating jobs.

WBGS is a digital platform that enables communities around the world to hold large scale re-commerce events. By activating dormant goods, they provide positive impact for people, for the planet, and profit for purpose.

    1. ANTI 

Helmets are life saving devices. Nobody drives without seat belts, so why do people ski without helmets?  The answers ANTI found were to do with comfort, ease of use and fit.

The solution from the team of snow-crazy entrepreneurs at ANTI was to develop a world first… a beanie that’s as safe as a helmet.

The hybrid headwear uses a soft material that hardens on impact. The wearer has the comfort of a beanie as they shred around the slopes but the safety of a helmet when they need it most.

After lots of research and development, ANTI now have the technology to create this product. They’re currently in the middle of a pre-seed round, with the aim of having a product in the crowdfunding market November this year.

    1. The Can’t Sleep App 

The Can’t Sleep App helps individuals that suffer from insomnia to fall asleep faster and wake up feeling refreshed within just 10 days of use. This is achieved through music which is easy, convenient and has no side effects.

The relaxing music is scientifically designed to calm and improve sleep. It is unique because the user builds their own music, composed in real-time using algorithms so it never repeats, never gets boring and is never distracting making it more effective.

The App has been presented at the Australian Music Psychology Society and has won an award from the Melbourne Institute of Technology. The current version is available free to beta users with the live launch available in early July from the app store.

    1. Theright.fit

Theright.fit is the first online tool of its kind that simplifies the task of casting, booking, and paying talent using a smartphone, tablet, or computer.

Traditionally, companies needed an agency to book talent for a campaign. This process was often expensive and created delays, with clients unable to afford the cost or spare the time to prepare briefs. theright.fit has simplified this process by providing a platform that offers direct access to talent, whilst giving clients full control. This double ended marketplace streamlines the booking and briefing process for clients and allows talent to have the widest opportunity to work.

theright.fit has almost 7,000 people on the platform including leading international photographers, professional athletes, celebrity chefs, Miss Universe, and Home and Away actors. theright.fit is currently working with brands such as Coca Cola, The Iconic, AAMI Insurance and Menulog, and international advertising agencies Havas Worldwide, WPP Groups and The Monkeys.

These amazing companies had 5 minutes to pitch their ideas with a 2 minute Q&A. All conference delegates were given the opportunity to vote through a live app. And the winner was ……. ANTI. 

Not a surprise as it will save lives whilst making people still look cool on the slopes. Their pitch was especially memorable as ANTI’s founder sat on stage, put the beany on and was hit over the head by a colleague with a 4ft piece of wood which broke in half on impact! He was unscathed.

Walking and talking the room, it was filled with investors, accelerators, mentors, passionate creatives and true entrepreneurs. I met youngsters who blew my mind. Matt is 18 and started his company, bop industries at 14. Matt is the Chief Trouble Maker (CEO) and teaches/inspires kids in school, not just to be the next generation of Digital Creators but also the skillset of “confidence”, to go into the world and get stuff done. He’s in talks with some of the biggest companies in the world to be partners with him. Matt also creates holograms for presentations. Loved that, and trust me I’ll be in negotiations with him get my life size hologram “digital self” to present beside me!

I met business people who are at their top of their game, Hamish, the ex MD of R M Williams who turned it from a struggling public company back into a private entity with huge success to then selling to it Louis Vuitton, and Cameron, Chief Product Officer who helped start up digital design platform Canva 6 years ago, that’s now valued at over $1 billion, an Australian owned Unicorn Start up!! 

So what do you do with a roomful of talent and so many ideas? You embrace it, you learn from it and you take action. I’m lucky that I go to quite a few conferences and often speak at them. Inspiration follows, but so many times we get back into the routine of our day job and life and don’t follow up with action. The key is to pick a few takeaways. Enough to stretch you but be achievable, just. Not being a great note taker I take loads of pictures of slides and write down ideas and points of actions after the event. 

At this event a lot of the presentations, and discussions I had with people, reinforced my thinking around business and leadership. My key take away points are: 

  • In a lessons learnt session, one of the speakers threw up the slide that said, “Don’t work with assholes!” This rings true to me and is fundamental to success. It also reinforces the writing (slow work in progress) of my leadership book FIFO, which states that assholes/dickheads (insert appropriate word) cannot be part of any business at any level and how to deal with it. 

  • We should never listen to people who say things about our ideas like “That’s not possible”, “It won’t work” and “That’s not how we do it”. You have no idea how many times I’ve heard these words. It’s almost comical now because a lot of my success is down to knowing that most people think this way, actually allowing me to deliver solutions differently, breaking molds and delivering success.

  • I also had lengthy chats regards business success being about people. The right people in the right seats with a common passion and purpose is vital. (Jim Collins Good to Great taught me this a long time ago). Mixed personalities, multi-talented people and colliding ideas are needed to achieve the companies’ purpose, but a passion to achieve it and an unwavering belief to deliver it, is the glue for success. So many so called leaders focus on process, policy and efficiencies for success, but these are by products. It’s the people who believe in the purpose that drive a culture of delivery and success. It’s tough to do but when done right, the collective can achieve anything.

The Creative³ event was full of passion, drive, enthusiasm and excitement and to watch these entrepreneurs, young and old, question the status quo and find new and better ways to do things was infectious. It warms my cockles to know that as long as we have people with passion projects who take pleasure in what they are doing and trying to change the world we live in for the better, there’s hope in changing the way traditional big companies and industries work. As Darwin’s Origin of the Species said 

“It is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself.”

And finally, as Tim ‘Rosso’ Ross finished his keynote for the night, his takeaway message was to be passionate about what you do, have fun doing it and “Take your pleasure seriously……” Amen!  

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About The Author:

Mark Bray is Director, Mentor and Business Coach with over 30 years’ experience working in the construction industry in the UK, US and Australia.

Marks passion, (His Why), is to inspire people and teams to be better than they believe they can be. Through true leadership, questioning the status quo and as a committed mentor, Mark strives to bring positive change and results of the highest order.

Follow Mark’s updates here at Make One’s Mark and on Twitter @MarkieJBray

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