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!