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Behind every incubator or accelerator you’ll find a dedicated individual, keeping the gears turning. Whether that means helping a startup formulate its business plan or showing off product demos to visitors, operations managers play a pivotal role in any startup ecosystem.
After finishing his Business Science degree in the US, Brandon Paschal moved to Johannesburg in 2004 where he started working for Campus Outreach, focusing on leadership development. Seven years later he moved over to Applogix to fulfil the role as project manager and business analyst.
Today, Paschal spends his time and energy at the Launchlab, a business incubator by Stellenbosch University’s Innovus programme trying to facilitate innovation in the region.
A Day in the Life of Launchlab’s Brandon Paschal
Paschal walks through the doors of the incubator at around 8am. He directly heads over to Luke, the resident barista, for a cuppa joe. With flatwhite in hand, Paschal settles into his day by filtering through all his emails. Luckily, there are no fires to put out this morning.
After scouring through his inbox and catching up on some news for about half an hour, he touches base with each of the companies working out of the incubator. There are about 24 resident companies, with some people using the Launchlab’s hot desk space.
Paschal heads back to Luke for some more coffee.
He then meets up with the Launchlab interns to ensure that they have all they need for the day, and troubleshoots any issues that they might have. After giving one of the interns a rundown on how to use the CRM, they all seem to be right on track, so Paschal goes his way.
It’s now around 10am which means it’s time to meet with the guys from ButtaNutt — a resident startup behind a series of delicious tree nut butters. Paschal chats with the company’s Antoine van Heerden about the startup’s new exporting opportunities and how to best go about dealing with them.
Once that’s taken care of, he heads back over to his computer in the hot desk area to send an introduction to an investor on behalf of Leap.ly, a startup that matches graduates directly with job opportunities.
Taking a break from all business-related stuff for a while, Paschal meets up with a visitor whom he takes on a tour to see what’s cooking at the Launchlab these days. “This never gets old,” Paschal says. “It refreshes my vision and excitement for what I get to do everyday.”
Now about midday, Paschal checks up on why the internet suddenly stopped working. He phones the ISP and gets it back online. Everyone’s happy again.
Paschal heads back to his laptop to do an assessment for a new applicant to the Lift-Off programme, which is Launchlab’s incubation programme.
It’s now around lunchtime which means it’s time to head over to the homemade artisan startup, Ice Cream Community, for some tasters and business consulting.
Paschal meets up with another visitor who’s interested in an app called PanicHero. Built by Incipient, the app turns your smartphone into a panic button to help improve responses to emergencies. After a quick product demo, Paschal and Incipient’s De Wet du Toit blow off some steam during a quick workout session in the makeshift gym in the bike shed.
After then giving Nedbank an update on the Breakthrough Innovation programme and responding to some emails he’s been ignoring all day, Paschal calls it quits at around 4pm.