“Just Sell that Damn Cake”. This was one of the key take outs (for me) from the Startup Grind event that I attended on the 7th of March 2016 in Cape Town. But more on that later as I assume many of you may be thinking. What on  earth is Startup Grind?

Startup Grind is the largest independent startup community. It aims to inspire, educate and connect aspiring and established entrepreneurs in over 85 countries around the world. In the words of Startup Grind:

'The cornerstone of our global community are monthly events featuring successful local founders, innovators, educators and investors who share lessons learned on the road to building great companies. Founded in Silicon Valley, Startup Grind  has now hosted 2,000 fireside chats since its founding in 2010. To date, Startup Grind has helped millions of entrepreneurs find mentorship, connect to partners and hires, pursue funding, and reach new users'.

My reason for attending the event was because I am currently exploring the entrepreneurial path. And it is currently a dream of mine to own my own business. The life of the 8-5 is not for me. At all. 

So I reached out on Facebook and was told of the Startup event that was being held in Cape Town. I thought this was the ideal opportunity to see, firstly what this was all about and also to connect with fellow entrepreneurs and gather some insights.

I am currently exploring a business opportunity (I will not delve into specifics), but was told that I should bring some samples to display. I was a bit reluctant at first, but then thought, what the heck, what do I have to lose?

I arrived not knowing what to expect. I set up my little stand, gathered some feedback regarding the product I was displaying and I also connected with some fellow entrepreneurs. For me, that was one of the best things about StartUp Grind – the connections. I met the Co-Founder of the Social Vibe Grant Vanderwagen who on that day had just quit his job. He currently has two customers.

Now the beauty of each event which spans a network of 200 cities is that there is a fireside chat with an established and/or upcoming entrepreneur. This event hosted Ms. Matsi Modise (Simodisa). The chat involves getting to know the guest and their entrepreneurial journey and through the discussion some valuable insights and advice are provided to aspiring entrepreneurs.

Throughout the chat, you are encouraged to have your cell phone on and pose questions through sli.do.com, questions which are answered there and then. The questions posted appear on a large screen. It is very relaxed. You can get up, walk the front, and pose questions through the mic that is setup in the front. That for me was one of the coolest things about it. It was relaxed, encouraged engagement and a genuine discussion, an environment that is conducive to helping people in their entrepreneurial endeavours.

There were several competitions that they ran, one of which was to post what you regard as the ‘key take-out’ for that night on Twitter, with the hashtag StartCpt. The best ‘key take out’ won a dinner with some influential people where you could pitch your business idea.

From the discussion with Matsi Modise, the following stood out for me:

  1. Being an entrepreneur is extremely hard work. One crowd member summed it up rather nicely, worded slightly differently on the night “Being an entrepreneur is very romantic until you open your empty fridge”. Yes, people, make no mistake, being an entrepreneur requires hard work and a load of persistence.

  2. In setting up a business you cannot go at it alone – it is all about connections and meeting people who you can help and who can help you in expanding that business. Perhaps you need a mentor to guide you? Perhaps you need to meet someone who can help you with packaging your idea? Perhaps you need to meet someone who can give you a little advice? Startup Grind is such a place that fosters such connections.

  3. And then lastly “Just Sell the Damn Cake”. This really stood out for me. In  setting up a business you can get caught up in all the policy and legal requirements that you become crippled in moving forward. Sometimes you just need to go for it and work out the finer details as you go along. As a person who often tends to overcomplicate things, I found this invaluable.

So if you are an entrepreneur or an aspiring entrepreneur like myself I suggest you attend such an event in your city. If anything, it’s nice to meet other people that are on a similar journey to you. It makes you realise that you are not alone and should never embark on the journey alone.

Here’s to the journey. An exciting one. A tough one. A worthwhile one. And always remember.

Just Sell The Damn Cake!

Your Thoughts?

Are you an Aspiring Entrepreneur? Have you attended Startup Grind? Share your experience and insights below

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