Want to be an entrepreneur? Vito Grigorov says 'learn to fail'.
At the Sydney School of Entrepreneurship (SSE), we believe that “it takes a village to raise an entrepreneur" and that “you can’t be what you don’t see." We relish the relationships we are building with community groups, education providers, local business owners, councils, and State and Federal government, so in celebration of one such valued partnership, we caught up recently with one of our program mentors, UNSW Startup Incubator mentor and entrepreneur Vitaliy (Vito) Grigorov.
Vito is a passionate tech entrepreneur, pre-seed investor, and former television show host. He recently exited his latest startup, Polibloc, a platform that enables crowdfunding to support lobbyists and non-profits to affect policy change (including over $315,000 to support a group of community leaders in lobbying for amendments to the Religious Discrimination Act 2022) to focus on growth marketing consulting and mentoring.
Mentors make invaluable role models
“I started my own entrepreneurial journey in high school, organising dance parties in Year 12,” Vito explains. “It was a really good learning experience – and my first important taste of failure – because really, I don't think you can ‘do’ entrepreneurship successfully if you never fail.”
On the final day of the Discovery program (which IGS elected to run over a single school term), the students gathered at SSE headquarters in the heart of Sydney’s Tech Central district to prepare and present their pitches to their peers, SSE’s educators, and a panel of experts. Judging by the level of energy in the room by day’s end – and of course the calibre of the ideas and solutions to real-world problems the students were pitching – it was clear that the program had really encouraged and enabled the students to flourish.
The beauty of true engagement, not just box-ticking
Vito reflected on the impact an experience like this can have on a high school student. “To them it was just this seamless experience,” he said, and highlighting one student’s participation in particular. “By the end of the process, I’d be convinced she is essentially going to be doing entrepreneurship after finish high school,” he remarked, adding that “When you witness an afternoon like this you just think ‘Wow, it’s really having an impact here, rather than just being another tick of the [curriculum] box’.”
“To witness these students’ journey from where they were nine weeks ago to now, to have them actually put it into words, understanding concepts that some university students don't yet, it’s amazing. Some of the stuff I’ve seen presented today is equivalent to that level.”
We asked Vito what he loved most about mentoring and he was emphatic. “It’s pretty special to be able to introduce to young people something that they otherwise wouldn't have known, and/or that helps them on their journey to either find a product market fit, or to solve a problem, or improve lives.”
And what does entrepreneurship mean to Vito Grigorov?
Discovery ultimately explores how innovation and entrepreneurship can solve everyday problems for real world applications. But what does entrepreneurship mean to Vito, we asked?
“Innovation, entrepreneurship, they’re simply about thinking differently. And collaboration. It’s not about working or functioning in silos, it’s about brining people’s collective expertise together and coming up with creative solutions you haven’t imagined previously.”
“Creativity is at innovation’s core. I used to think ‘I’m going to make really big changes, big innovations!’ but I don’t think like that anymore. Innovation and entrepreneurship are more incremental. At the end of the day, it’s about making small, incremental changes [to an idea, a thought process, an innovation] towards a greater or improved solution.”