Lisa's Story: From UX to sextech & community hacking

Lisa is a UX designer turned sustainability community builder and sextech product designer. She completed the Startup Accelerator in the summer of 2017. She loves working with communities and is gaining valuable startup experience with hopes to start her own business in the future.

What were you doing before the Escape Accelerator and why did you decide to join?
I was freelancing as a UX/UI designer. I was curious to join the Accelerator because I saw myself having my own business or startup one day. So it was a taster for me. I didn’t have a plan or expectation to finish the programme with my own business, it was more about learning the process of starting a business that I was more interested in.

What aspects of the programme were most valuable to you?
The community and accountability. I’m still in touch with people from the programme and I co-founded a small (but engaged) sustainability community with someone I met on the Accelerator. We both just love producing content about how to live more sustainably. The programme also helped me to build more confidence and understand how to make progress on my ideas. You can very quickly and cheaply get a feeling of your market and how interested people are in what you’re doing.

How did life (and your career) change for you after the Accelerator?
After the Accelerator, I continued freelancing for a month and then I went travelling. On my return, I came back to freelancing for a short while before moving to a product designer role at a female sexual wellbeing company called Ferly. Funnily enough one of the founders is also an Escape Alumni, Billie Quinlan – that is also kind of how I came to work there. We’re still in beta and plan to launch early summer. It’s an audio based product like Headspace or Calm but for female specific sex and self-pleasure. I work there four days a week and use the other day to work on our sustainability newsletter, And The Future?

What challenges have you faced during your Escape?
We were thinking about retiring And The Future? as we were putting pressure on it to make money, which we didn’t want to do. We couldn’t move past the idea of it having to become a business and we lost a bit of momentum. Now we work on it slowly as a side hustle we are passionate about and it’s growing organically. Our hope is that it starts paying for itself. It helps to have other work on the side to enable you to do what you love without putting pressure on it to make money. Although I have to say that I am very lucky that both of my jobs are absolute passion projects.  

What are your plans for the future?
I still want my own business at some point. I have a little red notebook on my desk for all my potential ideas. But I’m not there yet and I’m still gathering experience within the startup world as an employee, which has been really helpful. I love working with communities and building networks with positive social impact.  

What advice would you give someone at the start of their Escape journey? Don’t quit your dayjob until you have to. If your idea has to make you money from the start, that pressure can kill a lot of your creativity and the courage to experiment and be brave. And it could take you further in the long run. Build a business the smart way. Reduce personal bills to a minimum and find a way to pay those consistently as you test your ideas on the side. Don’t be afraid to start again if your best idea doesn’t get the feedback you expected. Also, don’t hide your ideas. Talk about them. Ideas belong to everyone. But not everyone can turn an idea into successful business. Keeping it from others might make you miss out on valuable feedback or connections and new opportunities.  

To join Lisa’s community of sustainability warriors, visit andthefuture.com. And head to www.weareferly.com to join the waitlist for Ferly’s audio guide to mindful sex.

Lisa completed Escape’s Startup Accelerator in July 2017. To join her in taking control of your career and building your own business, learn more here.

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