Quitting the day job

Background I was always pretty academic at school, leaning towards the sciences before I eventually ending up studying geology at...

Background

I was always pretty academic at school, leaning towards the sciences before I eventually ending up studying geology at The University of Manchester. After a brief spell working on the mines in northern Australia, I was pulled back into education, completing a Masters in Petroleum Geoscience at University College Dublin in pursuit of an oil and gas job, before securing a job in the renewable sector. 

New career

My new position involved the design and development of grid-scale energy storage stations that would soak up renewable energy from the grid & release it when needed. I felt lucky - these plants will play a massive part in the renewable future and I would be at the forefront of this innovation – it was a safe career bet! 

Something missing

I enjoyed the role and got on well with my colleagues, but like many young (and older) professionals, the idea of being a small cog in a big machine wasn't overly inspiring. I would look at my friends and colleagues and wonder if they, like me, felt a lingering sense of discontent as the years went by. Would this be my life? Would I just get over it? 

Learnings

During my time at the renewable firm, I realized that a huge number of tasks were outsourced to external companies. People like me would simply manage and review the contractors' work as it edged towards completion and slot the output into the bigger picture. I quickly came to the conclusion I couldn't do everything on my own but I could simply outsource tasks to other people. This allowed me to pursue ideas that had previously appeared unfeasible. 

Towards self-employment

It was not hard to find a problem that needed solving. I took the simple approach of listing everything that a person does on a regular basis and found a simple solution – the problem: laundry day and the solution being a collection service booked through an app. I approached a friend with a tech background and began working on the problem while outsourcing chunks of the tech build to contractors. 

Hard but rewarding

By keeping my day job at the renewable company, I was able to fund the project and de-risk it slightly. Double shifting was hard work, but having a larger life goal gave me an underlying sense of fulfillment and made me very self-motivated. After a few month of stress, the platform was ready to go live to live. On the 15th of November 2015, a badly put together Facebook advert brought in our first order, followed by a second order on the same day. 

Investment required

After only a couple of weeks, we were taking in over 10 orders a day – not bad on a shoestring budget & zero previous startup experience. The business, like all startups, was operating at a substantial loss and to move things along would require investment. This offer would come on the Irish Dragons Den

Leap of faith

The day after our successful Dragons Den outing I handed in my resignation. The project was de-risked to a level that I was comfortable with and it was a huge relief knowing I could put my full time and attention into it going forward. The truth is I did not see my resignation as a risk at all, as I could always go back to a similar role, and the life experience gained through starting my own business would have given me the edge in any future interview anyway. 

Startup life begins

The investment offered on the Den was not sufficient to take a salary. All of the investment would be put towards product development and as a consequence, I had to move back in with my parents. Over the next sixteen months, my life was stripped to its bare bones, with no income to even go on a Tinder date! The realities of startup life are not glamorous, but my cofounder and I certainly felt more content in life than we did working the typical 9-5 job and with a bit of grit, anyone could do it… 


You can listen to the full interview on 103.2 Dublin City FM

What is Sproose?

Sproose is now a funded company and I am glad to say I now have a regular income, a roof over my head that is not my parents and a seven-strong team. Over the past three years, we have morphed into a platform that supports the delivery of services from local businesses. 

Imagine booking a local hairdresser, car valet or dry cleaner to your home or office with the same level of simplicity offered by Amazon or Uber. The range of possible services is endless and we are working tirelessly to get more local businesses online and delivering their services to you. 

Conor Wilson
CEO, Sproose
conor@sproose.io

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