Learning from deep tech startup CEOs: Nancy Schellhorn from RapidAIM

Being a startup CEO is difficult and new for everyone. A regular routine for learning builds capability over time. I asked some Main Sequence CEOs what they do and received some incredibly valuable and generous responses that they have agreed I can share.

Nancy Schellhorn — CEO RapidAIM

Nancy founded RapidAIM in 2017 and spun the company out of CSIRO the year after. She is a globally recognised researcher in the field of ag and biosecurity with a PhD in entomology (study of insects).

My ‘work outs’ consist of things that I do to learn, to create, to listen, to implement, to test, and evaluate. Repeat.

#1 — Reading, learning, putting what I’ve learned into practice, evaluating

I read as much as I can — mostly late evenings. If something resonates, then I put it into practice and review how it’s going.

#2 — Have a mentor/coach

They give me perspective and courage when there’s so much uncertainty.

#3 — Commitment to physical and mental health, alertness and peace

A couple of days a week — very early mornings with a regular group of friends who are funny and kind; swimming solo a couple of days a week; weight training once a week; meditation — short and long sessions; and regular sleep.

#4 — Set a tempo

I’m very purposeful with setting momentum and tempo for fast learnings and feedback loops with the team so that we hit our targets.

#5 — Commitment to culture

Take the time to know one another — ‘know the worker before the work’. It’s so so important. Live by the basics of kindness. Small efforts and often, recognition, celebration of small and large wins.

#6 — Know who we’re playing!

Keep engaging with the customer — know them.

#7 — Listen carefully

Make effort to understand before being understood.

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Phil Morle

Phil Morle

Deep tech VC — Main Sequence Ventures. Ecosystem builder. Maker. Director. Startup Scientist.