Last Wednesday was one of the most intense days I’ve had in a long, long while.
It started inauspiciously enough. I wiped the sleep from my eyes and noticed that the eye infection I’d been failing to shake off had only worsened. I don’t think that the Welshest accident ever the day before had helped. Swnami’s biggest hit was playing on Radio Cymru, whilst I struggled to affix a plastic leek to my son’s red rugby jersey, ahead of the St David’s Day parade at his school. The song reached a climax and my son leapt up. Leek, meet eye; eye, be leaky.
So it was, that I set off for the latest day on the rollercoaster of running a start-up. Fortunately, the rest of the day was an eye opener, rather than squinter.
First port of call, following the school-run, was Central Station to pick up one of my co-founders at doopoll, Sam, who had come up from his home in Dorset for the day especially. Bright(er) eyed and bushy tailed, Sam came through the barriers beaming smiles. Like me, he was excited, but nervous too, for what lay in wait.
Next up, we headed to Cardiff City Stadium. Normally, home to Vincent Tan’s Bluebirds, today it was hosting the Welsh finals of the prestigious Global Entrepreneurship Challenge (GEC) Cymru. I’d been invited to give the closing speech of the day; talking the gathered students, from 17 colleges across Wales, through my journey and life as an entrepreneur. For many participants GEC Cymru is their first opportunity to develop a business idea in an environment which replicates some of the challenges they will face in working life following college. As such, the onus was on to stress how anyone can start their own business, but also how realistic the challenge was.
Whilst I’m not a fan of the whole journey thing, I did find the experience of speaking about my childhood and what I got from my Mam and late Dad, very emotional. I’m not one for melodrama but genuinely couldn’t stop my voice from cracking, or hold back the tears (nothing to do with the leek / infection this time round!)
On the whole people seemed pretty complimentary though. Here’s some of the tweets from the audience:
I’d taken the opportunity primarily because inspiring youngsters to take the plunge and start their own business is important to me. Having already been an active member of the Big Ideas Wales mentoring team for three years, I’d been used to visiting schools and encouraging young people to give entrepreneurship a go. Excitingly, I was assured that the students at the finals were the cream of the crop and they certainly didn’t disappoint.
The other reason for taking the chance to speak was because the organisers had agreed to use doopoll to actually decide the winners of one of the categories live at the event. For those readers who aren’t aware, doopoll is an online platform for creating dynamic polls, uses anonymous voting, live feedback, the ability to edit and add questions in real-time and to use the platform on any device. Hence, we were chuffed to be facilitating the voting to decide the Ian Bennett award for the team that had participated most truly in the spirit of the event. This was great as we were able to ask the room who they felt fitted best overall:
And then after whittling the long list down to a group of four finalists, Marc, my other co-founder, was able to add an additional question detailing and shortly thereafter we had our clear and worthy winners: the cowboy behatted Grŵp Llandrillo Menai!
The buzz in the room as the live votes were coming through was tangible and the hundreds there were cooing with excitement. A great feeling for us