Entrepreneur: “Einstein Was Wrong” & 3 More Tips For Startups

Stuart McGoldrickEinstein would have made a lousy entrepreneur. Or maybe he just would have gotten one of the basics wrong.

The scientist, whose name is now synonymous with intelligence, once said that “imagination is more important than knowledge.”

But, as a fresh-faced, 14-year-old entrepreneur, Stuart McGoldrick found the opposite was the case.

Flush from the success of his first venture selling t-shirts with his school logo, the fledgling businessman turned his attention to “hoodies.”

McGoldrick had cleaned up on the t-shirts. He bought them for £4 and sold them for £10 to fellow high-school students.

“I was honest-to-God ecstatic,” he told a crowd at the 2013 UCD VentureLaunch Showcase, a graduation for the Dublin university’s accelerator program.

His plan to sell hoodies for £25 didn’t work so well with 15 year olds. After buying a batch of 200 and selling just one-fifth of them, McGoldrick learned a hard lesson about knowing his customer and price sensitivity.

Referring to Einstein’s quote, he said, “Market knowledge is equally as important.” On a more topical note, he said, “I understood what a bailout was way before the rest of you.”

3 More Tips for Entrepreneurs: Failure

The founder (along with wife Anne) and CEO of The Physio Company and Spectrum Health had three other takeaways for entrepreneurs in the audience.

The first was on the inevitability of failure. Noting he had many, McGoldrick said he had some of his “harshest and most difficult” lessons from failure.

However, he has learned and the experience has made him “much more resolute.”

Business Model

The Physio Company launched in 2007. On it’s first birthday, Lehman’s collapsed and it was obvious that a severe recession was about to get worse.

Despite advice to hold tight and retrench, the company kept looking for opportunities to grow. It now has 28 clinics and 85,000 active patients around Ireland, McGoldrick said.

Innovate the Business

Expressing admiration for business people like Jack Welch of GE and Tony Ryan of Guinness Peat Aviation, McGoldrick said, “They do something I wish I could do.”

“They saw with absolutely clarity changes that are opportunities,” he said. “They never saw them as threats.”

McGoldrick said for that reason, The Physio Company set out to be different from most self-employed physiotherapists who often work out of home offices or converted garages. “We are constantly evolving.”

As he surveys the Irish health landscape, government cutbacks are the norm. McGoldrick said the business’ choice was to “cut costs, grow revenue or go bust.”

For that reason, McGoldrick set up Spectrum Health, which has now grown to be Ireland’s largest provider of corporate wellness programs. “You guys are going to have to face that,” he said.

Returning to his theme of failure, he said, “If you hear of a business I’m involved in going bust, don’t worry because I certainly won’t be!”

Image taken from The Physio Company website.

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