“So what is it that you do at Lapdesk?” my friend Paul asked me one evening. “Well,” I started explaining, “it varies every day – that’s the beauty of working for a small entrepreneurial company”. My goal coming here was to avoid being a cog in a system. I hoped to have my imagination stretched, my assumptions challenged and my newly-minted MBA skills employed to the fullest. And they have been.
I am working on three major projects. The first one is to launch Lapdesk online – a marketing and execution challenge that I hope will become an important growth platform for Lapdesk. I am not an online marketing expert so my learning curve is quite steep. Some days, I work with local companies discussing web-design and logistics. Then, I reach out to Endeavor advisors to understand the tax and legal implications of fundraising online. My goal is to enable Lapdesk to fundraise internationally. So whether you live in Chicago, New York or San Francisco you will be able to buy Lapdesks online. We will deliver them to a school and send you a handwritten “thank you” letter from each child who received a Lapdesk, a CD-ROM with pictures and a movie of the children receiving your sponsored Lapdesk – and an official ‘Friend of Lapdesk’ certificate, signed by Archbishop Tutu.
Next, I am formulating a business plan for international expansion targeted at social private equity financing. (I can’t tell you how handy my Entrepreneurial Finance class notes have been!) Although it may sound a bit academic, this has been very practical undertaking. It’s a chance for me to work closely with Shane, Lapdesk’s CEO, to understand his approach and vision and to get inspired. It’s also a chance to have heated discussions on how to evolve our business model and replicate it internationally.
Lastly, I am helping with several broad partnership proposals and many ad hoc projects. My personal favourite – our FIFA campaign. Researching all major World Cup sponsors, analysing their CSI and marketing needs and reaching out to them has been a lot of fun! I also spend a lot of time talking to my teammates, learning about their lives and dreams. Every day I listen with astonishment to the music of many languages around me. (South Africa has 11 official languages!)
While some of my work has a shorter-term focus, most of it will take time to show results. The result for me personally is best captured by this Forest Witcraft quote: “A hundred years from now, it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove. But the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child…”