AC// Setting Sail

After an exciting weekend at a launch party for BrainChild Festival, we were back at the office frantically crunching out grant applications.

In good news, Comp-A-Tent got through to the final 10 for Plastic Fantastic Challenge, which was quite surprising as we thought the focus was on solutions for packaging problems. We have a fair shot at the €10,000 grant but the support from the experts in the field is invaluable.

In bad news, the CleanTech competition proved a lesson in reading the fine print – turns outs only current University graduates could apply – bummer!

We didn’t get through to the Climate-Kic accelerator as they felt Comp-A-Tents didn’t have a big enough environmental impact. Going forward, I think we need to clearly point out the large scale implications of our business, as I feel they are definitely on par with previous selected start-ups.

The level of environmental innovations has definitely risen in the last year, which is awesome but also gives a huge sense of urgency. Timing is key to a successful business and this week was a big reminder to up the game quickly or the boat will sail.

In hindsight, we probably could have spent less time chasing money/grants and instead focused on developing our product. But you never know which ones will be successful. I would have thought we would be pros by now, but alas they haven’t been as successful as we anticipated.

A clear sign that we need to take a shift in our approach!

Photo by Holly Fernando

AC// Sharing the Pie with Molkie

Molkie has been here for 7 days and has already made the world of difference to me and Comp-A-Tent. Sharing the journey with the right person is definitely worth the price of sharing a slice of the pie.

Firstly my sleeping pattern is back on track as we’re no longer discussing business at 11pm in different time zones. Zzzzz…

I’m also more productive and am getting my work-life balance back. And work is more fun with someone to share the highs and give hugs on the lows.


Monday we set out to plan the summer, setting targets and establishing what we wanted to achieve at each festivals. We then worked backwards and set deadlines for what needed to be achieved and when. Molkie and I are both visual thinkers and he managed to put part of my scrambled brain in posted form on a wall. We celebrated Molkie’s first day with £4 Pizza and tap water – Cheers!

Tuesday we jumped straight into physically making the tent so Molkie can experience the difficulty with the tedious manufacturing process and help solve the numerous problems. Think we’re going to keep count of how many injuries via stepping on pins. So far Molkie 2: Amanda 7. Ended the day with a well deserved free beer and a high five!

Wednesday started off with number crunching and questioning previous assumptions. From lunch until 10pm, the day was filled with meetings with potential investors and a collaborative called PPL PWR.

Thursday  – Design workshop day! We covered a wall in posted notes of ideas and shuffled them round for importance. Great technique and can’t wait to get more people involved in this design process not only for Comp-A-Tent but to help other start-ups.

Friday – Skype meeting with our Material Scientist Simone. We planned what we wanted to test to get some trialled and tested data on our material composition.

I’ve heard of the idea of the metaphor for different hats to wear in the business when running a start-up, but feel we have different wardrobes.   “Naked” kept propping up on key words to do with our business.

Monday we get to express ourselves / Tuesday was like a workout! / Wednesday was a shirt day with shoes. / Thursday we were literally barefoot and free. / Friday was lab coats.

Molkie likened us to Hansel and the “Blue Steel” from Zoolander – he needs to work on his pose though!


AC// Starting an [ad]Venture

I was listening to the ‘20 Minute VC podcast’ and a guest VC said she loved working with young entrepreneurs because she loves hearing about their journey.

So Molkie and I have decided to write these blogs, partly also to keep everyone updated with our (ad) venture and also a sort of diary to look back – see what went right and also what went horribly wrong.

I’ll skim over 2015 as it was a bit of a whirlwind. It was the year Comp-A-Tent was born. I designed the compostable tent for my architecture design project for my final uni project and applied for a uni business competition, writing my first business plan in one weekend (highly unrecommended). I almost didn’t make the leap as I knew the business wasn’t ready and was struggling to balance everything. But when is a business or an individual ever really ready? I’m so glad I just went for it, and would recommend everyone to really push themselves, even when something seems almost impossible.

After the initial competition success, Comp-A-Tent was born and I was off to the festivals, starting with Glastonbury and ending with a bump on the head at Shambala. Sadly this concussion kept me from finishing the festival circuit with Bestival, which would have been my 4th consecutive year.

With the summer over, co-ordination back and an empty bank account, it was time to get a part-time job to keep Comp-A-Tent’s founder afloat. I thought I landed the perfect side job, however this sadly took over all my energy and Comp-A-Tent began to slow down when it really needed to be doing the opposite.

So I made the next big leap of faith and quit my job.


The adventure began.