CIE » Newsroom » From student volunteer to full-time innovator: Sejal Bhan’s start-up experience

NEWSROOM

From student volunteer to full-time innovator: Sejal Bhan’s start-up experience

social media

14 October 2021

Since arriving in New Zealand in 2017, recent University of Auckland graduate Sejal Bhan has already made her mark on four innovative start-ups tackling challenges in biosecurity, health and wellbeing, motion-capture technology, and electronic waste.

While studying towards a Bachelor of Commerce, Sejal was inspired to participate in the Start-up Volunteers programme run by the Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE). The annual programme invites Business School students to gain hands-on experience by working in a start-up and learn new skills to accelerate their future. She says, “I’d heard from my friends and family that start-ups were a new way of entering the workforce, which made me curious about being a part of one. When I saw a post about CIE’s programme, I knew it was the perfect opportunity to develop my professional skills and get a kick start into the New Zealand workforce while at studying.”

In 2019, Sejal volunteered for Electroclear, a CIE spinout company using electric fields to tackle challenges in underwater biofouling. She enjoyed the experience so much that she returned in 2020 to volunteer for SpinPoi, a venture dedicated to spreading the health benefits of playing with poi. She had the opportunity to contribute to many parts of both start-ups including market analysis, accounting, financial modelling, competitor analysis, marketing, and a new website design for Electroclear. Sejal also enjoyed getting to dig deeper into industries that she hadn’t explored before.

“Through these experiences, I realised the power of meeting people and making connections in the early stages of one’s career, especially with start-up founders. They have many years of experience and learnings to impart since they’ve personally seen the highs and lows of starting a company from scratch. I was also shown the value of a diverse team. Whether it be through different study backgrounds, ethnicities, genders or something else – diversity is crucial for bringing creative ideas to the table,” says Sejal.

Sejal’s involvement in Start-up Volunteers helped her land a role at a third CIE spinout company StretchSense, which develops premium motion capture solutions for the game, movie, and AR/VR industries. Her role as a Market Research Assistant involved working with stakeholders to formulate go-to-market strategies and carrying out in-depth research to support capital raising. The latter gave her the opportunity to work closely with investors and financial advisors, which ignited a particular interest in venture capital. She aspires to continue exploring this world in the future, saying “I want to be a part of a community where people are passionate about helping budding entrepreneurs and are inspired by them on a day to day basis.”

In August, Sejal accepted a full-time role at Mint Innovation, a Kiwi start-up that uses inexpensive chemicals and naturally sourced microbes to extract precious metals like gold, palladium, and copper from electronic waste. She says, “The most exciting part of my job as an Operations Specialist is that it requires me to step into a variety of shoes! Every day is different. One day I might be helping the business team with branding, and at the same time screening summer internship applications. Or, I could be helping our team in Sydney with cost control analysis plus completing administrative tasks associated with the day to day running of the company.”

This ability to learn from different teams across Mint was a key factor that drew Sejal to the role. She says, “I knew that getting to work with many teams like business development, human resources, and teams overseas, and seeing how all parts of a company grow from its early stages, would be invaluable for my personal and professional development.”

Mint Innovation is currently in the process of building its first commercial plant. Based in Sydney, it will have the capacity to recover precious metals from approximately 3,500 tonnes of electronic waste per year. As part of the Operations team, Sejal has had the opportunity to experience the ins and outs of the massive project first-hand and is looking forward to seeing it in action.

Thinking about her beginnings in the Start-up Volunteers programme, Sejal says “Just going for it and taking the leap was the best decision I ever made! I think the biggest learning I gained through university was the value of being a part of different projects – whether they be uni clubs or summer internships – because that’s the best way to learn what you’re truly passionate about. Every experience will have something to offer, even if you don’t think it’s relevant to your degree or future goals. Working with start-ups helped me figure out what I like and dislike, and meet some really wonderful people.”

University of Auckland wins international award for entrepreneurship education
University of Auckland wins international award for entrepreneurship education

social media

14 October 2021

Since arriving in New Zealand in 2017, recent University of Auckland graduate Sejal Bhan has already made her mark on four innovative start-ups tackling challenges in biosecurity, health and wellbeing, motion-capture technology, and electronic waste.

While studying towards a Bachelor of Commerce, Sejal was inspired to participate in the Start-up Volunteers programme run by the Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE). The annual programme invites Business School students to gain hands-on experience by working in a start-up and learn new skills to accelerate their future. She says, “I’d heard from my friends and family that start-ups were a new way of entering the workforce, which made me curious about being a part of one. When I saw a post about CIE’s programme, I knew it was the perfect opportunity to develop my professional skills and get a kick start into the New Zealand workforce while at studying.”

In 2019, Sejal volunteered for Electroclear, a CIE spinout company using electric fields to tackle challenges in underwater biofouling. She enjoyed the experience so much that she returned in 2020 to volunteer for SpinPoi, a venture dedicated to spreading the health benefits of playing with poi. She had the opportunity to contribute to many parts of both start-ups including market analysis, accounting, financial modelling, competitor analysis, marketing, and a new website design for Electroclear. Sejal also enjoyed getting to dig deeper into industries that she hadn’t explored before.

“Through these experiences, I realised the power of meeting people and making connections in the early stages of one’s career, especially with start-up founders. They have many years of experience and learnings to impart since they’ve personally seen the highs and lows of starting a company from scratch. I was also shown the value of a diverse team. Whether it be through different study backgrounds, ethnicities, genders or something else – diversity is crucial for bringing creative ideas to the table,” says Sejal.

Sejal’s involvement in Start-up Volunteers helped her land a role at a third CIE spinout company StretchSense, which develops premium motion capture solutions for the game, movie, and AR/VR industries. Her role as a Market Research Assistant involved working with stakeholders to formulate go-to-market strategies and carrying out in-depth research to support capital raising. The latter gave her the opportunity to work closely with investors and financial advisors, which ignited a particular interest in venture capital. She aspires to continue exploring this world in the future, saying “I want to be a part of a community where people are passionate about helping budding entrepreneurs and are inspired by them on a day to day basis.”

In August, Sejal accepted a full-time role at Mint Innovation, a Kiwi start-up that uses inexpensive chemicals and naturally sourced microbes to extract precious metals like gold, palladium, and copper from electronic waste. She says, “The most exciting part of my job as an Operations Specialist is that it requires me to step into a variety of shoes! Every day is different. One day I might be helping the business team with branding, and at the same time screening summer internship applications. Or, I could be helping our team in Sydney with cost control analysis plus completing administrative tasks associated with the day to day running of the company.”

This ability to learn from different teams across Mint was a key factor that drew Sejal to the role. She says, “I knew that getting to work with many teams like business development, human resources, and teams overseas, and seeing how all parts of a company grow from its early stages, would be invaluable for my personal and professional development.”

Mint Innovation is currently in the process of building its first commercial plant. Based in Sydney, it will have the capacity to recover precious metals from approximately 3,500 tonnes of electronic waste per year. As part of the Operations team, Sejal has had the opportunity to experience the ins and outs of the massive project first-hand and is looking forward to seeing it in action.

Thinking about her beginnings in the Start-up Volunteers programme, Sejal says “Just going for it and taking the leap was the best decision I ever made! I think the biggest learning I gained through university was the value of being a part of different projects – whether they be uni clubs or summer internships – because that’s the best way to learn what you’re truly passionate about. Every experience will have something to offer, even if you don’t think it’s relevant to your degree or future goals. Working with start-ups helped me figure out what I like and dislike, and meet some really wonderful people.”


EMAIL
CIE@AUCKLAND.AC.NZ

PHONE
09 923 4526

NEWSLETTER SIGN UP

POSTAL ADDRESS
THE UNIVERSITY OF AUCKLAND BUSINESS SCHOOL
PRIVATE BAG 92019, AUCKLAND

 

 

 

WUNAPRUU21