I am going to become a strategy consultant. Its pays well, has good prospects and I would learn a lot in a short amount of time. It sounds like a fantastic job. I thought all this a month ago, but in the back of my mind was a niggling doubt tugging away, making me resist hitting the submit button on the McKinsey website. And then I saw a quote. It wasn’t the standard jokes about graphs and getting paid to say nothing.
‘If you’re not building your own dreams you’re being paid to build somebody elses’.
For me this translated into ‘find a purpose and follow it’, a pay cheque is not a leader that I wish to fall in line behind. Despite some familial advice to ‘build my resume’ and the sight of others madly dashing around in suits to interviews I decided to build my own dream. My dream is to give others the opportunities I was fortunate enough to have. When I went back to my old council estate everyone I grew up with was gone. The football ‘field’, a cement cage by the railway tracks, which was the scene of the most frantic football matches imaginable; was covered in graffiti and long abandoned, looking as though an earthquake had torn it apart. A council sign warning people against entering this dangerous, forgotten hub, hung above a chain enforcing its will. I heard fervent whispers of the friends I used to know. The friend who would scrounge around with me for the change that had fallen from the pockets of drunkards who had passed out on the wall the night before was lost to drugs. The neighbour, who laughed happily as I gleefully chanted nonsensical words along to the African songs his family would sing on our way to McDonalds, was doing his second stint in gaol for armed robbery and kidnap. Others ran gangs, others were depressed, many were on drugs. There were few stories that were not dismal. But mine was not. Through the generosity and kindness of others I had been given the chance to learn and experience fantastic things and believe that any dream I could imagine was at the least a possibility.
My dream is for others to grow up believing the same, with hope, not having to rely on the benevolence of a few generous people (such as the CAAS benefactors) but instead able to access the things they need when they need them.
I want to create an online platform that allows people to sell a portion of their future income in return for the funding, networks and knowledge they need to achieve their dreams. I have been the beneficiary of incredible opportunities throughout my life, the most substantial of which is the scholarship that the CAAS so generously bestowed upon me.
The business model I want to create would provide people with a way to reach their potential while maintaining their independence and not being burdened with hard to service debt repayments while at the same time providing value for the people fronting up the money and the business I want to develop. Providing this shared value for all stakeholders and the community at large is the way I would like to create a sustainable business. I want to do this for my own sense of morality but I also believe in a future where more and more information is readily available to public scrutiny and societal morals can impact behaviour to increasing degrees I believe this is even more important.
The business will operate in three streams;
One stream will be through university partnerships. I am hoping to try and get one setup at Cranfield if they are willing but Cambridge have also shown interest. This would involve alumni providing students with the opportunities they had and sharing in the future the student creates (through both a share of their future income and the knowledge that the student couldn’t have achieved what they did without their help).
Another stream will be through our online platform, whereby people who are selling their future income (aspirants) will create a profile detailing what drives them and what they want to achieve. We will provide metrics related to the average income trajectories and volatility of employment etc. for the aspirants chosen field alongside this profile. From this the investor can make an offer to the aspirant including both the financial sum they are willing to pay for a given percentage of future income as well as the networks and experience they can bring to the aspirant. The aspirant can then chose to accept, counter offer or reject this bid. Investors thus use their judge of character in choosing people who will have a successful future as well as leveraging their knowledge and networks to increase the value of their asset, to the benefit of the aspirant and investor.
The final stream involves firms purchasing ‘bundles’ of students. As firms will be purchasing a many students the overall risk that the total return will deviate from the average return (accounting for macro-economic factors) is significantly reduced. As such we can model with a reasonable degree of accuracy the return on investment a firm will make. The aspirants that the firms fund can then form part of their marketing campaign, building their CSR reputation within the community. This will most powerfully be disseminated through the aspirants themselves. For what person, who has been given hope and brought closer to their dreams by an organisation would not become a fervent brand advocate of the most authentic kind. Furthermore firms will have the opportunity to provide employee mentors to these aspirants which, in conjunction with developing a coaching capability within the organisation, will allow firms to vet prospective employees in an incredibly thorough way.
Aspirants for their part receive financing and mentoring to achieve both a qualitatively and quantitatively better life. Qualitatively they have the opportunity to pursue their dreams and quantitatively they will have access to networks and capital to significantly boost their earning potential, of which a small amount will go to the investor. Furthermore they will not be burdened, as I was with a 15% per annum student loan, by debt repayments that they cannot afford, as all repayments will be levied on their income.
Socially there will be a better use of capital for education as, instead of relying purely on the generosity of the few, it will instead be in investors (both individual and companies) best interests to invest in the education of these people. A more educated population and a more meritocratic distribution of education will result in a more productive economy. Furthermore the benefit of giving people at the bottom of the social ladder a way to increase their standard of living, will in my opinion reduce the incidence of crime by people who feel helpless to survive without it.
I have been overwhelmed with the generosity of people yet again, from lawyers to faculty to business leaders, in helping me bring this to fruition. I want the business to run at a profit to ensure its sustainability and its autonomy from philanthropic interests so the organisation will take a small commission on each investment and will also develop additional spin-offs such as exchange traded fund type investments, for investors and students who wish to participate solely in a financial trade.
I believe this business provides me, my customers (investors and clients) and all stakeholders to the business a shared value in the 5 aspects of life I think (influenced heavily by some reading I’ve been doing) are the most important.
A sense of;
- Material satisfaction
I have been developing the business model and sorting out the legal and IT requirements as well as some marketing for the business this past month. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org I would love to hear from anyone who has any ideas or wants to get involved with the business. I’m currently working on the financing side of the business and have applied for a grant which required a short video available in the post below.
I discovered a grant which I thought fit this business idea perfectly unfortunately it closed the next day so I madly get my artist sister to help me create and film a video. I then downloaded and learnt how to use some video editing software (poorly) so apologies for the amateurish quality of the film. I’m going to make some better ones which I’ll include in the next blog post. It has also been fantastic practice for the annual video we will make for the CAAS scholarship awards dinner which will (sorry David Scollon but its true) ‘will be the best ever’ in dedication to Alex Chapman.
Sorry for the belated post, it has been a crazy few weeks.