Welcome to the first in what I hope is a series of posts, where I’ll be catching up for a coffee with some digital leaders from across the globe – and sharing some updates, advice and thoughts as we collectively continue our journey toward a brilliant digital future.
I caught up with Holly Cardew in San Francisco’s Mission District at a great little cafe called Linea. Holly is the founder of pixc – a start-up business in the eCommerce and product photography space. Holly and pixc are graduates of Telstra’s muru-D Accelerator and were awarded the inaugural Telstra Australian Digital Scholarship at the 2013 Australian Digital Summit.
For those not familiar with pixc, can you provide a brief overview of the services you offer?
Pixc provides on demand product image editing for eCommerce stores so they can increase their sales with better product photos.
You were awarded the 2013 Telstra Australian Digital Scholarship, what did it mean for you personally and your business?
Winning the Australian Digital Scholarship allowed me to go to the US and see the tech world that I had only ever heard of. I was able to see of the best people in the industry at SXSW in Austin, Texas, including Shark Tank’s, Mark Cuban. On a personal level, it also gave me confidence that people (other than myself) believed in what I was doing – as a founder, there’s nothing like a fresh injection of adrenaline for your start-up.
What has been the biggest personal learning experience in starting your own business?
The biggest learning experience would definitely be people (and personality) leadership. I have never been taught to manage people, so this has been a steep learning curve for me as we have people around the world working with us and they all come from different cultures.
You’ve recently relocated to San Francisco, why did you move? …and how would you describe the impact on yourself and your business?
I relocated to San Francisco because everything moves faster here, however it is only temporary. The deals and partnerships – which will determine the future of pixc – happen here in Silicon Valley. The negatives – the coffee isn’t as great here! Other than that, it is a great city. The real challenge is that when you are new to a city, it takes some time to get settled in and find your way around which ultimately takes time away from the business.
You’re now two years in to your start-up journey, what advice do you have for entrepreneurs starting out?
Find something you absolutely love: Try your best to find something you absolutely love (and are totally obsessed) spending your time on. Everyone talks about ‘finding your life’s work’ and I didn’t believe them but when it gets really tough, and you feel like you should give up, you push through as you’re driven by the passion you have for what is you set out to achieve.
Resilience – Just keep going: Far too many people start, stop and pivot when they get bored or impatient. If you don’t stay true to your goals and what you set out to achieve, you might not give it your business the opportunity to prosper or find out what your customer really wants. You might be on the cusp of something great and miss it for your own impatience or lack of tenacity.
Get to market as soon as possible: Do whatever it takes to get to market ASAP, even if that means providing your product or service with manual steps instead of a perfectly complete solution. You don’t need to build a complete solution to find out if customers are interested or not, this is often costly and can take too long.
Paul Graham from YCombinator wrote an article about doing things that don’t scale. You can use apps and capabilities such as IFTTT to stick existing applications together to find out if there is a market for your product or service – without lengthy/expensive build works. I could go on about this topic for a long time as I built and spent lots of time and money on two websites that never went anywhere.
What suggestions do you have to offer large organisation’s wanting to support start-up business?
Get involved in the community and co-working spaces. Offer your help and advice to people who have never built a company before. Start-ups are great at innovating, however new founders find it a challenge to be a CEO and manage people.
Large organisations could help by offering to test the product internally and/or with a small handful of their customers.
What are you focusing on? Whats the next big milestone or goal for pixc? where do you plan to be in five years?
We are focusing on building large partnerships and integrations. In five years, we will have automated eCommerce 😉
Fast five with Holly Cardew, Founder and CEO – pixc
- Choice at the cafe: Cappuccino and hot waffle with fruit (and yoghurt)!
- My smartphone is: iPhone 5 – time to upgrade but everything goes into the company first
- The app I love the most: Asana – my to do lists on the go
- I’m always visiting: The KissMetrics blog. They provide so much good information about testing, marketing and getting traction.
- When I’m not working you’ll find me: Wandering San Francisco looking for a new place to eat good food.