General
January 18, 2022

2021 In The Rearview Mirror... And Looking To The Road Ahead.

Jeanette Cheah
2021 In The Rearview Mirror... And Looking To The Road Ahead.

Whew! If you’re reading this, congrats! You made it to 2022.

Which is no small feat, let’s be real...

After a couple of ‘minimal screen’ weeks, lots of time with my springer spaniel, (🐶@pippathe.pupper, you’re welcome) and with the Aussie sunshine blazing outside my window, I’m really proud to share some of the big milestones and smaller moments from the past 12 months at HEX.

If 2020 was about running on adrenaline to stay alive, then 2021 was all about consolidation and building new foundations – setting the business up for a truly global future.

HEX is on an infinite mission

We’re still incredibly passionate about educating and empowering the next generation of new economy leaders. We firmly believe that our students will build businesses and influence change – so that tech better serves people, planet and society in the (near!) future.

Against the background of a recovering economy, we’re teaching our students the skills of leadership, tech, ethics, financial literacy, futurist mindsets, and innovation. We do this so they will thrive and have courage in this collaborative, ever-evolving workforce. In time, our students will change the face of leadership completely.

In 2021, we channeled our wealth of insights from the past few years into our new vision for education, HEX Ed. An ‘innovation gap year’ which is inclusive, encourages exploration, and comes with a built-in global network.

To do so, we had to walk a tightrope of delivering the awesome HEX programs we are known for – while also building completely new business functions and products.

I’m so grateful for and in awe of my team for yet another huge year. As a founder, I know I have a deep sense of responsibility to our mission and often stretch the team to seemingly impossible goals. So I want to thank them for their capacity for new ideas, their elastic brains, their humanity, and their passion for the students we serve.

These top-line results speak for themselves

🎓 In 2021, we directly educated and empowered 743 students through HEX programs, and impacted thousands more:

  • 1 x Great Global Challenge (120 new alumni)
  • 4 x Discovery Sprint programs (61 new alumni)
  • 3 x Asia-Pacific Innovation Programs (72 new alumni)
  • 4 x Hackathons (490 students), in collaboration with StartSpace, UTS, Deakin SPARK (LATAM & Indonesia), and Monash Uni’s Faculty of IT.

🎯 We delivered 28 x innovation programs & events for partners like Haileybury, beaton, Allens, City of Melbourne, SouthStart (3100+ learners).

👾 We launched two digital products, HEX Ed (innovation gap year) and HEX World (global community infrastructure).

🏅 HEX was recognised again in industry awards including SmartCompany’s SMART50 (shortlisted in 4, won 1).

🇮🇳 We were selected for Global Victoria’s EdTech Mission to India.

💜 We also rebranded, and we love our new look, thanks to Melbourne-based agency heapssmall.


And the team that made this all happen?

🍾 We grew our team from 5 to 11, including folks in regional NSW, Christchurch, New Zealand and Kolkata, India. (I’m proud to say we now have four talented HEX Alumni on the payroll – talk about ‘drinking your own champagne’!)

🏠 We moved into HEX HQ within Neighbourhood, a cool warehouse space in Fitzroy, Melbourne which used to be a shoe factory. Graffiti and laneway vibes included.

🧠 We launched an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and a paid Pandemic Leave Policy to support the emotional and mental wellbeing of our team.

🤩 And we’re currently hiring a full-time Growth Marketing Manager, so if you know anyone, send ‘em our way!


That’s great, Jeanette, but did you do what you said you were going to do?

At the end of last year, we set our sights on three key goals: Product, capital and partnerships. (You can hold me accountable by checking out my 2020 wrap up post!).

So how did we go?

  1. Launch our first scalable digital product. 😎 Yup. We did it. Digital community product, HEX World, launched in August 2021 and now has 600+ users, and our category changing ‘innovation gap year’ product, HEX Ed, launched in November 2021, with 149 users at last count.
  2. Take on our first external capital for growth. 🚜 Tick. In October 2021 we were thrilled to join the Tractor Ventures portfolio. Their innovative revenue-based financing was ideal for our business model and gave us confidence to push hard into our new vision. Towards the end of the year, we also closed our venture and angel-backed seed capital raise (so I’m just going to tease that we have some news to share in the coming weeks...)
  3. Land key channel and strategic partnerships. 💙 In July 2021, we were selected as an Education Partner by the Atlassian Foundation, connecting Atlassian experts directly to HEX students. We also welcomed James Cook University, Western Sydney University, University of Southern Queensland and University of Tasmania to the HEX Fam. And we established new partnerships with US channel partners, Worldstrides and CIEE.

All in all, I’d say we did ok.


Some feel-good vibes from our students and partners

“HEX as always, you know how to bring the energy and really get your students to shine.

Lauren Morrey, Director, Innovation Capabilities, Victorian Government Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions

“Thank you for providing incredible learning opportunities for our next generation of global citizens.”

Dimity Hyde, Global Mobility, Griffith University

“Came in knowing little about starting a business. In a single week I was pitching my business idea to real investors. Best learning experience I have ever undertaken, couldn't recommend something more than this.”

  • Ethan (student), RMIT University

“Student engagement and testimonials have been off the charts! I haven’t seen as much enthusiasm and positivity on any other program for a long time.

On behalf of Study Melbourne congrats on creating something very special and offering something unique to students that contributes in so many ways to their wellbeing and resilience, through social entrepreneurship.”

  • Chris Lee, Study Melbourne
  • 👆🏼 Feedback from one of our student programs


So what’s coming next?

2021: Consolidate insights. Build new foundations

2022: Change the conversation. Play a bigger game.

📣 Change the conversation

In 2022, you’ll see HEX everywhere. With fresh capital, a fresher vision, and our industry and uni-backed product which is a fraction of the cost of a college semester, we’ll be stepping out of build phase and talking the talk.

  • We fully intend to be the category creators for the ‘Innovation Gap Year’ – a new piece of the education puzzle which interrupts the linear pathways offered by the current system.
  • We believe education should reflect the world we live in, so we’ll keep listening and learning, staying true to our promise to keep HEX Ed hyper-relevant and updated monthly. We know this will require new operational and content rhythms, and are excited to build them.
  • And stay tuned as we launch our trademark-pending learning IP that underpins everything we do.

🌎 Play a bigger game

As more and more high-school leavers choose to ‘Start with HEX’, HEX Ed will provide a pipeline of future-ready talent to world-class universities (like University of Wollongong), employers (like Atlassian and Canva), and startup accelerators (like Berkeley SkyDeck and Antler).

  • Education is global and so are we. In 2022, HEX Ed will execute our go-to-market strategy for the US, India and Australia, serving students at serious scale.
  • We’ll build exciting pathways to more industry partners who will contribute to HEX Ed design and create employment opportunities for our students.
  • We’re not shying away from global experiences. As travel pathways open up and students start to mobilise, we’ll creatively redesign the gap year model with HEX Ed at the heart.

💜 Finally...

A big shout out and thanks to Chris, Jac, John, Katy, Eleanor, Alfie, James, Shirley, Ian, Luke, Georgie, Matt, Kim, Eva, Sarah, Jim, Allison, Will, Scott, Caitlin, Paul, and all the mentors, advisers, alumni, interns, friends and supporters who had our backs this year.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.


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