I really admire anyone who attempts to accomplish a massive project for the greater good of society. It’s never easy, and may not always be successful, but just going for it and working hard at it is very admirable.
Miriam Feiler is attempting to do something huge: capture the voice and wisdom of one million entrepreneurs. One million.
The foundation behind this project (or experiment, as Miriam calls it) goes beyond merely featuring an entrepreneur and his or her business. It’s about the the voice of the entrepreneur, and how that voice can inspire others to take action and pursue entrepreneurial journeys themselves. Good entrepreneurs are naturally problem solvers, and with more of these types of entrepreneurs, the world would likely be a better place.
In this interview, Miriam talks about the crowd funding campaign she’s currently running for this project on IndieGogo, and even better, if you’re an entrepreneur yourself, she explains how you can become a part of this great project (and an incentive to upload your one-minute video to the project).
Check it out, and enjoy!
Miriam, I’m very interested in learning more about The 1 Million Entrepreneurs Experiment and the IndieGoGo campaign you have running for it. Can you tell us a bit about your background, and what the 1 Million Entrepreneurs Experiment is all about? Where did you get the idea to start this experiment?
My entrepreneurial journey started quite by accident. I had spent the 6 years prior working with chambers of commerce in Australia, running programs that helped Australian SMEs connect, network, and explore export opportunities through participating in international trade missions and trade shows.
And then one day, at 5 months pregnant with my first child, I lost my job. Faced with the prospect of not being able to get a job until after my baby was born, and with mounting bills, I woke up one morning determined to start my own business and take control of my future. As soon as that happened the big ideas started flowing…and they have never stopped. But every venture I have created since that time (3 ventures and 1 exit) have all centered around helping start-ups and early stage businesses access the education, resources, support and networks they need to succeed and grow.
In late 2012, I joined a great group of high-profile Australian entrepreneurs to bring a concept from overseas to Australia. Start Up Australia – an entrepreneur-led non-profit organization that provides mentorship and resources to support Australian entrepreneurs, while engaging with policy makers and creating a more collaborative entrepreneurship ecosystem within Australia.
Under the auspices of the Kauffman Foundation’s Global Entrepreneurship Week and through the leadership of its President, Jonathan Ortmans, our group of StartUp Nations, which includes Canada, Malaysia, Britain, Chile and Korea, and growing, comes together a couple of times a year to share ideas and cooperate. We are all committed to seeing entrepreneurship in our own countries thrive.
The 1 Million Entrepreneurs Experiment concept came to me about 6 months ago on return from the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I wanted to create a high-impact online initiative that would be able to raise the voice of entrepreneurship globally using the medium of video. I came to the conclusion I would need “voices” to raise the voice of entrepreneurship. If I could harness words of advice, wisdom and inspiration from entrepreneurs around the world, we may in fact be able to achieve this. And so 1 Million Entrepreneurs Experiment was born.
Note from The Daily Interview: Here’s a video that Miriam created (taken from her website) that explains the project in some more detail.
There’s no doubt that this is a very ambitious project, and I applaud you for being willing to undertake it. What’s been the biggest challenge so far getting it off the ground?
Yes, it is very ambitious! And it is an experiment, which seeks to answer the following questions:
- Can one entrepreneur’s voice be powerful and inspiring enough to influence another individual to embark of his/her own entrepreneurial journey?
- If so, what impact will the voices of 1 million entrepreneurs have?
- How many new entrepreneurs will be created as a result of this initiative?
- And what positive impact will that make to communities, families, economies and the world as a whole?
I think it is an experiment worth trying. Because entrepreneurs are problem solvers. They have a unique ability to identify problems, gaps and niches, come up with a solution and set about building a venture, whether it be a commercial enterprise or social enterprise to address those problems for their customers or their communities. And I am just so excited to see if 1 Million Entrepreneurs Experiment can have that major social impact as a result of the voices that will be on the site.
Out there, in all corners of the world are entrepreneurs who already have or may in the future have, the capability to come up with a solution to one of the world’s greatest challenges. I believe that 1 Million Entrepreneurs Experiment will unearth these catalysts.
Coming up with the idea and getting the website built and launched was a 3 month process, which is fairly quick. And having launched only a month ago, it is such new business. The response to the site has so far been overwhelmingly positive. The biggest challenge in the next 3 months will be to have enough people upload videos to the site so that it starts generating its own momentum and buzz.
I’ve always been intrigued by the crowd funding model, although I’ve never been involved with a project or product where it made sense to crowd fund. What’s your experience been like with IndieGoGo? How are you getting the word out about your campaign?
The reason I have set up a crowdfunding campaign is to raise the funds needed to transform the current site into one powerful enough to display and sort one million videos and support multiple languages and multiple markets. It needs a powerful engine running behind it to do everything I want it to do. And the YouTube platform it currently runs on has limitations.
Crowd funding sites are a very recent development in Australia, with companies like IndieGoGo and Kickstarter as new entrants to the Australian market. I’ve had some friends who are creative entrepreneurs use these platforms to raise money for their books, albums and films, with mixed results. And I myself have donated to some cool products that I have appeared in my Facebook feed.
Crowd funding is a completely new direction for me as I have always used my own capital, in addition to corporate sponsorship to fund all my previous ventures. I chose IndieGoGo because they had a good spread of categories and were able to support the type of community campaign I was running. Plus, they have flexible terms, meaning that even if I do not reach my goal, all money raised will be transferred to the project via PayPal. Flexibility attracts a higher commission fee, but it is worth it.
I’m getting the word out about the IndieGoGo campaign on social media, tapping into my personal and professional networks to raise donations and exposure for the project. Plus, I did a couple of page boost campaigns on Facebook which had a massive reach and increased number of fans of the 1 Million Entrepreneurs Facebook page, but as yet has not translated to any donations.
I’m taking the approach that if the funds are raised through IndieGoGo, I will be delighted, but if not, I will either try again with a new approach and different messaging or try to raise the funds by other means. But at least I can say, I have ridden the wave of the crowd funding phenomenon and have given it a go.
Let’s switch gears and talk more about entrepreneurship in general. By definition, entrepreneurship involves taking on risk. That risk is the reason that many people choose to continue working their regular jobs as employees instead of going out and starting their own businesses.
In your opinion, what are some things that an aspiring entrepreneur can do to get comfortable with the risk and actually start taking action?
I don’t think people are ever wholly comfortable with risk. But what entrepreneurs have innately, is the ability to see risk as a challenge and not be frightened by it. They believe with such strong conviction that the greater outcome of their efforts, whether that be a $1 billion IPO, or a social enterprise to feed the world’s poor, or a groundbreaking innovation to clean the world’s oceans and waterways, is a far greater reward than the risk involved.
My advice to an entrepreneur starting out is to make sure they have enough cash in the bank to feed their family and pay their bills before they plunge into the unknown. It can take up to 18 months in a business before you make a sale, never mind seeing a profit. Spend what you have very wisely and watch your financial figures scrupulously.
There are support organizations in pretty much every city in the world that exist to provide you with access to tools, resources and education to help you stay in business and grow. Tap into your family and friends who are successful in business and seek their mentorship and support. Successful entrepreneurs share ideas, workshop them and constantly improve their business ideas and processes.
They network, collaborate and ask for help when they need to. Build a supportive network of like-minded and successful people around you. The entrepreneurial journey is a wild ride with plenty of bumps, crashes and pivots along the way, but I don’t know a single entrepreneur who would go back to being a paid employee for someone else.
Who is the most inspiring entrepreneur you’ve either met or learned about, and why?
I really admire Oprah Winfrey. Her presence on television spanned my entire childhood through today. She has accomplished so much from a childhood few could have predicted could produce such a strong, impressive, emotionally open and powerful force for good that she became.
And that is why I firmly believe that when given a voice, even the most vulnerable individuals in the global community can emerge and shine as entrepreneurs in the way Oprah has. And that is what I am hoping the legacy of 1 Million Entrepreneurs Experiment will be.
Looking generally at becoming a successful entrepreneur: If you had to take your best advice or inspirational thought and put it into one sentence or phrase, what would that be?
It takes courage to become an entrepreneur. So if you think you’ve got enough of it, go out there and make something great happen.
What are your favorite online resources or tools – ones that you can’t live without?
Being based in Singapore, running an Australian organization remotely (Start Up Australia) as well as 1 Million Entrepreneurs Experiment, all the tools I can’t live without are those that help me communicate and stay connected– Skype and Facebook are my standouts.
All my files and emails are in the cloud because I need to be so mobile with my work. Owing to the fact that we are a small team of volunteers with no admin support, we chose Infusionsoft CRM to power our business. It enables us to pre-program, automate and track opt-ins, email marketing campaigns and communications with our contact list. It is a sophisticated and powerful solution.
Finally, where can people find you online?
- I can be contacted directly via firstname.lastname@example.org
We will send a free package of quality eBooks and videos valued at $527 as a thank you to anyone who uploads their 1 minute video to 1 Million Entrepreneurs Experiment.
Thanks Miriam, and best of luck with your campaign!
What did you think about Miriam’s story and the huge project she is taking on? Leave a comment below!
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