"My time with the Heads Over Heels team forced me to stop and think strategically."
Sharon Nouh is the Director and Founder of ProSpend, an Australian software company. ProSpend was developed to empower companies to dramatically change the way they manage their spend by automating their expense and invoice process and make it paper free. We recently caught up with Sharon to see how she has progressed since first presenting at Heads Over Heels in June 2016 and again, as a returning Portfolio CEO in August 2017.
What's your company's point of difference?
When developing our software our vision was to end the paper and payment misery that is widespread in companies all across Australia. We saw that the market needed an application that would solve the problem, that was super easy to use and affordable. What makes us different in the expense management space is that with our one single platform companies can automate their expense process and supplier invoice payment process, as well as manage their spend with our purchase order module.
How did Heads Over Heels provide practical support?
The guidance and advice we received from Felicity Waterford and Jason Eisner to prepare for our first presentation was invaluable. We knew we had a great product and vision, but this coaching helped us to hone our message. The fantastic response we received with connections after our first presentation told us that we were on the right path with our vision, and for me personally, it helped overcome some of the self-doubt that creeps in at times when you are on the startup path. As a typical startup trying to do everything in-house, it also meant that my time with the Heads Over Heels team forced me to stop and think strategically about the business, rather than the one hundred and one things I had to do every day.
What is the single biggest thing that helped you grow?
The quantity and quality of the connections from the Heads over Heels community has been invaluable. We have received many connections that have led directly to sales and partnership opportunities.
Who or what were your 'connections for growth'?
Our biggest ask of our first presentation was to be introduced to MYOB. We knew we could be a great value add product and wanted to align ourselves with another successful Australian company. Naomi Simson introduced us to Tim Reid and he introduced us to the right team within MYOB. We have since gone on to be the preferred expense add-on for their MYOB Advanced and EXO products.
What one thing would you do differently?
Like Tessa from Intelligence Bank, it took us a while to realise that we had to concentrate on just one market segment. Initially we tried to be a solution for all company sizes and whilst our software can fit the smaller and larger companies, our perfect fit is the mid-market. We should have channelled our efforts into this market earlier.
What advice would you give the women following you?
• Align yourself with like-minded positive people
• Have a few people you can call on if you need advice
• Don’t take ‘no’ personally. Not everyone’s agenda is yours
• Easy to say when you are bootstrapping, but take time to ‘work on the business’ as well as in the business
It always take longer than you think to get high growth. Be prepared, both mentally and financially.