Meet Charlotte, student fellow, STEM student and pursuing the non-traditional, entrepreneurial pathway.

Holly Brooks
February 27, 2024
Student Fellowship, Founder, Startmate, Startup

We sat down with Charlotte Jones, Winter’23 Student Fellow who is passionate about entrepreneurship and startups. Charlotte shared her experience of the Student Fellowship, the startup she pitched during the Founder Challenge and why she feels drawn to founding. 

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Startmate: Tell me a bit about yourself

Charlotte: I'm currently studying a Masters of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Melbourne. 

I'm very passionate about problem-solving and helping people - that's probably one of the main reasons why I got into biomedical engineering in the first place. Being able to see the impact it can have on people's everyday lives. 

I do quite a bit of volunteer work through Engineers Without Borders. The vision of EWB Australia is to create a world where technology benefits all and we're kind of aiming to improve people's lives through humanitarian engineering. 

In my free time, I enjoy spending time outdoors, trying lots of new things, whether it be ballroom dancing or stand-up paddle boarding. 

Startmate: Tell me why you’re so interested in entrepreneurship.

Charlotte: It was actually way back when I went to my first uni open day. I heard from a couple of other students who had done this “BioDesign Innovation ” subject. The subject pairs up students from different faculties e.g. business and biomedical engineering and you get to meet a whole heap of people from the medical industry. 

The idea is that you visit hospitals and meet with staff to understand specific gaps in the system. Then your team works together to provide a solution. There have been several startups that have been founded through this subject. They come up with an idea, build a prototype and then continue working on it post-uni. 

So I thought that sounded really amazing. It was also one of the reasons I decided to do biomedical engineering in the first place.

Startmate: How did you hear about the Student Fellowship?

Charlotte: I first heard about Startmate through a mentor I had at uni. We were chatting about startups and they'd done a subject called “BioDesign Innovation ”, which I'm about to start.

They suggested that I have a look at some of the Fellowship programs. That’s when I saw the Student Fellowship.

Startmate: What did you love about the Student Fellowship?

Charlotte: One of the things that was invaluable was finishing with a greater understanding of all the opportunities available. Opportunities for creativity and innovation all around us.

It was amazing to be a part of such a tight-knit community where people dream big and they're not just dreaming it, but going and doing it. 

I also really enjoyed the coaching as well. I found that really helpful. Not only did they share diverse perspectives they would often reflect questions back at me and help me to recognise my own potential and wisdom.  

Finally, I loved pitching for the Founder’s Challenge. It helped to build my confidence and meet some other biomedical engineering students. 

Startmate: What did you pitch for the SF Founders Challenge?

Charlotte: We pitched a startup called DOPA and won the Founder's Challenge. 

DOPA is an app to help people with Parkinson's monitor their symptoms and join a clinician-led community. For people with Parkinson's disease, it can be quite isolating. The app enabled patients to share their stories, receive health advice from clinicians and gain back control over their disease. 

Startmate: Any plans to pursue founding as a career path?

At the moment, I am working with other biomedical engineering students and business students to find some kind of need or gap in the medical industry. I’d love to build a startup that solves a pressing problem in this space.

Startmate: Anything else you’d like to share?

Charlotte: Since the Student Fellowship I started a project with the Gunditjmara indigenous community in Southwest Victoria.

Every week we meet up with the Gunditjmara community to discuss their kinship systems and how they relate to the seasonal calendar. We have been researching everything from ecology to dreaming stories, astronomy and language to find connections between them. 

There are quite a few gaps in some of their ancestral knowledge. Guided by the Gunditjmara community, we are trying to find ways to connect them back together. 

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