I’m Kat McArthur and six months ago I gave up on the idea of paid work, moved from Brisbane to my parents in Mackay, and used my savings to start planning several business concepts. I wanted to be more than my position description and I wanted to create freely. “Create what?” you may ask. Well even I didn’t know yet.
After returning home from six months of backpacking in South America and visiting friends in Europe, I didn’t need much encouragement to continue living a life of exploration. I’d met all kinds of people on the road who’d gotten out of their comfort zones to follow their life’s greatest passions. I was curious if I too could be so lucky, if I was brave enough. Soon after, I read The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss about designing your work life around your dream lifestyle. Any remaining conventions niggling my conscience were squashed with excitement. I had to give it a shot.
Three months later, with a ream of desktop research and a dozen business ideas, I moved back to Brisbane to start meeting the right people. I’d be a mug not to launch a tech startup. All my brainstorming and favourite ideas pointed in the same general direction: help people seek services more efficiently and more enjoyably through the internet or their smartphones, whether that be shopping, holiday planning or entertainment. When I arrived in Brisbane, it just happened to be Startup Spring, a month chock-full of networking events.
Fast-forward two months to November. I had the biggest up-and-down of my entrepreneurial jaunt so far. One day, after not making the top 10% of applicants in an investment and accelerator program, I decided I should just go back to paid work. I had given it six months and it was time to wake up and smell the reality.
The next weekend, my winning business concept ‘Amble’ and my pop-up team of volunteers at Startup Weekend Gold Coast means I now have a lean tech startup. Not just a paper plan; I have people and a minimum viable product in the form of an app demo that we’re using to test a few of our assumptions. I even interviewed on the Gold Coast news, and I have a fear of public speaking! The best day of your life is when a hair-brained scheme you love is positively received by peers and becomes REAL. There’s only one day between quitting and winning!
This great reception to my business concept means I am even more determined to make a successful business venture. I never tire of receiving feedback about how my app will help travellers spend less time planning and instead, spend that time exploring their surroundings. The app maps their perfect outing, tailored uniquely to their interests, so they can just get on with their special break. I love to see people’s faces lighting up when they talk to me about their travels. I’m looking forward to lighting up a whole lot of faces, by maximising travel experiences once the app is available.
I had never heard of Startup Weekend until several months ago. I watched the Brisbane event pitches a month ago, and last week I took every ounce of courage to go for it at Startup Weekend Gold Coast (mainly because of my fear of public speaking).
A virgin Startup Weekend attendee CAN win! So what are you waiting for!
My advice to any budding entrepreneur: follow your dreams and DON’T GIVE UP! The next competition, challenge, or grant application could be your breakthrough!