Authentic learning

Jul 6th, 2018

Susan White

Authentic learning

It takes passion in all aspects of a business to make it successful.

That’s a lesson that business student Megan Meadus learned through starting and eventually closing an outdoor clothing business. It’s also one that helped earn her the 2018 Fail Tale Cup from the Memorial Centre for Entrepreneurship (MCE).

The Fail Tale Cup awards $1,000 to a student entrepreneur or group of students who are best able to demonstrate lessons learned from exploring — and failing — in business.

Misplaced passion

Ms. Meadus started Authenticity Clothing in 2015 to address what she viewed as a lack of quality clothing for women involved in outdoor activities. She closed the business in early 2018 after losing motivation for creating its products.

“I have no passion for creating clothes, designing clothes or fashion,” said the long-time outdoor enthusiast. “I was super strong and passionate about the main goal of my business and the problem it was solving, but the big thing I wasn’t passionate about was my process of solving it.”

The Fail Tale Cup was handed out at the second iteration of Fail Tales, held last month in partnership with the Newfoundland and Labrador Organization of Women Entrepreneurs.

There, participants also heard from three local entrepreneurs who discussed failure and its role in business: Greg Roberts, chief executive officer and owner, Mary Brown’s; Peter Gifford, entrepreneur-in-residence, Propel ICT; and Mandy Woodland, co-founder, Jellyfish, and entrepreneur-in-residence, Health Innovation Initiative.

Tool for growth

Failure is part of the journey of a being an entrepreneur, says Florian Villaumé, director, MCE. The Fail Tale Cup is intended to help build understanding that failure can be used as a tool for growth.

“There is a stigma around failure in entrepreneurship that it’s something to be ashamed of but, really, it’s an opportunity to learn,” said Mr. Villaumé. “We want to build a culture at Memorial that embraces failure as a natural part of the entrepreneurial experience. We want people to be okay with failed business ideas because of the learning opportunities that arise from them.”

Ms. Meadus is already taking the lessons learned from Authenticity Clothing and applying them to a new business venture. She’s preparing to launch a non-profit adventure tourism company in Haiti, a country she got to know by volunteering with an Enactus Memorial project.

Applying lessons in Haiti

She’s working with a shelter for street kids in Cap-Haïtien to help provide them with meaningful employment as tour guides once they transition out of the shelter’s programming.

The company will also provide financial literacy training and work with younger kids at the shelter to help prepare them for the workforce once they turn 18.

“By the end, they are confident, motivated and, most importantly, empowered.” — Megan Meadus

Originally, though, her business idea wasn’t to teach them how to be tour guides.It was to teach them how to code.

It didn’t take her long to realize that was the wrong approach.

“I have no passion for coding. I don’t want to learn it and I don’t want to teach it,” she said. “I realized I was doing it again but instead of taking three years to learn it, it took me two weeks. That was the moment where I made a pivot and it really made me feel like a real entrepreneur.

“Now, finally I’m achieving an end goal I’m super passionate about by doing something that I’m super passionate about,” she continued. “There’s passion in the process and the end goal.”

Ms. Meadus is in her fifth year of the bachelor of commerce (co-operative) program and is currently completing an entrepreneurial work term at MCE. Her new business is expected to launch in the fall.