Written by Mary Lieu on the 22nd of November, 2016
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Over the next few months, we’ll be introducing you to the incredible women and men that make up our team here at BlueChilli. This is Part 1.
Nikita Nagesh has always been interested in startups. When she was a uni student, she founded her own startup called ShoppingInAHurry, a geo-location based shopping app, and quickly became interested in the startup scene. Since graduating in 2014, Nikita has worked at a number of startups as well as in corporate. She decided to follow her passion for startups earlier this year, and joined the BlueChilli team as a product manager.
SHESTARTS – Hi Niki! Can you tell me more about your role?
NIKITA – Sure. So I’m part of the product management team here at BlueChilli. I work with Claire and James to define digital products, figuring out what startup features should be included in the MVP, and helping startups create a really awesome product.
SHESTARTS – What are the highlights of being a product manager?
NIKITA – I think one of the coolest things is getting to work with different founders and be across a few different startups and industries. Each founder and startup is really unique so it’s really interesting helping founders to achieve their goals.
It’s really cool that I get to work with people who are pursuing their passion and helping them to do that.
SHESTARTS – What does a typical day look like?
NIKITA – It’s really varied. So it depends on the stage of the startup, whether we’re at the stage where we’re trying to understand the product they want to build or where we’re actually developing their product. In that case, I’d be working with the development team, or we could even be in the design phase where we’re just figuring out the design aspect! We work with multiple startups at a time and each one is often in a different stage.
SHESTARTS – What’s your top piece of advice for anyone aspiring to be a product manager?
NIKITA – Try to immerse yourself in product management; read Quora articles and read about it, attend meetups, learn more about the field! Don’t be afraid if you don’t know what it is initially. I’ve found people to be really inclusive, welcoming and supportive, which is great.
Bianca Chrysostomou, one of our senior UX designers, landed at BlueChilli after the web design company she was working at years ago became bankrupt. “BlueChilli looked absolutely awesome, so I went for the job interview and got hired on the spot!”
SHESTARTS – Hey Bee, what do you do at BlueChilli?
BIANCA – So I am one of the UX designers. I help founders with their projects, and help build their final product by working on the problem with them, workflows, the wireframes, any brand material, the UI, a bit of research for them… those are my everyday tasks.
SHESTARTS – What excites you about working with startups and entrepreneurs?
BIANCA – It’s challenging; not only for your target audience but it’s also challenging for yourself. You’re constantly learning… you get different responsibilities and working with startups means you’re also working with innovative founders. It’s exciting to work with someone that’s innovative and has creative ideas – because they’re unique.
SHESTARTS – What would you tell someone who aspires to become a UX designer?
BIANCA – Have good communication skills, not just with your team but also with your founder and then your target audience. Plan before you design, so you don’t just go straight into design – there’s a whole big chunk you have to do beforehand. Competitor analysis, research, look at competitors and what they’re doing right and not right.
Here’s a big piece of advice: don’t design for yourself, you’re designing for your target audience.
SHESTARTS – Tell me about one of your favourite startups right now.
BIANCA – I absolutely love Folktale and it’s not because I worked on it. Folktale is an iOs app which helps and guides users on how to record and build their storyboards. I just love it because it’s something different; it’s very interactive with the user. Testing is the most important part when working on a project and I think it’s really cool that so many people at BlueChilli got involved with Folktale.
I’ve been with BlueChilli for a few years now, first as a marketing intern for one of our portfolio startups, and then as a part time admin/marketing assistant for BlueChilli while I was studying and completing internships elsewhere. Since graduating this year, I’ve been lucky to stay on as Marketing Coordinator. This is the best team to work with.
SHESTARTS – What excites you most about working with startups?
MARY – The most exciting thing is working with people who are actively trying to make their dreams come true. It’s fun being in an environment where you’re surrounded by creativity, high energy and people who aren’t afraid to take a risk and just go for it. It’s inspiring, you know?
SHESTARTS – What does a typical day look like? What are the things you do on a daily basis?
MARY – Being in marketing, I get to work with the different departments in BlueChilli, including the development and product management teams, startups and innovation. Aside from managing our social media, events and digital channels, no day is the same. Some days I’ll be interviewing entrepreneurs for the SheStarts and BlueChilli blogs, and other days I’ll be running around at the events we host or drafting newsletters and comms…
SHESTARTS – What advice would you give to someone who wants to work in marketing?
MARY – The more experience you have, the better! Whether it’s to support your studies or you’re looking to get into marketing from another field, it’s important to have practical experience in whatever aspect of marketing you’re really interested in.
So build your personal brand on social media, intern, join a startup or creative project, start your own blog – just do it!
Ella Banihashem is a Chillisource developer at BlueChilli. (If you’re wondering what Chillisource is, it’s BlueChilli’s enterprise framework which enables us to quickly build startups at scale.) Ella has been with the team for four years after joining us in 2012, and in her words, has “always been passionate about building startups and helping entrepreneurs build their dreams.”
SHESTARTS – Hey Ella! What’s a typical day in your life as a Chillisource dev?
ELLA – I work on the startup that I’m building and if there is anything I can contribute to the framework… that’s what makes Chillisource great. We share knowledge actually, and we learn from each other.
SHESTARTS – What’s the best thing about working with startups?
ELLA – Well the best thing is you learn from a lot of interesting people and innovators; really amazing people with great ideas. There’s plenty to learn from them.
It’s an incredible journey working with them – each one is so different but they’re all amazing.
SHESTARTS – What do you like about software development?
ELLA – I love it! It’s like when you’re so passionate about something you start imagining it, but what really makes a difference is when you try to actually build it.
SHESTARTS – Do you have a favourite startup right now?
ELLA – I can’t choose one! There are so many and they’re all amazing ideas. It doesn’t matter if they succeed or not, it’s been an incredible experience and I’ve learned from all of them… so I like all of them!
Liz Derks has worked/studied in the Netherlands, France, Spain, Brazil and now Australia. With degrees in International Business Administration, Finance and Strategic Entrepreneurship, Liz came over to Australia with her boyfriend earlier this year. Fast forward through a contract role as marketing coordinator, Liz is now the Program Coordinator at BlueChilli and has been doing an incredible job with SheStarts. We’re lucky to have her on board!
SHESTARTS – Hi Liz! What do you do at BlueChilli?
LIZ – I work as the program coordinator for SheStarts.
SHESTARTS – And what does that involve?
LIZ – When running innovation programs like SheStarts, you have a program director who keeps the big picture overview. However, you also need someone who coordinates the program and gets into the details of everything that needs to be done – and that’s me! No day is the same as you deal with the founders, the corporate partners and the internal BlueChilli team. It’s amazing to be part of the journey the SheStarts founders go through and experience firsthand the different pathways to growing a successful startup.
SHESTARTS – That’s amazing! What are some of the highlights of your job?
LIZ – One of the most exciting things is seeing the applications come in during the application period and realising there are so many great ideas to solve real global challenges. We don’t need another coffee-order app, or an app that is only an incremental improvement to the way things are currently done; there are real problems that need to be solved and there is certainly no lack of ideas! The next exciting step is working with the entrepreneurs to bring these ideas to life and seeing them grow as CEOs as they go through the process of building their business; from validating their idea to building the tech and from managing their finances to hustling their way to get their first customers!
It’s exciting to be part of a program that solves real global challenges, and there’s certainly no lack of great ideas.
SHESTARTS – What’s your top piece of advice for someone who wants to be a program coordinator?
LIZ – I don’t think you need a particular education to become a program coordinator at a startup accelerator. It’s much more important to possess certain skills, such as paying attention to detail, being organised, and you definitely have to like working with people, as you’ll deal with many different stakeholders on a daily base. I had lots of different side-jobs whilst studying and have lived different places with different cultures, which has definitely helped me in the work I’m doing now.
Stay tuned for more features on the amazing team we work with!