Jessica Rogers is the founder of Think Fresh CIC, a company providing life and career guidance to young people, to help them make informed decisions about their future and empower them to fulfil their potential.
Q: What is your background? Why are you doing this?
A: I studied economics at university, and have always wanted to go into business, but started off in marketing. I took a leadership course, and started to think about my purpose in life, and what I really wanted to do. I was really interested in coaching, and really enjoyed it, so I started volunteering in schools and coaching unemployed young people. It made me realise that the middle of the road students, not exceptional or at risk students (who are already receiving a good amount of support), need the guidance to ensure they find their path.
Q: What is your definition of entrepreneurship?
A: Following your passion, and identifying the difference you want to make in the world and go for it!
Q: What made you decide to become an entrepreneur?
A: I wanted to give people a voice and uncover greatness! This is something I am passionate about, so wanted to start something to create my vision.
Q: So what would you say are the top 3 skills that needed to be a successful entrepreneur? Why?
A: Resilience (bounce back-ability!), because it is not easy, and it’s a learning process. Persistence, because you need to keep going even when people tell you to give up as they believe it’s not going to work. And self-belief!
Q: What is your favourite part of being an entrepreneur?
A: When everything feels hard, or people are saying no, you then get a small nugget or moment where you can see you’re making a difference.
Q: What individual, company or organisation inspires you most? Why?
A: There are lots of ‘famous’ people that inspire me, but someone ‘normal’ who really makes a difference is Jenny Garrett, a coach who works with women leaders and those in business. She embodies everything she teaches, inspiring those around her. She is very generous and real.
Q: If you could have 5 minutes with the above indiv/company/org, what would you want to ask or discuss?
A: I would ask how she keeps her focus and what inspires her.
Q: What has been your most satisfying or successful moment in business?
A: Winning funding from OSEP was a very important moment. Up until then, Think Fresh was in the idea phase, so them believing in what I was doing was very empowering.
Q: What would you say have been some of your mistakes, failures or lessons learned as an entrepreneur?
A: The biggest lesson is not to let others opinion/doubts knock me back, to be authentic, always. And, to keep my head above the parapet!
Q: What is good about being an entrepreneur in Oxfordshire? Bad?
A: Oxford has really good business networks and relationships are easy to build as people are very supportive of new ideas. There is lots of innovation which is fueled by the academic environment. Oxford can seem quite small, so don’t limit yourself to what is on your doorstep, it is in close reach of most major cities so the opportunities are easy to access.
Q: If a new entrepreneur or startup came to you looking for entrepreneurship information or resources in Oxfordshire, where would you send them?
A: I would send them to OSEP, and to meet the network navigators (Grant Hayward in particular!)
Q: Any last words of advice?
A: If you believe in it, go for it! Try, try and try again. Better to try your idea and see where it takes you, as taking a step will always lead to something and there’s always learning to be had, better that than wondering ‘what if?!’