MEST Soap-Box Session: Alpha Code and Ellen Fischat

Nazli Allie | Monday, May 7th, 2018

MEST Incubator Cape Town’s Soap-Box Sessions are monthly events that welcome our members to take the stand, talk about what their startups are up to, what services and products they offer and what their company needs are.

Together with Alpha Code we invited a special guest speaker to share their professional journey and some key insights with our members. On Friday 20th April, cofounder of InnoCircle, Ellen Fischat, joined us to talk about the events that lead her to start InnoCircle, a boutique innovation consultancy working with startup companies, small businesses and institutions in technology.

After working in Amsterdam for 23 years, Ellen returned to South Africa to set up various community initiatives based on the principles of social entrepreneurship. She expanded on  people development and strategic skills and co-founded a HR Consultancy in 2008.

Before joining as  Managing Director at The Silicon Cape Initiative in 2017, Ellen was the Business Manager for Propella Business Incubator, the NMU Incubator in Nelson Mandela Bay. Prior to that, she was the Enterprise Development Manager for the SEDA NMB ICT Incubator 2011-2015.

Ellen Fischat at MEST Incubator Cape Town

“The reason why people are kept behind is because they do not have access to information. This is the reason why people can’t move forward. This is where I believe I can make a difference.”

Over the years she has gained extensive experience in small business development with a strong focus on social enterprises and technology. Ellen is involved in the mentorship of technology start-ups and volunteers in various community outreach programmes that focus on personal development, digital literacy and increasing employability of marginalized young women through STEM initiatives.

“My work as a social entrepreneur didn’t pay the bills, so I took my knowledge of psychology and found a fit in the business market.”

Here are the top five entrepreneurship tips we took from Ellen:

  1. Take note of the disruptors or become irrelevant.
  2. If you understand your clients’ problems, you can more effectively  become their solutions provider.
  3. Having the advantage of being the first to market requires persistence and takes a lot of convincing. Be strong enough to stand your ground and vulnerable enough to know your weaknesses.
  4. Remember each and every person you meet and learn to see value in all of them. They may not always be people you will end up working with, but relationships are everything. People buy into people.
  5. Lead and influence.

Ellen Fischat at MEST Incubator Cape Town

“If you can’t find your way in the space that you’re working in, create your own way. You can be the first to market.”

Being an entrepreneur comes with the responsibility of constantly looking for ways to improve and keeping up with changes in the ecosystem. It is great to have experienced members of the community join us and share the valuable information that they have gained along the way so that future leaders can learn from them and grow.

Ellen Fischat at MEST Incubator Cape Town

Join our next Soap-Box Session at MEST Incubator Cape Town on 18 May! RSVP to the event with Alpha Code and Zoona here.