Gabi Matic is the Cofounder & Director at Metta, an organisation supporting startups, industry and governments with sustainable technology-driven innovation. Before Metta, she was the Programme Director at the ATI Boeing Accelerator. She had the same role at Ignite, where she designed and delivered multiple pre-accelerator and accelerator programmes directly supporting more than 100 startups since 2016. Gabi is a former founder herself. Mindmate, the startup she co-founded and was the CMO of, grew from 0 to 50K users and sold into the NHS.
Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?
Metta is the transformative innovation agency delivering ecosystem and acceleration programmes globally. Our purpose is to ingrain regeneration and sustainability into all innovation to drive positive, long-term impact. We do this by facilitating transformative innovation as a force for good with startups, industry, governments and businesses through education, collaboration, challenging and changing the narrative.
At our core, we are a purpose-driven organisation with a team fully dedicated to improving the climate crisis through our work, volunteering and mentoring with startups, corporates, governments, universities and other stakeholders.
Originally born in Bosnia, with an Austrian passport, I completed my Masters in International Management and Leadership at Glasgow University and co-founded medtech startup Mindmate during my time in the city. After leaving Mindmate, I joined the Ignite accelerator and helped design and run accelerators all across the UK. I have been engaging with, designing and delivering innovation and acceleration programmes for high-growth potential startups ever since. Together with my cofounder Wil and the team I’ve led world-class innovation programmes across four continents, invested in startups from a broad range of sectors and helped industry leaders innovate at speed.
How did the idea come to you for the company?
While running my first business, I went through two accelerators to help the business grow and widen our network. One of the programmes was based in Newcastle in the UK, while the other was in New York City. After leaving the startup I really enjoyed using my own entrepreneurial experience to support founders. Throughout my time with Ignite we experimented with different models and structures for accelerator programmes and I got more and more aware of the shortcomings a lot of the programmes and support structures have. Furthermore, the fragmented nature of innovation and entrepreneurship support makes it so hard for founders to find the right partner to support them in their journey.
In response to the lack of diversity, access and awareness of impact and climate we decided to start Metta. Our team is excited to tackle the big problems society is facing and we want to create a world where sustainability and diversity are not just tick-box exercises but fully ingrained in everything our startups and partners do.
How did you achieve awareness?
In 2021 we published 10 sustainability-focused podcast episodes, delivered a sustainability-focused accelerator programme, started our journey to becoming a B Corp, committed to Net Zero with Tech Zero and SME Climate Hub and were successful in getting our PlanetMark certification. We’ve engaged in discussions around innovation and sustainability as well regularly put out content on the topics.
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
The Metta team grew by nearly 200% in 2021, really pushing us to get processes in place and make sure we can create a culture with the Metta ethos at its heart. I think we’ve been able to work through this growth by really getting specific about our vision and mission and building structures to enable sustainable growth. Our Innovation & Sustainability Lead Heather Baden has been leading on a lot of that and has planted the seed of a B Corp Certification. Our pursuit of the Metta B Corp Certification has helped us in creating new processes, policies, measuring and reporting. We produce and examine all of our work through a microscopic lens with the climate emergency in full focus.
What are your plans now/for the future?
With every day that I get to work with our amazing Metta team, I feel more and more confident that we’re on the right track to building something truly special. There are many industries and countless startups that would benefit from our approach and we are working on mapping out where we want to go next. I love seeing the team grow and people getting truly excited about creating real impact for startups, established businesses and society in general. As long as that’s the case we’ll keep going in that direction!
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?
It can be very scary to take the leap and start your own business. Often aspiring founders are scared to make mistakes and failure seems like a horrible outcome.
I think it’s important to remember that you are not your business. You are not a failure if it fails. It might not be this idea that makes it, but you will succeed if you keep working on yourself as a person and founder and surround yourself with the right people.
And even though it’s hard it can be incredibly rewarding. Once you find that specific problem you want to solve and you are able to make a difference in people’s lives, you will experience a motivation and drive that’s unlike anything else.
Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?
One of the biggest challenges a founder has to face is that there are always a million things to do. To prioritise and to say no are important skills to have. It’s also essential to learn how to delegate or potentially outsource smartly. There are only so many hours in a day – founders who focus on what matters, in the short and long term, are both more successful and also less stressed!
Another top tip is to keep a very close eye on your finances – running out of money is one of the number one reasons why startups fail.
Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most and why?
My parents have always been an inspiration, and current events make me think about the journey they’ve taken. They had to flee Ex-Yugoslavia during the war when I was three years old and ended up in a foreign country they didn’t speak the language of, with no jobs and no support system around them. What they have built and how they have grown over the past 30 years has allowed me to go to university, move to the UK and pursue my life’s dreams. I am forever grateful and in awe of what they’ve achieved and how they found it within themselves to start from scratch after all of that.
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