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Starting up your own tech company is a massive feat for anybody. However, establishing one in a male-dominated industry can make it even harder to succeed. But, with grit and tenacity, Marta Higuera and Zoe Pointon did just that. In just over seven years, they’ve managed to build a thriving and award-winning tech company, OpenAgent, that helps millions of Australians compare real estate agents when selling their homes.
Have you ever wondered what it takes to start your own business? Marta and Zoe share their five top tips for building and growing your own tech startup.
Figure out the core of your business
One of the most important things to do is to figure out what is at the core of your business, says Zoe. With most industries being so competitive, it’s important to understand what your business does better than its competitors. Only then can you hone in on making those functions better.
For example, OpenAgent strives to focus on the consumer. Through the platform, the company attempts to make it easier for home sellers to find the right real estate agent for every unique selling situation. On the flip side, OpenAgent also focuses on providing agents with the best opportunity to win leads. Understanding that these two things are at the core of the business helps the company continue to develop these functions.
Build a strong team
Being a leader doesn’t mean you have to bear the entire weight of the company on your shoulders. One of the fundamental parts of building a successful tech startup is making sure you’re hiring the right people and building a strong team.
Zoe believes that hiring people who’ve had experience in a startup can be beneficial because they tend to be more adjusted to constant change and a fast pace.
A wide range of strengths and interests are needed for a team to grow, adds Marta. Diversity is the pillar for successfully working toward a common goal. Identifying and supporting individual strengths and interests is crucial to fostering growth within your business. Look to build a culture with people who are positive, motivated and willing to get their hands dirty, all while staying humble.
Set the bar high
Though being humble is important, Marta is a supporter of setting the bar high. It’s crucial to create an environment in which everyone feels there is room for improvement. More often than not, teams at OpenAgent are surprised at how well goals are met, even if there may have been some doubt at the beginning.
Of course, following the classic SMART goals format has its place. Always aiming a little higher will help to push your people further. If you think aiming for and achieving 100 percent is the furthest you can go, when you aim for 120 percent, you might find yourself reaching 110 percent.
Be comfortable with risk
As an entrepreneur, you must be comfortable with some level of risk. Marta and Zoe started their business with no real estate or sales experience, and no funding. Being fearless has led them to make fast progress and succeed in the industry.
Being comfortable with risk is important at all stages of the business lifecycle, not just at the beginning. Even after over seven years, OpenAgent continues to experiment with new features and products, attempting to change how the entire real estate industry works. Discipline and resilience are essential for learning from both successful risks and failed risks.
Form healthy investor relations
Zoe demonstrates the significance of finding external investors, especially when your business works to solve an existing consumer problem. Both Zoe and Marta spent a lot of time in the early stages of their business having coffee with potential investors, choosing to learn about the other party and their business rather than presenting a standard pitch.
It’s important to establish real and ongoing relationships with your investors throughout your startup’s journey. Maintaining strong dialogue at all times will help to keep an open line of communication. This is particularly important when something goes wrong so that you can explain the issue and how it will be fixed, Zoe explains.
Building a successful tech startup will take hard work and dedication, and Marta and Zoe have definitely had to overcome a plethora of obstacles along the way. But if you know what your focus is, have support from the right people, aim high, take risks and have a strong and transparent working relationship with investors, you’re setting yourself up to do well.