I remember exactly where I was during my first phone call with my current business partner, except, back then his name was simply a signature on an email. It was July 2009, and I was outside the IT buildings at the University of St Andrews, surrounded by glorious sunshine. I was pacing back-and-forth, thinking-on-my-feet, answering questions and firing an equivalent amount back his way - it was a job interview, for the truly glamorous role of "seed planter." I kid you not. Yet, in a roundabout way, it was this very conversation which planted the seed for the business I'm currently running...
Suffice to say it went well, and I was set to plant seeds for the rest of summer, which, in laymen's terms, means I'd successfully landed the business development enternship at CURB Media. Perhaps you're sat there thinking entern-what? CURB-who? Or maybe both - let me fill you in.
Enternships.com is an organisation which aims to provide would-be-entrepreneurs with opportunities to do internships in enterprise, hence the amalgamated name. Ultimately, they seek to pair those who want to run their own business one day with those who are already doing just that. It's an incredibly powerful concept, and one that especially rings true in my case. Those who entern are promised an irreducibly immersive experience into the world of start-ups, thrown in at the deep end and required to learn the ropes at an exceptional pace. Mine did not disappoint.
CURB is the world's first natural media company, which means they provide advertising and marketing solutions that are completely sustainable and environmentally friendly. For example, they might make a billboard out of moss; create entire campaigns from sand/snow/wood/crops; or hand-paint the artwork for one the biggest computer game launches of the year in bio-chalk on a 50ft canvas outside Europe's busiest shopping centre - the latter of which they did just the other week.
The enternship at CURB constituted my penultimate year summer, and I worked directly alongside the founder, Anthony Ganjou, as part of a small (but super) team. From day one I was right in the thick of it, and by the end of my three-month role I'd done almost everything and anything you could hope to complete during a placement, and more. Liaising with clients, handling accounts, developing creative, overseeing campaigns, pitching to agencies, business development, social media - it really was an unprecedented level of involvement. Furthermore, I was also tasked with instigating an entirely new type of media to add to their portfolio, and my response was a glow-in-the-dark advertising solution, made possible by bioluminescent fungi. This featured on Springwise and TrendHunter, and catalysed a fair bit of press for CURB... However, Autumn came, and although I was at the height of my involvement, I inevitably returned to university for my final year of academia.
Ten months flew by, and before you can say 1st-class-MA-in-business-studies I was a fresh faced graduate ready to take on the world. But where to begin? Well, I'd always loved the diagonal-thinking mentality of advertising, so off I plodded in that general direction. Long-story-short, I landed a spot on the graduate summer scheme at TBWA, who (1) I'd been in to see before on behalf of CURB, and (2) loved the fact I'd been so heavily involved in the media world because of my intensive enternship. Good times.
But here's where the magic happens.
Being the friendly type, I dropped Anthony a call during my time TBWA and we decided to go for coffee. Sat there, cappuccinos in hand we mused upon many things, bouncing endless ideas back-and-forth… That is, until we stumbled into the topic of cycling, and the new cycle hire scheme that had landed since my last visit… And then, right before our very eyes, a car skidded to a halt in an attempt to avoid a mal-equipped cyclist - without a light, helmet or reflector in sight. Fortunately all parties were fine, but as the screech of tyres on tarmac resounded around us, the idea behind PleaseCycle was born.
PleaseCycle seeks to provide companies with the products/services required to inspire cycling within their organisation. By providing the necessary equipment/training/maintenance in a very simple and easy-to-grasp package, we help businesses become more sustainable, healthy and productive from the inside out. We love the idea of delivering results on a triple-bottom-line basis (profit / sustainability / social), all as a result of cycling.
We're set to launch over the New Year, and I will once again take up the role of "seed planter," except now it will be on behalf of my very own company. I will undoubtedly engage in many a phone call with Anthony, but this time I'll be in London, surrounded by snow, pacing back-and-forth, thinking-on-my-feet, answering questions and firing an equivalent amount back his way - running a business.
From Entern to Entrepreneur, in four seasons.