Rachael Waia and Nikki Jurcutz first had the idea of starting a business together when they were only 10 and seven years old, fast-forward almost 20 years and the sisters are doing just that.
“It wasn’t until later on in life with the both of us living in separate states when the light bulb moment for our business occurred,” Rachael, 31, said, “Nikki was working as a paramedic with Ambulance Victoria at the time and found that people were not responding in an emergency.”
However, the sisters found that it wasn’t that members of the community weren’t first aid trained, it was that people were not absorbing the information, therefore they didn’t feel empowered to act and save a life in emergency situations.
“The issue was in the way in which training was delivered; in a boring and mundane fashion,” Rachael said.
“We are a Gen Y company and understand that engagement equals retention, and retention of first aid skills means lives are saved.”
Combining both their career backgrounds in paramedicine and education, Rachael and Nikki were determined to build a first aid training organisation that disrupted the industry by bringing a refreshed, progressive and innovative approach to first aid.
“My background in paramedicine ignited the idea behind our business and continues to pave the way for the way in which we educate, and why we continue to do what we do every day,” Nikki, 28, said,
“Rach’s expertise in education has formed the entire training processes and approach to learning, and has given considerable insight into the best environments for people to absorb and retain information.”
The business launched in 2013 as Priority First Aid – now Hero HQ – and was developed with three branches to the business; Hero HQ which provides workplace first aid, Young Hearts First Aid providing first aid to children in school from prep to year 12, and finally, Tiny Hearts First Aid which provides paediatric first aid to new and expecting parents.
“Ultimately all three divisions were born with the aim to empower the community through quality education in the hope of saving lives through first aid,” Nikki, said.
It wasn’t an easy process to begin the company though, as the sisters learnt early on, spending almost two years and many sleepless nights working towards the requirements for registering a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) in order for their courses to be nationally recognised.
“We were given 20 days to rectify a huge list of issues and a measly 3% chance of becoming an RTO,” Nikki said, “If we had failed after the 20 day resubmission period, we would be waiting an entire year to reapply – this was not an option,”
“As you can tell – we did successfully pass our resubmission and are now the youngest women in the country to own a registered training organisation.”
Although there are times the girls need to sacrifice moments with family, and put business work before sister hangouts, they are adamant they are living their dream jobs, insisting there is nothing they would rather be doing.
“We wouldn’t change a thing; every high, every low, every lesson learned has lead us to where we are today,” Rachael said,
“Mistakes make great stories and some of our biggest mistakes that hurt so much at the time are the ones that pushed us to grow and they are the ones that we look back on and laugh about.”
“Along with the rest of our team here at HQ we are starting a movement and that’s something really special, the energy is palpable and super exciting!” Rachael said.
And the girls’ tips on how you can find your dream job?
“Find something that you love, something that makes you cry, something that makes you feel alive, something that makes you passionate – and turn it into your career,” Nikki encourages, “This is what we like you call your ‘why’. Whatever your ‘why’ is we encourage you to use it to create a life you love to live.”
When you were 10, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When we were 10 and 7 we actually wanted to own a babysitting company together! Although unfortunately after consulting our parents we were brought back down to earth and realised our potential customers wouldn’t trust children to look after their children.
If you had one day to try any job in the world, what would it be?
If we had one day to try anything in the world we would be helicopter pilots (currently working towards my licence so one day this will be true)! Rach would be an elephant keeper – she is currently working on a cheeky deal to swap one child for an elephant, so hopefully this will also become a reality.