Brightpearl Cofounder Andrew Mulvenna Talks Passion and Grit at MEST Guest Lecture Weekend

Sylvana Lewin, Wednesday March 21st 2018

This past weekend, cofounder of Brightpearl Andrew Mulvenna joined the MEST community for Guest Lecture Weekend - an event that occurs 3-4 times per year at the MEST training program. The weekend featured talks by Bestman Games founder Nimi Akinkugbe, V8 Ventures managing partner Tobi Oke, and Dean of Microsoft 4Afrika Academy Lutz Ziob. Mulvenna’s talk focused on three big moments in his life and the important lessons he learned. We’ve recapped some key highlights from his speech!

[caption id="attachment_6577" align="aligncenter" width="665"] Andrew Mulvenna at Guest Lecture Weekend[/caption]

Do what you’re passionate about

Mulvenna began his talk describing how his journey started in university, when he and a few friends founded a skateboard company. Surfing and skateboarding had always been a passion of his, and he believes this is what led to the company’s ultimate success. He stated, “We were passionate about growing something big. We were just doing what we were passionate about.”

Have confidence in the future

After the skateboard business was acquired, Mulvenna and his co-founder turned the software they had created to help run their business into Brightpearl, the powerful all-in-one back office solution for retailers and wholesalers, which would ultimately grow to a staff of over 120 people in 3 years. While ultimately, Brightpearl would go on to receive $41M in funding and world class integrations from companies like ebay, Shopify, Amazon, and MailChimp, it was not always smooth sailing.

Mulvenna described the particularly challenging year he faced right before the company received funding, reminiscing on living on a boat during one of the coldest winters to hit England in years. He emphasized that confidence in the future is what helped him get through the hardest times stating, “Things got bad, but never once did I lack confidence. The money would come in the future.”

[caption id="attachment_6579" align="aligncenter" width="665"] Andrew Mulvenna at Guest Lecture Weekend[/caption]

Find your focus

“The most successful businesses in the world are successful because they build something people need to have, not just want to have,” explained Mulvenna.

Mulvenna reviewed three tests he uses to see if a product will be successful. He told EITs to ask themselves what they are are passionate about and what is the one thing they can be best at in the world. Then he emphasized the importance of asking if the answer to those two questions is a huge market opportunity.

He also emphasized the importance of having a narrow focus stating, “Focus needs to be uncomfortably narrow.”.

Fix your frustrations

“The best businesses in the world are born out of the founder having a frustration and wanting to fix it,” said Mulvenna.

Emphasizing the importance of solving what you know, Mulvenna told EITs to focus in on finding their frustrations and ways they can fix those. Mulvenna advised starting in the region and solving the problems of people here on the ground, because those are the people and problems you understand best. Once that problem has been tackled on the continent, then look to expanding where there are similar needs.

Through fixing frustrations, Mulvenna believes software not only has the power to impact people’s lives, but also create income. He stated, “I love software companies because you can really change people’s lives, and make money doing it.”

Wrapping up, Mulvenna touched on what makes MEST so interesting to him. He explained, "MEST is cultivating the passion for building something great.”

If you’re interested in learning more from industry experts, make sure to follow the MEST blog for recaps on the lectures by Bestman Games founder Nimi Akingkugbe, V8 Ventures Managing Partner Tobi Oke, and Dean of Microsoft 4Afrika Academy Lutz Ziob!