The Entrepreneurial Six – with Kathryn Parsons MBE
Kathryn Parsons MBE is the Founder and co-CEO of the technology education company Decoded. She started the business ten years ago with nothing more than a credit card and a mission impossible; to put the tools of the future in everyone’s hands.
It was a promise which resonated and Decoded has since grown to teach code, data and cyber literacy and skills to over half a million learners in over 85 cities across the world.
Known for their no-jargon, hands-on, high-speed learning, Decoded are the go-to for leaders worldwide grappling with the impact of technology upon their businesses and looking to rewire the digital literacy and skills of their organisations.
Decoded’s clients span organisations such as M&S, Nike, Mastercard, Citi, UBS, Unilever, HSBC and the US Senate.
Before our event, on International Women’s Day, we held a short Q&A with Kathryn to learn more about her and her long term vision.
1. If you needed to start all over again with only £2500, could you? And how would you do it?
Definitely. It’s easier than it’s ever been to start and grow a business. It’s cheaper, the technology to market and scale are freely available, there’s less red tape, and there’s a ton more venture capital.
I’d start by identifying a big problem, assessing the market and competitor set, outlining a digital solution that is 10X better than what’s already there, and prototype a simple version of the product to test your target audience.
Then, learn to code & to use the plethora of digital tools at your disposal and you will feel far more empowered in this process than if you have no technical skills. And get a side hustle. £ 2.5k’s not going to last long.
2. What has entrepreneurship taught you about failure?
Everyone fails. That’s ok. In fact, it’s ok to fail every single day. But it’s not ok to not learn from those failures. So take time to reflect and seek honest, even brutal, feedback from knowledgeable people. Keep failing, keep learning, keep growing. Drink lots of tea—possibly wine. You’ll need it.
3. Do you think a university degree is important for success?
Google and Tesla are just some of the companies that scrapped degree requirements from their recruitment processes. Some of the world’s most incredible entrepreneurs are university dropouts.
The world is changing, the university is horrifically overpriced, and the unfortunate fact is employers increasingly only value a handful of degrees from a handful of academic institutes.
Despite this, skills, talent and education matter more than ever. So whatever route you choose in life, whether to do an apprenticeship or start a business at 16, make sure you learn and gain valuable skills in the process.
4. What would you do if you didn’t become an entrepreneur?
I would have loved to have become a racing car driver. I love fast cars.
5. What was the worst thing someone ever told you because you are a female entrepreneur, and how did you deal with it?
From a well-known VC, “I never have and never would invest in a woman”. They went on to invest in a competitor business. I wouldn’t want to dishearten any budding female entrepreneurs out there. I’ve had the most incredible fun on this journey. And the good has definitely outweighed the bad.
6. What is your life goal?
To help people realise their potential.
Join us on March 8th for an online discussion with Kathryn Parsons MBE to gain insight into a thrilling entrepreneurial journey.