Shifting Business Models & Changing Mindsets, One Entrepreneur at a Time

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Last week, I picked up the phone to chat with Sheena Repath, an inspiring and creative individual and the founder and CEO of MSH District. Initially, I had thought that she would weave me a tale of her career starting with a little girl who was obsessed with fashion and making things. Instead, I met a women with a passion for helping people and a warrior goddess with a knack for making sh*t happen!

Seven years ago, Sheena was working with Walmart when her father, an accomplished entrepreneur himself, encouraged her to take a passion test. The test revealed that Sheena’s number one passion was helping people.  With her dad’s encouragement, she quit her job at the peak of the 2008 economic recession.

Sheena started attending a number of networking events and meeting entrepreneurs who were ready to start their own companies, but did not yet have the tools to do so successfully. They were trying to  forge a path for themselves, but were struggling to navigate their target markets.

Her aha moment came when she realized that she had what all these entrepreneurs were looking for; a wealth of experience. Having worked with more than a hundred entrepreneurs to bring their ideas to reality, she decided to do something to help. MSHDistrict was founded.

MSH District is a unique maker space that focuses on helping entrepreneurs by uplifting, inspiring and unleashing his or her potential. It is a place where anything goes and you are encouraged to innovate without fear of failure. It also provides access to excellent industry mentors who have been extremely successful in their own businesses.

“Building the first prototype can be challenging,” says Sheena, “a lot of people want to focus on building something iconic, but don’t know how that can be achieved. They think that retailers and e-commerce are the ways to their dreams, but you have to keep the customer in mind and think of ways to reach your target market. Only then can you create something that excites you and your customers.”

Creating a prototype is a complex process and MSH District aims to simplify that for aspiring entrepreneurs. They held their first ever hackathon at Brightlane three weeks ago that brought together creative individuals and encouraged them to build their ideas on site. Advisors, fabric suppliers, manufacturers and a design team were available on hand to assist the attendees. The result? 15 awesome products came to life and 4 attendees quit their day jobs to pursue their dream!

This initiative will culminate into a 4 month accelerator program that will bring together design and product enthusiasts to create magical new products.

When asked about the selection process and the purpose of MSH District, Repath replied, “My biggest thing personally is to encourage people to go after all of their ideas. The solution to all of world problems is to teach people how to explore their ideas. If bunch of ideas stick together, that builds a better world. We are not talking about earth shattering ideas, we are talking about the amalgamation of great ideas that will create a better society.”

– Ria Riaz
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This post was originally written for SheEO

Passion to Paycheque – Lessons from Side Hustle Week 2015

 

IMG_3253I checked out one of the events for Side Hustle Week today. Organized by Secrets of a Side Hustler founder, Chivon John, it brought all the side hustlers together here in Toronto. I was pretty bummed to have missed the week’s events but was super happy to have made it to Artscape Young Place today! It is a beautiful community space located on 180 Shaw Street and all of you should check it out.

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So what is a side hustle?
It means different things to different people. For me it is my passion, something I do outside of my job. To be honest, my day job is the same as my side hustle and I feel blessed every single day.
We learnt a ton during today’s workshop, which was titled Passion to Paycheque, but I am going to share a few key learnings here. Led by LC Johnson and Shereen Ashman, the top learning is already shared in the quote above, which I created with Notegraphy (cause there is an app for that! :p I couldn’t stop myself haha)

The workshop was mainly about pitching yourself, be it to media, investors or a potential client. The following 5 steps are key pointers for that.

  1. Why should they care
    You need to nail your why down. As LC Johnson put it, “There is a reason why your work needs to exist in the world” but you need to be able to articulate why!
  2. Make your pitch as visual and tangible as you can
    Video pitches to media were suggested.
  3. Establish your credibility
    You need to know what you are talking about. LC recommended starting a blog or having a portfolio of some sort.
  4. Embrace what makes you unique
    You are you, so just be you.
  5. Leave them wanting more
    Your pitch doesn’t need to have EVERY TINY DETAIL about you and your business in it.

    LC also mentioned an activity she calls “In a nutshell” which basically helps you clarify your “why”.
    I help ___________________ do _________________ because ______________.
    Fill in the blanks to figure out your “why”!

    Here is mine:
    I work with startups to create communities online and offline because for any business to succeed you need a tribe, a community that gives a damn.

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    Do you have a side hustle? Share it with us!