My first Week at ESpark

To say that my first week at Entrepreneurial Spark was a roller coaster ride, is an understatement.  It was filled with energetic ESpark facilitators, inspiring presentations and a little bit of drama.  Admittedly, I created said drama but more about THAT later.

My Entrepreneurial Spark journey began on the 8th February, with a two day bootcamp by way of introduction to the program.  It was also an opportunity to meet ‘n’ greet my fellow Chiclets.  All 79 of them, or thereabouts.

Upon arriving at the designated building (which is known as a ‘Hatchery’) I was given a name badge and a green sparkly egg.  I gotta admit the sparkles were a nice touch but unbeknownst to me, that egg, THAT BLINKIN’ EGG, would be central to my biggest, most PUBLIC fall from grace, E-V-E-R!  Again, MORE about that later.

Entrepreneurial Spark Green Egg

The green sparkly egg that I should have incinerated, resting peacefully in my bag.

Initially, introductions with fellow Chiclets, consisted of a few tentative ‘hellos’ and an abundance of hands in pockets, whilst looking for a few stones to kick, but as the days progressed, there was chit-chat and networking opportunities aplenty!

kicking-stones-1

The ESpark team, were without a doubt, an eager, enthusiastic and energetic bunch, who created an interactive, thought provoking and thoroughly engaging learning environment from the get-go. Whilst the bootcamp experience was pretty full-on (the clue is in the title, I guess!) and was crammed with all sorts of information and insights into the entrepreneurial world (and specifically what the 6 month ESpark program entailed), I learned heaps, not just about what lies ahead in my new entrepreneurial chapter but I also learned A LOT about ME.

Entrepreneurial Spark Belfast

The ESpark peeps!

Yes, this is where I talk about that evil, sparkly green egg.

ESpark places a lot of emphasis on delivering polished, structured and concise 60 second pitches.  Yes, they’re essential for investment seeking opportunities but they also help you focus on the purpose, objectives, results and vision of your business.  I know this, YOU know this but that doesn’t mean I would happily volunteer to stand in front of 79 people and talk the talk!

And I didn’t volunteer, that flippin’ sparkly green egg volunteered for me!  We were all told that Chiclets who had a green egg were required to pitch the following morning, on day two of bootcamp.

Sorry what was that

Strangely, I didn’t squeal with delight at hearing this news.  Either way, that evening I wrote my pitch and practised (whilst timing myself), until I was able to deliver the pitch in under 60 seconds.

I was good to go, or so I thought.

The next morning, those lovely, caring ESpark peeps stayed true to their word, half of the green egg brigade were asked to form a queue at the top of the room and one-by-one start pitching.

I’m not gonna lie, I’m pretty extroverted but the minute someone hands me a mic and hits ‘start’ on a stopwatch, I’m gonna wilt like a rose.

Within 30 seconds of starting my pitch, that’s exactly what happened.  In front of 79 people, the wilting was HARDCORE.  You guessed it, I forgot my pitch halfway through.  Have you ever witnessed an awkward silence in front of 79 people?

It’s kinda like this.

Tumbleweed

I mumbled incoherently for the last 5 seconds and then my time was up.

I. WAS. GUTTED.

To their credit, my fellow Chiclets were amazing, they approached me at different times afterwards to offer support and words of comfort but I was STILL so disappointed in myself that their kindness wasn’t really having the desired effect.

Then one of the ESpark team (John), suggested I put myself up for the second round of pitching that afternoon.  Crikey, did I really want to put myself through that AGAIN?  And more importantly, what about the poor 79 sods who would have to listen to it again?

To cut a long story short, I stood in line for a second time and managed to deliver the pitch in its entirety and was greeted with whoops and cheers for having done so.  What lovely people!

So yea, I kinda thought I was like, AWESOME!

Well Done

Instead of the sympathetic gestures I received after my first pitch, now I was getting pats on the back by people congratulating me for having the guts to do it again!

Entrepreneurial Spark Belfast Pitching

If at first you don’t succeed…

I’m pretty sure it was a sympathy vote, but I received the prize for best pitch for the afternoon slot.  Did I care?  You bet I didn’t!  Drinks were on ME!

 Champagne

The rest of the week was spent familiarising ourselves (the Chiclets) with our new (FREE!) office for the next 6 months.  For someone with a background in Interior Design, this office is perfection!

I may have had a slight hiccup on my second day of bootcamp but I can say without a shadow of doubt, that signing up for the Entrepreneurial Spark program is one of the best decisions I’ve made for my fledgling business.

Sign up to my newsletter to receive updates on my ESpark adventure!  You know it makes sense!

NEWSLETTER

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6 Comments

  1. Jane says:

    Hey Anita,
    Love your story. I’m thinking about applying…..
    Other than the officespace, (I have this at home), has it helped with clients?
    I have basics I just want to propell into self employed! I want to give up my 9-5.
    Look forward to hearing from you.
    Jane

    Liked by 1 person

    • anitabrown3d says:

      Hi Jane,

      Thanks for taking the time to read my post! I’m glad you liked it 🙂 The core purpose of Entrepreneurial Spark is to get you focused on what you need to do to make your business a success. So yes, it would help with clients. The program includes researching your target market, understanding your customers (and their needs) and making the right decisions/taking the necessary action to move your business forward. You are assigned to an Enabler, who will support, advise and challenge you in the 6 months you’re part of the program to make sure you’re making the necessary progress. I’m still in the early stages of Entrepreneurial Spark but I would highly recommend that you check out their website to find out more about them.

      Hope this helps,
      Anita

      Like

      • Jane says:

        Thanks. I have read all their info. I was not sure if it was specific to us design gang. Lol.
        I wanted to hear from someone in a industry that is not a “product” as such.
        I’ll send them a email and see if there is a enabler who would help. Like yourself I’m an extrovert so don’t need help with confidence! Just how to find our wee spot.

        Liked by 1 person

        • anitabrown3d says:

          Hi Jane,

          No problem! The businesses that sign up to Entrepreneurial Spark are wide ranging. Both products and service providers. It doesn’t matter what the actual business is, as long as the business model is feasible (or has the potential to be feasible)!

          Like

          • Jane says:

            Thanks for your input… I’ll follow your progress!! Love your blog! X
            Have a good weekend I’m off out with the girls! Hope your drinking the champagne!

            Liked by 1 person

          • anitabrown3d says:

            You’re very welcome! Hopefully, there will be no more mini-dramas! Jane, that champagne is loooong gone! Have a great weekend! x

            Like

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