Social entrepreneur and RMIT graduate James Downing shares his tips on founding a start-up and the three most critical things for starting your business journey.
During his Master of Business Information Technology studies, Downing developed a smartphone app that aimed to help its users solve chronic hunger in Nigeria.
To date, Pocket Rice has fed more than 7500 refugee children across Nigeria and Uganda, and users have earned more than 148 million grains of rice.
His current project is JellyChip, the online social network friend of Pocket Rice, which allows people to connect with their friends while doing good in the world by transforming their networking time into a points-based currency that can then be spent on charitable gifts.
Downing shares his advice on starting the entrepreneurial journey and the key things every start-up founder needs:
The best people in the world have created the best products in the world because they believe in their own ability. They may not be the best creative thinkers, the best designers or the best programmers, but they believe that what they bring to the market is unique and hugely desirable.
Steve Jobs once said that he’d rather have the people with the best vision for the company than the people with the best ability for the company. I’ve found on my journey with JellyChip that ability can be learned, but not so much vision.
If you have a sense of personal drive and conviction that refuses to be weathered by the criticism of others, then you can become an unstoppable force for good.
The start-up journey is not a sugar-rush sprint that takes you from zero to hero overnight. Start-ups, communities and brands take time to build and realise.
The idea of “just keep going” has been very important to me in creating JellyChip. Understanding that the fallacies of movies like The Social Network are actually illusions only serves to dishearten you and throw you off track.
I now let my circle of friends and colleagues know to be aware of the commitment that creating a start-up will place on you over a number of years: you are in for a long fight. If you are prepared for the endurance race in creating your start-up, then you have the potential to be unstoppable.
This is the most important piece of advice I could give to anybody starting their entrepreneurial journey. Integrity is the pillar of JellyChip, which cannot be changed or altered by the market reception to our product.
We have integrity, and in the unlikely situation that our idea fails, you we’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that we were honest in all of our dealing from day one.
I’ve come to understand that integrity is the special ingredient in an entrepreneur. It’s incredibly important, and something I would encourage in everyone who is starting out on their own creative journey.
Be true to you: Study the Master of Business Information Technology in 2016.
RMIT's College of Business will be collaborating with James on a student campaign to launch JellyChip in 2016. To get involved, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Story: Rita Truong