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Josh Daniell is Head of Platform and Investor Growth at Snowball Effect (equity crowdfunding). Josh participated in Startup Weekend this year, so we asked him to write about his motivations and what he wanted to get out of it.

I’ve always respected people with broad perspective. To have perspective, you need to throw yourself outside your comfort zone. However I’ve found that you can’t simply travel India in your early 20s and expect to retain perspective. It wears off. You quickly revert to your norms in a limited frame of reference. To maintain perspective, you need to consistently do things that open your mind.

Over the years I’ve used a number of methods to try and challenge my perspective. They always involve mixing with people outside my regular bubble. They often involve a touch of humiliation. They usually result in discovery and learning. A few examples:

  • Volunteering at community law centres: A way to open my eyes and help with real problems across diverse communities. It certainly puts your own problems in perspective.
  • Corporate hitchhiking: While working as a lawyer a couple of flatmates and I would hitchhike to work in suits (hence “corporate” hitchhiking). This was an unpredictable and often inspiring start to the day, and the opportunity to glimpse into the lives of people in my community.
  • Koru Club hitchhiking: If I’ve got time to kill in the airport I hover outside the Koru Club and ask a stranger to come in as their guest (members can bring in a guest for free each time they fly). Asking things from strangers carries a plethora of emotions and judgements. In this situation, these take place in less than 5 seconds. Rejection is face-to-face and humiliating.

I can now add another – Startup Weekend.

They say that starting a business is like climbing a mountain, and only being given the equipment you need once you’re almost at the top. You’ll face criticism and naysayers. You’ll taste failure and loneliness. It’s tough, but beautiful things can emerge from the foothills. If you’re lucky you’ll feel the elation of success and the sweet vindication of market acceptance.

At Snowball Effect we’ve reviewed the business plans of around 500 early stage companies over the last year. It’s easy to review and critique, but it takes courage to build something and open it up to the world. Though we’re an early stage business ourselves, I wanted to feel things from a startup’s perspective again. I met some amazing people that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I had moments of humiliation and elation. And I came out of the weekend with refreshed perspective and energy. I’ll do it again!


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Jenny Xu