How I can help Esc members
I can help anyone who is interested in starting a business. There are lots of challenges to tackle but there are always lots of people to bounce ideas off. Get in touch if you ever feel like you need some advice.
Co-founder of Escape the City. A very varied role, but put simply I tend to lead the development of the technical side of Escape the City. I spend a lot of my time working with the web development team, designing, testing and iterating on our vision for our website.
Before I escaped...
Before I was a Management Consultant. I did this for 4.5 years working for both Accenture and Ernst & Young in their 'strategy' departments.
After a few years I started to realise that I was working crazy hours for a cause I didn't believe in. I felt I was not reaching anywhere near what I was capable of and I wanted to work on something that was tangible. Something where I could actually see the results of my labour and most importantly feel like I was at least working on some kind of legacy.
My moment of truth...
To escape work and feel like I was actually achieving something with my life I started embarking on mini Adventures. I felt I needed to set myself goals, where I'd feel like I was actually doing something with my life.
One of those was to complete the Yukon River Quest - longest canoe race in the world. I started to realise that I was not alone in this feeling. That in actual fact there were probably millions of people depressed and unfulfilled with their lives and doing crazy things to feel like they were 'achieving'.
I wondered whether there was a way of joining all these people together. The next day, I was sitting next to Rob at work and shared my idea. He instantly loved it and shared in my enthusiasm.
A few months later, Rob - clearly having a bad day - sent me an email simply saying 'I want to.... [escape]. Rather than type [escape] he inserted an image he found by typing 'escape' into google images. That image was of an 'esc' computer keyboard key running away. The penny dropped and I realised that the movement was called 'Escape the City'.
Planning for it...
We spent a good 6 months discussing the idea before we made any hard decisions. We launched a blog to guage reaction to the concept and started to send a weekly email, of cool interesting things we found that week.
I then saved hard. I made sure that I had enough for 6 months living. I tried to take a sabbatical from work to lessen the risk, but knowing what I was planning on doing they blocked it. Instead I took the decision to resign on good terms and give Escape 6 months of full time action.
We got some students down in Southampton to build our first website. We launched to a packed 600 person event, selling tickets that helped pay the £4,000 the first version of the site cost.
The worst and best bits...
Lets start with the worst bits.
There is no two ways about it - starting any new business is HARD, starting one with a fresh concept is even harder. There are many sacrifices you have to make. Dealing with anything from, having little to no money while you're just getting going, dealing with uncertainty with pretty much everything you do, having to figure learn new things very quickly (tax, accounting).
All this is outweighed by the best bits...
Working on something you really feel matters, something you are passionate about and putting your all in to making it work is an incredible feeling.
There is a lot of advice out there and I find a lot of it tends to be quite bad or just biased to that persons experience. We haven't had that much advice with Escape the City (maybe it shows!). Here are the top 3 bits of best advice that panned out to be right!
- Trust your instincts. Very important but only if you tend to have good instincts!
- Keep it simple... and then simplify even more. I try and keep that in my mind in everything I/we do . I'm still very much learning with this one though.
- NEVER EVER EVER DO A START UP ON YOUR OWN. Best advice EVER. Forget sharing the glory, you will need someone to pick you up when you have doubts. Simple maths... Two founders = the work of 10. One founder only = 5. Much better to have 2 than 1 for so many reasons.