Last Friday we had the honour of being invited by the Association of Students of Commercial Studies (ASCS) to their headline conference titled ThinkBig. Described as a way of encouraging and inspiring the students of today to be the entrepreneurs of tomorrow, ThinkBig turned out to be a fascinating event. Moderated by the charismatic Professor Philip Wragg from Samarkand Management Limited, ThinkBig acquainted us with 4 entrepreneurs; some established, some only now starting to show their potential.
The first of those entrepreneurs were the 4 students behind the new start-up Freshy.io. Svetlana, Anatoliy, Gleb and Valeriya are four people who differ in both course and nationality but share the common goal of fighting the problem of food waste. The idea behind Freshy.io is that it serves as a platform for restaurants to post last minute deals so to avoid food waste. These deals are then sent to people based on their own location. It’s an innovative idea that was voted to be one of the Top 10 best start-ups on the whole planet in 2016. Their appeal to young entrepreneurs is not to think locally – think globally and take advantage of the financial incentives that are available through the University of Malta Take-Off initiative.
The second speaker of the day was Tommy Diacono; the man behind the New York’s Best franchise; a franchise that has transformed the fast food industry on our island. In the form of a Question and Answer session, Diacono spoke about how the most important thing about maintaining a brand is to stick to its principles. He proudly states that his franchise is built on the principal that everything is fresh; and it is a principle that he stuck with even when his idea seemed like it would not launch. He spoke about how important it is to not judge people based on their appearance or on what they do over the weekend; but to judge them on how much they are able to commit themselves to their work. Finally, when asked how best to turn an idea into reality; he said that one has to be hard-headed, to not take things too seriously, to have a good network of contacts and, most importantly, to be patient with your ideas irrespective of what barriers you may hit.
Angele Giuliano, the next speaker, then spoke about her lengthy career within business and had one big piece of advice for would be business leaders; think big and think new. She also spoke about seeing failure as a good thing. One must learn from failure to be successful and not get dis-heartened.
Matthew Bezzina, the final speaker, was a man who was presented with an altogether different issue to get around. The conundrum he faced was not how to revolutionise a profession as a whole; but how to revolutionise the perception of that profession. And so, eCabs was born. For Bezzina, marketing has been key. Not only has he managed to create a brand identity for his own firm; Bezzina has managed to create a whole new identity for the taxi industry. Indeed, when I asked the rest of the team here if they had any questions for Bezzina, the answer I got was “How annoyed would he be if we kidnapped his marketing team?”. He spoke about how, for instance, 30% of the drivers he employs are women. Cast your mind back to 10 years ago. How many women would you have seen driving a taxi? By revolutionising the public perception of the taxi industry; Bezzina and E-Cabs have indirectly brought about a revolution within the industry itself.
To be completely honest, readers, I wasn’t the writer initially penned down to attend this conference. However, due to very valid reasons, I took the place of the writer who was going. That being said, as a History student, I didn’t expect to take many relevant points away from this. However I was, very pleasantly, proven wrong. The conference was exceptionally interesting and it was a fantastic opportunity to learn about how different people approach different problems and different ideas. I offer my congratulations and plaudits to ASCS for a job well done in putting together a brilliant conference, and once again I thank them on behalf of all of us here for the invite! We look forward to more!
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