Meet Woman Fellow: Izzy Bigio (Autumn 22)

January 14, 2024
Stories from the Women Fellowship: Izzy Bigio Autumn 22

We’ve caught up with some of our incredible Fellows to see what they’re up to now.

Meet Izzy

Izzy Bigio started her career as a Doctor and then pivoted to startups. She now works at Blackbird as a Platform Manager and runs her own newsletter called Bootstrapped NZ.

Why did you apply for the fellowship?

I was at a point in my career where I knew I wanted to leave clinical medicine, but had no idea what the next step would be! I was generally curious to understand more about careers in startups and someone recommended the fellowship, so I decided to apply!

How would you describe the fellowship to someone else?

Drinking from a firehose of all things startup - but probably one of the best things you can do if you want to pivot into the space.

What is the value you personally got out of the fellowship?

For me, I’d say first and foremost was getting to be a part of the Startmate community.

Before the fellowship, I didn’t know anybody in the startup world. I also didn’t know anyone else going through a major career transition who could empathise with the challenges that brings. The fellowship was an incredible way to join a community of amazing, like-minded people who I could connect with on both fronts. Having the opportunity to share challenges and learn alongside others who were in the middle of a career transition (and were curious about startups) really helped accelerate my personal learnings, and made what felt like a lonely journey at times, a lot less lonely! 

A bonus to that is all the content you have access to - you learn so much about the ecosystem, the types of roles within it, framing up your transferable skills - and it gives you a really great foundation to understanding the opportunities in the ecosystem and how you might fit into it. 

Would you recommend the fellowship and why / why not?

I think it depends on the person and what they want to get out of it. If you’re wanting to connect with incredible people in the ecosystem and gain some foundational knowledge, you can’t really go wrong. I will caveat that with what you put in is what you get out of it. In other words, the amount of effort you put into engaging with the content, the people in the cohort and your community will be directly proportional to the value you get out of it - it’s not something you’ll gain a large amount of value from through being passive.

What were some unexpected takeaways?

Probably that I wanted to start a newsletter! It’s funny because I always told myself that the two things I’d never do in life are business and media. The fellowship was a trigger to create something that combined both those things into one… and I actually really loved it!

So it forced me to confront the fact that I held all these assumptions about what I did and didn’t like (or, what I was and wasn’t capable of) which weren’t necessarily founded in reality or actual experience. That realisation was really freeing, actually - I think often we don’t realise that we subconsciously place ourselves in boxes and that could be the rate limiting step in growing or discovering something we really love. Being in an environment where I could challenge that and try new things (and be supported to do so by some very kind humans!) was invaluable. 

Describe your journey since finishing the fellowship, professionally and personally.

It’s been a wild one! After finishing the fellowship I started a newsletter on the NZ startup ecosystem, finished up with clinical medicine and started a new role with Blackbird as Platform Manager for Aotearoa. It’s been a really fascinating journey transitioning from medicine into a non-investor VC role - a total 180 compared to what I was previously used to in terms of the type of work and what my day to day life looks like. 

Personally, it has truly been a journey (and is still on-going). Being a doctor was a big part of my identity as it was something I'd worked towards for such a long time. Going through the process of leaving was really challenging in that respect because it forced me to really reconsider who I am and what drives me as a person. I don't think this journey is ever really complete but I feel a lot more clarity around these things now!

Pssst. Women Fellowship applications are open

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Jessica McKellarJessica McKellar

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