Get to know Tabs: IACT alumni, IACT Collective member, mentor and co-founder of Guild Grid.
Draw inspiration from former InnovationACT participants as they share their journeys, and find out where our program can take you. After completing the program, many IACT alumni choose to continue developing their skills and networks, go on to start their own businesses, initiatives and programs in a variety of fields, as well as lend their talents to countless others and give back to the IACT community.
This week, we introduce you to IACT alumnus, Tabassum Fakier. Since first joining the program three years ago, Tabs (as she is affectionately known by our team) has gone from participant to Collective member and mentor, providing guidance to IACT teams along their 10-week journey. When not helping IACT teams, she is busy working on a communications platform for community managers and running design workshops for freelancers and entrepreneurs.
How did you first get involved with InnovationACT?
I first got involved as a participant in 2015. I heard about the program and I decided to join with my partner, Logan. We were both students at ANU, at the time. Our idea at the time was a chat app to help community managers administer their spaces.
Did you stick with the same idea you worked on during the program? If you didn’t, why didn’t you continue?
Partly. Our idea was very convoluted. It took us over a year to realise that we were mixing business models. Eventually, we decided to separate them. Guild Grid was another project we were working, back then. It builds upon what we are doing now, which is a community management communications software.
How did the IACT program help you evolve the idea?
While taking part in the program, we realised we were combining more than one problem and we separated them. We were able to do that because we attended the workshops. Otherwise, we would have gone forward, mixing two things together, and we would be in a real mess, right now. Currently, we have a business model and continue to work on it as a side project.
What were your biggest takeaways as a participant in the program?
I developed business acumen. I learned how to put my business hat on and think about what customers want. Logan and I are both makers, we’re developers and designers, and we tended to focus on that side because it’s what we enjoy.
There were also two things that hit close to home for me: the first one was customer validation, learning about the user, and the second was the value proposition and the problem itself; that they are two different things.
How did you become a part of the IACT Collective and, later on, a mentor?
Logan and I enjoy being part of the program and interacting with everyone. So, whenever there was an event, we would show up and ask ‘how can we help out?’. Eventually, we were asked to join the Collective. We’ve been in the collective every year since our first time participating.
Later on, IACT facilitators also suggested that we mentor and we did. Logan and I mentor as a team. It is our way to give back. We hope there are people we can help in the same way that we received help to develop our business.
How have you benefited from being a part of the Collective?
It’s a refresher of what I learned in the program. I get to be reminded of all the things that are important for our business. After the workshops, we go back home and work on our business model.
We learn a lot through our exchanges with the participants because they come in with their own experiences and unique perspectives. We also enjoy interacting with the other collective members. There is an ongoing exchange: they share their progress with us and we share ours.
What has been your involvement in the local innovation ecosystem, since first participating in the program?
I founded my own program called Moonside, aimed at helping freelancers and people who are starting their own businesses as side projects…people who chug along in their 5 to 9. I help them make their logos from scratch and put up their websites on their own. The idea behind is to teach people how to do it themselves, instead of trying to find and hire developers and designers.
Thinking about the students and people who can’t afford that kind of help is what motivated me to found the program. I just finished the first iteration of it and we’re going to bang it again, soon. Also, I’m now a community member at Entry 29 and continue to take part in lean start-ups workshops.
What tips would you give current IACT participants?
Focus on the problem you are trying to solve and your business’ value proposition. Those are the main two things the business will be built around. The business is about the problem and how you are trying to solve it; not the mechanics of how you solve it, but what you are solving.
Customers are not interested in the journey; they’re interested in what they get, the results.