UTS:Hatchery’s Lead Educational Designer Catherine Raffaele and Coordinator James Francis first met in the Autumn 2016 session of the Hatchery program. The then teacher-student duo bonded over James’ group project GiveChain, which encouraged young Australians to create real change through small donations to the world’s most effective charities. Here the two share their thoughts on messy entrepreneurship, how there is no one-size-fits all model to education and how we need to reclaim the term ‘entrepreneur’.

Can you tell us how you first met each other?

James Francis (JF): My group pestered you so much you were left with no choice but to get to know us. Against the Hatchery norms, we entered the program with an idea, it was an app solution to charitable giving for Microsoft’s Imagine Cup challenge.

Catherine Raffaele (CR): Your project really was this kind of real life messy example
of entrepreneurship. Having a step-by-step process in place most students get to practice methods as they go, but because you had an idea already you had to take a step back and apply to process in more of a zigzag pattern.

JF: It certainly meant it took a while for our group to take a step forward, there were four weeks or so that felt pretty stagnant but in fact it allowed our new team members to bring fresh perspectives to the table. I felt like the coaching team were super flexible with us. You always took the time to check in with our group and were super open to the adaptation of particular exercises to suit our journey.

CR: Yeah you guys put so much into it. We’d see you in the space at odd times and it became clear that you were very passionate. And that showed – you dug deeper into the exercises, experimented and played with the project.

JF: We completely fell in love with process and the community the Hatchery has to offer, so I think we were willing to go the extra mile out of pure enjoyment. We’d even do weekly dinners with other students we grew close to in the program and had the most intellectual conversations I ever encountered at university. It just shows how much the Hatchery can open up your mind – we’d debate about emerging technology, pick apart different elements of strategic design thinking and support one another throughout the week through research into each of our projects.

What have you learned from one another during your time in the Hatchery?

JF: As a teacher and now colleague, Catherine has taught me that there’s no one-size-fits all solution to entrepreneurship or working life more generally. You’ve pushed an agenda at the Hatchery which allows for freedom to experiment, reflection and not being afraid to be critical of entrepreneurship. Even if you’re an introvert it’s important to speak up when you don’t agree with the process and adapt what you’ve been taught for the betterment of your understanding.

CR: You’re right. It’s very much about selecting the tools which fit your entrepreneurial toolkit. You learn so much from that process as a teacher because you have a conversation – it’s not just a one way street. But to answer the question, I think I’ve learnt a lot from the way you look at things. You made my teachings your own. You have a unique way of seeing things – optimistic sounds a bit too trite but you have this really open way of seeing things that’s really refreshing.

JF: I just have to remind myself that messy is good. I’m a perfectionist but sometimes letting go gives you the most interesting insights.

How has the Hatchery changed your entrepreneurial mindset?

JF: The Hatchery touches upon an idea of entrepreneurship that I haven’t encountered elsewhere, perhaps because of its slant towards the creative industries and supporting misfits to grow. I wish we could move on from buzzwords like entrepreneurship because they’ve really lost their meaning but I guess I like to think of it as an umbrella term for thinking or doing things differently.  

CR: We need to reclaim the term entrepreneurship. The term used to be stigmatised and a lot of people didn’t want their kids to grow up to be entrepreneurs because it wasn’t a secure work option. It wasn’t very well understood but now it’s become really trendy through its association with startups, when actually it’s a lot more common than we think. Being and working in the Hatchery has taught me to really see the value. It’s important to actually allow people to create their own ideas of success and what entrepreneurship means rather than forcing them into really narrow models that really just don’t work for everyone.

I think it’s important that we’re allowed to make entrepreneurship our own, which goes back to seeing entrepreneurship as a tool or a set of tools. You can shape them over time, you can be critical of them and you can make up your own rather than being stuck with a very narrow and idealised view of entrepreneurship.