So You Think You’re Productive? Check Out How a ‘Squared Away’ CEO Has You Beat
Squared Away interviewed an influential female founder, Erina Malarkey; the co-founder and CEO at Remarkably based out of Seattle, Washington.
Remarkably is a portfolio performance platform for multifamily real estate innovators. They are helping the nation’s top property owners, investors, developers, and managers reach their leasing, occupancy and revenue goals with portfolio-grade marketing operations and analytics software. Their software enables customers to achieve significant and measurable results at all stages of the real estate life cycle, from ground-up developments to re-positioned and stabilized properties.
First Entrepreneurial Venture: How Remarkably Was Born.
Erina and her co-founder Anna-Lea created Remarkably following their experience with VMO, a real estate consulting firm that they had co-founded following Erina’s time in-house a large Seattle-based owner, investor, developer. After over a decade in the real estate space, Erina heard a drumbeat of customer pain that real estate marketing felt like a black hole (despite being a key lever supporting multi-hundred million dollar businesses). After about 3 years of considering the idea, they set out to create a solution on Tableau (a data visualization solution).
“It was too big of an opportunity to pass up. There was a really significant market opportunity, market response and traction, and we also had a lot of deep domain expertise.”
When taking on this new venture, Erina and her co-founder Anna-Lea, interacted with the biggest institutional owners and thought leaders. No one else had figured out how to move multi-family real estate marketing from this unaccountable cost center to an asset management function. About a year ago, the duo found it was too big of an opportunity to ignore. Working with Pioneer Square Labs, a startup incubator, they created Remarkably, taking their initial concept and moving it into something drastically more scale-able and robust via a software solution. Remarkably officially incorporated in January 2019.
Venture Capital Fundraising Process.
Last fall, Erina and her co-founder Anna-Lea raised an $800,000 pre-seed round to fund the software version of the platform. Erina had initially planned to bootstrap the company; she and her co-founder had raised a notable amount of capital from angels (included among them Brandon Weber — co-founder of Hightower) along with friends and family. Pioneer Square Labs came in as the first institutional capital and invested in their pre-seed round.
This spring the duo set out and raised up to a $4.1M seed round led by Wildcat Venture Partners out of Silicon Valley.
Erina had never experienced a VC fundraising round. Her Executive Assistant, Amanda guided her through the CEO Checklist, initially developed in partnership with PSL partner T.A. McCann, “I had not done a fundraise before, so having a roadmap of how to proceed and what I needed to have to prepare for was definitely helpful.”
Maximizing Productivity & Leveraging Support.
On Mondays, Erina & her Squared Away assistant, Amanda hop on a call to go over the week and discuss new or on-going matters. When scheduling, Amanda includes details for meetings such as company info or information on the person she is meeting. It is her responsibility to make sure Erina’s calendar is fully prepped for the day.
For communicating, they utilize Slack, text messaging and voice memos. Erina’s calendar is scheduled in 30-minute color-coded increments; admin, business development, fundraising, management, personal, press and recruiting. She fully plans out her week before it starts. Her Outlook calendar runs her week and Amanda ensures that everything runs as smoothly as possible. She is constantly checking for roadblocks and for anything that may improve Erina’s week.
Squared Away has supported Erina through the fundraising and sales process in addition to maintaining her schedule. “Amanda has been an amazing and integral part of the team; to have the support of Amanda, and Vis-à-vis Squared Away, it has been a huge benefit to the fundraising and sales process. I definitely couldn’t see myself without this level of support.”
The fundraising process for founders and CEOs is always challenging; in a way, it is another full-time job. During this process, Amanda was able to ensure Erina was prepared each step of the way. Everything from drafting emails, drafting weekly investor updates, investor research, keeping track of to-do and action items, travel planning etc. Also, when Erina was traveling making sure they reached out to contacts in the area.
Rest and recovery. This is key to ensure CEOs do not burn themselves out. The relationship between Erina and Amanda is well-developed so Amanda knows when to include this time in Erina’s schedule. Building that relationship between the assistant and CEO is key so that the assistant is able to anticipate the need.
The zero inbox policy. Every day, before completing the workday, zero out the inbox and ensure everything is either replied to or converted into a calendar task if it can’t be responded to in the moment. Then create an email triage so you have a clear idea of what the week looks like. Amanda regularly monitors Erina’s inbox to ensure the process is being followed.
Navigating Challenges as an Entrepreneur.
“Any time you’re trying to do what I am, creating a new solution that doesn’t exist in the market, there isn’t a great road map of what you need to do; it’s uncharted waters.
It is a proverbial red ocean, blue ocean experience of creating your own space; the bigger your new opportunity, the more uncharted it is. You have to make the best decisions you can, assemble the best team you can and ask the best questions you can. There is a degree where you have to take that leap of faith (the rest of the world doesn’t see it). Build an amazing team, come up with an amazing opportunity, and work harder than you ever have.”
Amanda assists with scheduling screening calls, setting up interview loops, and tracking the progress of candidates. She is also involved with tracking sales and ensuring the team is available and ready for the next step in the process. Squared Away employs checklists for everything from scheduling to project management. These are utilized with every client, including Erina and Remarkably. It is Amanda’s responsibility to ensure all the blocks of Remarkably are flowing smoothly and that Erina is fully supported and prepared for success.
Advice for Entrepreneurial Spirited Women.
We know all of the terrible stats, that only 2% of VC funding went to women owned businesses in 2018. The first piece is to just do it; get out there and have the need to do it.
Erina recommends that, “A, you get out there, pursue it and be brave. B, get women to support and champion you. Historically men have, ironically, done a better job of supporting each other and helping each other out.” Remarkably is women-founded and women-led.
As a hard-working and inspirational woman, Squared Away appreciates the time Erina took to discuss her business and the steps she’s taken to grow it; the accomplishments she and her co-founder have had are pretty remarkable. It’s a pleasure having her as part of our Squared Away family!
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