In the span of one year, both my son and I had cancer. It was a life-changing year in many ways. When things like that challenge what you believe you start to re-evaluate. My definition of risk changed and I let go of fear to launch Startupbootcamp to help entrepreneurs be successful.
In large companies, you tend to stress about people (e.g. culture, hierarchy, org charts) and less about money (you’re going to get your salary). In a startup, you worry more about money but you have a lot more influence over who you work with. I’ll take that any day; who you work with and culture are such a big part of your quality of work life. And of course, a direct having influence on the success — even survival — of the company is hugely gratifying.
I decided to start my business the moment I recognized I have what it takes of experience and knowledge to do it. The moment I realized I can make a difference in people’s business lives.
The most interesting part about being an Entrepreneur is learning new things every single day. I feel like it really challenges me in ways I didn’t expect. You have to find the answer and discover the pathway forward, there is no one else but you and your partners.
Our first product, Ox Box English Playtime, is a series of short stories and play kits that help non-native pre-schoolers learn English through play. I was able to license the business to our joint venture partner in South Korea, and have now returned to the corporate sector.
Deep down, I think it was a desire to test myself and prove myself outside of the comfort of big companies. I had built a successful career as a Finance professional, working for global blue-chip organisations but I had wondered whether I could equally be as successful if I started something from scratch. Being on the programme gave me the opportunity to step back and make the decision to try. And I’m really glad I did.
I have found the skills and knowledge from my corporate experience to be of enormous value during my entrepreneurial journey. Equally, the experience I have as a start-up founder, has equipped me with new skills and a real “can-do” attitude that are helping me in my current role.
Being able to give back. This sounds so cheesy but so true. As a start-up, we were always short of money and life was always fragile but we found so many different ways to give back to society in every possible way we could find. We donated products to children’s homes, made small but meaningful financial donations to a small group of young adults, we created a social media campaign to raise awareness of the Australian bushfire efforts and most recently, we provided our digital learning content for free to over 1,400 schools in South Korea when COVID-19 first hit the country. None of these efforts had any commercial gains for us and in fact, giving away our content for free was not an easy decision but because everyone involved in Ox Box believed in the cause, we were able to make that happen with lightning speed. The messages of gratitude and support from the schools and teachers have been incredibly rewarding.
The ASPIRE programme is designed for those who want to take the opportunity to redefine what work means to them by starting their own businesses, becoming an entrepreneur.
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