It’s 5.40am and my alarm is like an ear piercing screech. Alert at once I’m excited to start working on my Entrepreneurship Project. I mean… which day dreaming entrepreneur wouldn’t be excited to spend the next few months working day and night on a business idea that they’ll eventually get to pitch in front of a panel of experts?
The first day of class for our Entrepreneurship Project was the moment of truth. The time when we had to choose a partner that we could work with over the next two trimesters and I was lucky to have found that diamond in the rough. My partner, Sahra and I clicked, and we later discovered during the second stage of our Entrepreneurship Project the following trimester, that Sahra was strong in all the areas I wasn’t, perfect for a collaborative project like this.
The following week we started the Design Thinking process, learning to empathise with your potential customer. Surveying people about their problems was challenging to say the least but strangely rewarding as we found people are willing to open up about problems and issues they encounter and some of our interviewees were actually grateful and relieved to get some of these real world problems off their chest.
After many interviews, it was time to articulate and define the problems that these people were experiencing in their lives. With all the data we had collected it took several weeks and was an elephant size task! Little did we know that our journey and reward at the end would be just as huge!
Ideation!!! It was time to go into Sherlock Holmes mode and solve one of these problems that we had spent so long trying to understand. This was truly the fun part, so many ideas but one jumped out to us the most. The idea became known as Hitch! An app built purposely for “long distance” ridesharing, we wanted to disrupt the ridesharing industry, but clearly establish that we are not the same as other ride sharing services such as Uber. We wanted to provide affordable long distance travel for people that are sick of public transport for around 20% of the cost of other rider sharing services over the same distance.
It was prototype time. We built a website in just 24 hours and decided to test our idea by paying for advertising on Google Adwords to drive traffic to the site. The stats and feedback at first were not great so we pivoted, changed direction again and again until finally the fourth time we tested the changes to our website and found success.
We had over 400 unique visitors (new users) to our site and our bounce rate (user drop offs) dropped by 55% percent. We had a staggering 180 people click on our ‘Hitch A Ride’ and ‘Provide A Ride’ buttons and a further 70 people enter in their actually information trying to Hitch A Ride. But the real buzz, was that we actually had real people enter in their actual credit card details to pay for a ride. We are theoretically in business! People want the service we are aiming to provide! We now had tangible evidence that we were providing a solution for a problem that people wanted solved.
It was time to Pitch our idea. We were both so nervous but Ronan Healy, our amazing Entrepreneurship lecturer had made us more than equipped for the day! We pitched our idea in front of over 100 people, including two entrepreneurs who acted as judges. Our entrepreneur judges, Adina Jacobs and Sol Walkling have experience in setting up their own business and taking on entrepreneurial challenges, so pitching in front of them was a great opportunity to get our idea in front of people in the know and to get some great advice.
After the pitches we set up our trade stand so we could explain our business model in more detail. Ronan creates a marketplace area where the student entrepreneurs can explain their business out of the pitch environment and students can vote and investors can buy equity into your idea, just like the real world. It was a challenging but awesome learning space, and in the end very worth it but like anything, you only get back what you put in.
We all went back upstairs to see who would win the three prizes of the day: Killer Sales, Killer Pitch and Killer Investment. We couldn’t believe it, our hard work had paid off, we won both Killer Pitch and Killer Sales, a first at Macleay!
Ronan constantly said to us over the two trimesters, by getting out of your comfort zone, you enter your learning zone and your earning zone… he was right!
Check out Matt & Sahra's Entrepreneurship Project, Hitch: