Jordan Davies and Natalie Hurtado share why they enrolled in UQ’s Master of Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
Many people think entrepreneurs and innovators are born, not made. But the truth is, developing an entrepreneurial mindset is important for everyone in a time when change is the only certainty.
So, how can you develop this all-important skillset?
Jordan Davies is a student of UQ’s Master of Entrepreneurship and Innovation while Natalie Hurtado is a graduate of the program and has since launched her own business, ARTEH. They share why they enrolled in this program, what they’ve learned about innovation, and how it’s empowered them to face an uncertain future.
Why did you choose to study the Master of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at UQ Business School?
Jordan: I've always been interested in the entrepreneurship sector. When I was about 9 years old, I would charge people living in my block of units to bring their bins out to the street.
As I got older, I realised I really wanted to get into entrepreneurship more. I knew the UQ Business School had a solid foundation of entrepreneurship and all these resources like UQ Ventures. The campus itself is also absolutely incredible.
I started in the Graduate Certificate of Entrepreneurship and Innovation first as a pathway, and after 6 months decided to do the rest of the master’s degree because I loved it so much.
Natalie: I moved to Brisbane with my family from Brazil and, after working for many years in insurance, I had this idea to start my own business. I knew about UQ’s excellent international reputation and I had some friends that had already started studying here.
"The UQ Master of Entrepreneurship and Innovation was a natural path for me, because it allowed me to develop my entrepreneurial skills while nurturing my interest in sustainability and sustainable finance."
What key skills have you taken away from the Master of Entrepreneurship and Innovation that have been helpful in your startup journey?
Jordan: One of the best things about the Master of Entrepreneurship and Innovation is that you can start applying what you’re learning immediately to your professional life and business.
The Lean Startup capstone course gave me the opportunity to be out in the field interviewing people, knocking on doors and talking to businesses. This hands-on experience was really exciting and taught me a lot about critical communication and research skills.
Natalie: As an entrepreneur, it’s one thing to have an idea, but we also need to listen to what our potential customers value and what will make a difference in their lives.
The Commercialisation in Practice capstone course gives you the opportunity to check and validate ideas with customers or other stakeholders. This process is crucial for small businesses and startups so they can rapidly adjust to what people really need. The program helped me develop critical communication skills as well as the ability to be open-minded and resilient, skills that are useful in many different roles.
Did you have a lightbulb moment during the Master of Entrepreneurship and Innovation that changed your way of thinking?
Jordan: I learned that being an entrepreneur doesn't mean you can’t do anything else. For example, if you work in medicine or accounting or logistics, you don't have to give that up to become an entrepreneur; you can do both.
Natalie: There’s a common misconception that entrepreneurs are born, not made. The Master of Entrepreneurship and Innovation taught me that anyone can be an entrepreneur if they work on developing certain skills, understanding methodology and are disciplined.
How have UQ programs like Ventures Curiosity and the Global Business Challenge via the Ventures ilab Accelerator supported your learning journey?
Jordan: The idea of the Ventures Curiosity program is you have 40 minutes to create a product, launch it and pitch it. It's a really fun process because you're dealing with so many different people from diverse backgrounds, like engineering, arts and accounting, and they all have such amazing ideas. Over 6 weeks, you also get to hear guest speakers share their own inspirational entrepreneurship journeys. It was an invaluable program to be a part of.
Natalie: In my first year of studying the Master of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, I participated in a 4-month Global Business Challenge. My team finished in second place after beating over 600 teams from 62 countries, which was huge for us in that moment.
“Participating in this challenge gave me the confidence to continue investing my energy into my startup idea. It also provided some funding for me to start the business properly and the opportunity to meet like-minded people who are still part of my support team and business today.”
I also participated in the UQ Ventures ilab accelerator program for 4 months, which gave me the boost I needed to move my startup forward. The experience provided me with human and financial resources, access to an expanded network, and the credibility and visibility to make my business concrete. After ilab, my co-founders and I developed our minimum viable product (MVP), incorporated the company and acquired our first customers. Now, we are working to make the dream come true.
What’s your advice for anyone thinking about studying the Master of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at UQ?
Jordan: You don’t need to wait to have a brilliant idea before you enrol in the Master of Entrepreneurship and Innovation. If you've got an awesome idea already, it just means you'll be able to take what you’re learning and apply it to what you're doing straight away. But if you don’t have a venture before you start the program, you'll find you’ll form lots of ideas once you start studying.
Natalie: Developing an entrepreneurial mindset is important for everyone, not just entrepreneurs. An entrepreneurial mindset helps you embrace uncertainty and be more agile.
How can you tailor the program to suit your lifestyle and other priorities?
Jordan: Whether you’re studying part time or full time, the number of hours you spend studying each week depends on what course you're doing and what mark you're trying to achieve. Obviously, if you want really high marks, you have to spend a lot more time studying. That’s one of the reasons I really enjoyed online study, when the program went online during COVID-19, because I was able to prioritise what else I needed to do around study.
Natalie: I started the program full time, but when my daughter was at home, I reduced the number of courses I was taking. So, instead of completing the program in 1.5 years, I did it over 2 years.
I think this was a good decision because I could delve into the amazing course content, do well in assignments and apply what I was learning while continuing to give my family the attention they needed from me. It also meant I could take care of my home and go to the gym almost every day.