Well, what a whirlwind first few weeks. Such a whirlwind that if I’m totally honest with you, I’m going into week five and only just writing my week one blog. So, with my newly learnt (forced) time management skills, I’m amalgamating a few weeks into one – to utilise my time most efficiently.

Truthfully, I had no idea what to expect from the Propel Programme. I was a little bit naïve. I thought I had worked as hard as possible in my final year of Uni, and this would have probably set me up fairly well, but I was so wrong. It’s certainly been an eye-opening experience to try and balance being sole founder of a business that I have developed in less than 8 weeks, as well as keep up with the fast-moving pace of the programme, whilst being in the moment and making the most of it. All of that aside, one thing I can tell you for certain is what an incredible first few weeks I have had. I am so excited for what else is to come.

Firstly, I have met some outstanding people who have reaffirmed my passion for entrepreneurship. The team at Propel – consisting of Chris, Ian, Tristian and Kate – make every day a challenge, something exciting and different. Not to mention the other teams who are all unique and awesome in their own ways. I know that already I have made friends for life.

Photos by Simon Mills – http://photosby.si/

Now to get to the nitty gritty, what have I actually been doing – good question! My main takeaways for weeks one and two.

Week 1:

  • Learn how to pitch, and the importance of pitching. During my initial pitch (shat myself, not literally…thank god), I felt nervous and all over the show. But after being what I can only describe as strongly coerced, into pitching most days, I suddenly feel like a competent and confident public speaker.
  • My main lesson learnt is always be ready to pitch. You could be called upon at any time. In the restroom, in the coffee queue, on the train home, in the middle of the street…even be prepared for people to turn up at your front door asking you to pitch. Know your pitch so well you can say it in your sleep – you will be that tired anyway.
  • Other key highlights included a Founder Fireside with Mark Dowds, serial entrepreneur, co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer for Trov, and co-founder of the Ormeau Baths. His advice on being an entrepreneur was totally invaluable. Mainly he emphasised the importance of character, discipline, and staying humble no matter how successful you get.

Week 2:

  • More pitching (of course, no brainer).
  • Paul Smith – what a man! One of the founders of the Ignite programme, blew us away with his informative, brutally honest, and really god damn funny, 0-10 customers workshop. For me, what stood out the most was his talk on finding balance and protecting your mental health whilst being an entrepreneur (two things I certainly struggle with)!
  • We also did an interesting exercise around finding your customer personas and understanding your business. This was really positively challenging as it forced you to really question and consider your audience, the language you use to speak with them (not at them) and how to market your product. Good luck to Paul with his new business venture – Ricochet.

Working in a start-up is so different to what I had thought. My main takeaway has to be that momentum is key. You can read all of the books you want, listen to all of the different opinions being fired at you, and try and make something perfect. But the key to all of it is to learn, absorb as much information as you can, and act on it. Feedback is so critical. I’m learning that I can’t be afraid of failure and that I just need to crack on and get things done (being a perfectionist makes this impossible)! So, for now, that is what I will head off and do. Thanks for reading and I promise I will try to keep on top of writing weekly.

Ps. Thank you to my partner Mollie for helping me write my first blog.

All the best,

Ryan