A black techie is not how I've been describing myself, but maybe it is time for a change??
I'm learning more and more about my personality and what I have to do to get things done. Let me explain what I mean by this.
For instance, I have this desire to do great things BUT I have realized that if I don’t take action immediately, I’ll hesitate and talk myself out of doing whatever it is I know I should do.
So to avoid letting fear win. I sign up for anything and everything without reading all about what I’m signing up for (intentionally). Especially if it is something free and/or won't take that long to apply.
This is how I came to sign up for Startup Weekend South Central. I initially saw the event on Instagram and it was going on at Vector90 in my neighborhood on November 15 through the 17th. Now in my mind, I thought being that the event was three days it was like a conference they have panels and you get to meet some exciting people. But I brushed it off when I saw that the weekend was $80. What I didn’t know, because I didn’t intentionally read about the weekend, was that it was an event meant to have you go through the ideation stage to determining how we would validate, execute, design and define a business model for our ideas. We would essentially be creating a business and putting together a pitch (which means thinking through an entire business so that you can solicit investors). I've had 3 months and I haven't done this for my own business!!
I happened to see someone I knew advertising the event on Linkedin but this time they had a 50% coupon code and I read a little more and noticed that 7 meals were included in the price so I couldn't beat that.
When I arrived at the event on Friday they were going over the fundamentals of pitching a business or an idea. The fun began really bega. Ideas were pitched, we narrowed down 20 pitches to 6 and then we chose teams.
I chose a team devoted to solving a problem in the electric vehicle industry and was excited because it really felt like a viable business. The team even agreed early in the process that we would continue this after the weekend ended. When I say this event forced me to use ALL of my skills, I mean it.
I was creating logos, dealing with mathematical calculations, forecasting cash flows, working through legal issues, designing and editing the pitch deck, trying to create wireframes (I had no clue what this was), leading a team, being a team member, asking the hard questions, creating Gmail accounts, coordinating time, and just doing whatever else the team needed me to do. But nonetheless, I thrived. I was stressed due to the 72 hour time crunch and lack of sleep but there were no complaints. My passion shined through. This was everything I had been looking for in Corporate America and NEVER being able to find. I was surrounded by educated people of color who looked like me and I was able to add value without implicit bias, racism, or ignorance.
In the midst of the craziness, we had motivating panels to break up the nonstop work we were doing. We were allowed to network but we were so focused on getting our presentation together I’ll admit I skipped some of the networking but I think I networked enough with the mentors to have made an impact and formed some lasting relationships. But I am proud of myself because I was totally outside my comfort zone doing something I never would’ve knowingly let myself do had I known what the event really involved.
When I arrived on Saturday at 9 AM I was back to work until close to 10 or 11 PM. We left the day before right about midnight and then came back on Sunday ready to work changing our presentation up to the second before our teammate pitched or business. The competition was fierce! Some teams actually had investors already, some teams had working interfaces of what their app would look like. My team wasn't satisfied with what our wireframes looked like so we didn’t even present them.
After all the teams pitched their company in front of a packed house, the judges gave us their feedback and announced the winner. THEY CALLED OUR NAME.
I'm still in shock.
It’s such a joyous feeling to have put so much effort and love into a business and have people understand and believe in it even in 72 hours. We won over $12,000 in prizes and a spot into a coveted Los Angeles accelerator which I actually applied to and was rejected from. LOL, as an entrepreneur you are supposed to make a NO a YES right?
This experience was eye-opening to me for several other reasons. Most of all it really helped me see that I have so many skills to offer the world I need to just pick a few and focus on those and choose the target market. I would love to be a consultant for start-up companies. As an attorney, turned entrepreneur with a financial and design background I have a lot that I can offer businesses. I just have to do what I program myself to do and step out there on blind faith and do it!
My advice to you if you are anything like me... Step out on faith BLINDLY, don't let anyone (even you) talk you out of anything you want. If you see a job title you like, APPLY. See an event you want to go to, GO. A person you want to reach out to, Reach out. Don't think, just DO especially when it is something you are scared to do.
Let me know in the comments what you have been thinking of doing but haven't made a move yet?