With StartCon 2017 around the corner, we connected Hatchery Accelerate startup founder Melanie Lewis of FOOD4FACE with speaker Emma Lo Russo, CEO and co-founder of social/web analytics company, Digivizer, to share advice and inspiration for the entrepreneurial journey.

Melanie: Life can be hectic and overwhelming as a startup founder! How do you unwind and switch your brain off to be able to sleep restfully each night?

Emma: This is a challenge for me — as I like the time to reflect and think about progress and where to focus next without the bustle of the day. Prioritising what to do the following day and knowing I can control my time allows me to end one day and look forward to the next.

To switch my mind off I read a book on my Kindle (no other email/web distraction). This routine helps my mind switch from work to the story I am reading and very quickly get to sleep. I just have to be careful on what book I read so I don’t get too stimulated and excited about applying lessons to business! So I tend to keep them to other areas of interest or historical fiction.

Melanie: Did you ever doubt that you would make it in your first year? And what kept you going?

Emma: Fear of failure was a constant energy source — and still is! I thrive on difficult challenges and leverage that fear to focus on how to strategize to take me from where I am today to where I want to be tomorrow.

In terms of what keeps me going? A deep belief I can make a difference, that I can succeed. Sheer bloody grit, resilience and commitment to working hard. Always being open to refining your strategy to reach your vision. And hiring the best people you can — who are also smart, talented and passionate — they inspire and give me confidence every day to keep going.

Emma Lo Russo, Digivizer

Melanie: Before you had any brand awareness in the marketplace, what sort of activities did you do to raise your profile?

Emma: Being active in social, writing thought leadership articles which, when published, led to speaking opportunities. But mostly it was targeting key prospect customers and when successful, building those relationships out and enjoying referral business.

Melanie: Prior to momentum, how did you build confidence to speak with potential customers?

Emma: I’ve found it best to not rehearse the perfect pitch or speech. I am genuinely committed to helping our customers be successful. The more I listen to what their needs and challenges are, the more I am able to consider how we should engage in a way that provides the solution they are looking for.

Genuine commitment, smarts, passion and aligned values give you the confidence to speak to customers. At worst, never waste anyone’s time and provide some value, and at best, find and agree upon a way to help them.

Hear from Digivizer CEO and co-founder Emma Lo Russo at StartCon 2017, December 1 and 2. And hear more from Melanie Lewis and our other UTS Hatchery Accelerate startups at Demo Day on November 30 — book your free spot here.