We caught up with Ale to find out about her story with Sqr One based in Brisbane. With the changing landscape, Ale bravely decided to pivot her business. She now helps people redesign their lives with a human-centred design approach.
This story is one of high passion and energy, with a founder determined to make a positive dent in the world. You'll feel better after reading this 😀
Ale, what's your backstory?
I studied marketing and communications in Caracas, Venezuela, where I grew up before moving to London, where I did a Masters in Marketing.
I moved to Australia in early 2011. I spent almost 20 years of my life working for the biggest brands you can think of in the corporate world (Siemens, Microsoft, Bayer, and Luxottica) before starting Sqr One. I wanted to create a business where I could make the world a better place.
Tell us what your company does?
People of all ages are looking to be more creatively fulfilled and independent in their work while living fulfilled and happy lives.
We believe that every single one of us can design a fulfilled and meaningful life and career and be who they really are.
We believe we can all expand our human potential and be the designers of our own life, finding solutions to our life's wicked problems.
We exist to create a bridge of knowledge that wasn't taught to us at school, that's accessible and adaptable to people's circumstances, systematically working from awareness to action in a way that feels connected to who we really are.
We apply an innovative and battled-tested framework that combines human-centred design, psychology, spirit hacking and behavioural science for citizens of the world and organisations to thrive in change and chaos, a.k.a life.
We exist to help you plan, design and grow as the most confident human you know and transform every aspect of your life for the better.
How did you come up with the idea?
I grew up in a household of financial and emotional hardship, where my parents struggled to pay for my university studies and where success was seen as the job you had, the company you worked for and the car you drove.
I was convinced that the traditional path to success was to get a good job for an exceptionally good company, so I did. I was on complete autopilot. I was miserable and unfulfilled, dreading every day and every job. Something needed to change.
I pivoted to help change and growth seeker individuals who feel lost, scared, reluctant, fearful, and exhausted become aware and rethink what they want out of life.
My primary focus is on helping our students design all of the different aspects of their life purposely and consciously. Ultimately, I am an example of what is possible for my students.
How did you go about building and launching the business?
I am obsessed with Human-centred design and Customer Experience design. I use it every day in and outside of my businesses.
Understanding my user’s needs has been pivotal in creating a relevant and meaningful product offering.
We have carried out tons of ethnography research to hypothesise about our upcoming 'Life Redesign School’ program.
I then converged into what looked to be the best offer for our audience and prototyped a landing page. You can access the landing page here. It's a prototype (non-responsive, and it needs a lot more work), but it has allowed me to validate with users and experts alike before launching. We are now closer to make the final changes before pushing live with our first MVP program.
How have you grown the business?
I had 4 employees before COVID and during COVID we were starting a new business model and with no cash flow I had to make the tough decision to go solo in the product development phase with some minimal help from subcontractors.
Now that we are ready to launch our first product, I am certain of my forecasted growth.
I have a strong marketing background, so I love to play and experiment with all sorts of new marketing strategies: Tik, Tok, Clubhouse, Instagram reels, Linkedin Stories, videos, etc.
Clubhouse and Tiktok have been great for us, and so has Instagram. Following our database closely has been pivotal and a critical way to stay connected to the people who have been with us since day dot.
What’s your biggest selling product?
This is our prototyped landing page for our upcoming Life Redesign school that will be turned into a live launch in a few weeks.
It's called ‘Within’ and designed to help overwhelmed creatives and growth seekers purposely design every aspect of their lives for the better.
What have been some of your biggest failures along the way?
My financial acumen and money mindset for sure. You can have the best product, but if your numbers don't match your future growth, you’re screwed.
I had no runway when COVID hit and I had to let go of every employee and subcontractor. It was so tough.
What day to day digital tools do you use?
I LOOOOOVE tools.
Zoom and Teams for video calls,
Mural for online facilitation,
Descript for video editing (it's like video editing for dummies).
Canva for graphic design (I should not live without Canva),
Jitter for motion graphics (also for dummies),
Jitter for motion design (so cool and easy),
Emojipedia for emojis I can copy on emails, word docs, etc,
Active Campaign (emails),
Slack for messages,
Headline analyzer, answer the public for user research on content,
Teleprompter Pro that I can easily use on my phone,
Blinkist (the best for daily books).
The list goes on, but these are the main ones.
What books have been a great inspiration to you as a founder?
What quotes do you live by?
“Feel the fear and do it anyways.”
What do you do to look after your mental health as a founder?
Off the back of mental health struggles, I became this mental health ninja and now have a pretty good (not perfect) daily routine.
I wake up between 4-5 am, exercise, meditate, do some tapping and brain training, drink celery juice, have a cold shower (need a hot one first).
I read nonfiction books almost daily and have a meditation alarm that makes me breathe at different internal times of the day as my biology is analytical and an overthinker.
My evening routine is not great lol, I have two little ones and my poor husband and I constantly work on having quality time together in the evening as I go to bed no later than 8 PM.
In a few words what does it mean to be the founder of a business?
It means that you can discover so much about yourself as a person and then as a business owner.
Entrepreneurship shows your flaws, your strengths and your weak points. It allows you to grow and become someone with a drive that not many people have. It allows you to shape your future and the future of others and the world.
It shows you so much about determination, purpose and adversity. Also, about beauty and being grateful.
What are the biggest pieces of advice you’d give to other founders?
"Find out who are you as a person. If you are a visionary or an integrator, what are your values, what is your biology?"
(I can talk about this for hours).
This was a huge aha-moment for me, and it allowed me to do the things my biology and natural abilities were driving me too well, without feeling like crap but not doing the things I ‘should do’.
Wickman has an awesome assessment in his book Traction that can help you with the visionary/integrator element. There are tons of exercises and assessments you can do to understand yourself as a person. Happy to share with anyone interested.
Where can people find out more about your business?
Sqr One's Facebook
Sqr One YouTube channel