Success Story: Julia Bates

Posted on in Success Stories, Venture Challenge

Julia Bates is a calming presence. She speaks softly and says things like “Practice doesn’t make perfect, because perfect is an unrealistic standard. Practice makes better.” Julia founded  mello{be} after joining StartUp Weekend, where she pitched her design for a posture-aligning meditation cushion. The cushion started as a way to help her daughter cope with her chronic illness but soon she realized that it could help anyone sit up straighter and live life more mindfully. She needed business guidance and, after hearing about LaunchSA, she attended several of the free community classes LaunchSA offers. The classes helped her with questions about topics ranging from legal advice, business ethics, and Quickbooks. Julia says she loved the classes because she “could ask all [her] stupid questions without judgement.”

She then participated in LaunchSA’s Venture Challenge program, a goal-setting competition for entrepreneurs, judged by investors, with the potential to win funding. Julia says the challenge helped her iterate her initial startup idea into the company it is today. She also learned to communicate what her business was and why investors and customers should be interested in the success of mello{be}. “What I do is weird,” Julia says. “I’m not a lawyer, not a doctor, what I do isn’t easy to explain.” Venture Challenge made her practice her pitch over and over until she honed her message.

After getting to know the staff of LaunchSA through her engagement withVenture Challenge, Julia says they continued to push her to take new opportunities. Recently, she received the second place honor at the Macy’s Female Entrepreneurship Challenge, a collaboration between Macy’s and LauchSA.  “Daniela [Alvarez, of LaunchSA] is actually why I joined the Macy’s Female Entrepreneurship Challenge. She just kept telling me I should do it.” Julia doesn’t know why more people aren’t utilizing LaunchSA’s programs and events. “Making mistakes is part of business, but LaunchSA helped me make fewer mistakes. They genuinely just want to help you,” she says. “Plus, it’s free!”