#IBYE Interview with Coder Dojo’s James Whelton
This is an IBYE Flashback that we just HAD to share with all young entrepreneurs again!
The reason why?
Well, James is an example of how a young entrepreneur with a driving interest and passion for your chosen field can be transformed into the ultimate success with the right networking and support (as well as lots of hard work and, in James’s words, ‘sleeping on a few couches’!). This interview was conducted with James during #IBYE 2014 yet. apart from circumstantial changes, the value of the insight shared is just as relevant today.
James has also worked alongside Twitter, Google, Facebook, GitHub, Microsoft, Enterprise Ireland, US State Department as well as advising government bodies nationally and internationally on subjects such as youth entrepreneurship and technology education.
So James What makes a good Entrepreneur?
There are so many elements that make up a good entrepreneur, everything from how well you know your market to having a healthy diet and exercising, but a few of the biggest things are surrounding yourself with the right people who will guide, inspire and push you, being flexible to seize whatever opportunity there is (no matter how far you have to travel or how many couches you have to sleep on) and never settle in terms of quality, exposure or ambition.
2. How important is networking for an entrepreneur? What networking events helped you get your business off the ground?
Networking is the key to opportunity. It could be a future client, employee, mentor, partner, funder or co-founder you meet, or someone who will connect you to one of those. It’s important to be able to spot time wasters and identify real valuable contacts. The more time you spend, obviously the better you get, so when the time comes that you need to talk the talk or get a desired result out of an interaction, you can. There are numerous events out there, from tech/business meetups to bigger conferences like the Web Summit.
3. How did you get investment and help with Coder Dojo? What advice would you give to a young entrepreneur with a great idea?
CoderDojo was bootstrapped (no funding) for a long time initially, the premise being if it took little to no money to operate, then it would be infinitely more difficult to die and easily scale with little financial requirements (note: I lived on couches during this period).
For young professionals who have an idea, I would stress to actually validate the idea before your invest too much blood, sweat, tears and money into it.There’s a big difference between what people is think is ‘cool’ and what is actually solving a problem or fulfilling a want people have enough for you to make a business on top of. Do this by telling the right and relevant people about your idea (nobody is going to steal it and your friends will tell you it’s a good idea to make you happy), research the market and opportunity, look at what competitors are and aren’t doing (and have tried in the past), understand what is the least you need in your MVP (Ed. Minimal Viable Product) – don’t succumb to feature creep. And don’t fall into the trap of falling so in love with your idea you are ignorant to the realities around it, harsh, honest and real feedback is the best.
4. How have you overcome failure on the road to success?
By taking learning from each failure and seeing each failure as growth. Everyone will mess up, everyone will get caught off guard by something unexpected, it’s often not how you fail, but how you handle it and limit the damage. There is any number of ways something can go wrong or a path you take doesn’t pan out, the best advice I can give here is make sure you’re able to sustain the failure both professional and personally; set expectations; don’t put all your eggs in one basket/deal; and make sure your mental health is able to cope with it.
5. What is next for you?
I’ve stepped away from the running of CoderDojo now that the foundation I setup is established and we have an awesome new CEO to run things. After spending some time looking at markets and opportunities, in addition to my own skill set and how I want to grow as an entrepreneur to achieve the things I want to achieve, I’ve joined an 80 person company in Dubai called Triperna as CTO to work more in emerging markets and in a rapidly scaling company. I still have a few tricks up my sleeve before I focus on my professional skateboarding career.
Some fantastic insight into the life of a young entrepreneur who has leaped to huge success.
Could you be the next James Whelton? Only one way to find out! Enter #IBYE now!