Meet Alexie Seller. Co-founder and Director of Pollinate Energy, with an interest in all things energy. She studied the RMIT Master of Engineering (Sustainable Energy) and has also been a previous entrant in the RMIT Business Plan Competition (BPC). This is her entrepreneurial story.
Pollinate Energy exists to bring modern and life-changing technology – which enhances wellbeing and is environmentally sustainable – to the world’s poorest communities.
Alexie reflects on her journey with Pollinate Energy and provides some key advice from her experiences to those wanting to start a business; “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.”
Teamwork is crucial
“The greatest lesson that I learnt about starting Pollinate Energy 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 when we were starting out. That included everything from financial modelling through to how to market our organisation in Australia.”
Utilise your mentor
“In the BPC, whilst working on Pollinate Energy, we had access to well-seasoned entrepreneurs who gave us positive reinforcement that we were on the right track. Our mentor 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. This has made us better able to structure our strategic thinking and planning. We’re still working on that!”
“Take on everything from financial modelling to how to market your organisation in Australia. With Pollinate Energy, I’ve 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’ve grown purely off customers and fundraising with no other investment.”
Stop to reflect
“The discipline to stop, reflect and critique our assumptions was important. It’s easy to just keep pushing ahead because – let’s face it – Pollinate Energy is a start-up and, there’s always more work to do. Unless you stop and take stock, you risk both burning out and your enterprise falling apart.”
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 with Pollinate Energy, 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.”