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From Startup Dreamer to Entrepreneur in Residence: Dr Becky Sage’s Journey

The University of Bath's Entrepreneurs in Residence at the SETsquared Bath Innovation provide invaluable entrepreneurial support. More on Becky Sage's journey.

Entrepreneur in Residence Becky Sage giving a talk
Entrepreneur in Residence Becky Sage

Welcome to our Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) case study series. Whether you're a student with a bright idea or a seasoned professional ready to take the plunge into entrepreneurship, our experts EIRs are here to provide valuable support.

What is your business background?

As one of the Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) here at SETsquared Bath Innovation Centre, part of University of Bath, I'm thrilled to share my journey with you—a journey filled with highs, lows, and invaluable lessons learned along the way. Hold tight as I take you through the twists and turns of my entrepreneurial adventure.

Since 2008, I've been deeply involved in nurturing and advancing businesses. In 2014, I assumed the role of co-founder / CEO at Interactive Scientific, spearheading the development of immersive scientific learning tools. Our mission was to visualise complex scientific concepts, making them accessible for education and collaborative research. Along the way, my contributions were recognised through accolades such as the National Women in Innovation Award and inclusion in the UK's top 100 Maserati 100 innovators by the Sunday Times in 2019.

Our innovative endeavours garnered global attention, with features in esteemed media outlets like Forbes, Sky News, The New Yorker, and The Times, ultimately reaching over 100k users. In 2021, we successfully completed a notable M&A deal. However, amidst these achievements, what I cherish most is the exceptional team we cultivated, their collective evolution, and the remarkable impact they continue to make.

Following iSci I have coached, trained and mentored several other founders and embarked on other business ventures including co-founding Exponential Changemakers - a community platform to help early career women. I am now COO of Gamoteca, a learning experience platform which provides talent management and development at scale without losing human connection. The team has done some incredible work, including providing career training to refugees in Jordan, through a partnership with the Norwegian Refugee Council.

What is an Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) and what made you want to become one?

Becky Sage receiving the Ray Barnes Prize for Impact Through Innovation at Ufi's annual #VocTech 2018 Showcase.
Becky Sage receiving the Ray Barnes Prize for Impact Through Innovation at Ufi's annual #VocTech 2018 Showcase. The prize recognised Interactive Scientific (iSci) for use of tech innovation for vocational learning.

An entrepreneur in residence often gets described as a "business therapist”, adept at wearing multiple hats, but primarily focused on providing tailored support to founders and their teams. This support may involve offering a reality check, serving as a sounding board, or helping founders refocus on their business goals. Through close collaboration and deep understanding of founders' needs, we leverage our experience to creatively tackle challenges and seize opportunities.

Our aim is to foster clarity and confidence as founders navigate the intricacies of business development, ultimately helping them define and achieve both their business and personal success criteria. While we play a pivotal role in unlocking capabilities and removing barriers, it's the founders and their teams who drive the real work forward.

Inspired by the transformative impact of entrepreneurial residents on my own journey, I sought to pay it back by becoming one myself. As a former member of SETsquared, I had first-hand experience of the immense value EIRs bring, motivating me to extend the same support to others.

With a blend of experience, skills, and a knack for relationship-building, I have committed since 2023 when I become an EIR - making a tangible difference to the businesses I work with, relishing in the satisfaction of witnessing founders' burdens ease and their visions flourish in real time.

What support do you offer?

I am EIR on the FWD programme, supporting health and wellness businesses. My first engagement comes when companies apply for a place, I assess their applications and decide if they are a good fit for our programme.

I'll commence each company's onboarding session by delving into their origin story, aiming to understand the founder's journey and motivations. This personalised approach helps me grasp the essence of their vision and the unique challenges they face. Following this initial meeting, I guide founders towards relevant support opportunities available through our programme, such as collaborative R&D assistance and a diverse array of workshops tailored to their needs.

Once we'’ve set the groundwork, we dive headfirst into the real work. I empower founders to take the lead in scheduling sessions with me as needed, while also providing gentle reminders and recommendations to ensure consistent progress.

My current focus spans various aspects, including investment preparations, refining business strategies, and cultivating a deeper understanding of their customer base. Moreover, I’m deeply invested in honing leadership skills, fostering effective team dynamics, and nurturing a positive organisational culture.

In addition to one-on-one sessions, I curate workshops like Founders First—a comprehensive series dedicated to enhancing the professional development of founders. This series covers an array of vital skills, from managing burnout and mastering time management to fostering resilient communication and building impactful leadership qualities. By equipping founders with these multifaceted tools, I aim to empower them to navigate the complexities of entrepreneurship with confidence and finesse.

Describe your typical workday

Becky Sage sat on a chair smiling at the camera
"Embrace the journey, embrace the challenges, and never lose sight of the passion that ignited your entrepreneurial spirit."

My EIR role is only two days per week and consists of one full day in the office, and the other day spreads over the rest of the week. If I’m at home, I get up at 7ish, feed the cat and do some Wim Hof breathing. I’ll start the day with a workout before getting on with some admin or deep work. A typical day involves managing various tasks, from conducting one-to-one meetings starting at 10 am to reviewing materials from companies between meetings.

I am currently fundraising for a business so I might be revising a pitch deck or doing some investor communications. Additionally, I engage in content creation for platforms like Instagram and YouTube, focusing on video creation, generating ideas, and planning. Although I aspire to create content for LinkedIn, I haven't ventured into it yet.

At the end of the day, I’ll either go to gymnastics or go for a walk before binge watching reality TV, comedy or a drama series. As an autistic person who is particularly sensitive to overwhelm from social interactions, I need to have “at home” days as frequently as possible.

What do you like best about your job?

What I love most about my job is being part of transformative journeys, witnessing business development, and exploring innovative technologies. Currently, I support around 50 individuals, interacting with approximately eight founders per week. Our programme typically spans 12 months, but if companies transition to becoming a SETsquared member, our collaboration often continues beyond that period.

So, to all the aspiring entrepreneurs out there, I leave you with this: embrace the journey, embrace the challenges, and never lose sight of the passion that ignited your entrepreneurial spirit. With perseverance, resilience, and a healthy dose of grit, there's no limit to what you can achieve. Here's to dreaming big, taking risks, and changing the world - one startup at a time.

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