Episode 018: Trang Du - Two Square Pegs

After a career change brought about because she no longer wanted to contribute to the wastefulness of society, it was a hackathon that showed Trang the light (and the awesomeness of startups).

Trang started her working life as a designer, designing physical products for organisations like Myer and Domain Australia, but it wasn't long before Trang's sense of purpose forced a rethink.  The feeling that she was contributing to wastefulness by designing new products each year and encouraging people to "throw out the old and buy the new" no longer sat well with Trang.

A transition into graphic design and designing web sites brought with it opportunities to contribute in a more meaningful way, which eventually led Trang to hackathons, particularly the hackathons focused on charity and social change.  It was at one of these hackathons that Trang had a truly pivotal moment.  Her team was successful and their product, The Positive Bid Project, won the main prize.

Two Square Pegs was born from a desire to help bridge the diversity gap.  In attending hackathons, Trang had noticed that many startups struggled to find help and mentorship, while at the same time, she noticed that there was a lack of diversity in the people contributing at hackathons; few women and mature aged people.

Validating the idea was not difficult, but required significant legwork, by going out and talking to businesses and finding out what they need, and then finding experts to match with them.  Trang also utilised Senior entrepreneur groups and other meetup groups to gather feedback and validation.

When you don’t have a co-founder you have a lot of conversations with yourself
— Trang Du

Trang's biggest challenge has been managing the sheer volume of tasks that need to be done.  As a sole founder, it has been a constant battle of prioritising what needs to be done, and finding people to help.  Finding someone that you can work with, whether as a paid assistant or a co-founder, is invaluable.  "When you don't have a co-founder you have a lot of conversations with yourself.  It's nice to have someone to bounce ideas off."

Trang philosophy has been to work with people who can help get things done.  "You can talk about stuff but until you implement it you don't know what the result is"  Imogen, who is currently working with Trang, has had experience working in other startups which has been immensely helpful.

The biggest thing that Trang has learned, so far, is that you can't have all of the knowledge and the skills that you need in your business.  It's also crucial to gather feedback along he way. "You might not like that feedback, [but] you choose how you want to implement that feedback.  Its good to get other people's perspective on what you are doing."

The biggest challenge in the coming months and years will be building awareness and getting people to change their opinion of "portfolio work", or working for multiple companies and in a variety of roles, as well as conducting case studies to show the effectiveness of the program.

The Ask

If you are a small business and you are looking for some help, or you have knowledge and skill that you can use to help a small business or startup, sign up to Two Square Pegs.  You can contact them on their website http://www.twosquarepegs.com

Takeaways

Put your idea out there

Start talking about your startup.  Network, share, connect with people.  People will gravitate toward you.

You can't know and do everything

Look for people that can help to fill in the gaps.  Take every opportunity you can to share the load.  Outsource, engage friends and family, find a mentor, or find a co-founder.

Get yourself along to a Hackathon

Hackathons are great.  Get along to a hackathon and see what they are all about, and what value you might be able to add.  Get yourself involved.

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