The Story Of Michelle Bull
Coming into the program, Michelle expected to be challenged. Her Co-founder, Belinda Chapman, had been looking for an accelerator program for their business Quantal Bioscience to trial and to participate in for a while. They were particularly drawn to SydWest Accelerator Program (Launch Pad Ignition 2021) , powered by Western Sydney University’s highly successful Launch Pad Technology Business Incubator partly because of its 6-month duration.
In fact, Michelle referred to it as the length of time given to her “to really focus on our business idea and challenge us to think a bit outside the mindset of how we’ve been conducting our business previously.”
Michelle and Belinda have been bootstrapping their business for a number of years now, and they seeked to test out the idea of accelerating this particular business idea, Alert4.0, in a different way.
Michelle was impressed by the breadth of information from the program that she’s been given and had the chance to experience. “The amount of detail that we’ve gone into that covers so many different aspects of starting up a business has been amazing. Even though it’s been explicit along the way that we might not need all aspects, or we might not be ready for all this information, just to have it laid out for us has been really valuable.”
It has certainly been a steep learning curve for Michelle, but the time that she’s had to participate in the program has meant that she has circled back to ideas over again and felt a lot more comfortable with progressing her business.
“Another surprising aspect for me has been that the entrepreneurs in residence could so quickly get to the crux of the problem in our mentor sessions,” she added. “Jonathan and Jamie (Launch Pad team members) have been fabulous in the sessions that we’ve had with them about distilling a lot of very targeted information for us around particular questions that we’ve had for our business specifically. They’re so generous with their ideas and how they think about our business.”
“It also surprised me that I could actually learn to love pitching,” she giggled. Michelle has reached a certain level of comfort in pitching owing to the program’s monthly pitches, by “being challenged around different aspects of the pitching and presentation process”, with “Bec, Jonathan and Jamie (Launch Pad team members), the entrepreneurs in residence, and the other startup team members as well that are in the audience”.
Michelle came into the program with a preconception that “there would only be a few avenues to success in the startup lane, and things would be more targeted to going out and capital raising and getting a lot of money in, and building very quickly by getting a million dollars in a seed round.”
“And I think that’s definitely been dispelled time to time again from the mentors who have explicitly said, “You’re on your own journey. Listen to advice broadly but think of it specifically for your business. Don’t be in a rush; don’t make decisions until you’re ready. It’s not gonna be the same for everybody”.”
Michelle and her Co-founder, Belinda Chapman, as scientists, are used to doing experiments in the lab all the time. They have a very scientific approach to doing experiments.
“So it really was a surprise when we started hearing Jamie and Jonathan talk about doing experiments as part of the program. And that was unexpected for me. Maybe for us it was an early challenge to think about how we would do an experiment, what it looked like, what that meant,” said Michelle.
As the program unfolded, “one of the first experiments we did was to do problem validation interviews, which again put me outside of my comfort zone calling people up without their expectation of me pitching our business idea, but actually asking them what their problems were.”
However, Michelle found these interviews incredibly insightful, and pivotal in the way the company is now targeting Alert4.0 to their customers. “That was an early learning moment that really set the foundation for thinking about our business and incorporating the different ideas and advice that we’ve been given through the program.”
“I would say to anyone lucky enough to be accepted into the program is to really set aside the time and commit wholeheartedly to the program. It would feel probably overwhelming at some time but being really open to the advice that has been put in front of you and the information that comes out, it’s just going to mean you experience the program in the way that it’s intended, which is to allow you to learn and to develop your own business path in the most effective way for you.”
“Being really prepared to take on the ideas and the practices would really be valuable, and you will no doubt have a lot of fun along the way and learn a lot from the mentors as well as from your cohort partners. Good luck!”