John Harper is the Founder and CEO of Rize – passionate about helping others in the area of mental health. John is creating a multi-platform app that integrates therapeutic concepts into simple information and interactive exercises to help those who need it to understand, track, and improve their mental well-being.
John has travelled the world, studying and working in different areas of social entrepreneurship and is now based in Cambridge where he dedicates his time to integrating his passions for technology and positive social impact.
- What do you love most about your career?
Freedom – to create, to make what I want and to learn. By creating my own business and starting a career as an entrepreneur, I get to create the optimum environment, where I can learn and create the way I want to.
- How do you feel on Monday mornings?
I work seven days a week, so Monday’s aren’t too different. Mondays are often the most exciting day, a mini Christmas, as this is when I hear back about potential leads and from my team who have been working on projects over the weekend.
- What makes you get out of bed each day (what motivates you)?
The three things that I need, in order of priority are: to learn, to have a positive impact and to earn money. In my previous careers and roles, only one of these needs was met. By tapping into all three of these needs, I have realised that I am much more driven than I thought. I don’t think that my drive has changed from when I started my career as an entrepreneur to now.
- How much planning has gone into your career?
At the start of my career I didn’t plan to become an entrepreneur, although I have planned different stages of my career. For example, I made conscious decisions and planned around saving a specific amount of money to become an entrepreneur.
I try to follow my heart, but also to use my head to make decisions and when planning. Whilst working in wildlife conservation, I realised that there was generally a lack of skills in the sector. I decide to become an entrepreneur to learn these skills.
- How did you get to where you are?
My ambition to get the most out of life has got me to here. I also have a very supportive girlfriend, as well as supportive friends and family. The support Accelerate Cambridge – of their mentors, coaches and signposting has been so important. They have had a big impact, especially over the last 6 months. Because of this experience, I have now become a mentor myself with Lord Ashcroft Business School in Cambridge.
- What’s been your biggest career achievement?
- Making my first pound through a phone app. It proved I can make money!
- Making my first £1,000 – with Rize and its online course. This is the lowest ‘significant’ milestone for my business
- Hearing people tell me that what I have created has made a difference in their lives.
7. What’s been your biggest career challenge?
Getting money to live, whilst creating what I want. I’m a musician in the evening and freelance as a research scientist to help pay the bills. It can be very draining seeking funding for a business, although I am not looking to secure VC (Venture Capitalist) or Angel funding, as I don’t want to be forced to put profit ahead of my other objectives.
- What advice would you give someone who is unhappy in their career?
I try to never give advice unless I understand someone’s situation. In my experience, whenever I’ve had to make decisions I confer with my head and follow my gut. This is good advice, although it takes practice. I would also recommend aiming for progression, rather than perfection.
- Is there anything else that you would like to add?
I’d like to emphasise progression over perfection. Take the first step, not necessarily quitting your job, but research, go to conferences and talk to people. With a large goal, like changing career or becoming an entrepreneur, use small steps to get there, but remember that the first step is the most important.