Tell us what we need to know about you.
I’m Irish— grew up in Cork in the South of Ireland. My Dad’s a teacher and my Mom’s an artist. I studied Civil Engineering in UCC. I studied abroad in North Carolina my Junior year, studied abroad here in South Bend for the ESTEEM program, and then I went back home and worked at Ford Motor Company for a while working as a product development engineer. I’m not really into cars, and I didn’t study mechanical engineering so I left after a year to start my own business, Deluxe Maid, a cleaning company based in Indianapolis. I ran my company remotely from London for the past three years but I’m no longer managing the company— I found someone to replace me.
How was it managing your company remotely?
Starting off it was tough because the biggest thing in the cleaning industry is just having good cleaners. For the first six months we didn’t have great cleaners which was really tough on our company reviews— we issued a lot of refunds and apologies. But once you hire the first good cleaner, you can send the new trial cleaners with them and they can tell you, “no, don’t hire this person” or “yes, hire this person.”
Apart from that it’s been fine I don’t mind starting work late. My mornings are free and I spend my evenings working. We expanded to Oklahoma, so we have two cities now and I have a business partner now, which is great. For the first year I worked by myself everyday which wasn’t too stressful but, you’re always on-call. Since my partner came in I am able to work about 15 days a month and am in the process now of ruling out my 15 days a month— I’m training a new person.
Why are you interested in switching from running your small business to focusing on small business support with INVANTI?
The next stage in my life that I am aiming for is something more scalable. For the past year I’ve been working on more scalable businesses that haven’t quite panned out, but then I saw INVANTI and their model of starting with a problem first and then figuring out a solution— That’s where I was going wrong. My brain always goes to the solution first. In the mental process I was always skipping to step 2 and 3. I’m just going through step 1 now and it’s been really good.
I want to be apart of something that I can roll out nationwide. I want to be able to make a bigger impact and help more people.
If you start a specific software business, you build it once and you can sell it worldwide if it’s something that is a global problem. I have my small base business which helps me survive on passive income and now hopefully I’ll come up with an idea that sticks.
What are some of the experiences or insights that you’ve gotten from running your own small businesses that you think will help as you start to think about building support system for other small businesses?
Customer service is really important. At Deluxe Maid we bend over backwards to appease our customers, even when our customer appears to be wrong.
You just have to not have an ego and not get angry.
It took us a while to figure that out. Our first year, we didn’t get a lot of bad reviews, but we got a few one star reviews, which brings your overall rating down, but in the last year we’ve only had one bad review and in our second brand in Oklahoma we’ve gotten all 5 star reviews.
Any kind of startup software service that I provide will have good customer service. Even if it costs money in the short term, in the long term I recognize the value of word of mouth and good reviews online.
How are you feeling about being back in South Bend at this point?
It’s great to be back! South Bend has changed a lot since I was there 2 years ago. Downtown is really nice— it’s changed a lot. But yeah, it’s great to be back. It seems like we’ve got a nice community in this place and it’s nice to come quickly into a group of friends.
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