Erika Harvey, InVenture CEO and Tauranga Startup Weekend mentor, shares her entrepreneurial adventures with us:
Tell us a bit about your dealings with the entrepreneurial world so far Erika?
I have worked for some amazing fortune 500 companies, but in 2006 a cancer diagnosis was a pivotal moment in my life. I realized the only risks I had really taken were job interviews and even though I aspired to do many things, I didn’t because I was afraid. So, I made a list of everything I was too afraid to do, and in 2009 when I received the “all clear” I began to say yes to everything that scared me.
I started by resigning from my job at Dell in Nashville, Tennessee where I had just been promoted and I moved to New Zealand where my husband was from. This was where my entrepreneurial journey truly began and I started to push my own boundaries by building businesses within industries I wanted to learn more about.
I’ve made some epic failures along the way, but without those I never would have had the successes. To date, I’ve sold 4 companies, I have 2 businesses currently operating, and 1 in the beginning stages.
Being an entrepreneur is a journey and not destination. You’re constantly challenging yourself, you’re always learning, finding ways to improve, and you’ll question over and over if you’re crazy, and to be honest, the best ones are.
What markets/sectors do you have experience in?
Retail, Manufacturing, Supply Chain, Technology (incl. SaaS), Professional Services, and even Primary Industries.
What’s the most financially and/or socially successful thing you’ve done?
What I’m most proud of is taking a business in significant debt with the owners close to losing their home, find a pivot, and turn their company around to be profitable again in less than 6 months. It’s helping people re-ignite the passion for their business that make me feel the most successful.
What is the most important thing that you think entrepreneurs should know?
You can’t know everything. Own your skill gaps and surround yourself with people you can learn from. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or let the fear of failure stop you from trying.
Tell us a bit about why and how you can help. What are the elements of helping people start a business that get you most excited?
Market Validation and identifying a true value proposition gets me most excited. It’s how you approach the ‘Market Validation’ phase that will set your business apart from others. I tell the clients I work with “stay open to your initial assumptions being challenged, it’s very rare to have a hero product or service that’s come straight out of a box”.
You should be asking ‘Why’ at every phase and validating your decisions with your prospects, as scary as it is for someone to give you feedback you didn’t expect, take it on board. The best businesses listen to their customers, solve their problems, and then sell it back to them.
How can you help Tauranga's Startup Weekend participants?
I’ve been in the emotional trenches of building a business, so I understand all the emotions that come with it, especially when you’re doing it in only 54 hours! In addition to carrying around tissues to wipe your tears on Saturday night after you’ve pivoted the 4th time and feel like you’re not going to be able to pull it off (which you will), I’ll help you see through the haze to find the hidden gems you’re overlooking to pull out a rocking presentation and solid business plan by pitch night.
I’m the queen of finding pivots when all hope seems lost, identifying a true value proposition, helping define your pitch and assisting you in creating a solid PowerPoint. If you don’t need any of that, I can at least entertain you with a few good laughs.
Tell us a bit about why you think TGASW is a good thing? Why should someone who has been thinking about a business idea come to Tauranga Startup Weekend?
If you’ve had a business idea but don’t know where to start or how to get in front of investors, this is the event you don’t want to miss.
In one weekend you’ll be networking and learning from some of the best in the industry and meeting incredible like-minded individuals along the way.
So whether you have an idea you want to test and find a team to help you bring to market in one weekend, or you just want to be apart of a team to learn how you can apply the skills to an idea you want to keep to yourself, startup weekend is the best way to start your journey!
Come and meet Erika and other exceptional business mentors on September 23-25 - Secure your spot here
Thank you to Tauranga Startup Weekend Sponsors