Our Spring 2017 Hatchery cohort has been one cracking experience, and we couldn’t have done it without our coaches. Ahead of our Showcase next week, we grabbed five minutes with Hugh Boddam-Whetham, UTS Bachelor of Business Graduate who’s now at Colonial First State Global Asset Management; and Alessio Colli, UTS Bachelor of Design graduate and now Behavioural Designer at Neoteny.

So, what’s your story?

HUGH: From counting money in a bank vault of the concrete jungle, to slinging beers in the ski fields of Canada and kicking up red dirt in the Pilbara, I’ve held a few random jobs in my time. Over the last three years of completing my degree at UTS, I worked at Noggin, an enterprise Saas company, and helped them grow from about 25 people in Sydney to about 100 worldwide.

I love entrepreneurship and have a keen interest in how technology reshapes traditional industries and markets, and how this influences human behavior. I’m taking this curiosity into my new graduate role in asset management, and am looking at how new fintech companies can be an opportunity rather than a threat.

ALESSIO: I’m a behavioural designer at Neoteny, a human-centred design consultancy in Sydney. After completing a Bachelor of Design in Integrated Product Design from UTS, I moved into strategic and service design, working at the intersection of people, business, and design. I work with startups, corporates and not-for-profits to create products, systems, and services that are driven by a deep understanding human behaviour. At the Hatchery, I’m the lead facilitator of the night cohort, guiding 35 groups of students through the design and entrepreneurship process.

And how did you get involved in the Hatchery?

HUGH: I actually applied for the first ever cohort in 2015 but could not make the time commitment. Leading up to my final semester in Autumn 2017 I decided I couldn’t leave UTS without getting involved! After having an amazing experience and graduating from the program, I wanted to continue to be involved. Since then I’ve come back as a coach, travelled to Wagga Wagga as part of a regional entrepreneurship project and am now one of the new co-hosts of The Hatch podcast.

ALESSIO: When I began working at UTS’s Design Innovation Research Centre. Working on sector-level innovation projects opened my eyes to the broader applicability of design in the innovation process, and I’ve been fascinated by it ever since. I’ve been involved in the entrepreneurship community at UTS since I went through the Hatchery as a student in 2016, working on a project in residential renewable energy uptake.

Going from a Hatchling to coach, how did you find the experience from the other side?

HUGH: Everything makes more sense second time around. Many of the students’ challenges and concerns largely mirrored those of myself and the Autumn cohort, which I think helped with being able to empathise, ease the anxiety and remember to try and enjoy/trust the process. I really enjoyed observing the process from a less emotionally invested point of view, which can help bring clarity to another group’s project. This highlights the need for mentors in entrepreneurship.

What is one thing you learned from coaching, and now facilitating, at the Hatchery?

ALESSIO: Getting students to trust the Hatchery process is a tough ask. The design and entrepreneurship process is ambiguous, and students often feel lost when their initial ideas fail. Similarly, it’s tough to create prototypes and put them out into the world to be tested and critiqued. The key is to trust that through iteration and refinement, each idea will turn into something worthwhile, and eventually they’ll achieve their goal.

What is one bit of disruptive advice you can pass on to other Hatchlings?

HUGH: Make sure you’re solving a real problem – hopefully a global one! The best way to do this is talk to as many people as possible about your idea and then to test and test early! So break out your empathy interviewing skills, hit up LinkedIn to find some of those potential global customers to reach. And don’t forget to use this as a sales opportunity – you might not have a product ready to sell them yet, but you can always ask if they want to be informed once you have created that amazing thing to solve their problem! Finding your market fit and developing sales pipeline simultaneously!

Finally, remember your sense of play. Entrepreneurship should be a creative pursuit and if you forget to have fun and enjoy the process, you’ll get stale and soon enough your business will be the one being disrupted.

ALESSIO: I tell them to listen to their users. Is that disruptive advice? I’m not sure. Certainly most entrepreneurs are over eager to thrust feature-heavy products in our faces, in order to convince us they have a good idea. If they take away one piece of advice from their time in the program, it’s to listen, with empathy, to what their users are telling them.

Check out our talented Hatchery students’ presentations at our Spring Showcase on Friday October 6 from 4pm. Register for your place here!

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