5 minutes with Women in Digital's Innovator of the Year, Emily Bobis

5 June 2023
Advice from a founder in tech
Discover what motivated University of Sydney alumna, Genesis, and INCUBATE participant Emily to start Compass IoT and how she developed her skills in building a successful startup, in this '5 minutes with' interview.
Emily leaning against a table

Emily is a founding director of Compass IoT, a multi-award-winning Road Intelligence company that uses Connected Vehicle data to build better, safer transport and city infrastructure. She has over 6 years of experience operating tech-enabled mobility startups with a focus on vehicle-generated data and Connected Vehicle innovation. 

Emily was also a finalist for NSW Young Woman of the Year 2022, winner of Women in Digital's Innovator of the Year 2022, and a member of the Board of Advice for the ITLS at the University of Sydney Business School.

What motivated you to start Compass IoT and how did you develop your skills in building and running a successful startup?

I started Compass IoT because it seemed like it would be a fun and challenging thing to add to my CV while still studying at uni. I never expected it to get this far! Learning by doing is the best way to develop the skills you need for running a business. There’s no perfect handbook because each business is different and requires unique skill sets in order to be successful. That being said, my skills in building and running a business are still developing. As the business grows, the challenges we face change; you have to adapt in order to address them.

What advice would you give to other people interested in pursuing careers in tech and entrepreneurship?

Innovation does not equal acceptance. Regardless of the value your product has, there is still going to be a huge educational burden until you have a reputation for delivering successful outcomes. You are going to have to convince people to go against the status quo and try new things. Seatbelts are my favourite example of this: they weren’t compulsory in Australia until 16 years after they were invented all because it required both a legislative and behavioural change.

What are some key trends or developments in your industry that you find most exciting?

Using data to build autonomous-ready road networks is a really exciting space - figuring out where autonomous car systems fail and why so that we can allow drivers to use more self-driving features. There’s also a lot of talk around Electric Vehicle charging and using data to figure out where to put public chargers to make sure they are installed in locations where people will actually use them.

How do you balance your career with other aspects of your life, such as personal relationships and wellness?

To be completely honest, it’s not equally balanced. At this stage, my time is intentionally skewed towards my career because I genuinely love my job. The opportunities it creates for me will not be around forever. That doesn’t mean I’ve completely neglected my personal well-being - I’ve trained in Taekwondo for almost 13 years and just received my 3rd dan black belt. It’s just important to be realistic about the amount of sustained effort and focus required to build a business; There is always an opportunity cost to be conscious of.

What's next for you?

We’re looking at international expansion and international partnerships to continue our growth overseas.

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