Before we get into Becon Health, let’s talk about career trajectory. What took you from being a psychologist to wanting to build a business?
I was in my early 20s when in my first job out of university I acted up in the manager role. I remember thinking that this was it – there were no other promotions available, I had reached the maximum level. It was a bit of a downer! I then worked abroad and became a lead consultant managing large change management projects for a financial institution. I was given a lot of flexibility in this role, and got to run it as I saw fit. Upon my return to Australia, I knew that I wanted to have the freedom to drive my own career and make business decisions that would have positive impacts. This is when I started my first business, a psychology practice aimed at increasing peoples’ performance.
After running that for over 5 years, I was noticing the problems people have in accessing healthcare. This is when the concept of Becon Health was born. It’s interesting the pathways you need to take to wind up where you’re supposed to be!
Let’s talk about Becon Health and its vision. What is its core focus and how has it evolved since it was founded?
The core focus of Becon Health is to empower health professionals. We make their side hustle ambitions a reality by removing all of the barriers. This means that now, health professionals can work from anywhere online, and within their specialised niche area, all the while feeling supported and connected to a like-minded community. Their patients also reap the benefits and can now access support in the most convenient way – through the Becon Health platform.
Our focus has certainly evolved since the beginning, and this has largely been achieved through hypotheses testing and listening to what our customers are telling us. Our aim has always been to open up access to healthcare, and now we’ve found an effective way to do that.
We both know there’s nothing linear about our journey as founders. What are some of the unexpected events that have caught you by surprise as you’ve built and grown Becon Health?
There have been a couple of surprises. The first was not having an awareness of just how hard it was going to be to recruit the right developers. Not have much cash, and being in a regional centre didn’t help – at the time there was a downfall in the local economy which meant most people were going to have to relocate for the role and their partners may or may not be able to get a job. We got there in the end, but it was a bit of a painful process.
A really positive surprise is that we hit the startup scene at exactly the right time – coinciding with a big government agenda to really support startups. This has been excellent for us. We’ve now been awarded two substantial grants that in conjunction with our own funds are going to take Becon Health to the next level.
When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do?
If I’ve lost my focus and it’s very temporary, I get out of my surrounds and go for a short walk to clear my head, which allows me to refocus upon my return. When I sense that I’m not focusing as well as usual, I plan to have a long weekend where I totally disconnect. Usually, this means going camping or getting into the great outdoors. To keep myself in top condition most of the time, I have hardcore habits that involve a vegan diet, ashtanga yoga, enough sleep and limited caffeine.
You meet with a soon-to-be, first-time founder and over coffee, she asks “If I had to develop three habits to be a successful founder, what are they?” what would you say?
Firstly, it’s important not just for you but for the whole startup ecosystem to be a part of your local startup community. Go and work from your local co-working space, attend networking and educational events, ask how you can help others. Having a supportive community around you, that you can rely on to boost you up when you need it is so necessary.
Secondly, take your close supporters with you on your journey. Not everyone around you will get why you’re leaving the ‘normal’ world for the startup world, so hang out with the people that get it. Share stories with them, so they continue to get it as you progress.
And finally, be committed to looking after yourself. No one wants to invest in a founder that is about to go off the rails. Functioning at your optimal level most of the time is paramount. Treat exercise like the most important meeting you have and ensure it’s scheduled every day. Think about your mental health as well, engage with a therapist if you mind isn’t as clear as what you’d like it to be. We spend so much time learning new skills, we also need to continue to learn about the inner workings of ourselves.