From a young age I have been fascinated by the process of creative problem solving, which led me to pursue a degree in Computer Science and Mathematics and a PhD in Mathematic Finance at The University of Manchester.
During my studies, I was continually exploring my business ideas and constructed business plans for three of them. Subsequently I entered the university business plans competition - Venture Further; however, was unable to even reach the finals of the competition in two subsequent years. In October 2009 I entered the university's business ideas competition Venture Out, where I proposed GiveMeTap, which enables people who carry a specially-branded bottle to find water on the go from a network of eateries. The academic judges could not see the potential in the project and handed me another knockback by rejecting the business idea.
Despite these setbacks I persisted, as I felt passionately that this project would work and be successful. After four months of hard work I had created a network consisting of 26 locations where GiveMeTap users can get free tap water refills around Manchester and began successfully distributing the GiveMeTap bottles around the university campus.
My passion for this project was felt by an audience of business professionals and students in London who voted for me and my idea GiveMeTap as the Shell LiveWIRE elevator pitch competition winner. Since winning that competition, and securing funding from UnLtd (the Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs), I was mentioned in the Manchester Evening News and Crains Manchester Business Magazine and TheBusniessDesk.com, and cited in a NACUE case study.
Those earlier knockbacks and the skills I learnt along the way really helped me overcome a huge challenge: the challenge of moving quickly and actually executing the business plan. A lot of time can be spent in planning, getting bogged down in planning the extremely fine details. Many call this 'paralysis-by-analysis' and was something I had to continually tried avoid, as through my research degree I have been accustomed to performing in-depth analysis of problems before drawing conclusions in order to derive new mathematical models.
To think, plan, and take action at the quickest time possible. I got in the habit of testing out my ideas very quickly and adjusting as I progressed. I often found that the answers to many of the questions I had when planning could only be answered once I began executing and running the business. This flexible approach, of thinking, planning and taking rapid action coupled with the ability to keep trying even in the face of setbacks is what has given me even more desire to make GiveMeTap reach it goals of making water easily accessible to anyone, anywhere, anytime.
Thinking creatively and then following through with action can have huge impacts on your business. This really showed me how persistence and passion really overcomes almost any obstacle.
Persistence really does pay! GiveMeTap was rejected by Manchester University lecturers, who thought it was not sustainable and couldn't see how it would generate revenue to support the development of water projects. I learnt that by taking feedback (both positive and negative) and then moving forward nonetheless, great things can be achieved.
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