Meet Process PA – Support that is always available. Simple, quick, compliant running of your P&C or P&F.

This post first appeared on Microsoft BizSpark Australia interviewed by Esther Mosad.

Guest post by Matthew Rowan, CEO and founder of Process PA

1. Why are you building this startup? What does it do?

I am building this startup because there needs to be an easier way for volunteer organisations to manage documents, governance and their volunteer workforces tasks. Currently there is no online platform dedicated to the specific needs of organisations like School P&C’s.

I’ve been a P&C (Parent & Citizens Association) secretary myself for the last 2 years. When I started in the role I had very little hand over and no  training. I was so frustrated with the situation and amount of paper work required as a volunteer I began asking around other P&Cs  to see if anyone had some shortcuts or systems to do things easier.

I documented those results on a blog, Executive Matters, that I created. As I talked to more P&C volunteers I found many were very efficient and effective in their duties, but using a process of their own. Handing that over, as the members inevitably change, the process would break down, and things which you are legally liable for weren’t being done. As the Treasurer of an association, you have some guidance with accounting software, like MYOB or Xero. But as the Secretary I could not find any systems to guide you through your duties and responsibilities so I decided I would build it. I give a quick overview of the features on the web site at processpa.com. I found the problem wasn’t unique to P&Cs but applies to not-for-profits, sporting and community clubs, body corporates and any incorporated association.

2. What does a product marketing team need to understand from engineering about how to sell the product?

Currently I have no product marketing team, I am a technical startup founder who is wearing many hats – including marketing and sales. I also work with an advisory board who are skilled in marketing and sales, so at the moment I am being guided by them. In the long term with my dream team (including marketing) they will need to know the full functionality of the system and what it is capable of for the customer. I plan to always run a very multi-talented team, so everyone will have a key understanding of the product and its capabilities for the user.

3. What impact or legacy do you hope to make in the market and in the business world?

There are millions of volunteers every day spending time on paper work to be compliant and have their liability limited. Those are very important functions. Using this software will allow them to do it in a fraction of the time. Freeing those volunteer hours to be used elsewhere has the potential to make a huge impact on the lives of many.

4. What advice do you have for anyone wanting to start a business in your country?

Get involved in the communities that you have around you. There are many. For years I have been going to meetups held at places like the Microsoft Innovation Centre and River City Labs. Building those connections is invaluable and fun!

5. How do you work with investors, or do you currently use any outside money at all?

With the River City Labs Accelerator program there is a small investment. to get started.  I have self-funded the startup so far and hope to be able to fund future growth through customer acquisition until I need a bigger boost.  At that point I’d be keen to look at external investment depending on our needs. Reaching out to investors with an interest in our industry would be beneficial, but not essential.

6. Why would an entrepreneur turn to Microsoft for help in building scale, a team, or using software?

I’ve been working professionally in Microsoft stack for more than 10 years. The tooling is the best around and with BizSpark it is all free for 3 years. My product and web site I have both running on Azure under the monthly credit given. Removing this cost is so helpful while working from a very small budget. The contact-ability and help of people at every level in Microsoft is amazing. From the local Australian group giving support and connections to the having Skype conversations with the technical guys in Seattle. Microsoft is such an open organization even to small business like mine!

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2 Questions with Matthew Rowan of Process PA (River City Labs Accelerator Class #1)

Interviewed by Josh Anthony @joshantho originally posted on the River City Labs blog.

1. What is one thing you have learned from the River City Labs Accelerator that you could share with the rest of the#startupQLD ecosystem?

You can do more than you think, sooner than you think. This is something I already knew in theory. But within the accelerator having that practiced has been pretty crazy. The practice outweighs the theory, you can do more and sooner. Having someone, or many, keeping you accountability to specific targets, really helps you achieve them. The targets do need be achievable but a stretch.

2. What are some tips for making it work as a solo founder?

There are a few things which I keep in front of mind to help me overcome the solo founder setbacks. When applying these make sure you have a good support network. Family, friends, advisors and customers who will tell you the truth. Just because you are a solo founder does not mean you are alone or isolated.

Firstly, W.I.N. (What’s Important Now). There is no time to be wasted on things that don’t matter now. This does need to be balanced with immediate impact and longer vision. Even investments that will be a benefit in the future, at some point, become the most important thing to do now. You need a clear vision of where you are heading and where you are. There are rewards now and there are investments that are important now. Constantly ask yourself, is this the most important thing I could be doing now?

Secondly, F.O.C.U.S. (Follow One Course Until Success). You can be spread so thin that you work yourself over many area’s and you have 70% progress on 10 things. If you’re in that situation you actually have 0% progress on a W.I.N. Working these two principles together make sure you F.O.C.U.S on a W.I.N. so you complete tasks that make a difference.

Thirdly, Don’t Let Perfect Get In The Way Of Good. This one is hard to balance. What is good? That is something you need to work out on every task. Keeping an eye on the Pareto 80/20 rule helps greatly for this when diminishing returns kicks in. You need to be clear on the returns you’re expecting. If you are measuring the wrong thing you might be putting out bad things, rather than good. However remember, “If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you have launched too late”, Reid Hoffman, Founder LinkedIn.

There are benefits for being a solo founder though. Being just one, I have consistency, flexibility and can be decisive quickly. However if you want to make a big impact you can’t do it on your own. You need to be building systems that you will be able to delegate control to as you grow your team. This is required to scale otherwise your one-man-show won’t be showing for long.

Matthew Rowan is the founder of Process PA, a simple, quick, compliant way of running of your P&C, P&F or association. Matthew is a founder in Class #1 of the River City Labs Accelerator.