Meet Our Curious Mentor, Gauri Bhalla

Gauri Bhalla, is a Remarkable mentor who lends her time, expertise and enthusiasm to our startups and the Remarkable team. Gauri loves learning and helping others think differently. She has worked in Universities in the UK, US and Australia. She is the Founder of the Curious Collective which helps people in companies build skills for the future of work. Those skills include curiosity, diversity of thinking, empathy, and foundational toolkits like design thinking and lean start up.

Here’s a little more about Gauri and her Remarkable experience.

What are your core areas of expertise, particularly when it comes to mentoring for Remarkable?

Identifying customer needs and jobs to be done. Asking good questions. Listening and being able to judge how much capability/capacity the team has to learn and take action.

What inspired you become a mentor for Remarkable?

The Remarkable team made me do it! They are inspiring and gave me the confidence to believe I could be of use to a team.

Do you work with any other accelerator programs or startups? How is Remarkable different?

Yes. I teach on lots of programs – Remarkable is different because of the sense of purpose – what we are doing really matters, not just creating another app to make people rich…and the care for founders and clients is genuine and embedded in everything.

Are there any parts of the accelerator program that you particularly enjoy?

I’m a lead mentor for Spacee – I look forward to Thursday mornings each week when we meet Madi and Tom to learn from them and see how we can effectively help with contacts, encouragement, a different perspective.

What is your top tool, blog, book or podcast that you’d recommend others look at?

I love learning from people and experiences, so I run a lot of experiments and meet as diverse a range of people as I can, with an open mind. I teach at The School of Life, and love how people and sessions there always stretch my thinking. I still think the business model canvas is the most elegant, useful tool for business thinking – I use it constantly to test ideas and unpack businesses.

We’d love to hear your advice for the teams. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given in your work life that you would like to pass on to the startups?

I love this quote because it speaks to our ability to constantly evolve and the surrender to discomfort to enable our potential.

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be” (Lao Tzu)


Hiam Sakakini, Lead Mentor for Xceptional, shares her Remarkable experience

Hiam Sakakini is a corporate veteran having spent 14+ years in Fortune 500 companies, most recently 10 years at Google. She started out there building large sales teams on the business development side and from there moved into the heart of the organisation designing and executing the leadership development strategy for the Asia Pacific region within the People & Culture team. Hiam is the Co-Founder of Think Change Grow and sits on the board of Cerebral Palsy Alliance. This is the third year that Hiam has been a mentor for Remarkable. This year, she is the lead mentor for Xceptional.

Hiam Sakakini, Mentor and Co-Founder of Think Change Grow
Hiam Sakakini, Mentor and Co-Founder of Think Change Grow

What are your core areas of expertise, particularly when it comes to mentoring for Remarkable?

Since leaving Google 2 years ago with a colleague and great friend, Monika Gisler, who is also a Remarkable Mentor we have taken our core areas of expertise like Leadership & Team development, and helped organisations to design their People & Culture strategy in order to attract the best possible talent. We know that people are every organisations biggest asset and that it is people that will create the narrative of your organisation, which in itself attracts more top talent. We specialise in consulting, coaching, facilitation and have a leadership program that is now backed by Deakin University.

What inspired you become a mentor for Remarkable?

Having a daughter who has CP has made me look at the world somewhat differently. My goal is to use my time, expertise and network more wisely to support organisations who will in some way have a positive impact on her life and the lives of those like her.

I also feel that innovation, particularly where technology is concerned has not been applied to its full potential in the disability sector. In a way, this makes the sector incredibly exciting as there are huge leaps that can be made to impact the lives of the 1 in 5 people living with a disability in Australia.

Remarkable is the only Disability focused tech accelerator program in Australia (to my knowledge). This is its unique differentiator. It is backed by The Cerebral Palsy Alliance and has powerful alliances with large corporates and government as well as Impact investors. Startups that are truly strong on their ‘why’, have a good team and a customer centric product or service will thrive in this program. I have been a mentor from their first program and still keep in touch with mentee teams like AbilityMate, Home Care Heroes and others that reach out for support.

what parts of the accelerator program do you enjoy most?

I look forward to forming long lasting relationships with teams that take the time with us as mentors seriously. You know immediately if a team value your time and prepare well for each session. I enjoy working with teams where I can see true fire in the belly!

What are your top tools, blogs, books or podcasts that you recommend?

Podcast – A friend of mine has just launched a podcast called ‘Don’t stop me now!’ featuring some of the world’s most innovative, pioneering and original thinking women. I’m hooked!
Books – Im currently reading When by Dan Pink which turns timing into a science. Everything from finding the most optimum time to start a business to scheduling a medical procedure – there is scientific research behind when these should be done to get optimal outcomes! Quite fascinating.
Blog – Love the MWAH blog (Make Work Absolutely Human), I find myself nodding in violent agreement to their blog posts and articles.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given in your work life that you would like to pass on to the startups?

During my time at Google I was lucky enough to be in an audience with Ray Kurzweil who talked about how invention was all about timing. Watching trends and aiming your invention at the world of the future not at the world that exists at the time of your launch.


Find out about our other Remarkable mentors.

Getting To Know Mentor, Liza MacLean

Liza MacLean is a Project Manager for icare and also mentor to loop+. Liza is passionate about the power of assistive technology for people with a disability to promote independence, participation and inclusion. We asked Liza to tell us more about her and how she’s involved with Remarkable.

Liza MacLean
Liza MacLean

Tell us a bit about your background

I have a background in occupational therapy with 20 years’ experience working in the health and disability sectors (government and not-for-profit) in Australia and the UK. I’ve worked in pediatrics, aged care, rehabilitation, injury management and with a special interest in equipment and assistive technology.

What are your core areas of expertise, particularly when it comes to mentoring for Remarkable?

My areas of expertise are disability and assistive technology, including knowledge of the sector, stakeholder relationships and disability and insurance scheme funding requirements.

What inspired you become a mentor for Remarkable?

After being involved in the selection of startups for the accelerator program I was impressed with the knowledge and passion of the startups, the mentors and the Remarkable team and keen to get involved to help them achieve their vision to improve the lives of people with a disability through technology.

Are there any parts of the accelerator program that you’re looking forward to?

I’m just looking forward to all the opportunities to meet with the startups and other mentors, there are some amazing people involved and I can’t wait to see how far everyone will get to by the end of the program (and beyond).

What is your top tool, blog, book or podcast that you’d recommend others look at?

I’m a fan of getting inspiration through TED talks on my daily commute.

Some of my favourite books/movies about people with a disability are Wonder, the Diving Bell and the Butterfly, the Fundamentals of Caring, and the Intouchables.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given in your work life that you would like to pass on to the startups?

Always remind yourself of your purpose and don’t forget who you’re here for. Listen to the needs of your customers, and make sure you get their input and feedback at all stages of design and development.

Also ‘done is better than perfect’ may help to save some sanity during the accelerator!

How to Get the Most Out of Mentors

Mentors are one of the most valuable resources an entrepreneur can tap into. They can push you out of your comfort zone and seek out new experiences. Mentors can help you identify your strengths and weaknesses. They can also save you from having to learn lessons in the business world the hard way.

Finding a mentor that is a good fit for you can be challenging and once you have found one the challenge is not over. Getting as much value as possible out of your mentor is paramount. Their time is valuable and the best way to demonstrate your gratitude and respect is to be prepared for each meeting you have with your mentor. At Remarkable, Tim Prosser and Kate Jenkins are two of our mentors. We asked Tim, Kate and Ben Reid (our Entrepreneur in Residence) to share their top mentoring tips for startups in order to get the best outcome possible out of the mentor-mentee relationship.

Tim Prosser

Tim Prosser

Tim Prosser is an experienced IT consultant with more than twenty years of experience supporting C-suite executives and teams in the Information Technology industry. He helps clients extract the maximum value from their technology. At Remarkable he helps our founders to create the maximum value for their startups. Here are some of Tim’s top points on mentor relationships:

What role do you play as a mentor?

“Our role is to listen and bring the unknowns out the shadows for your startup. There is a lot of rapport and empathy building. When invited, we offer advice, access to our networks. We don’t have answers to all the questions. Instead we offer advice on how to go about solving the problem and acquiring the knowledge necessary to do so.”

What is the best way to build a strong relationship with a mentor?

“Make sure you say thank you to the mentors and acknowledge that you’ve used their time and the insights provided. Demonstrate gratitude – remember to thank mentors in all of your communications with them. This builds goodwill and long term relationships. Thank them in emails, over the phone, in meetings, at events etc. If you haven’t acted on their advice, that’s fine but it’s a good idea to communicate to them why you didn’t.”

Ben Reid

Ben Reid, Entrepreneur in Residence for Remarkable
Ben Reid, Entrepreneur in Residence for Remarkable

Ben Reid is a well respected and sought after mentor having founded 3 companies and mentored, managed or co-run 5 accelerator programs and been lead mentor for 8 startups, as well as developing extensive product management during 20+ years of product building across enterprise, SME and startups. Here are some of Ben’s top tips on selecting and working with mentors:

How should one go about selecting a mentor?

“The right mentor is a balance of a ‘Skills & Experience Fit’ and a ‘Cultural & Personality Fit’. The time that they have available & their willingness to contribute also comes into play.’

How should entrepreneurs get the best results possible from mentors?

“Have two mentors in a conversation. You could get a better outcome because they are competing with each other – healthy competition of course!”

Do mentors know best?

“Mentors don’t have all the answers or always get it right but in saying that, if you hear multiple mentors in a row saying something, there’s a good chance they are right. Look for the patterns in their advice.”

Kate Jenkins

Kate Jenkins
Kate Jenkins

Kate Jenkins is the Founder of Be Your Brand and has more than 15 years experience leading award-winning campaigns for major brands such as British Airways, Singapore Airlines and the Sydney Opera House. Kate is happy to share her insights and learnings from working in with big brands to help the Remarkable startups to think big. Here are a few of her tips on making the most of mentor meetings.

How should one prepare for a meeting with a mentor?

“Know the mentor. You can stand out from 95% of other startups by doing your background research on the mentor before you meet them. Do a quick search of their LinkedIn and latest tweets and check out their businesses.”

What is the best way to start a conversation with a mentor?

“Always provide context of what you’re up to. We’re not living your startup day in and day out, so you need to brief us at the beginning of each meeting reminding us of your business of what you are up to in your journey. Keep mentors in the loop on what you’re up and your successes – they will be your biggest advocates at the end of the day.”

While mentors love to share their experience, no one likes to waste time. By choosing the right mentor and ensuring that you come to mentor meetings prepared you will both get more out of the mentor-mentee relationship. Always remember to say thank you and even give them credit when possible. Our mentor network is made up of a truly incredible group of passionate people. They are a big part of what makes us Remarkable.

Find out who our Remarkable mentors

Getting To Know Mentor, Tony Stephens

Tony Stephens is the Director of Client Engagement at Jobs for NSW – the NSW Government’s agency dedicated to Transition NSW’s economy by working with those companies that are creating the jobs of the future. Previous to this role, Tony worked in strategy and innovation in business leadership roles across a range of business environments from startups and growing SMEs to multinational corporations in the medtech and healthtech sectors.

Tony has been a mentor for Remarkable for past cohorts and this year he is working with the Founder of NumbRay, Peter Simpson-Young. NumbRay is creating personalised neuro stimulation devices for kids with Cerebral Palsy.

We asked Tony to tell us more about himself and his Remarkable experience.

What are your areas OF expertise when it comes to mentoring for Remarkable?

My core expertise is in strategic marketing – in particular identifying a value proposition that can create a platform for a compelling business vision and narrative, and exploring the conditions that are necessary for this opportunity to be adopted.

Having operated in a wide range of business environments, I can assist founders to build a credible story and articulate what they know, and to be realistic about approaching the uncertainties and opportunities of growing a business.

What inspired you become a mentor for Remarkable?

Being a mentor gives me an opportunity to continue to learn the ways in which we can address disability with the increasing capabilities of technology and information insight. Having led businesses myself, I also know it all starts with the founder: their motivation, personality, self-awareness, as it will be these capabilities that enable them to navigate the risks and rewards that lie ahead.

Are there any particular parts of the accelerator program that you look forward to?

Demo Day. It’s the day that provides a reference point on the journey of the founders which is hopefully very memorable for them.

This year, you’re working with NumbRay, how’s that going?

I am looking forward to working with Peter Simpson-Young. NumbRay is an ambitious proposition in its field; it’s early stages but has great potential. I have seen some technologies radically surpass their expectations (e.g. Cochlear) and others were just not ready to deliver a reproducible benefit to the individual. I’m excited to see what the future could hold for NumbRay.

Peter Simpson-Young, Co-Founder of NumbRay

What is your top tool, blog, book or podcast that you’d recommend others look at?

David Skok’s Forentrepreneurs.com. So many businesses I see may have a business model but they have not thought through their customer acquisition economics and lifecycle value to the business. If the business model doesn’t work at a customer level – then the business will never deliver.

We’d love to hear your advice for the teams. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given in your work life that you would like to pass on to the startups?

Listen (it’s been a lifelong journey for me!).