I entered Open Ears into the Converge Challenge 2017. The application was quite in depth but having performed real world workshops and proved the concept really helped hold the idea together. I reconsidered entering over and over. Do I have the time, am I good enough? Do I have the confidence to be an entrepreneur? I am deserving of all that support and time? In the end I pushed all that out of my mind and decided that I would regret it if I didn’t say yes to this amazing opportunity. So about four hours before the deadline I practically threw together the application and pushed the submit button, expecting to never hear from Converge again.
Turns out that Open Ears was shortlisted and I was going to a three day entrepreneurship training event in Edinburgh. I was over the moon. Especially for the provided food, travel and accommodation. I felt quite professional. I was under the impression that it was a purely student based thing. I was wrong. I felt very young and very inexperienced. There were established business owners turning over more cash than I can imagine, graduates and people of all ages and stages of life. Boy was I in for a learning experience.
The training itself started off slow, the Social Enterprise participants had a half day training session before the real meat of the event started. This was a lovely cosy chat among like minded people. Social Enterprise can often be looked down upon as ‘not real business’, just because we’re not out to make all the money we can. I’d experience a fair amount of disregard just because I was a Social Enterprise so I was prepared for the worst. Turns out the atmosphere of people trying to make a difference is fantastic. I felt so energised and inspired by the other participants business ideas and stories. I felt like it was actually possible to make a difference and start a business regardless of where you come from or what resources you have. A very different contrast to the enterprise culture I’d been exposed to in the past.
The next two days we trained with the Kickstart and main Convergers. This was a huge change of pace and tone. It was much more serious and there was a lot to cover in a very short space and time. The breakfast haggis rolls were needed this time! We learned all about the legal requirements of running a business and the financial needs. It was very intimidating and it was hard to not get deflated by ‘reality’. We all had a night out in Edinburgh after which was a great networking opportunity and I enjoyed talking to my peers in a more relaxed setting.
All in all I’m very proud of what I’ve achieve so far with Open Ears and I hope I make it into the top 5, even if it’s just for the continued networking opportunity. I give many thanks to Veronica Ferguson, the Enterprise Outreach manager for Converge. She has kept me focused and motivated throughout the process so far and looks like she will continue to do so in the future! Thank you! So now I must work on my five page business plan and 60 second pitch. I know that the skills I have learned in these three days will serve me extremely well in the next part of the Converge process.