Hi! I am Cherrie Hui from the MSc Strategic Marketing (online) programme. Like some of my peers, I joined Imperial College London because I wanted the world-class training and resources to have my own business one day.
Starting a business is a huge deal. It takes time, resources, and a tremendous amount of courage. It involves constant problem solving, fundraising and dealing with legal issues amongst many, many other things. In short, putting out fires all the time means the journey of building a startup can feel like a roller coaster ride.
Fortunately, I found the How To Talk series offered by the Enterprise Lab. The How To Talks are a 6-week series that provides a great entry point for anyone thinking about, or on the road to, realising their business idea. I was amazed by the variety of all the different talks delivered by experts within and beyond Imperial’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. All the concepts discussed are highly practical and actionable.
In How to Build a Startup with Dr. Olivia Ahn, co-founder and CEO of Planera, the world’s first flushable sanitary pad, we heard her
experience of building Planera from scratch as a student. Dr. Ahn shared the lessons she learned during her journey, including how to undergo an equity conversation with business partners, how to manage accounting and legal issues that come along with the highs and lows of her heavy R&D business. The top tips she shared consisted of practical insights and vivid experience she has lived as an entrepreneur.
Like Planera, most big world-changing business ideas have a humble start. One of the first and biggest challenges that a lot of innovators face is funding. Let’s be honest here, Amazon might not have sustained its first five years without venture capital investment. The question here is, How to Raise Funding for Your Startup? Srin Madipalli, founder of Accomable and former strategic advisor of Airbnb, shared his own fund-raising experience and journey as an entrepreneur. Now an angel investor and startup mentor, his tips on what catches the eyes of investors and how to choose the suitable type of investment are undoubtedly applicable and informative for founders.
Suppose you have gotten yourself out there, knocked on potential investors’ door and have secured yourself a pitching opportunity. Hurray! You are thrilled, but at the same time pretty stressed out. “What if I don’t do well?” Don’t worry. We have all been there. Mary Lemmer, Improv comedian and TED Talk speaker who started her first business at 14, gets you. Having gone through the ups and downs as an early entrepreneur, Mary in How To Use Improv to Improve your Business shared how she managed anxiousness when facing uncertainties. She demonstrates as an Improv corporate trainer the steps we can take to empower ourselves by
firing our judge and literally (I mean literally standing up) shaking off our own self-criticism in her interactive training session. It was instructive and a lot of great fun!
Okay so are we ready for the big pitch? Our product is going to look charming and we already knew that, but investors may need to see it, touch it, and feel it in order to buy into the idea and put their bet on us. In this regard, technologist and physical prototyping expert, Jude Pullen, from BBC 2’s Big Life Fix and Channel 4’s Great British Inventions is here to help. In his session on How to put the Pro in Prototype, he shares how he used affordable materials such as cardboard, plastic and foam to make prototypes for the NHS, and corporations such as Dyson, Warner Brothers and Raspberry PI. His experience on how to verify prototype practicality also helps entrepreneurs to rethink how they want to present their ideas in front of the public.
Juicy business ideas gain attractions, but the last thing you want is attraction from hackers who are not only interested in your project but also nosy about your data. In the How to Secure Your Data session, president of The Markup, Nabiha Syed, shared a step-by-step guide on data protection as a media and technology lawyer. As an early founder herself, she points out potential loopholes that can prejudice the business and precautions that can be taken. All the concepts are easy to apply, not to mention how illuminative and enriching it is to learn from this charismatic ex-vice president of BuzzFeed as well as “one of the best emerging free speech lawyers” according to Forbes magazine!
Throughout our journey as an entrepreneur, or even in our daily life, we often encounter people who are not exactly easy to work with – and this is a pain. But I found my answer in Gill Hasson’s session on How to Deal with Difficult People. As the author of many best-selling self-
help literatures, Gill breaks down the psychological factors that could make people be difficult and how we can manage it as individuals. She
took us through a thorough approach on how to conduct constructive conversations while not letting our emotions interfere. Her real-life examples make it so easy to understand and the concepts covered were really fascinating.
During this How to Talks series, I have learnt some important lessons that I can apply to achieve my goal towards being an entrepreneur. In fact, the content is very useful for entrepreneurs and non-entrepreneurs alike.
• The talks from Dr. Olivia Ahn and Srin Madipalli not only taught me how to build a business, but also how to keep calm during the ups and downs of my entrepreneurial journey. Both of these inspiring entrepreneurs made me feel that the struggles that I could be having may only be part of the journey towards success because I have already taken the first steps toward my dream!
• I particularly enjoyed Gill’s talk on dealing with difficult people as she showed how having a completely different perspective can allow me to have control over a difficult situation and importantly not let others affect my self-esteem.
• In this regard, Mary’s Improv comedy exercises really helped me to regain my power. I was surprised how practicing the simple and quick exercises she shared has already helped boost my self-confidence for interviews, pitches and presentations.
Interested in watching these talks? If so, check out the How To Talk archive now and attend the upcoming talks taking place this term!