I'm 21 years old, currently in 3rd year of a Mechanical Engineering degree in the National University of Ireland, Galway. As part of this degree, I am doing an 8 month internship with Accenture. I was born in Dublin, but moved to the Midlands of Ireland when I was 5. I started woodturning at the age of 11, after seeing a demonstration in school. I knew straight away that this was something I wanted to do, so I used my savings to buy a woodturning lathe.I'm the long term, I want to start another business, because I love the freedom that entrepreneurship brings. I'm looking at new ideas at the moment, and am attending as many networking events as possible, like the Dublin Tech Summit and Accenture networking events. I design and handcrafts wooden homeware, including clocks, bowls and pens, using reclaimed wood. I also presented my business on the TV series Junior Dragons’ Den, and featured in the Cambridge University Press and Irish Independent.
What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?
The biggest hurdles at the start were having the skills to make the products I wanted to. It took me years to master the craft, so in that time I wasn't able to make much. I also found pricing to be incredibly difficult. I ignored properly pricing my work for a long time, and when I eventually sat down and calculated all the costs associated with each product, I was shocked at how much I underpriced my work.
Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits?
How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?
My family and friends have always been very supportive of my pursuits, even when, looking back, I emptied by bank account at a young age to pursue something with absolutely no idea if I would ever make a cent of profit (thankfully I have).
What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?
I think the biggest factor in the success of my business has been seeing my father run his own business. When I was growing up, I saw him working 110 hours a week, for years on end, and so this instilled a good work ethic in me, which is necessary if you're an entrepreneur.
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?
That my time isn't free. This might seem like a really simple one, but it's so easy to underprice your work because you think that your time isn't costing you - your time is incredibly valuable, and if you're working on one thing, you aren't working on other important things, which is costing you money. This needs to be factored in to the price of everything you do.
What advice would you give to an upcoming entrepreneur locally and internationally?
My advice to any entrepreneur, locally or internationally, is the same - start a business around your passion, because if not, the extreme hard work required will take over your life in a very negative way. I'm hugely passionate about what I do, so even when I was under huge pressure with college exams and a huge amount of work with the business, I was still able to maintain my focus.