Soo Lee: from comfort zone to embracing the startup journey
When Soo Lee’s partner told her he was enrolling in Startup Success, a new course by the Sydney School of Entrepreneurship (SSE), a little spark ignited. While she didn’t have a specific project in mind, the former MBA student decided she was keen to explore what it might actually take, in a practical sense, to get a great idea out of her head and off the ground.
“As we discussed the course more at home, I realised I definitely wanted to know more, also to meet like-minded people in our local area [the course was a collaboration between SSE and Penrith City Council], and hopefully make some new professional connections at the same time,” she said.
The power of ‘hands-on’ in creating a memorable experience
Comprised of a series of six online and in-person workshops, the course is designed to empower aspiring entrepreneurs with the know-how and skills needed to enhance an existing business venture or embark on a new startup journey, or simply explore new ideas and opportunities.
It was the in-person workshops that stood out for Soo. “My favourite part was meeting the facilitators, who shared insights based on their real-world experiences,” she said. “To connect with people who had built their businesses from the ground up, learning face-to-face from their journeys, was not only amazing but provided a unique and valuable perspective.”
“Then the practical activities, even simple ones like jotting down thoughts on a blank sheet of paper, added another hands-on dimension to the process and made the whole learning experience more memorable.”
Journey Genius, the genesis of a great idea
It wasn’t long before the ideas were flowing! Soo is now in the early stages of developing Journey Genius, an innovative micro travel planner tailored for individuals and groups. The concept of micro travel focuses on same-day travel locations or shorter visits, often centred around local areas. What sets the application apart is its ability to provide tailored experiences that consider various preferences and potential travel challenges.
Soo says, “the platform employs artificial intelligence (AI) to generate personalised travel guides and recommendations. Users can select their physical preferences and other travel nuances prior to the actual trip planning process.
“The AI algorithm then crafts an itinerary that aligns with these preferences, offering a seamless and efficient planning experience, all based on earlier travellers’ firsthand experience feedback,” she added.
Innovate to elevate
We asked Soo what innovation meant to her and her response was simple: to create positive change and improvement. “It's about enhancing the current state of things for the benefit of those who haven't yet experienced [something],” she said, adding that “innovation, in essence, is a dynamic force that drives progress and strives to make a meaningful difference in people's lives.”
Entrepreneurship, in contrast, Soo ventures is “the process of transforming that idea into a commercially viable venture.”
“Great ideas are countless, whereas entrepreneurship takes their potential and brings them to market. It involves direct competition with existing products or service solutions, fostering an environment where each player is challenged to enhance and improve what is currently being offered, pushing for continual improvement and innovation within a competitive landscape.”
SPANX’s Sarah Blakely, from humble beginnings
We asked Soo if there was anyone in business she admired or sought to emulate and she was quick to respond. “I am a big fan of [SPANX founder] Sarah Blakley. For me, she embodies the ideal role model for anyone who genuinely wishes to solve a problem, leveraging her abilities to solve that problem within a unique set of limitations [no funding, no support as a young, female, first-time entrepreneur].”
“Her commitment to empowering women is a source of inspiration for anyone aspiring to make a positive impact within their means.”
On applying Startup Success to life beyond the classroom
Energised by the course, Soo plans to apply the insights gained from Startup Success to incorporate the use of ‘personas’ to help identify real problems that need addressing, a process that has proven effective in creating solutions that resonate with users and have a meaningful impact.
“I also hope to leverage my learnings to enhance my pitching skills,” she said. “I want to be able to articulate my ideas persuasively and confidently, which will allow me to present my ventures effectively wherever and whenever the opportunity arises.
“My goal is to seamlessly integrate the principles taught during Startup Success into my current activities, to ensure I’m strategic and user-focused in my approach, whatever I end up doing.”
Since completing the course Soo’s taken a break but says the experience has definitely amplified her confidence.
“Connecting with other entrepreneurs during Startup Success was so inspiring. While I may not have specific achievements or milestones to share just yet, one clear takeaway for me was that reaching those goals will require consistent effort.
“The course has equipped me with the confidence and insights I need to embark on this journey, knowing that with sustained effort, I can strive towards my entrepreneurial aspirations.”
Would she recommend Startup Success to others?
Yes! “If you're feeling nervous or unsure about signing up, consider that your nervousness might actually be a sign of curiosity about your own capabilities and what others may think of your ideas.
“My advice is ‘embrace that curiosity’. Take the plunge. SSE provides an ultra-safe and supportive environment for sharing and discussing your entrepreneurial concepts; a platform for learning, collaboration, and growth. Plus feeling uneasy usually means you are stepping out of your comfort zone to explore your potential!
“The more you put into the course, the more you'll get out of it,” she adds. “Plus, immediate feedback allows you to refine and enhance your ideas quickly, making the learning experience more dynamic and impactful.
“The real-world scenarios and practical applications really enhanced my experience, which overall was fantastic.”
While the potential attainment of a microcredential on completion of the course wasn't a decisive factor in Soo’s decision to enrol in the course, as she grew familiar with the concept, it became a great form of motivation for her, particularly as the course progressed.
“Receiving the very first microcredential mid-session sparked a sense of accomplishment and motivated me to look forward to earning more of them!” she explained. “While it may not have been the primary factor in my decision to enrol in Startup Success, the microcredential aspect added a valuable layer of recognition and achievement throughout.”
Connect with Soo: LinkedIn