On September 13 OneCoWork hosted FUCKUP Nights, or “FUN” for short, a night for entrepreneurs to share their personal career journeys and how things went wrong in the process. Hosting events in 84 countries and 300 cities, FUN attempts to change the way people perceive failure and embrace innovation. With only a 7-minute time frame, each of the three speakers had the audience on the edge of their seat listening to their stories!
A GUIDE TO “ENTREPRENEURSHIT” BY CARLOS CRUZ
The first speaker and host of the event, Carlos Cruz, told an amusing, brutally honest tale pretty much advising what not to do when trying to become a successful entrepreneur.
Identifying as an event planner, he named his company “iyiyim”, which he admits is the worst name he could’ve chosen. Leaving his secure job and temporarily traveling to America to learn more about event planning, he realized he didn’t have much of a plan. Because he didn’t have a plan, he found himself getting involved in projects that didn’t generate immediate revenue and doing things that kept costing him money. He organized talks in schools, hosted meetups before NBA games, and would launch parties at 7 in the morning with the mindset “energize before work.”
In 2016, he had his first customers that asked him to plan an event for him, but their business closed three months later making it unsuccessful. At this point 2 years later he had blown through his unemployment benefits, his savings, and finally came to the conclusion that simply hadn’t spent his time well.
A UTOPIA GONE WRONG BY LIFANG XIONG
Up next was Lifang Xiong who told the story of how her sunglasses business never quite hit its stride. Lifang came to Barcelona in 2016 after living and working in international trading for 7 years in China. With the help of her school professor, it was here that she created an elaborate business plan to launch her sunglasses company Utopia Woods.
Lifang’s vision to create nature-friendly wooden sunglasses caused some issues during production, one of them being that these handmade sunglasses took 4 extra months to be made than expected. When August came many shops were closed for vacation time and she couldn’t generate good sales. New conflicts kept popping up at the end of the summertime, such as an unexpected and horrible terrorist attack, Catalan Independence, and before Lifang knew it, it was the start of winter. Despite any effort to generate sales, she stopped the slow-moving project from progressing further.
Lifang’s take away from her Utopia experience is that you can’t rely solely on your business plan. You have to be prepared to expect the unexpected by thinking through the worst situations and planning for the best situations. For her personally, she felt like being in Barcelona with little-to-no leverage and lack of knowledge on legal issues contributed to her downfall.
WHAT COULD GO WRONG? BY RICH KURTZMAN
Our third and final speaker is Rich Kurtzman, a Chicago native who has been living in Barcelona for 16 years. With the mindset of wanting to encourage students to study and work in Barcelona, he decided to start his own study abroad program in 2009. He called his company SAE, the Study Abroad Experience, which was based in Barcelona.
The company was rapidly growing into what he always wanted and was on the come up, so things were going well for Rich. However, things went extremely south when Rich was in Rome and saw on the news that one of the students a part of his program went to run with the bulls in Pamplona and tragically got attacked. Instead of going to be with his student in the hospital, who got his spleen removed, he did the bare minimum due to costs and personal reasons.
The university that the student was a part of dropped SEA and never gave them a second chance. After this experience, he went on to create core values for the company and a risk management plan to exceed customer expectations. He learned from this how important it is to go above and beyond for customers no matter what. The harder you work to make your customers happy, the more successful you will be.
After a round of Q&A, the members of the event enjoyed complimentary beverages and networking to close out the night. Overall this event was really captivating and enjoyable to attend!
Thank you to Carlos Cruz, Lifang Xiong, and Rich Kurtzman for having courage to share their stories and show it’s okay to take a wrong turn sometimes.
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Bridget Sleap is the newest member of the OneCoWork team. Originally from New York, she majors in Communications & PR and is launching her career into media and journalism.