Aspiring Cape Town entrepreneurs were offered this sage piece of advice, among many others, from Marlon Parker at Thursday night’s IEP networking event. The function marked the group’s first time back together since the initial IEP launch in June for a night of discussion and networking at Rlabs HQ. Marlon Parker, the founder of Rlabs, was surrounded by the rest of the IEP team as he gave the new entrepreneurs words of inspiration and advice inspired by his own entrepreneurial journey.

“Step one is to fall in love with your business,” said Marlon. The room echoed with murmurs of agreement, as each guest thought about their own businesses and the love, care, and effort they had poured into them. It was clear that everyone standing in that room had truly fallen in love with their business, and that they had come to RLabs to use that love to grow their passion projects into a thriving business. RLabs, however, knew that much of what these entrepreneurs needed was already sitting in the room with them. One new partnership, mentor, or perspective is all it takes to unlock a whole new world of possibilities, and providing a space for those connections to happen was what Thursday’s event was all about.

After a few words from Clinton Liederman, the IEP team used question cards to get attendees thinking about the things that inspire them, the reasons they went into business in the first place, the current standing of their businesses, and where they hope they will be in a year. After writing their responses down, the floor was opened for everyone to walk around sharing and discussing their answers with their newfound network of fellow entrepreneurs. The game was on. The room instantly came alive as ideas flew, inspiration sparked, and business partners were found. It quickly became clear how many members of the new IEP class were working in the same spaces, trying either to solve similar problems in their communities or targeting customers in similar markets.

As I mingled around the room, I noticed that even those businesses were approaching their shared spaces from different angles. Every single entrepreneur brought with them contagious excitement and passion that lit up their eyes every time they talked about the visions they had for their businesses. Listening to everyone, I couldn’t help but catch some of that energy and by the end of the night, I was just about ready to start a business myself! As these rising entrepreneurs move forward through the IEP program, I do not doubt that the relationships they established on Thursday night will only continue to grow, giving them a network of like-minded individuals to learn from, grow with, and lean on.

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