Teenage Jess - the GaBoom days

Teenage Jess - the GaBoom days

I’ve been turning ideas into reality ever since I can remember

From skate ramps and go karts as a child to businesses, digital products and ambitions, I’ve always had a passion and instinct for turning ideas into reality.

My entrepreneurial journey feels like it started in my teens, when I had the idea for my first business, GaBoom - a peer-to-peer video game swapping platform.

In the two and a half years of running GaBoom, I learned how to build a business - and complex product - from scratch, raise investment and appear on Dragons’ Den without passing out.

 A shot from my time on Dragons' Den (the UK's Shark Tank)

A shot from my time on Dragons' Den (the UK's Shark Tank)

GaBoom has been one of my biggest learning experiences to date. I felt the highs of turning something that was a spark of an idea into a living, breathing product. And I made more mistakes that I can count - I fell over time and time again and learned how to pick myself up and keep going.

After turning the page on my GaBoom chapter, I joined Mind Candy, where I developed my craft for building products, working with an incredible team and the Moshi Monsters phenomenon.

From Silicon Roundabout to Silicon Valley

Joining a then small startup - Big Health - as their first product manager, saw me move to San Francisco - a city I loved and had wanted to live in since visiting at the end of GaBoom in 2012.

It was at Big Health that I learned how to create products grounded in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and designed to spark behaviour change. It was also at Big Health that I felt the power of building a purpose-driven product - helping people with chronic poor sleep back to good mental health.

Living in San Francisco has been one of the best experiences of my life. Being around those at the top of their field (in the product world) and hungry to fulfill their potential inspired me. [If you’re a product person, you might enjoy my interview series, Coffee With].

It was while living in San Francisco that everything changed

In 2016, I was diagnosed with a life-threatening and ultra-rare blood disease. It’s called PNH, 1 in 1.3 million people have it and based on the data, I’m very lucky to be here.

It happened over my Christmas visit home - when out of nowhere, a regular doctor’s visit turned into the phone call of nightmare’s. After a year in the California sunshine, I felt the healthiest I’d ever been. And yet, on the inside, I was a ticking time bomb who was fortunate to be alive.

Until the day of my diagnosis

I’d been lucky to never face my mortality. Death is all around us, however, I’d never had something happen “to me” that changed everything.

Following my diagnosis, there were (and have since been more) a handful of times when I was convinced I was going to die. That that was it, the end.

In those moments, all I could feel was the fear that my life was over before I was “ready” - before having the chance to fulfill my potential, to play full out and discover what I was truly capable of.

 A full house for Unleash Your Extraordinary at the European Women in Technology Conference.

A full house for Unleash Your Extraordinary at the European Women in Technology Conference.

The power of that fear - and regret - woke me up

It inspired me to create the life I want and help as many people as I can reach do the same.

So after a year of rebuilding myself, I made the leap - I handed in my notice at Big Health with absolutely no idea what was next.

All I knew was that my diagnosis - and everything that had come before and after - felt like it was for a reason and I had to follow the inkling that there was more.

As I was sitting on a quiet beach in Mexico, it hit me…

What if we can build ourselves - who we want to be - like we build successful products?

What if we can harness the mindset and practical tools we use to turn ideas into reality, to create the lives we want?

 Hosting Unleash Your Extraordinary for the Captify team.

Hosting Unleash Your Extraordinary for the Captify team.

From there Unleash Your Extraordinary was born

With an initial set of frameworks, ideas and learnings, I created the first version of the workshop. And started sharing it with small groups to test it, gather feedback and iterate - with a drive to make it more and more impactful every time.

From the first, second and so on workshops, the feedback blew me away.

People were describing it as transformational, life-changing, emboldening and like nothing they’ve ever experienced.

Since sitting on that Mexico beach, Unleash Your Extraordinary has grown into a powerful coaching method and group workshop. It’s hands-down my favourite creation to date and I can’t wait for you to experience it.

Thank you for reading this far

If you’d like to attend a future Unleash Your Extraordinary workshop, explore how I can support you 1:1 or simply say hello, I’d love to hear from you.

Dear Jess

Every Friday, I write a coaching column for Ladies-Who-Launch called “Dear Jess”, where I help readers overcome the obstacles and worries that can hold us back.

Official bio

Jess Ratcliffe helps extraordinary people turn their visions into reality, as a product mindset coach and the founder of Unleash Your Extraordinary. Jess’ coaching method is inspired by over a decade of building companies and products. And then - the toughest of all - rebuilding herself after a life-threatening diagnosis woke her up to how fragile life is in 2016.

Jess has hosted her transformative workshop - Unleash Your Extraordinary - for hundreds of people in London, San Francisco, New York and Amsterdam. As well as at companies like Salesforce and Virgin.