Recently we did some design work for a teenage inventor for a product that has launched on Kickstarter.
So we got in touch to pick his young brain for 15 minutes and find out a little about what it’s like to try to start a business while studying:
So, who are you Euan?
I’m a 19-year-old student at the University of Leeds. I’m studying mechanical and electrical engineering and I’m currently in my first year. I’m also an entrepreneur. I have developed a product over the past two years and I’m now trying to bring this product to market via the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter.
When people ask “what do you do” What is your response?
I generally start by saying I’m a student at Leeds University, then I’ll often say ‘I’m also an entrepreneur’, at which point a conversation will start about what exactly it is I do. You’d be surprised how many great connections you can make just by speaking to new people about your business. I’ve found word of mouth to be an invaluable tool.
What most intrigues and inspires you?
I’m very inspired by self-made entrepreneurs, people who have put in the work to make their dreams come true. These people don’t just talk about achieving their goals, they spend long hours doing what they know they have to do to make it happen. Seeing these people hustle and work so hard is something that really gets me fired up to work on my own business.
How do you generate new ideas?
I think ideas are generated by having a mindset whereby you are constantly thinking of solutions to problems you experience in everyday life, then looking at how many other people this problem affects. If your solution is viable and the problem affects enough people then you may have a good idea. For example, I’m currently running this Kickstarter campaign and I’m getting bombarded with emails from people asking me to use their services to advertise my campaign, but they all want an upfront payment. As I’m trying to raise money I’m reluctant to pay anything to a company of which I have little knowledge, who may or may not be successful in marketing my campaign. This presents me with a problem, I want good advertising, but I don’t trust they can deliver a positive ROI and I don’t have any money to pay them now. My solution to this problem would be to set up an advertising company which simply takes a small % of the sales it brings in. This problem affects most people doing crowdfunding (which is a lot) so maybe it’s a good idea.
What were you like at school? What did you think of it when you were there?
As I’ve only just left school I imagine I was a similar then to how I am now! But I always loved school. I played rugby throughout my school life and also participated in just about any other sport I could, whether that be athletics, climbing or cross country. I also competed at elite level triathlon outside of school meaning much of my free time was spent training. When I wasn’t doing sport I enjoyed spending time with friends as any so.
What is your main hobby?
Up until 6 months ago my biggest hobby has always been triathlon, however, due to the time I’ve had to dedicate to my business I haven’t been able to maintain my training and so I’m no longer competing. So currently my biggest “hobby” now would have to be working on my business, pretty much 24/7.
What is your biggest ambition?
I’ve always wanted to start and run a successful company. It’s been a dream for as long as I can remember, and I’ve been trying to make it a reality from about 7 years old when I started my first business cycling round selling fresh organic eggs to locals.
What has been the most defining point in your life?
Launching on Kickstarter has undoubtedly been the most defining point in my life. It’s a big risk to put yourself out there like that, especially as not many people my age do something like this.
How do you stay organised/productive?
I set out my plan for each day the night before. I know exactly what I need to achieve that day so I’m never wasting time thinking ‘what do I have to do now…’ and I’m never overwhelmed with how much work there is to do. I try and keep everything as objective as possible. I also use rewards to stay motivated, so if I get all the work done I set out to do then I might spend some time with my friends or have a night off.
What is your best lesson in the process of working with designers?
I’ve worked with some excellent designers who have been instrumental in making this product viable for the mass market. The only advice I would have is to make your vision for what the product should be like, very clear to your designers. It’s important they know exactly what you want the product to do, otherwise, it can be very hard for them to design a satisfactory product.
When people come into your office, what do you think their first impressions are?
I work in a business incubator where it’s a hot-desk system, so I’d imagine the only thing anyone would think when they walk in would be “why is he sitting at the desk I normally sit at”
What would be your dream company to design a product for?
I would have to say GoPro due to my passion for action sports. Designing a product with their resources would be great.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I’d like to be successfully running my current business ProAir, as well as other businesses which I intend on starting in the coming years. I also hope to have achieved a 1st in my engineering degree.
Do you have any final comments for other people wanting to start a business and launch a new product to market?
The process of bringing your idea to life is exceptionally fun, but it can also be super hard. My advice to anyone wanting to start a business is to enjoy the little moments of triumph, even if it’s just getting some positive feedback on your product from a stranger. Noticing these little victories will help you stay motivated through the hardest and darkest times.
If you could solve any problem with good design or innovation, what would it be?
Well, this one is easy, I would like people to be able to capture meaningful life experiences with their action cameras in a high impact, immersive way. I want anyone with an action camera to be able to capture those sort of moments, not just those with access to a film crew and drones.
Euan’s Campaign has just gone live on Kickstarter, so if you are into action sports or have a GoPro, skip over to his page here and put in a pre-order.