Kickstarting Ideas: Interview with…Tony Williams
Who are you?
I’m Tony Williams, a Lancaster University Computer Science graduate, and a University of Manchester MBA Graduate with a software development and programming background. I have 20 Years IT Operations Management and Programme Management experience, currently working as a technology leader for multi-billion pound organisation.
What inspired you to explore your idea? i.e. How did you identify the problem and what is your solution?
I always had the idea that careers advisory services were just not good enough and I couldn’t work out why this was the case. As time went by, I realised nothing was being done about it, every so often I’d ask friends and family and they would say there was no help at all. I decided to do my MBA dissertation paper on this idea, to test if this really was the case. It was focused on a business feasibility study to see if there was an opportunity to help young people understand jobs better, so they knew what they were getting themselves into, perhaps before it was too late. On conducting research, I was surprised to find a much bigger problem – the issue is actually from the very beginning, that careers advisory services have gotten worse not better, and the full pathway of support for young people is totally under serviced.
What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve faced in your entrepreneurial journey so far?
I would say getting the time is the biggest obstacle. Working full time means only having the ability to work on the start-up evenings and weekends when family time allows. But I’ve found giving yourself even just a small amount of time each day helps keep things moving and the ideas flowing.
What is next for Future Paths?
After winning the Nick Sanders Kickstarter award and conducting a series of MEC coaching sessions, I am now developing a prototype Minimum Viable Product to offer to the market on a freeware basis, with the aim to aide even more advanced market research testing, to then seek further investment.
What has been the impact of the Nick Sanders Kickstarter Award? What are the most valuable lessons you’ve learnt?
There have been several. The first impact is confirmation that others have the belief in the idea. This is a shift from the idea being only in my head to getting it out there and others supporting it - the biggest positive step change since I started. Also, getting the advice, training, support and guidance that people are helping you with the journey is such a massive confidence booster, and having people there to talk to about it makes it so much more real. The advice and training sessions make you think about what you are doing and if you are looking at things objectively, if you have actually tested out assumptions and ideas, trying to remove your own optimism bias. It is so easy to get carried away with your ideas and think they will work, when maybe a slight pivot is needed, and you need your customers to tell you that!
And finally, have you got any tips for potential applicants?
Just do it – get on with getting the idea out of your head, speak with as many people as possible to help shape the idea, connect with the excellent team at MEC and test out if you have a proposition. It’s better to find out early in the process if you’ve got something which is a goer or if it needs to change.
Photograph of yourself- we would like a high quality photo of you, preferable looking into camera to accompany the blog on the Masood Entrepreneurship website.