As a university it’s extremely important that we cater for the studentpreneurs whose startup may be a side hustle. Our Hatchery+ Manager Joe Allen spoke to some of our jugglers to see how they manage to keep all the balls in the air without suffering a nervous breakdown!
There is a prevailing narrative in the startup ecosystem, that if you aren’t working on your startup full-time, you aren’t really serious about it.
I agree that it is infinitely better for your startup’s progress to be working on it full-time but the reality is not everyone has that luxury. It can be a long road to becoming ramen profitable and for many this means working on their startup on the side to make sure they can pay rent/mortgage, keep the lights on and put food on the table.
This semester’s Hatchery+ cohort features many teams who are working hard to juggle full-time work and/or uni as well as launching a business.
As you can imagine, the hours the teams keep are pretty hectic. Hatchery+ has catered the program this semester to accommodate for our jugglers, with sessions running in the morning and evening. It means that the space is most alive after 5pm.
Here, we chat to some of the teams about how they manage to keep all the balls in the air without suffering a nervous breakdown.
Maximise productivity: Elle Fleming, Co-Founder of OpenVisa
Elle Fleming works full-time and is one of four co-founders at OpenVisa.
“I’m at work from 7.30am till 5.30pm, and then I’ll drive to Hatchery+ most nights to work on OpenVisa. I try and focus all of my work during the week, so I’m pretty non-existent Monday to Friday.
“On the weekends I’m a bit more flexible, I do spend a couple of hours on OpenVisa but I’ll go to the gym and catch up with some friends for coffee.”
For anyone thinking about launching a business with a million other things on their plate, planning is the key to success. For Elle, it’s all about that to-do list.
“A to-do list my best friend. I’m pretty regimented with it, I make sure to allocate time to a task so it keeps me on schedule.”
The biggest challenge, says Elle, is switching brain power from work to business. It’s something she has tried to fix by being strict with how she spends her time.
“I think the biggest challenge is managing time and making sure all the time I’ve got is used productively. I’m struggle to switch hats, because if you start dipping in and out of each job, you get sucked into that world… So you have to be able to switch off your email, switch off your phone and really concentrate on one thing at a time.”
The workload doesn’t faze Elle, who says it’s not dissimilar to what her and her co-founders went through when they started OpenVisa towards the end of their MBAe. The challenge is now being in an accelerator, and “running on someone else’s time.” Despite the extra ball, the team have made good use of the Hatchery+ program.
“We have changed direction a few times and it’s because of the the learnings and insights we’ve got from people in Hatchery+. Even though it’s hard, it’s 100% worth it.”
Set up a routine: Sam Walsh, CEO and Co-Founder of ProFeed
Two out of the three co-founders at ProFeed are studying full-time, and the third co-founder works full-time. Sam Walsh is studying a Bachelor of Business and a Bachelor of Creative Intelligence and Innovation at UTS, and he says despite the team’s workload, they still find time to hit the gym five times a week.
“Somehow we’ve found a way to train two hours a day five days a week. I think it comes down to habits. This is our passion, health and fitness, that’s what we love. And once you get into the routine, you just do it.”
Although when the going gets tough, the tough lose sleep. Sam says the team swaps focus between work and university as need be, but that it often means sleep slips way down the priority list.
“Sometimes you don’t sleep, you just stay up the whole night trying to meet deadlines. I guess in the stressful periods you’re looking at 4–5 hours sleep a night.”
Because the team are studying full-time, they have had to make sure they get the most value out of Hatchery+.
“Everyone in Hatchery+ is tackling a large problem, and it’s really something you can’t do from your bedroom. Having support network around you is very important. We’ve created value by leveraging the networks and mentors in the program to can transform our business in 12 weeks.”
And Sam’s advice for other students thinking about launching a business while studying?
“Probably don’t study five subjects! Looking back, I think the program would be best done on a part-time study load, however it comes down to the passion. If you have something you’re passionate about or want to solve, and have the mindset and the commitment, you can do it.”
Focus on your passion: Fabiana Alvarez
Fabiana is quite possibly the busiest person in the program, working full-time and studying full-time and trying to start Akili (formerly Shift). Akili connects artisans in developing countries to markets in developed countries.
“It’s challenging. I have had to learn to manage my schedule and be on top of everything. I decided early on that every day I have to make progress no matter how small. Every day I have to take a step further in the development of my business, in my job and in my masters.”
Like Ellie from OpenVisa, Fabiana has a strict schedule dividing time between work, uni and business. She is currently doing her MBAe at UTS.
“I try to do Akili before I start work, usually from 7am ‘til about 9 or 10am, and then from 10 onwards that’s work time and I usually leave the office around 7 or 8pm. And then at night it’s MBAe time.”
Despite the hectic workload, Fabiana realises that it’s not always sustainable.
“You know you’re exhausted when you have stopped making progress, and you’re not as fresh or excited about what you’re doing. Then it’s time to drop it, have some rest and just come back to it fresh in the morning.”
Throw Hatchery+ into that mix and you’d think Fabiana would be on struggle street, but in fact it’s the opposite.
“For me being part of Hatchery+ has been really refreshing. Being a sole founder it’s important to be in an environment where people think like me, and you feel less lonely.
“Before I joined Hatchery+ I thought to myself ‘how am I going to do all of this?’ But one of the things I’ve learnt is that the resources are in reach and you’ll find your way.”
Read more about what’s hatchin’ at the Hatchery on our Medium.