"What's A Tech Entrepreneur?" - A Question From A Younger Me
From aspiring medical student to budding tech entrepreneur, Olivia shares her story.
3 min read
If you had asked me five years ago where I think I’d be today I would have told you I was applying to medical schools. Or more likely that I was finishing up my first year in med school. Ten years ago I would still have given you the same answer. However, if you ask me where I am today I will tell you I waitress to pay the bills but my real job building a travel company. Clearly, my younger self couldn’t have been more wrong.
Becoming an entrepreneur was never on my bucket list. Becoming a tech entrepreneur was never even part of my vocabulary. I wouldn’t claim to be computer savvy. I don’t have any experience with writing business plans or revenue models. I even remember talking to one of my counsellors about my crazy idea of renovating the international internship industry and having to google ‘what is a business model’. And to be completely frank, I’m still not completely sold I know the real answer. But for my lack of technical skills I make up for in drive, passion and sheer will power. These are not things that can be learned.
I remember when I first came up with the idea for Babette Travel. I was shy about my passion to encourage others to intern abroad. When people asked me what I wanted to do with my International Studies degree I would smile and shake my head as if to say ‘your guess is as good as mine’ all the while internally screaming ‘I’m going to start a company!’ I was not a shy or nervous person. I had no idea what made me so nervous about sharing my idea.
Since then I’ve analysed this fear often and in detail. Babette is my baby. It is my passion. It is my dreams and aspirations. To share this with someone meant that if they did not understand my idea they did not understand me as a person. Since then I have grown more confident in Babette and my explanation of what we do. I’ve also grown to understand that while I have put everything into Babette, Babette is not me. Not everyone is going to understand your dreams and that is okay.
Creating a startup is terrifying, exhilarating, exhausting, daunting, worthwhile and painful all rolled up into one messy package. It’s easy to read about successful entrepreneurs and founders after the fact. But hearing from entrepreneurs who are facing the same challenges in real time creates dialogue and inspiration for those of us still getting excited about the small victories.
If I were able to give myself or any entrepreneur who is just beginning to realize their company it would be this: your idea, company and goals are going to change and grow and the only way not to go insane is to know that it is alright. People are going to be asking you a million questions about your business and in the beginning, you will know almost zero of the answers. Don't see that as a fault but an opportunity to learn and grow. Nothing feels better than the moment when you can answer all of their questions without hesitation. People are going to give you 'suggestions' or 'advice' and some of these people may seem like they know a lot more than you but not all of this advice is going to be useful. Some of it will be life changing and some of it will be crap, it's up to you to sort through it all. Whenever you feel overwhelmed or ill-equipped (which will happen more often than not) remind yourself why you started the company, in the beginning, reminding myself of why it is a passion is the best motivator I've found.
Olivia Wisden is a recent graduate from the University of Wisconsin- Madison with degrees in International Studies and Communication. Becoming a tech entrepreneur was never in Olivia's game plan. After several international internships her goal of medicine was out and a new and much less definitive goal was in: traveling and helping others experience the world. Since graduation, she has founded and built my own company, Babette Travel, that provides the resources for interns to plan and find their own amazing international internship.