Garret Flower has always had an entrepreneurial mindset. From selling packets of noodles at boarding school when he was 12 years old to founding the very successful Krüst Bakery in the heart of Dublin.
We caught up with Garret to find out about his latest venture Parkpnp and his career journey to date. Here are some of the lessons that he learned along the way.
Don’t be afraid to pivot in your career
Before he was a successful entrepreneur, Garret dreamed of becoming an international footballer. When he was 16 he went to Madrid as part of a development squad. However, after one particularly tough match, he began to question his career choices.
“I remember thinking, ‘Do you want to continue and grow as a player and do this as a career or do you want to do something else?’ At 16 I was thinking this isn’t for me. I wanted to hang out with friends more and just have a different style of life. The sport gave me the confidence to go into business.”
Missing out on university place
When he finished his Leaving Certificate, Garret wanted to go to the University of Limerick to study economics and finance. However, this wasn’t meant to be.
“I didn’t get the college course that I wanted. In the end, I went to Dublin Business School in the city centre to study accountancy. I had to get a student loan to do that. Moving to Dublin actually turned out to be the best thing for me.”
Wait for the right time
Throughout his early career, Garret started various different businesses. The first, eSound Energy sold LED lighting. The second, eSport Ireland sold golfing equipment that was imported from China. While both of these companies were founded on strong ideas, they both hit the market at the wrong time and ultimately failed.
“You may have the perfect idea at the wrong time. It’s really important to understand that. You forget about it. You can’t become a negative nancy and start hating the world. We just kept going.”
Build your network
While at Dublin Business School, Garret wanted to start an innovation hub to mix with like-minded entrepreneurs.
“I sent out an email trying to find out if anyone else would be interested in it. I only got one email back and it was from Robert Kramer. When I met him he brought these mini pastries. I thought they were delicious. He turned to me and said, ‘Why don’t we sell these around Dublin?’ Within the first three weekends, we had three coffee shops selling our Krüst Bakery products. The business is seven years old now.”
Find the right co-founder
About three and a half years ago, Garrett bought a car. While driving through Ranelagh he struggled to find a parking space. In desperation, he knocked on a door and asked the homeowner if he could park his car in front of her house for a few hours. She happily obliged and the idea for Parkpnp slowly started to form in his head.
He enlisted the help of a co-founder in order to take the company from a simple idea to a fully functioning platform.
“My co-founder is a guy called Daniel Paul. He dropped out of college to be my co-founder and CTO. He’s a tech genius. He had managed development teams before and he was kind of a perfect fit. I did the business side, he did the tech side.
Funding is a huge obstacle for most entrepreneurs. In order to find the right investors for his brand, he had to be persistent.
“It was hard. It was really hard. Especially in a smaller market like Ireland. I had to go through 84 meetings just to raise that money. You have your ups and downs all the time. You’ll have days when you couldn’t be happier and you’re about to pop with excitement. Then you have days when it just feels like everything is going wrong and you just wonder, ‘What am I doing with my life?’ That’s part and parcel of the journey. It’s all about how you deal with those things.”
Look after yourself
Garret is passionate about health and wellness. He believes that in order to be a successful entrepreneur, you need to look after your mind and body.
“A lot of people don’t go to the gym, they don’t exercise, they don’t eat right. They initially start off on the wrong foot because they’re not thinking clearly. At the end of the day, you’re the primary spark in the engine. If you don’t have any fuel in the tank, it’s not going to move.”
Take time to rest
Good things take time, this is something that Garret had to learn the hard way. In the beginning, he suffered from burn out.
“I thought I was going to become a millionaire overnight. Then I got stressed when things weren’t moving fast enough. I burnt myself out, that was a huge lesson. I was working seven day weeks and twenty hour days. The adrenaline keeps you going but eventually you burn out. All I needed to do was slow down and realise this thing was going to take time. You need to work smart, not hard.”
Always celebrate the small wins
Throughout his career as an entrepreneur, Garret has celebrated his achievements, no matter how small. He believes this is key to entrepreneurial success.
“Because you’re always focused on the next goal you forget to stop and realise what you’ve accomplished already. One of the things that I’ve tried to do is celebrate in different ways. A few years ago I was doing quite well and I decided that every month I was going to travel to a different city. It was great! When I closed my funding round I bought a new laptop. Now every time that I open the laptop I feel a little bit happy because it reminds me that I closed that round.”
So what’s the plan for Parkpnp in the future? At the moment the team are focusing on the Park Office feature which maximises office parking spaces. They will also be rolling out in the US. Just watch this space!