Lauren Trlin used to described herself as a "corporate Hippie". She also knew that she was destined for more than a life and career in law. In her search to find her place in the world, she founded a startup out of a personal need. That startup has taken her from her home in Perth, WA to Sydney, NSW, where she seeks to surround herself with many more like herself.
Lauren was exposed to entrepreneurship from an early age, with her parents running a family construction business from home. Lauren was able to learn from her parents first hand during conversations at the dinner table, and not just the good stuff either. They shared the ups and the downs, helping Lauren understand how difficult running a business is, but also how rewarding it can be.
Lauren's own entrepreneurial journey started out with interior decorating, as well as helping out with branding and marketing for Dad's business. Without prior experience, the ever resourceful Lauren went out and found the right people who could help. This became one of the most important lessons to learn and has helped Lauren in recent years.
Despite having entrepreneurial tendencies early on, Lauren pursued a career as a lawyer, yet even after working hard to be successful in this field, the nagging urge to create something remained. "The day it made sense was when I was admitted as a solicitor in the supreme court in WA." Lauren had achieved what she wanted to achieve in this profession, and realised it was time to move on.
Like many aspiring entrepreneurs, Lauren began attending networking events in order to surrounding herself with other people who were doing the same thing. It was at one of these events where Lauren tested the waters of her own entrepreneurial skills by hosting her own events for single professionals in Perth. Inka Events was born, and Lauren was on her way.
Lauren knew that she wanted to build businesses, even while still in high school, and while initially believing that she only had to wait for the right time, she now knows that "there is no right time. You just have to get started."
Prior to attending the many networking events that she went to, and despite showing how capable she was herself, she initially thought that every entrepreneur had incredible ideas and that they were all very capable. It soon became apparent that there was a clear separation between those who take action and those who don't. She understand the importance of moving forward, even if only taking small steps in the right direction.
Buzzy started from a personal need. Lauren, in her attempts to spend as much time networking and learning about entrepreneurship, became frustrated with the many small menial tasks that she had to take care of. The idea for Buzzy was born. Lauren worked on the concept for a few months, conducting some research on US cases, and found Task Rabbit, a similar concept, had just launched and seemed to be gaining some traction. This gave her the confidence that it was a viable idea.
Lauren's then took the next, most important step; to tell people about it. It was important that she find the right people to talk to, which is not easy, and for Lauren, is still an ongoing process. Lauren advises to "be strategic with who you speak to, gather as much information as you can, but learn how to sift through and work out what works for you."
Lauren's legal training was helpful in analysing the information that she gathered. She was also astute enough to know that it is easy to fall into the trap that you don't know enough and that people around you will have all of the answers. You have to be open minded, but stubborn.
In true Lean Startup fashion, Lauren experimented and testing, tweaking the model depending on the outcomes. She advises not to be "too freaked out by the process which at times can be daunting."
After launching Buzzy and having some moderate initial success, Lauren has recently spent some time re-evaluating the business, and her own life, over the last few weeks. After recently moving to new city, she is now looking for opportunities for personal growth.
Lauren has bootstrapped Buzzy via savings, selling her car and moving back in with her mother to reduce her living expenses, which has taught Lauren how to be efficient with spending money and making economic choices. It was important for Lauren that she learn how to do things herself and not rely on outside funding.
Lauren has had a varied mix of mentors over short span of her journey. It is common for people to assume that a mentor needs to be in the same area as you, however Lauren found that people from every aspect of her life had something of value to offer. Her first formal mentor came in the form of another lawyer that she worked with. Being open and honest with him about her plans from the beginning set the foundation for a strong, positive mentor-mentee relationship. Lauren also recognised when the mentoring relationship had reached its limit and, while still good friends, felt the need to seek additional mentorship that would take her further.
Lauren advises to reach out to mentors as early as possible. Shortly after moving to Sydney Lauren began thinking about who to reach out to and connect with. "As a sole founder you need to rely on your network, so its important to build that network."
In looking forward, Lauren is aware of the need to continue to invest in her own personal development, particularly to improve her business knowledge. Spending money on improving yourself is an investment in your own future, and while it took a while, Lauren has learned to not feel guilty in doing that.
When asked about the potential dangers that Buzzy faces, Lauren opined that she doesn't look at results as failures, as anything learned will allow her to pivot and evolve. In fact the only thing that Lauren sees that will kill Buzzy is herself. Perhaps not learning fast enough, or not spending enough money in the right areas. Lauren is confident that she will find ways to maneuver Buzzy so it is not a replication of competitors, that it is unique.
Lauren is keen to continue meeting people, to learn from them and to share her story, and perhaps offer a bit of advice where she can. She loves hearing other people's stories, and being involved in the startup community provides encouragement and keeps her going.
Take small steps in right direction
If you can't take big steps, then take small ones. Any movement forward is a worthy result of your efforts.
Be open but stubborn
Stick to guns but be open to other people's opinions and thoughts. The real trick is to work out what is worth sticking to, and when to pivot.
Seek a mentor
Be active in your search, and when you find someone, ask them directly if you have to. Find people around you within your network that can help. Once you make a positive connection, ask if they will mentor you.
You can reach out to Lauren via LinkedIn and Twitter, and you can find out more about Buzzy, or even post a request on the Buzzy website. I recommend that you check it out. You might just find some things that you need to free yourself from that will allow you to work harder on your dream.
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