It’s not about your age, it’s about your determination.

“Young entrepreneurs look at the world with fresh eyes and such lively determination. Some of the modern world’s greatest ideas and innovations came from people like you. Don’t ever let other people use your age as an excuse to not take you seriously”  (Sir. Richard Branson)

And he is so right. Richard Branson, is one of the best examples of our time for somebody who started his entrepreneurial career when he was a student, and turned out to be one of the most admired business man in the world.

Don’t use your age as an excuse not to start something. It’s a limiting self belief. Programme your mind.

Richard Branson’s words should be enough motivation for anyone who has an idea or a dream, but postpones taking action because he or she thinks they’re “too young” or not “experienced enough” to start something.

Turn it around! Your age is exactly the reason why you should start now. Your age is your strength. Use this advantage!

Starting a business young (no matter which scale) will be the best way to get to know yourself, discover your talents, and to becoming a skilled professional, or an entrepreneur.
You will see how skills and enthusiasm will always count more than age. Moreover, it is not even about what you do but more about what you learn from doing it. I’d like to share my story with you:

Three years ago at the age of 19, I started working in a market research call center, knowing very little about business. In the following semesters me and a great team of fellow students tried to turn our student company project into a real business. I lead a team of 6 people, developed the business, got customers, got an investor, and failed eventually. The plan did not work out, but in the end it was a fantastic experience. I had no idea how much it would impact my life.
Empowered by this experience, I got several exciting jobs including my dream job when I was only 20 years old. It was a 3-month internship at Metrica-Sports a Start Up that developed an awesome tactical analysis software for the biggest football clubs in the world. Being a football enthusiast and a player all my life, this job felt like having reached my life goal. Something I had never dreamed about (well actually I my dream job was being the best football player in the world…but that’s another story).
A few months later, I ended up being the youngest and first part-time Account Manager at one of the fastest growing start ups in the Netherlands at the age of 21.
Half a year later, I also almost made it into Chelsea Football Club when I applied for an internship as a first team Analyst assistant. Despite being a business student, I made it to the final round where I impressed the analysts, but eventually they chose a candidate who was better than me. So be it: I tried it, I went for it, and it did not work out…this time. (Feel free to send me a PM if you’d like to know more about how I managed to do this).
Today I am Co-Founder of Fypster, which I run with 2 other fantastic people I met when working next to my studies in Amsterdam. We manage Fypster remotely. In my case I do this while working for one of the leading tech start ups in London called Onfido.  A company founded by 3 Oxford graduates in 2012. (another fantastic example of where you can achieve by starting young).
I love the job and work with people of over 40 nationalities in the heart of London, where I get to speak 6 languages a day. And guess what…I am the youngest employee out of 140 people, so I want to stress: Your determination is what counts, not your age! Looking back all of these opportunities were linked, and one opened opportunity opened the door to the next one. Each time a bigger one. Currently I am Co-Founder of Fypster, hoping to establish a meaningful online community to empower millions of  youngster in the future.
Looking back, I can say that these opportunities arose thanks to the experiences I had made when trying to start my own business. It taught me the skills, persistence, and proactive thinking necessary to create extraordinary opportunities for myself.(and others) Furthermore it helped me understand how I could use my talents to succeed in the marketplace. An understanding that I would never have gained by just reading and studying about theories from books provided by University. I´d like to emphasize that I am not different to any of you. I am just like you and I hope by reading this you understand: If you´re determined to create your own path, you can achieve whatever you want to achieve! It will not be easy, but its fulfilling.  Eventually all will fall into place.

So, if you have an idea and the drive in you, don’t hesitate, start young. Your determination will take you where you want to be.

Now is the time to take risks

If you are honest to yourself, there is no risk is there?
When do you think that failing your venture/project/plan will leave a bigger impact? When you are 40 settled with family and kids with many (financial) responsibilities, or when you are a independent teenager or in your twenties?

 

Get Ready

Get Ready

 

Many young people think they will be judged when their project will not become a big success. In fact, I have experienced the opposite, and after having spoken to almost 100 young entrepreneurs across the globe, I can tell you the following: People will respect you for your courage and actions. The skills that you acquired will help you professionally and personally so you can become whatever you want to become.

Fail young. Fail often. Learn fast.

I failed not only once in my life. And I will fail again. But I realized that failure can be the biggest win, and the trigger for new amazing opportunities. So can it be for you. Don’t let anybody limit you. Don’t care about what your parents or friends think is right or what your school tells you to. (My parents never knew what I was actually doing whilst some of my friends called me a freak)

In fact, I have experienced the opposite and after having spoken to almost 100 young entrepreneurs across the globe, I can tell you the following: People will respect you for your courage and actions. The skills that you will have acquired will help you professionally and personally so you can become whatever you want to become.

Do your thing and do it whenever you think the time is right. Most importantly: Enjoy what you are doing. Enjoy the possibility of being able to realize your dream. This is a privilege! And when it get’s tough or you think you’ll fail, remember this phrase from a man that has changed the world:

mandela

 

Going after your ideas and becoming skilled (for the rest of your life) as a consequence is without a doubt easier said than done. It requires hard work and determination. But trust me, it’s worth it. The countless hours that you’ll invest won’t even feel like work. You will enjoy seeing every progress you make. It will bring you joy and fun!
If you are determined, convinced to make it, and not afraid of failing, there is nothing that can stop you. And who do you think will not take you seriously after you have shown that you take your own ideas seriously?

 

At Fypster we want to give you all you need to be able to realize your ideas and dreams when you are young. Young people all around the world come together in our social network  to empower each other and to share their stories and adventures.  I hope this blog has inspired you to take action. I’d love to get your feedback and to hear about how you have used your determination to achieve your goals in the comment section below. Also, feel free to send me a personal message in the community at any time  for questions, help, advice, or just to say hello. If you haven’t joined our social network yet – register today and be part of our community. Change yourself through us. Change the world with us. 🙂 

Daniel
I am the Co-Founder of Fypster.
Hope you guys are having fun here! Always happy to connect ?
So a little bit about me: I love entrepreneurship, traveling, diving into different cultures and languages whilst having football as another big passion. I love to be surrounded by people who encourage me to think beyond my limits. I also like reading (non fiction) books and to enjoy culturally diverse food. A lot of it. (if I can afford it)
When I am not working on some projects I love to spend quality time with my loved friends and family.
Fun fact: I am German/Brazilian which means I have to deal with two very opposing forces in me.
Before you ask: Even though I grew up in Germany, I always supported the brazilian national team a lot. So I witnessed the 7:1 in a Brazilian Restaurant having to drink many caipirinhas to be able to deal with the game.

Interview with Thomas Williams: The fascinating life of a creative Solo Entrepreneur

We met the young English Designer and Solo Entrepreneur in Barcelona this year and were fascinated by his story and the beauty of his products. In today’s interview he gives insights and shares learnings from his adventurous life that lead him to create extraordinary things, disrupting current product designs. Check out Guapa CO and Williams Bikes for more information.  Let’s dive into it!

Hi Thomas, first off – please fill us in about your background- where are you from? What are your passions in life? Where do you live right now?

I am from a small town near to Bath in the South West of England called Devizes. I have grown up there and went to University of Bath where I did my Masters in Mechanical & Electronic/Electrical Engineering. My background is quite varied, in a previous life I played tennis professionally – competing both at home and abroad on ATP circuit. Recently I made the move to Barcelona, having been here a few times I couldn’t keep away and finally made the move in January this year.

 

What did you study and what was your professional career like so far? When and why did you decide to do your own thing?

I studied my masters in Mechanical & Electronic/Electrical engineering at University of Bath in England. During my studies we had to participate in a year placement in industry.  I was sponsored at the beginning of university by Npower (a large power company in the UK) and was supposed to spent my year in industry with them; however after 2 months of a not so enjoyable first spell at a power station in South Wales I decided to look outside the norm and focus on finding a placement that would be meaningful, provide me with a new experience and also work in something that interested me. I applied directly to every single kitesurfing / watersports companies I could find on the internet and was accepted by one after negotiations. It happened to be in Thailand and I moved out that summer – my time spent with Airush ended up totaling to around 3+ years working out of Thailand.

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Professionally I have worked mainly for the watersports company called Airush Kiteboarding & Starboard Windsurfing in Thailand and then later on moved to Cape Town in South Africa where I helped set up a new R&D center and office.

The job with this company taught me a LOT, I lived in Asia, learnt to speak Thai and travelled frequently to manufacturing sites across China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Thailand. I was working as lead design engineer across 3 brands of windsurfing, kitesurfing, Stand Up Paddle and would visit to suppliers and implements my designs into mass production. The move to Cape Town enabled a new experience of living and working out of South Africa, I was very autonomous in my job and at times it felt like I was going way beyond the call of duty – sleeping nights in the airport, stranded downtown HK with 6 surfboards and not being able to get a cab, flights every other weekend and building up an R&D center. This I suppose gave me the confidence that I was able to do all this myself and had the skills and grind necessary to go it alone.

I then moved back to the UK, had a few stints in what I call mainstream engineering.  At the same time I was developing a bicycle which I used my background in watersports manufacturing to develop. I left my job not to fully engage in this project and naturally found my time being taken up developing this new design and getting working prototypes rolling.

 

You worked in three different continents in the surfing industry. Sounds like an exciting and crazy experience. How did it change you?

I learnt a lot during my years working in Asia and S.A, I had never thought of Thailand or going there before I did, so I didn’t have any expectations. I find it very easy to integrate into cultures; I have learnt that smiling, being open and having the ability to assess people and situations is key. I learnt Thai and this helped a lot, it created a stronger connection and allowed easier integration. Learning about how the western business has set up offshore manufacturing some 15-20years ago so that it has become the “norm” was very interesting; realizing the scale first hand of the manufacturing industry in China is quite eye opening. Most products of large brands are made in Asia; but driving for hours and only seeing factory after factory you start to realize the scale –  its hard to explain how vast it is as it doesn’t exist in Europe that I am aware of.

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I learnt how to conduct business there, how to approach situations and gaining a lot of great connections across many industries. How to get things done, how to negotiate and how not to loose face with the Chinese –this is something pretty important as generally speaking they hold the keys to what your looking to do.

Living in Cape Town is somewhat different to Asia, it’s a very beautiful place indeed. Again integration is key and I put a lot of what I learnt into practice in Cape Town, an arguably harder more “real world’ place to be than say Thailand.

I have learnt that smiling, being open and having the ability to assess people and situations is key.

Please tell us a bit more about your own projects, Williams Bikes and Guapapeaks. How did you come up with the ideas? How did you get started and what is your focus nowadays?

Williams Cycles is really a very special project, we are very proud to create what we believe to be something people want, desire and have never seen before. I set about to make something I would really want, the best components, simple operations, clean, minimal but extremely capable in terms of performance but understated. We know it’s the best wood composite bike in the world and proud to have build it by hand out of a small workshop in England using our own designed tooling, manufacturing machinery and designs.

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Guapa Peaks started out as a way to fund the bicycle project, we ran a Kickstarter which we completely didn’t prepare for and almost launched it in desperation to gain some quick cash injection – we didn’t do the product justice and had no engagement before launching. We failed the kickstarter.

I knew it could be great if we had the right engagement and I changed a few things around, found a new factory, made better peaks, outsourced manufacturing, bought the pricing to an achievable level for consumers where we believe they would be mad to choose another hat as in comparison ours are superior. They have the same passion, design credentials & premium feel as a Williams Cycles bike, however they are caps.

Let´s talk about Guapa CO. Guapa CO are the first only wooden head wear. That’s fantastic. Was it easy to get the first clients for fashion that was practically not existent before?

Early adopter products don’t scare us, big brands maybe don’t have the flexibility or innovation to see potential in different design idea. What we love is we are able to come up with an idea, prototype it and make it quickly and have no one to answer to but our customers. It is much harder to innovate and make new products, it’s much easier to just re-brand a t-shirt or backpack but changing how it’s made or its process of manufacture using unknown materials is quite challenging!

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What does it mean for you personally to run your own business? What do you want to express with your work? (passion&work)

I want to express my own personal path – the interactions with different cultures, people I have met along the way, places I have stayed, learnt knowledge through past jobs and bring it together to make something extraordinary. We really like making something that hasn’t existed before, we know we have the background and skills to make something no-one has thought of and we are not scared of trying something a little out the ordinary.

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You are an engineer and designer. How do you manage the business and technology part of your business? Are there challenges you come across?

I started the business with my brother who is luckily an ace when it comes to finances and excel! He is often the one thinking way bigger than me and I kind of rein it in and then we meet somewhere in the middle. We now still find the online world very large in terms of avenues for sales; we are focusing both on physical stores as well as online. We believe it is very important to get the products in the hands of our customers by having retail, also we love working and talking to them as they know best when it comes to customer base in their respective countries.

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I want to express my own personal path – the interactions with different cultures, people I have met along the way, places I have stayed, learnt knowledge through past jobs and bring it together to make something extraordinary.

 

What should young designers who want to sell their own productions take into account? What are the first steps they should take?

This is a difficult one to answer, we do everything ourselves initially we design, market, do the graphics, package etc… With the bicycles for example we made a product that looked like it was built by a team of professionals, in a facility with as much machinery as you would ever need etc… Whereas we made it in my grandads old workshop at my grandmother’s house with a small budget and a lot of attention to detail & passion.

Start small, do as much you can yourself and be active in the whole design build phase as much as possible. Get a protoype early and then use this to gauge if it seems a viable concept.

 

Why did you move to Barcelona and how is life there compared to England?

It is a great place to be, it is very multicultural and has a great scene of entrepreneurial people! I wanted to move there to be somewhere that emphasizes what our brand is about – it is about travel, mixing with our customers and experiencing life and those who live it. Barcelona is a great city to shoot for photography, it is very accessible and cheap and means we can access our design office in the UK very easily. We want our brand to be internationally minded and global, being between the UK and Barcelona gives a blend of cultures for inspiration.

We made it in my grandads old workshop at my grandmother’s house with a small budget and a lot of attention to detail & passion.

 

What are the most important characteristics one should have when being a young solo Entrepreneur?

It is not so much fun doing everything on your own, at the beginning it is hard to finance another person on board. Unfortunately my brother had to leave to begin his Pilot career, however he is never far away to get advice and we still collaborate a lot on major decisions.

Thomas and his brother Harry

Thomas and his brother Harry

I will  begin working out a dedicated office space as being alone at home is not fun or motivating for me, I like to bike around and be active before and after working and not conform to a 9-5 time frame. Networking is key and being open to new ideas and peoples input is great, I listen a lot.

Thomas
Hello Community!

I am a 29 year old innovative and creative type of guy, i like to believe anything is possible and go out and try make things happen. Previously used to play tennis professionally, now fuel this passion into designing great products and creating something thats memorable!

Live between Barcelona and the UK and trying to make the dream happen..