RMIT alumnus Alexie Seller shares her journey involving technology, entrepreneurship, culture and adventure.
Seller, co-founder and Director of Pollinate Energy, has an interest in all things energy. She studied the Master of Engineering (Sustainable Energy), at RMIT, and has also been a previous entrant in the RMIT Business Plan Competition.
Recently featured on ABC-TV’s Foreign Correspondent program, Pollinate Energy exists to bring modern and life-changing technology – that enhances wellbeing and is environmentally sustainable – to the world’s poorest communities.
Seller reflects on her journey and provides some key advice from her experiences to future Business Plan Competition (BPC) entrants.
“I was always seeking a career in the humanitarian sector but I had a strong technology bent. I studied mechanical engineering with renewable energy, as well as languages and culture.”
1: Teamwork is crucial
The greatest lesson that I learnt about starting a business from the BPC is that the process of going through a business plan with your team is often more important than the plan itself.
The BPC gave me the tools that I needed to have the right conversations and lead my team on the right journey while we were starting out. That included everything from financial modelling, to how to market our organisation in Australia.
2: Utilise your mentor
We had access to well-seasoned entrepreneurs, positive reinforcement that we were on the right track, and a mentor who was personally invested in seeing us succeed.
The mentoring experience was one of the best aspects for me. I still meet my mentor regularly, and he even allocated a position for me on his strategic management course, which made me better able to structure our strategic thinking and planning. We’re still working on that!
3: Number crunching
Take on everything from financial modelling to how to market your organisation in Australia. I’ve since worked with a professional financial modeller to produce better predictive tools for Pollinate. We still use this as a regular check in on our progress and it’s the only real way we can understand how much money we need and when. This is so important in the start-up phase where we have grown purely off customers and fundraising, with no other investment.
4: Stop to reflect
The discipline to stop, reflect and critique our assumptions. It’s easy to just keep pushing ahead because – let’s face it – it’s a start-up and there is always more work to do. Unless you stop and take stock you risk both burning out and your enterprise falling apart.
5: Give it time
If you’re serious about making your business work, you should make the most of the resources that are around you while studying at RMIT. Just because you don’t win, doesn’t mean you won’t be successful.
While we didn’t place in the BPC, we did walk away with the “one to watch” award at the Australian Social Enterprise awards. It’s not about winning: it’s about learning how to start and run your business.
Applications have recently closed for the Business Plan Competition and round one of the judging is currently taking place.