The exact definition of power in the Oxford dictionary is the “capacity or ability to direct or influence the behaviour of others or the course of events”. The same definition can be said of the many women within our circle. One woman in particular is Lauren Hall, CEO of iVvy.
A passionate entrepreneur with more than 20 years’ business management experience at Executive and Board level across the Events, Retail (FMCG), Advertising and core technology industries in South Africa and Australia. Following 5 years development Lauren Hall launched iVvy in 2010 with the view to revolutionise the events industry.
iVvy is enterprise-class Conference, Events and Membership Management software made smarter, friendlier and more affordable.
We are delighted to share with you our Q&A session we had recently with Lauren, discussing her achievement of becoming one of eight finalist in the Springboard Australia 2014 program and how she became a powerful influence in her own right.
When did you realise you wanted to become an entrepreneur and how did your journey begin?
It started when I was living in Chicago and I had asked my father for $10. He gave me the riot act saying that money does not grow on trees and what was I going to use it for and I needed to provide an argument to substantiate the request? Well, I decided I never wanted to ask him for money again, and I never did to this day 30 years later. I started working 3 jobs (delivering newspapers, selling cards door to door and babysitting 3 children) all at the age of 9. This trend went on to funding my own education, car and living quarters and then building my own companies.
Your background is in technology primarily, what drew you to the events industry and ultimately establishing the business model of iVvy?
In my previous company (a digital brand agency and technology company) a major part of our turnkey solutions in creative concept was the launch of products to market. This exposed me to all the problems in the Events Industry, which set me on a path to solve a global issue – the real-time availability of data. It would take up to 6 weeks to source suppliers and venues for the particular events and most of the time when it came to final sign off by the client, half the products and services that was quoted on was no longer available. So, iVvy was born out of pure frustration as an Organiser.
You have recently been chosen as one of the eight finalists for the Springboard Australia 2014 program. Congratulations! Who is Springboard Australia and what was involved in the selection process?
Thanks! Springboard Enterprises Venture Catalyst is a platform where entrepreneurs, investors, and industry experts meet, to build great women-led businesses. Springboard educates, coaches, showcases and supports high growth companies seeking equity capital for expansion. Since 2000, Springboard has helped 509 women-led companies raise more than $5.6 Billion including 10 IPOs and many that are now the technology engines of publically traded companies. The selection process was quite intense and you had strict criteria to meet including being a woman Founder and CEO, with a significant equity stake, potential for global scalability and seeking expansion capital for new markets. There was a large application submission process which over 150 Companies were evaluated by 127 panelists. 28 Companies were selected and interviewed by a US and Australian Panel and then 8 chosen to be Class of 2014.
How will you benefit from being a part of the program?
The major benefits for us are the international networks into new markets, access to high net worth investors and a great team of mentors to help assist me in realising our goals.
What are the main advantages for companies using iVvy Events Software?
iVvy’s goal is to revolutionise the way events are organised, by making it possible for an event organiser to search, compare, book and pay for venues and suppliers in real time – something that is not possible today. In addition to that it will also help you organise every aspect of your event from building you a website to take registrations, down to printing your name badges and taking payments. It is cloud based so you can access it anywhere, and on anything, and best of all you only pay for what you use making it affordable for everyone.
What are your major milestones both professionally and personally?
A major milestone for me professionally will be to successfully scale iVvy globally within the next 3 years and release our world first innovation by the end of the year. Personally, I am working to leave a legacy and want to feel that I have contributed significantly changing an entire industry.
A personal goal will be when I sell iVvy, to then contribute my time and money to help other woman led companies achieve their dreams.
What are your goals for 2014 and what steps will you take to achieve them?
We have a very big year ahead of us as we have begun rolling out our application for venues to help them manage their venue space, and taking bookings directly. We have already secured a contract with Australia’s largest venue chain, and plan to grow this customer base significantly. To successfully ensure we deliver these goals, we have to be focused and dedicated, with the right teams and capitalised correctly.
Please share with us your top three books that have offered you inspiration:
“CEO Start-up” by Matt Blumberg, “Screw it, just do it” by Richard Branson, “The Google Story” By David A. Vise
What are you tips on maintaining work /life balance?
This is probably the hardest thing to achieve as an Entrepreneur. Because I eat, sleep and breathe my business, trying to manage my health and my 2 young boys is really challenging. I believe balance is different for everyone and in my case the most important person has been my husband to rely on. Having a good support structure is actually really critical to the success of any female Entrepreneur. Ensuring you have enough sleep and exercise is important to help you manage stress. Spending quality time with family and friends is nurturing for the soul and really needed just to give your mind a break. It is not so much about the quantity as it is about the quality of time spent on the things you enjoy.
If you could share one piece of advice that has helped shape who you are both professionally and personally, what would that be?
Live significantly, be significant, and act significantly in everything you do. Live life with purpose and always give back to others. No matter how hard the journey may seem, believe in yourself. Never, ever give up!