Look, I get it, no one wants to hear advice from a 19-year-old who is just getting started. Hey, I’m 25 and I battle a lot of the same difficulties.
Swish Goswami isn’t a typical kid set to graduate though. He is a sophomore from Toronto, studying at the University of Toronto. Along with that, Swish is a serial tech entrepreneur and innovator, UN Youth Ambassador, Huffington Post contributor, early stage tech investor, social media personality and TEDx speaker. As a Business Development Associate at JB Fitzgerald Venture Capital, he is one of the world’s youngest venture capitalists and he has consulted with Fortune 500 companies on promoting investments in the digital media space.
Swish won Startup Canada's Young Entrepreneur of the Year award, Strategy Magazine's Social Innovator of the Year, the United Nation's Outstanding Youth Leadership Award, and Plan Canada's Top 20 under 20 award. He was recognized a few months ago as the "Face and Future of Canadian Entrepreneurship" by UPS Canada. So yeah, this guy gets it.
When I talked to Swish, my goal was to better understand how he became one of those people who ‘walk the talk’, and not just talk it.
What I learned is that Swish initially lived in a family that encouraged him to go into a traditional occupation like engineering. Of course, they wanted him to be successful and thought that this was a safe, traditional way to become just that. However, at the age of 7, Swish built a hovercraft business with his dad and fell in love with the idea of selling things and making his solutions to real world problems a reality through the vehicle of business.
What this told me is that Swish didn’t want to be an entrepreneur because it was glamorized, but because he loved the feeling it gave him. This, he says, has to be key.
In addition, Swish branded himself as an entrepreneur early. In fact, his only wish was that he had branded himself as soon as he started. By branding yourself as an entrepreneur, Swish believes you open yourself up to a larger support network of like-minded people who can help you start and grow your business.
Separating yourself from those who are entrepreneurs and those who want to be is difficult, though. How do you know who to reach out to and whether they’re going to provide value? Swish says the difference between entrepreneurs and those who want to be are traits and results. Those who want to be entrepreneurs are very different from those who already are. Look at a person's track record and experience before reaching out. At the end of the day, results speak for themselves.
But perhaps the best tip Swish shared with me is that you can’t be afraid to put yourself out there. It didn’t matter who he was talking to and what they were worth. At the end of the day, Swish seeks people who are like him: they love having conversations.
A lot of folks don’t reach out to people they look up to because of fear. Getting over this fear and understanding that the person you talk to on the other end of the line or email chain is just a person like we are, and likely open to help out a bit, is key in building the confidence to press send.
Finally, Swish mentioned that his view on entrepreneurship is that it isn’t a short-term game. They say that an overnight success takes 1,000 days. Swish knows that isn’t about just raising a million dollars and that patience,along with hard work, is the game. His focus isn’t about being an overnight success, but rather when it’s all said and done, being a success by leaving a legacy in the form of impact. He recognizes this takes time.
Entrepreneurship is a marathon, but perhaps the hardest step to take is the first one. Building the confidence to be able to ask for help, execute on an idea, and make things happen are instrumental in making it in the rapidly changing world of entrepreneurship.
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