Female tech entrepreneur and cofounder of events platform iVvy Lauren Hall shares what she’s learnt running a technology company in Australia.
iVvy was launched in 2009 by myself and co-founder James Greig (our CTO). We are a software as a service (SaaS) company developing ground breaking tools for the events industry. Our aim is simple, break down barriers and give the events industry the same level of engagement they are used to with other areas of business – in seamless and accessible formats that are cost effective.
Since our inception to our recent launch of a world-first real-time booking engine in July, the path to success has been filled with learnings that have helped shape the company (and me) and fine-tune our product offering.
In spite of a strong background in entrepreneurship, mostly from my home country of South Africa, I learnt new things in running a technology company in Australia.
The timing of funding
Funding’s importance and relevance to business is a given. But, just as much as the amount, the timing of what you get, when you get it, and how much are you prepared to part with at a certain point is as important.
I realized early on that most early stage businesses would bootstrap in the beginning with a bulk going into sweat equity. Once the MVP is created, you will then require consideration as to when you take on your seed funding to allow your product to be commercialised. A real big decision in the early days comes down to your adoption rate and whether you have a good value proposition.
I also noticed that in the tech space, it takes you three times longer and five times what you think it is going to cost you. So always plan a bigger round of funding than just what you need.
Finding the right investor
Almost all investors look to entrepreneur’s commitment and passion to see the idea through – particularly as there is so much blue-sky thinking around forecasts. Many founders have real problems letting go of their shares so it becomes important to find a good investor who understands the sector and business.
I found that it helped establishing upfront with the investor your room to pivot, change direction and even recapitalize as required to deliver on expected returns.
Digging to the root of problem
The desire to solve a problem is fundamental for any business. However, this can’t be a superficial effort. It needs to dig deep to tackle the issue at the core and remove friction points when taking the product to market – this is the best way to increase customer uptake. While this sounded straightforward at the outset, in the tech space, it entailed sorting through layers of issues – often involving multiple entities – to arrive at the solution.
I found attitudes one of the biggest barriers to entry, as not everyone is receptive to change. But, if you find the pain point for the business / industry, the ability to gain momentum and accelerate your growth is just another step in your life cycle.
Importance of research
Most start-up businesses not only address a need, but are also created because there is a real desire to make a difference. But understanding the impact you are going to make and the real chances of success stems from serious research that provides the evidence of your market, competitors in your space, price testing and trials to evaluate feedback.
Research underpins the value of your idea, and any entrepreneur starting a business should research extensively prior to starting. Those who don’t will have a high risk of failure. We constantly test, gain feedback, release early and survey clients to ensure we are always meeting their needs. It is fundamental to any business and critical for those in tech space.