True entrepreneurs won’t shy away from risk
Why can’t I? This is typically my response to people who say, “But you can’t do that!”
I usually respond with additional questions: “Because you haven’t seen it done before? Or is it because you don’t believe you can do that?”
The first time I heard “You can’t do that” was from my mom. In 1984, the Olympic Games were in my backyard, figuratively and literally. Los Angeles was host to the XXIII Olympiad and I watched the games daily. When I wasn’t watching the Games, I was outside competing in my own backyard Olympiad.
One day I was outside with my siblings, anticipating another fun playday in the pool. Well, my siblings were; I was preparing to compete in the Olympic diving competition in my backyard.
My pool wasn’t very big, but we had a diving board. I took my place on the board, looked down on the water, and then turned around. I was preparing to attempt a backflip off the board for my first dive in the competition.
My mom, of course, was yelling at me to turn around and “jump normally.” In hindsight I guess I can understand her concerns; however, it was the first ever Olympiad in the Gascon backyard and it was for our country. My dad encouraged her to just let me jump, to see what I would do, because no one knew. My first attempt was an average score. But not to worry, I had at least four more hours to work at perfecting my backflips.
Most kids grow out of the risk-taking phase, but I was an exception to the rule. I learned a few things at a young age:
1. I can do anything and be anything as long as I work hard, stay committed and disciplined.
2. Just go for it; you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
3. With great risk often comes great reward, so take risks.
4. Be relentless in your pursuit of excellence.
I have applied these principles throughout my life as a student-athlete and they have served me well. I have had the honor of playing for USA national teams for 16 years and I recently earned my doctorate in Kinesiology from Auburn. Now, I’m applying the same principles to the next chapter in my life—the Entrepreneur Life.
I didn’t always know I was meant to be an entrepreneur. It was a chance encounter with Lou Bifano, Harbert’s director of entrepreneurship strategy, that opened the doors. He introducedme to the Tiger Cage Competition and encouraged me to enter. In fall 2017, I entered the competition with two of my colleagues. Our team, ESCAPE Therapy, created an electrotherapy garment that provides individuals suffering from musculoskeletal injuries a safe, convenient, and cost-effective wearable medical device to use at home or anywhere outside the physical therapy clinic. ESCAPE Therapy won the 2018 TigerCage Competition.
So now what? This experience and winnings opened my mind to a new world of entrepreneurship. We are still pursuing our business idea. We are currently in the final steps of our software and hardware developments. We continue to pitch to investors for additional funding and are on track to begin beta testing this summer.
The entrepreneur life isn’t an easy life, but it’s worth the risk. It requires extreme commitment and discipline, patience with yourself and the development process, and an intense focus on your vision.
To all the new entrepreneurs out there, I say go for it. Jump right in. And when someone says, “You can’t do that!” ask them, “Why can’t I?”
CEO, Escape Therapy