Venture Stories

Beginning the Entrepreneur Journey

12/12/2022

In this article, we share experiences from Space Camp, a program that prepares entrepreneurs at Moon Creative Lab, which supports new business creation at Mitsui & Co.


In this article, you will learn about:

  1. How Moon entrepreneurs begin their journey
  2. Exploring your problem space
  3. How to prepare for the inevitable

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When you set out to embark on your next journey, it’s likely you’ve been preparing ahead of time –  a future trip, new job, or moving to a new city. For budding entrepreneurs, it’s no different when they begin their entrepreneur journeys building their first ventures with Moon Creative Lab.

Before ideation sessions, prototype builds, and a minimum viable product (MVP) rollout, Entrepreneurs-in-Residence (EIRs) must complete Space Camp, an intensive three-week program that aims to prepare them for their new roles at Moon. Imagine stepping into a CEO or founder’s shoes for the very first time. It’s a huge role to fulfill! Space Camp’s mission is to address some of the biggest challenges entrepreneurs face not only with their ventures, but as their personal roles transform with profound responsibility.  

Space Camp gives EIRs a range of experiences and courses, from the transformative (“Life on the Moon”) to the exploratory (“Problem Identification and Design”) to the casual (“Coffee Chat with Moon Mates”). Held by people from the Moon Operating Team including executives, program managers, designers, and other facilitators, Space Camp allows members of the new venture team to get to know one another, and helps EIRs align their team and take the next big step towards bringing their ideas to the world.

Throughout their time in Space Camp, EIRs learn by doing, failing, and trying again. Yes, we said failing! Failing and trying again is what the entrepreneur journey is all about. EIRs learn how to collaborate effectively to cultivate their leadership skills, take a deep look into problem spaces, understand concept definition, and learn how to communicate their ideas clearly to future committees – all foundational knowledge needed to begin their ventures.

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Dell Dela Torre and Grace Aldas, EIRs of Inna Circle

The First Step In Entrepreneurs’ Journeys

For two of our newest ventures, Space Camp was a valuable introduction to the world of entrepreneurship and startups. For Dell Dela Torre and Grace Aldas, EIRs of Inna Circle (previously called MOM 247)– a service that aims to support mothers by addressing the stressors of motherhood and offers high-quality childcare – Space Camp helped them better understand the startup industry, something they were unfamiliar with in their previous roles. “In Space Camp, we learned about past and existing ventures at Moon, the diverse working culture, a better understanding of what design-thinking is and how to apply it, reflecting on what leadership means, and pivots,” recalls Dell. For Hiro Narihaya, EIR of Pioneer Guild – a service that helps make career paths visible and available through planning and mentorship – it was helpful to learn “the practical know-how of startups and ventures, how people start off, and the first steps.”

Hiro Narihaya, EIR of Pioneer Guild
Hiro Narihaya, EIR of Pioneer Guild

Identifying Problems and Widening Perspective

Space Camp gives EIRs insight into the demands of new business creation, especially when it comes to identifying the problems they aim to solve within their ventures. For Dell and Grace, they had their minds set on their original idea they had pitched to the Moon Committee back in November. But after attending Space Camp, it gave them a wider perspective and encouraged them to look at their idea in a new way. “We were able to step back and assess the problem we wished to solve and the possible solutions we can test,” Grace says. With a wider perspective, the pair started to realize their ideas might be reshaping. “We have a more open mind now in terms of exploring more value propositions and concepts, beyond what we initially planned,” Dell adds.

 “We have a more open mind now in terms of exploring more value propositions and concepts, beyond what we initially planned.” – Dell Dela Torre

Looking deeper into the problem space also helped Hiro of Pioneer Guild rethink his original idea, too. “Before, I focused on the space I was originally thinking of, but now I can cast light to the spaces from different angles amplified by the diverse Moon capabilities, and advance my ideas.” Hiro expressed how inspired he was by Space Camp, which gave him a better idea of where he wants to take his venture moving forward. “Space Camp was a great opportunity for me to reflect on myself and how I want to be in the future, where I want to go, and that inspired me to want to go further” he says. 

 “Before, I focused on the space I was originally thinking of, but now I can cast light to the spaces from different angles.” – Hiro Narihara

Preparing for the Inevitable

An unavoidable part of any journey is unpredictability. Things are bound to change and might not always go as planned, and that’s okay. The lesson here is the willingness to adapt to change when faced with adversity. Space Camp teaches EIRs that this is an incredibly valuable skill and part of the entrepreneur journey. Dell and Grace, who are well underway with their venture Inna Circle, have been able to remain open to change. “Pivots are inevitable. We have to embrace it and learn to navigate it. Although we are still in the early stages of incubation, we started seeing potential pivots coming in our direction,” Dell says.

Because of Space Camp, Hiro has reframed his thinking to stay prepared for the unknown. Knowing that not every step of the way will be smooth, he keeps his mind open for the journey going forward and is ready to learn from experience and inevitable setbacks. “There is no right answer. I need to dispose of the fixed mindset and instead be flexible to survive on this journey. I know there will be a lot of failure, rejection, and disappointment. To survive that disappointment, I need to learn from failure in a positive way. That’s the necessary part. That’s going to be my armor that will get me through this big ocean of unknowns to my destination.” 

“There will be a lot of failure, rejection, and disappointment. To survive that disappointment, I need to learn from failure in a positive way. That’s the necessary part.” – Hiro Narihara

Key Takeaways:

  • Expand your perspective. Looking beyond your initial solution to the wider problem space can offer valuable insight, which in turn can help paint a better picture of your businesses’ direction and core purpose.
  • Unpredictability is inevitable. Remaining open to change and realizing that every moment is a valuable lesson is an essential part of the entrepreneur’s mindset.

To learn more about Inna Circle be sure to follow https://www.theinnacircle.com/

We also plan to share more updates here on Moon Stories for Pioneer Guild! 

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