This time last year I didn't know what a startup was.
I had been living a stress-free life as an English teacher in South Korea and was known for dropping everything on a whim to go travel the world. I always had dreams of starting my own business one day, even from a very young age and had looked on at the word 'entrepreneur' with the highest esteem and desire for many years.
An Entrepreneurial Childhood
I used to spend my summers in the South of Ireland with my younger cousins, searching my father's corn field for lost golf balls, only to clean them and sell them on the side of the road each evening. This method made us over 100 pounds in two short days one summer - a lot of money for a few 10 year olds.
Fast forward almost 20 years, and I still have the same fascination with business, and with making money, but not for the reasons most people think. I've never been a good saver, I have never had much money and I certainly never opt for the highest paid job out there.
I just love the idea of selling an idea, your own idea, and seeing the positive results when that idea succeeds.
Be it selling golf balls at the side on the street, selling ad space on your travel blog, or selling meeting spaces to companies all over the world, there's no greater feeling that reaping the benefits of your own hard work.Upon returning from my world travels last September, I knew it was time to start setting my entrepreneurial dreams in motion. I slowly began to form ideas of my own.
I saw the pitfalls young entrepreneurs in Ireland were falling into but I also saw the huge opportunity and support available for new businesses.
I realised that while my idea of selling golf balls as a kid was indeed a great little business, it wasn't repeatable and it wasn't scalable. I needed to get inside a startup in order to see its inner workings, to see how one small idea, such as car-sharing with people in your city or allowing strangers to sleep in your spare room, can grow into a multi-million dollar business.
Hands On Experience
I started working for a startup called Meetingsbooker.com, an online booking portal that helps companies around the world easily find the perfect meeting and conference rooms. The idea behind Meetingsbooker was much further along than most startups I had encountered in Dublin. They had already succeeded in signing up over 70,000 hotels to their site, had secured over one million euro in funding and had 8 full-time staff members with the intention of hiring many more month on month.
While our offices were small to begin with, the company expanded exponentially over the last six months, growing from 8 permanent employees to almost 30. We moved office and company morale went through the roof.
Despite all the growth and obvious success of Meetingsbooker, a startup is still a startup at the end of the day. We are the ones who moved office, built the tables, put the new chairs together. We are the one who worry when we are having a bad week and rejoice when the company is doing well. The team is included in everything, from new website developments and affiliate programmes to real life struggles with financing and investment.
A Learning Curve
It's hard to believe how much I learnt in my first six months.
I learned how to give a 30 second elevator pitch to sell your idea to investors, how to write a press release and how best to approach tech journalists.
I learned to network like crazy at every occasion and to tell your idea to just about anyone would listen.
In a way, working for a startup can often times feel like a club or even a family unit. Everyone supports each other in different ways and genuinely cares about the success of the unit as a whole. We have 'bring your dog to work' days and love when staff members bring in their kids for the team to meet. We work hard, together, and we reap the benefits of the company's growth, together.
The truth is that working for a startup is unlike working anywhere else. It will open your eyes to the vast opportunities out there and might even inspire you to set up your own business one day. At least it does for me.