- Acclaimed spoken-word artist and social commentator George Mpanga, better known as George The Poet, has created a video exploring the struggles of being an entrepreneur in partnership with VC fund Sweet Capital.
- The video was inspired by conversations between Mpanga and over 35 founders from Sweet Capital’s portfolio.
- The themes explored in the video are particularly relevant now with COVID, says Mpanga, in a time “where your idea sinks or swims.”
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Acclaimed spoken-word artist and social commentator George Mpanga, better known as George The Poet, has teamed up with VC fund Sweet Capital for a project detailing the struggles of being an entrepreneur.
Mpanga’s video tribute to entrepreneurship, entitled ‘It Could Be For You’, was informed by discussions with over 35 founders from Sweet Capital’s portfolio.
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The video upends the popular narrative around startup success and uncovers the everyday challenges of being a founder, says Christian Dorffer, CEO of Sweet Capital.
“A lot of the media covers just the successes, they want to write about Evan Spiegel and Mark Zuckerberg and IPOs. But one of the things that we know is that it’s so hard to actually succeed as an entrepreneur and most days we were just fighting fires, and it’s super challenging,” says Dorffer.
Around half of startups fail, according to data from the US Small Business Administration, and in the current climate it is more challenging than ever to launch a business.
“Both from an entrepreneurial position and an artist position, it’s a hard time to be a freelancer, it’s a hard time to be a contractor,” says Mpanga. “[But], these are the times that make you. This is where your idea sinks or swims.”
Buoyant investors often say that world-leading startups emerge from crises. Some of the biggest success stories in tech, including Uber and Airbnb, were founded during the financial crisis of 2008.
As an artist and entrepreneur, Mpanga says that he could directly relate to the stories he heard from the founders.
“I made the decision to step away from a record label five years ago, a lot of people in my life thought that that was suicide … But what I really wanted was a space to experiment,” says Mpanga. “On that journey, I was living like an entrepreneur and I still do.”
He adds: “I take on things that I can teach and I can encourage the people where I’m from to also try. It was important for me to articulate my entrepreneurial journey … [Because] growing up we don’t know many entrepreneurs or even if we do we don’t think of it in that way.
Sweet Capital is also launching a new speaker series, where founders can share their stories and the realities of their entrepreneurial journey. It will begin with conversations between Mpanga and around five Black entrepreneurs, as part of an effort to elevate the voices of founders from diverse backgrounds, says Dorffer.
“Many of the best entrepreneurs out there come from very diverse backgrounds and are Black,” he says.”But we need to elevate them, and both help to create more role models but also demonstrate that these guys and these girls are as successful as everybody else.”
The series comes amid renewed efforts to promote diversity in entrepreneurship. But, says Mpanga, you can never say that enough is being done when it comes to improving access for marginalized groups.
“There is no enough threshold to ensure that marginalized groups have access to opportunities that historically they haven’t had,” he says. “That just has to be an ongoing process that is embedded into the logic of our growth as a society, on organisation al levels, and of course on the individual level.”
He adds: “I empathize with companies who have been pressured to stand up and make pronouncements in favour of Black Lives Matter, which is often morphed into general conversations about diversity and inclusion. But what the danger there is, if you don’t actually have a direction of travel … then you’re just making noises.”