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Female Founders: Miriam Scott of Maralytics On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

A founder has a life like a roller-coaster. There are many ups and downs with the wins and fails of the business, and they need to have the resilience to be able to ride these times by celebrating and just holding on until it gets better. The world they work in is unpredictable, so adaptability is required at all times. Not knowing where the next dollar is coming from but having faith that it will come is very common with founders.

As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Miriam van Heusden.

Miriam Scott is the founder and CEO of Maralytics (www.maralytics.com). Maralytics is a SaaS product that gives you insights and analytics for any marketing campaign you are running. She is a restaurateur, a business coach, a certified professional vocational trainer, a food and travel consultant, and an outdoor adventure lover!

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

Running my restaurant and got advice from my business coach that I needed to track the sales revenue from all advertising so I could see statistics. Then finding out through POS rep that there was no automated way to collect this information. Checked constantly with advertising reps to see if they knew a way that I could find or see, and they also said there was no way to collect this data. When iPads were created and POS apps came onto the market, I discussed at length with some developers to see if it was possible to develop a solution and they advised yes, so this became the beginning of my software development journey.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

My software developers are based in Vietnam, and my marketing team are based in the Philippines. This gives me a good excuse to travel and visit them in their country as I want to create a good relationship with the teams. I find it is a great way to experience their home country, have fun with them and where they can show me their way of life which is not only about work but includes family connection. These trips have had some adventures for my son and my mother with the team, and we have created strong bonds with them that goes beyond business and into friendship with a lot of trust.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I joined a coaching program with the intention of finding out a way to get started on my developing my software, as I had never heard of startups and getting investor funding for the idea that I had. This program specialized in membership sites, and my software is a subscription platform. I thought this was the same thing, and they also convinced me that it was as well. They gave me the connection for my developers which I still have now; however, I spent a year trying to make my business into a membership program rather than concentrating on the requirements of building a subscription business.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I did a business accelerator program for 15 months and this was a fantastic program for building the business around my software product. I had initially thought that launching my software would be the business, but I learnt through doing the accelerator that there is a lot more required around an online business. I owned restaurants previously, and that type of business has lots of tangible items, with an online business there is nothing, so you have to imagine walking through a customer’s footsteps online and create a whole digital persona for yourself as the founder and for the business, so that you provide credibility to prospects.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience what is currently holding back women from founding companies?

Lack of confidence and support. Women have husbands and families to look after and are often don’t have any support or someone to help them bring great ideas into an innovative business. Businesses and startups need to fit a traditional model and innovation doesn’t fit within these models, so it is unknown territory, yet aspects of the models can be used for innovation.

Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles?

More support by government for innovation founders. Currently they are only directed at supporting big business. There are only a few grants that are available, and these have huge numbers of applications (over 1,000) with only 30 getting funded. This is the case with the Ignite Ideas Grant. There is almost no way of getting any funding.

If there were more smaller grants like the Business Basics Grant for $5,000, this would help the innovator for getting set up or the business receiving the grant money to create more business. More smaller grants would increase support for innovators and female founders.

This might be intuitive to you as a woman founder, but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?

Women are great problem solvers and multi taskers. Generally, in their personal life they are already managing their own family, extended family relationships, extracurricular activities, work, and their own plans and ideas. As women are doing so many things in their lives, they come across problems all the time and can create the solution to make their life easier. This is a great skill to have, as the best innovation ideas come from problem/solutions.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder? Can you explain what you mean?

  1. You won’t be successful as you’re too young/old — young are not enough experience and old is you have the experience but only life experience not in technology
  2. You won’t be successful in a startup because you don’t know enough about business — having run businesses for more than 20 years and got lots of life experience, I feel like I have an advantage over many startups
  3. You won’t be successful in a startup because you don’t have a university degree — many startups are problem/solution based so having a university degree is irrelevant as you have the experience with the problem and creating the solution
  4. You won’t be successful in a startup because your company is not the first to develop a particular type of product or service — many startups are innovative and do not have direct competitors, and are usually the first of their kind
  5. You won’t be successful in a startup because your business plan is not perfect yet — business plans are good to have but a startup is not a business yet, they have started a new product or service and need to get customers onboard before it becomes a viable business. Once they have customers, then a business plan is required to set the direction of the business.
  6. Women are bad at negotiating — women are good negotiators but are just different from men. Women support, encourage, co-operate in negotiations are not taken as seriously as their male counterparts, and their feminine traits are often used against them.
  7. Women with kids do not have time to meet leadership obligations — most women are great organisers and prioritize what is important to them. If leadership is required, then usually this flows into every area of her life.
  8. Women lack the confidence to lead — women have a lot of ambition for their own business, but a lack of success usually comes because of obstacles — lack of support, access to opportunities, lack of knowledge, etc
  9. Women are not supportive of other women — there are so many networking groups supporting women that this is false
  10. Women aren’t made to be entrepreneurs — women entrepreneurs are growing at a faster rate than their male counterparts

Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean?

No, I don’t believe so. You need to have complete unwavering dedication and a lot of people don’t have this quality.

Successful founder characteristics:

Dedication

Persistence / Resilience

Adaptability

Curiosity

Decisiveness

Vision

Focused

Regular employee:

Certainty

Security

Risk adverse

Dependability

Reliability

Team player

A founder has a life like a roller-coaster. There are many ups and downs with the wins and fails of the business, and they need to have the resilience to be able to ride these times by celebrating and just holding on until it gets better. The world they work in is unpredictable, so adaptability is required at all times. Not knowing where the next dollar is coming from but having faith that it will come is very common with founders.

Employees like to have certainty. That they know what to expect on a daily basis with their role expectations, and that their paycheck will arrive in their bank account with the same amount at the same time every payday.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. That the journey is much longer than you expect. I thought I would be making money within 2–3 years of developing software, and it will be year 6 that we are turning over revenue.
  2. Is it better to get investors or not? Startups encourage investors, business does not. It is very conflicting, and I still don’t know what the best option is.
  3. The classic startup journey curve or evolution. Knowing the trajectory of a typical startups journey would have made it easier to know the pathway that I was traveling on.
  4. Join an accelerator. Startup accelerators are designed for startups to take their innovative ideas through the ‘Startup journey’ to the stage that they are ready to set up a business.
  5. Keep focused. It is so easy to get distracted from your core business with helpful suggestions from experts or other people, and you go down these detours only to find out that you should have stayed on your own path.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

The book I have written and the software I have developed helps business owners learn about how to market their own business and track, measure and report on their results so they can stop wasting money on activities that don’t work. They learn how to build a marketing system that is repeatable and tailored to their own business.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

A modern version of succession planning.

Getting more experienced businesswomen and leaders providing mentoring and support to our young and inexperienced business people through their first years in operating a business.

Currently this is only done in large companies for executive management.

We have school-based traineeships and apprenticeships for training and development of young people into the workforce.

We have the NEIS (New Enterprise Initiative Scheme) that is a government funded program to help entrepreneurs to start a viable business through small business training, coaching and income support.

But neither of these programs will help, support and mentor a new business owner on how to navigate the first 3 years in business. This time is when businesses have the highest rate for failure. This is usually because the business owner did not know what to do when something happened or did not effectively operate their business. Both of which can be navigated by having an experienced mentor.

Providing this type of movement would see success for new operators and energize experienced operators, and having the government provide a funded program for this would see a reduced failure rate of small businesses.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

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Candice Georgiadis

Candice Georgiadis

Candice Georgiadis is an active mother of three as well as a designer, founder, social media expert, and philanthropist.