A few days ago I went to my first Silicon Drinkabout at Shoreditch, London. (More on that later.) Held in a basement pub, the space buzzed with entrepreneurs trying to give their ideas legs in the real world. I ran into Kieran Dowling, founder of The Contract Hub. We got to talking on how in the cut-throat world of start-ups you need more than just inspiration. You need that intangible something more. Call it being at the right place at the right time, or plain simple kismet. This is a blog post from Kieran on the real life connection that got it all going for him.
“My father is a sports fanatic. He spends most of his time travelling up and down the country with one of his Gaelic football or hurling teams. In my youth I spent much of my time in his coattails following the same teams. Winning or losing had a very profound effect on my father in those days. If he lost a big game he was not pleasant to be around. He blamed referees, injuries, poor weather conditions. He could often disappear from happiness for a week or more. Now after 20 years of ups and downs he’s a lot more relaxed. If he loses a game he usually puts it down to faith – “it wasn’t our day” or “we just didn’t get the breaks”, I’ll hear him telling my mother as she enquires.
After 20 years in the game he has finally realised that some things are beyond his control. He does what he can and leaves the rest to faith/god/the universe/the rub of the green (circle as appropriate for your belief system). As a start up in London in a very competitive environment there is a lot I can take from this. You can build the MVP, you can do your beta testing, you can hold focus groups, seek finance… but at the end of the day certain things are beyond your control.
I firmly believe you need a touch of luck (or help from the universe as per my belief system) to be successful as a start-up. There are many brilliant ideas out there but only 1 in 10 make it. Is it connections, a good idea, access to money or all of the above that decides this? I don’t think so. I would argue its being in the right place at the right time or getting the “rub of the green”. You can only do what you can and then sit back and let the universe unfold. That’s not to say you don’t try. As I said: YOU DO WHAT YOU CAN, and then forget about it.
Let me give you an example. I identified a company that could be a good potential partner for us. I searched for 2 months to find someone who worked there to get the inside scoop on them – are they an approachable organisation or are they one of the many sharks in the start-up scene looking to devour any plump and tasty looking gazelles who are too new to this world to put up much of a fight?
2 months of searching led to not much success – nobody knew these guys. I had one last hope, a guy who might know someone there (knowledge gained from social media stalking, a skill start ups must quickly become adept at). I booked myself into a conference just to meet this guy to ask if he knew someone at said company. After all my efforts – nothing. He had no idea who they were. Slinking slowly from yet another seminar where I had more interest in the audience than the speaker, I decided to forget about this company. I dusted myself down and agreed to move on the next morning.
|The Contract Hub|
2 days later I was at another start-up event. I randomly got chatting to a guy and told him about my start up: “Oh, I have a friend who works in company doing something similar”. “Really, what are they called”. BINGO!! The exact company I was looking for. The guy introduced us and we are meeting next Monday. Maybe nothing comes of it, maybe there’s a deal that makes us. I don’t know, but I’m excited to find out.
The point is however you need a bit of luck. There were 50+ people at that event. I could have ended up talking to anyone. Or I could have stayed at home and watched Coronation street. What are the chances I met the exact guy I needed who also happened to also be decent enough to make an introduction for someone he knew 5 minutes? But you also have to make your luck. You have to be in the room in the first place to have the possibility to meet the guy.
So from my view you need a mixture of work, luck and a little bit of faith to be successful in this game… or any game. Luckily I don’t have to spend 20 years chasing football teams around Ireland to realise this… or maybe that’s why I realise this now….”
About Kieren Dowling, in his own words: “I am someone who looks for solutions to problems that nobody else thought about – thinking outside the box. Combine this with a passion for online technologies and you have an unpredictable but intriguing combination where ideas like The Contract Hub are born.”