Starting your own business is quite difficult, especially when you’re confused about why you are putting up a business in the first place. Being an entrepreneur is also a risk-taker. Most of them make huge steps without any assurance that they will succeed in the industry they want to start with. They started the business to create a difference that will change one’s community into a better place to be.
What is it to be like an entrepreneur? We interviewed one of the successful entrepreneurs in the world of technology, Mr Leon Farrant who is only 12 years old when he began to work in an orchard picking fruit and a paper round and now the CEO and founder of Agile and Green Li-ion, to share his story.
He believes that empowerment is having the freedom to be a positive contributor to one’s community. To create empowerment, he believes in co-creating a platform that allows communities to help themselves to live a happy and healthy life in harmony with their environment.
His journey as an entrepreneur started when he found two companies two years from each other in very different industries presented an incredible learning curve. Firstly, founding and amalgamating entities and creating Asia’s firstborn Global PEO Platform to facilitate the engagement of remote workforces to form what is today Agile. It was a challenge that COVID-19 luckily did not disrupt. And then co-founding Green Li-ion with his good friend and CTO Dr Reza Katal in the middle of global lockdown was an exciting prospect given the novelty of their deep technology that will change the world for the better.
Two very different companies; one hardware deep technology and one software and people-centric and highly dispersed. Green Li-ion is the world’s first technology that can fully rejuvenate end of life lithium-ion batteries, which means no landfill, less reliance on mining, eight times less carbon emission and four times more profit at up to half the cost of building a new one to the same battery ready purity. One being venture-backed and one being private investor-backed after shoe-stringing.
When asked what he does about his business, he said “Well in Green Li-ion, I am fully committed to the transition of our novel chemistry into the world’s first machine (approximately 150 tons in size) that takes in mixed crushed dead Lithium-Ion Batteries and uses a closed-loop hydrometallurgical process to fully rejuvenate the cathode material to a battery ready level for reuse. Our machine is currently in production which can recycle or rejuvenate the equivalent of 56,000 iPhone 8’s. This is up to 10 times faster than current recycling processes and will more than 4 times the profits- for our clients.”
He added, “Both came from seeing major gaps, Green Li-ion will solve a problem that I am passionate about which is to reduce the damage we do to our environment in the pursuit to help it or to live better. The other gap is the diminishing creation of community as we engage distributed workforces around the world and the lack of available solutions to compliantly engage your employee base.”
Luckily, he has the great privilege to have the best mentors that have pushed him to strive for the best outcome for the businesses community. He is excited about the industry he’s into! But mostly the people he worked with because they are brilliant and generous collaborators that make anything achievable.
Leon also shared with us about his most challenging obstacle wherein he said that being there for the family while trying to build something from nothing is always challenging. The time that they both deserve is immense. The other challenge that was considered was the transition out of comfortable corporate. Having spent a decade and a half getting to a high paid position, it was a challenging emotional journey to transition to no pay and no security to make a difference.
The most important quality of a successful entrepreneur based on Leon is PASSION! Following these important traits (and very cliché) is self-motivation and resilience. With everyone questioning you and or saying that it won’t work you have to be dumb enough to ignore them while being smart enough to make it work.
Learn from others constantly and take big business best practice wherever possible. Startups often bash big companies for being slow and bureaucratically but there is a reason they are so big and still around. Do not take shortcuts and always be 100% compliant, even if it slows you down. Find good people, treat them well and never let them go are the most important thing to run a successful business.
When asked about some advice for aspiring and first-time entrepreneurs, he mentioned
“Just do it! Don’t talk about it or be scared off by your baby-boomer parent or millennial child; just do it. Failing is the best education we can obtain.”
That being said, there are so many great mentors and incubators around nowadays to help you validate the ideas that can save you many stumbles. He believes that the start-up and innovation landscape is a circular one and that all entrepreneurs have an obligation to help the next. This is no different from any other well-established business, which is why he, like others on a similar journey, will always try to assist or at the very least listen to ideas and even provide feedback.
A lack of cash can be overcome when beginning a business, just eat less and sell more! There is a lot of nuff around success metrics for startups, and given startups can come in many different shapes and sizes, there are hundreds of goals people may set for themselves. However, the basic principle of business applies to all. If you sell more and make more profit, you will increase value in your company and have improved access to funds, whether from fundraising or available funds from profit.
Leon also believes that start-ups are like champagne and razorblades – having the biggest thrill from small wins and devastating downs when systems or ideas fail. Regardless of the downs if you are passionate about the problem you are solving you will never fail (you only fail if you give up). Seeing the massive landfill with people living nearby catch fire in his country of birth, Kenya, shows him that eradicating all future combustible batteries in landfill is worthy of all his efforts.
We hope that this has been very helpful to you as you consider starting a business. Stay tuned for more entrepreneur series. Sign up for an account for more updates.