I almost forgot about Falcon Flight. Which is weird one to forget, considering somehow I nearly went to jail for it... at least according to some. I'll explain. It's 2003/4
Aside from mini films and tons of websites, I consider Falcon Flight to be my First "entrepreneurial" project - I really don't like that word however.
I was class president at my high school in America. I'll be the first to accept that the landslide defeat of my opponent was simply down to having an English Accent. I had been there for about 3 weeks, no one knew me, I used the words "tomato, aluminium and King" in my campaign speech. My campaign posters were of queen's guards and crumpets - I guess I was lucky Hugh Grant and his queen's english was popular at the time.
My job was to raise money. We had tried car washes, a daddy-daughter dance and a few other things. They raised about $600 per time. Not bad, but it's not going to pay off a prom.
I decided a discount card, sold to the entire school (then city) could be the way to go. Fittingly it turns out my first project where I would raise serious money (Flubit) would also be based around discounts. Maybe I really like saving money?
At school we had ID cards. These ID cards would get you discounts at certain shops around the local city. It wasn't really widely known to the student body of this advantage.
I created a sticker that would sit on the back of these ID cards. This sticker would show you're a Falcon Flight member. I then went out to every shop I could in the city and signed them up to Falcon Flight; where possible I had them reject the ID card discount and replace it with Falcon Flight - I didn't want free competition to my money-making discount card.
I signed up about 75 shops. I created a website where you could log in and see the discounts.
That summer I was to go to Leadership Camp. It was like Band Camp (which I also went to) but for the fellow leaders of all the schools in your area.
I decided I could sell the franchise out to other schools and have them also launch this campaign in their schools. I walked into a bank in America at 16/17 - and they opened a business account for me. They took me seriously. I will always remember how I just didn't believe that would be possible in the UK; in America they thought this was normal at this age. Maybe now the UK would be more accommodating, but certainty not then.
I built the site that would allow other schools to sign up, and that Summer managed to convince three schools to come on board. I would take 25% of the sales and divert the proceeds back into our school fund.
The way I saw it, why not get other school leaders, from different schools, to do the work and generate the money for our school fund back into their competing schools prom? Sounded both ironic and fun.
It was all going so well.
The local Kinko had offered to make 3000 stickers free for me. I started selling the cards. I sold the first ~100 and paid paid in the first batch of money (around $1000 I believe) into the school accounts. At that point I realised I had made my first mistake.
There were certain fundraising forms that you had to fill in to raise money. Sadly they were all tailored for one off events, so for this, I decided they were too trivial. That was a mistake.
The leader of the school leadership got wind of the money, couldn't find any paperwork and became suspicious. He claimed I was embezzling money (as they couldn't track a paperwork trail) and called the police in. It was a pretty scary time. He also stated I would be removed from office.
My memory has it that I chatted to an officer, but in reality I don't think it ever got that far. I think a sit down and explanation of the situation the day before they were due to come in stopped the proceeds. Memory can be an odd thing however.
My second mistake was taking on school mums.
I found out later he was also pressured by the ID card school committee to shut me down as I had taken away a number of benefits the student body had for free. I can see their point.
They made me shut down Falcon Flight, in turn ending the links with other schools too.
In the end I stayed on as President until the end of the year where I would be viciously deported from the country for fraud... just kidding, my Dad's job moved back, so I followed with him and the family. I raised a good amount of money, but certainty didn't give my class a free prom as I had wanted.
They had their prom the following year, I have no idea how it went, I never was invited :(