Origins of Catalysr

Catalysr was born out of School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) & Citi Youth Launchpad program in early 2016. Here's an account of Jacob Muller, our Co-Founder and SSE Fellow. 

“These Were My People” – Jacob Muller, Co-Founder Catalysr & SSE Fellow reflects on his experience in the SSE Australia & Citi Youth Launchpad Program

"With the end of the Youth Launchpad program comes the end of a journey. A challenging, inspiring and invigorating journey. And with the end of that journey comes some space to reflect on how far I’ve come. 

Before coming to SSE, I have lived in many places across New South Wales; I attended a number of schools and worked a number of jobs in a range of sectors. I’ve known people in an array of different streams and with a plethora of aspirations: lawyers, accountants, sales extraordinaires, doctors, politicians; the list goes on. 

I respected their choices if it made them happy, but as a person who has a strong sense of social justice; those things just didn’t appeal to me in the same way. I found a passion in entrepreneurship, but I wanted to use it to improve the lives of those less fortunate than I. I wanted to be a Social Entrepreneur. The problem was, I didn’t really know anyone who had made a dream like mine into a reality. 

On day one of the program, I found myself in the Parramatta Town Hall with 17 others. I noticed something almost immediately: my peers were smart, passionate, inspired and tenacious. They wanted to make a difference. They wanted to be Social Entrepreneurs too. 

Steve Jobs once said ‘people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do’. I remember having a strong sense of that, that day. These were those people. 

These were my people. 

As the program continued, we bonded as a cohort. This was somewhat organic, however I can see how the program was designed to encourage it.  At the beginning of each day, we would sit in a circle. Anyone could talk at any time. ‘It’s like popcorn’, our facilitator Jess said; ‘pop when you’re hot’. This was an opportunity to say what I needed to say in order to be present that day. To be open and authentic, in front of 17 others. Let me assure you: the good, the bad and the ugly was shared. 

The Launchpad was exceptional in that way. We did a lot of alternative things that you wouldn’t see in any regular classroom, which encouraged a level of authentic sharing and bonding that I’ve never seen happen in such a short time. 

A few times we even took ‘philosophy walks’ where we would pair off with a classmate, and simply walk and philosophise about something that we were being challenged by as entrepreneurs. It was a great space to ‘think out loud’, reflecting upon our challenges, with the ear, and the shoulder of a fellow entrepreneur. 

Now, you might be thinking to yourself, ‘why would I want to spend my days sharing things like this? Why not focus on building cool things? Or learning the technical stuff?’ Rest assured, you get to do that too. 

But sometimes as a founder, the biggest challenges you face are not the technical ones. SSE offered solutions to those less tangible and more wicked ones. Entrepreneurship is innately messy and complicated. It’s a harsh fact that doesn’t often get talked about. And unfortunately, people who don’t do it can sometimes have a hard time relating to you. But finding a support network in people who are on the same journey can help you through it. 

I have found that network in my peers in the Youth Launchpad program and this alone has had a huge impact on my progress as an entrepreneur, and as a person. 

And while this journey has now come to an end, a new one has already started. I may not have Jess and the program staff to support me anymore; but there are 17 amazing people in their place. 

I have SSE to thank for that. "

About Catalysr

"Catalysr is a startup incubator based in Western Sydney co-founded (during the program) by SSE & Citi Youth Launchpad fellows Jacob Muller and Usman Iftikhar.  Catalysr supports exceptional young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds in starting their own companies. They offer office space, entrepreneurial workshops, mentoring and content, tailored to the unique cultural needs of each cohort.  Their aim is to empower skilled migrants and refugees where the system has otherwise let them down – fostering a prosperous, inclusive and diverse Australia. SSE was incredibly proud that Catalysr launched during the program and is already 5 weeks into their first 8 week Incubator program for refugees, migrants and people seeking asylum in Western Sydney. They also won one of the $5000 ‘take off’ grant from Citi Foundation towards their enterprise and are being mentored by Citi Australia to make the most of this opportunity."

Note: This entry was originally published by School for Social Enterprise (SSE) Australia on this link.