HEX started here - LaunchVic

HEX started here

Case Studies

29 Mar 2023 by Holly Clark

Melbourne EdTech HEX delivers innovation education for the gap-year generation

Jeanette Cheah, founder, HEX

HEX founder Jeanette Cheah was working in banking when she became curious about the world of innovation.

She wondered why young Australians, with their world-class education and world-famous grit, weren’t participating in startup creation at the same rate as their peers overseas.

“If you think about it, the world has changed a lot, but education? Not so much,” Jeanette says.

“Students don’t know what they don’t know. And without exposure to innovation leaders, global networks and all the exciting applications of tech, they’re likely to follow traditional career paths like the generations before them.”

So, in 2017, HEX was born, offering ‘Hacker Exchange’ immersive tours to students in Silicon Valley, Tel Aviv and Singapore. The programs were intended to help students learn the mindset and networking skills to bring ideas to life, as well as show young people that there is no such thing as a linear career pathway.

Over the past few years, the idea evolved to become HEX Ed, an online ‘Innovation Gap Year’ that helps students explore, learn and discover future skills in a safe and fun way. The program provides an alternative education pathway for high-school leavers that prepares them for in-demand innovation and startup careers.

A new kind of gap year

Like many Victorian startups, HEX Ed’s secret sauce lies in a deep knowledge of their customer.

So, whether you’re backpacking through Europe, taking a sabbatical or pulling beers while deciding what’s next, HEX Ed’s online, self-directed learning modules meet the learner wherever you are.

For Jeanette, it’s this focus on the individual needs of each learner that can open up a wider talent pool for the startup sector.

“The HEX team is passionate about making tech and innovation skills much more accessible to more people because we believe it’s in everyone’s economic and social interest to unlock the talent within underrepresented young founders and professionals,” she says.

“We also make sure that everything we do is co-designed with industry, academics and most importantly, Gen Z to make it as relevant and engaging as possible.”

Jeanette Cheah and the HEX team

Up Next

Fresh from a $1.45 million seed round supported by LaunchVic’s Alice Anderson Fund for women entrepreneurs, HEX is now accredited by over 30 universities in Australia and abroad with a community of over 8000 alumni now stepping into the startup world.

One example is T Guthrie, a Melbourne-based musician and technologist building Why Hive, a data democratisation platform helping non-tech professionals explore and visualise their data. Think Canva, but for data science.

“Now that we have developed our in-person and digital courses, and we have proven alumni outcomes, we are ready to transform the Australian education system in a meaningful way,” Jeanette says.

“We’d love to see our HEX Ed modules offered in high schools, and we want to see more school leavers choosing HEX as their first step before committing to a long, expensive degree.”

“We’re also ready to innovate higher education from the inside out, and offer a legitimate alternative to an expensive four-year degree. We already have export partners in India, the US, the UK and more, so we’re ready to take HEX to learners around the globe.”

Jeanette is one of the faces of LaunchVic’s Startups Start Here campaign, raising awareness of the vibrant startup ecosystem in Victoria.