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Working at Acorn Aspirations has opened my eyes to see how technology has equipped entrepreneurs from all backgrounds with the tools to fix problems they see in their everyday life and beyond. Acorn ran a competition to win tickets to attend the Richard Branson global book launch of his new autobiography ‘Finding my Virginity’. Following the recent turmoil of Hurriane Irma, we posed the question ‘If you had the chance to use technology to help solve a problem in the aftermath of the hurricane, what would the problem be and how would you use technology to help solve/fix it?’.

Responses ranged from using GIS technology to locate people who are isolated from essential resources, pairing existing ‘check in’ services of Facebook with fingerprint technology, use of drones for aerial reconnaissance, VR and mindfulness projects to combat mental health and blockchain technologies to transfer spare change from everyday purchases towards sustainable fund-raising efforts.

Hearing the countless number of near-death experiences Richard Branson has contended with gave a real sense of what being an entrepreneur is really about. From designing affordable space transport to his most recent venture, Virgin Hyperloop (making possible a 45 minute journey from London to Edinburgh!), it is clear that Branson doesn’t play by the rules.

Image of the acorns at the eventA sentiment that stuck with me throughout the talk was having conviction in your crazy ideas. From the age of 16, when Branson dropped out of school and started his first magazine, he was determined to transform these ideas into reality. In every business venture that Branson has pursued, he has created unique value to the customer, ensuring a impressive track-record of entering risky markets. This made me think to the work we are doing at Acorn in trying to revolutionise the way young innovators imagine their futures, encouraging young kids to break the mould and not necessarily follow the default step after A-Levels which is usually going to university. Richard Branson is living proof that first-hand experience of business is the most valuable education you can get and if you have the capability, (i.e. incredible tech and coding talent plus an innovative mind) then you should definitely take the plunge.

Midway through the talk this enterprising essence was perfectly personified by a budding entrepreneur catapulting his business venture via paper airplane onto the stage, which Branson then proceeded to read out - his entrepreneurial spirit had truly rubbed off on everyone!

Also published on Medium.

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