A Side Project Becomes The Main Event
It was St. Patrick’s Day, night, and REEL College Ventures was invited to film a mentor workshop on the Northeastern Campus. Two successful entrepreneurs from the local Boston area were invited to a Q & A for students thinking of becoming entrepreneurs. Only a handful of students participated, but it was for me, to be a pivotal night. In all honesty, without reviewing the hour of footage that we captured, I couldn’t repeat anything that was discussed, except one word; PIVOT. One of the speakers referred to the company Groupon. I was not aware that the company we all know today, is not how Groupon originally started. Ironically, Groupon was born out of a side project. They PIVOTED! and the rest is history. The word PIVOT gnawed at me for weeks, and now I know why.
To digress…When I met with J. Kevin Sheehan last summer and he suggested I create a sustainable product to support the college completion initiative of the YBR Project, I had no idea what that would be. Little could I expect that it would become the MAIN brand, the KEY that would unlock what I was truly destined to build.
It is said that if you have an entrepreneurial spirit inside you, it is always there, waiting to emerge. My connectivity on the campus of Northeastern University continued to expand that summer of 2010. I was, also, fast becoming a regular Twitter user (under the YBR Project handle), and because I had based the majority of my ‘following’ in the educational space, there were continuous suggestions from Twitter on whom I should follow. (suggested connectivity is valuable). One such suggestion was the student run venture accelerator, IDEA. NU is a huge college community, and so I was fascinated to learn of this entrepreneurial community. Their tweets were requests for Mentors for their student ventures.
I proceeded to the IDEA website where I found an entire community of student leaders in the area of entrepreneurial innovation. I immediately signed up to become a mentor and supplied them with my contacts on the NU campus, as references. My reasoning was multiple: I loved working with students, so why not attain more experience, and why not impart my own entrepreneurial experiences as well. I had also perused their advisory council and found them to be an interesting mix of local business and entrepreneurial minds. Connectivity, always a goal, added to my excitement. Within a day I had a returned email that I would be hearing from the programs advisor to set up a meeting. As I have learned with educators, patience is an extreme virtue and one that I am still learning to embrace. A few weeks passed before I was able to meet with the programs advisor. I had supplied him with my resume, my connectivity on campus and an overview of my college completion initiative for the YBR Project. As usual I did my research and as usual the universe provided a ‘spark’ of inspiration. It was on my way to this meeting that creativity swooped in and jiggled my broadcast media brain; why not create a video series following college entrepreneurs on their journey. Boom!
Once Dan and I were comfortable in our initial conversation, I threw out the video series idea. His eyes lit up and he leaned in to engage as our conversation took an immediate pivot.
What if…and a brainstorming session ensued. There were so many great ideas budding on the NU campus. There were two organizations, IDEA and Entrepreneurs Club. Each held a different value proposition for potential entrepreneurs. We could follow these college entrepreneurs through their ‘ready, set, and go’ stages. There were already some who had graduated NU, but had started their businesses while in college, or perhaps follow some of the students whom were attaining their Masters of Entrepreneurship? The options were as varied as the students themselves. We could create an entire season following multiple ventures and share their stories in a format that would be inspiring, entertaining and provide lessons learned for others. We would create their journey along their yellow brick roads.
As the months progressed and we built our film and marketing crew, and found our current three ventures (stay tuned for these stories), I began to realize the value of pivoting off the YBR Project and making REEL the primary focus of our future. Even though I struggled with the pivot, the universe kept directing me forward, opening doors at every step.
As the model for REEL became more clear, I found pieces of YBR still there;
1. The value of college completion to being a successful entrepreneur,(all of our entrepreneurs on REEL have graduated college and speak of it’s value, to their success)
2. My background in broadcast media, sales and marketing (an area I had been passionate about for 15 years)
3. My own entrepreneurial spirit to create a brand that would help propel others into the spotlight
4. How much I love sharing inspiration and connectivity.
Finally the epiphany came. If I had not started the YBR Project in 2009, with it’s college completion model, I would never have gained access to all that Northeastern University provided me, and ultimately, I would never have been in that room, hearing the word PIVOT. Finally finding my place on the right yellow brick road for my own journey to happiness and success.
Thank you for letting me share our journey and may all your dreams come true on your yellow brick road.