Just Make A Decision

Just Make A Decision

Elizabeth Dodson

Devin Miller

The Inventive Journey

Podcast for Entrepreneurs


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Just Make A Decision

“Make Decisions do your best to gather the data you need in order to make that decision but just make a decision”

The Inventive Journey

Starting and growing a business is a journey. On The Inventive Journey, your host, Devin Miller walks with startups along their different journeys startups take to success (or failure). You also get to hear from featured guests, such as venture firms and angel investors, that provide insight on the paths to a successful inventive journey.

ai generated transcription

make decisions do your best to gather the data that you need in order to make that decision but just make a decision [Music] [Music] everyone this is Devon Miller here that with another episode of the inventive journey I'm your host Devon Miller the serial entrepreneur as well as the patent trademark attorney and founder of Millar IP law we each week we go through the invent of a journey of different individuals and how they got from where they were what they were doing previously to where they're at today so today we have on a great guest and excited to have Elizabeth on I'll do a quick introduction then she'll probably do a much better introduction but Elizabeth worked for a few previous companies and was in the commercial construction project management she decided that there was a need for some software out there for homeowners it wasn't out there and so after deciding that nobody else was doing it she thought why not me so that's where she's at today so welcome on to the podcast thanks Devon it's nice to be included so yeah so I definitely was in commercial construction and specifically the technology side of the space and said there's a correlation between commercial construction and home ownership and that is managing these projects imagining our homes are really complex so how can we make it really easy and that's where my new company homes out I came into place awesome well that's a I'm sure it's a need for a lot of homeowners including myself so I'm sure that it comes in handy so if we to start just before your journey before homes odd and we will certainly get to that kind of you touched on it but so what were you doing before homes ah to kind of what led you to where you're at now but what's that that back story yeah so I have an interesting story so I never really thought I'd ever be an entrepreneur I actually don't mind working for other companies but I was a part of young startup companies and that's what I do love is growing startups and growing those companies and then ultimately helping those companies get sold and a good example of that is the company I came from before Hamza was Meridian systems and Meridian systems was the leader in commercial construction project management software and I was an early stage employee to that company I was about employee number 20 mmm I play a role in both marketing and sales and then as you take on more responsibilities when you own your own company that obviously morphs but in my marketing and sales role at Meridian I loved that aspect of not only being in marketing and sales but also understanding how the entire organization operated and how my role in marketing sales impacted all the other departments and then what I could bring to them and then how do I help that company grow and I knew each department plays a role and each individual plays are also how do I bring all those people together and I loved it and when you work in a start-up you learn a lot about a lot of different aspects that a company goes through because you can't help yourself so you working with Meridian and I think when we talked a little bit about it before and Craig me wherever I'm wrong by all means you were working with you know everything from contracts the cost of budgets and you had to do some fairly complex processes in order to make sure that all of the construction project Kate mom I came online stayed on track and Laura does that very recollection that's absolutely right spot-on and so specifically when it comes to managing these construction projects so think of the large construction projects around the world like the Disney theme parks like the stadiums unfortunately that are not filled right now and like all the schools or the same thing with the casino so if you think about those projects there's a lot of complexity into managing them not only from the number of people that have to build those those buildings but also the number of finishes you need you know you take a look at a hotel because it's the easiest thing to describe there's many there's faucets or sinks there's counters there's beds there's walls there's wallpaper there's there's um sprinkler systems all different kinds of things you need to make sure that those hotels and those buildings are constructed properly within the requirements needed by the local communities and the investigators etc but also the other thing that you need to make sure of is that everybody's working together to get this building constructed properly and there was a timing issue of all that there's also a contracting issue and a financing issue and materials delivery issue you know think about delivering materials in a downtown area like New York which is very difficult versus if you're in a rural area you could probably deliver all the materials all at once so exactly so those complexities really play a role and I started aligning those complexities in commercial construction with that that I'm dealing with managing my house and so the idea came to me about homas odda during that process of being at commercial construction software company but I was like oh I'm happy where I am I don't need to go build another company someone else I'm assuming has built it and you know what happens when you assume so I was like I just kept assuming someone else was building it but I actually searched for a product that comes out of for ten years and no one had built anything and I thought that was kind of odd so you're and maybe to fill in this a little bit so basically you're saying hey why isn't there I have to manage all these Road Nev complex on big big projects to make sure it all gets down to move forward why isn't there something almost similar to that for home management for on the end more on the individual level to manage your home to make sure that it gets built right or you know gets maintained right and everything is up-to-date and everything is taken care of so the home is maintained well and you're saying why isn't that you waited for a while and then nobody did it so obviously it's up what you decided - Before we jump quite to that so I think he mentioned that you as you're with any Meridian they were working they eventually got sold off maker you know they have publicly traded sold off and so you and a few or some of the co-founders decided hey it was time to go do a new startup or you know first of all do we have it in us so we wanted you to start up and then you guys at least some of you decided yes and so you started do that so maybe dive into a little bit as you left Meridian and then how you decided to go to Holmes honor to do that as a new startup yes so as we're running around the world looking at all these different major projects and I'm saying to myself there's got to be a better way to manage my home and part of that going back to what you were saying is my dad about my home was scattered everywhere my documents were in seven different locations and there were physical paper documents but I also had documentation all over my computers you know my inventory my of my home inventory what Mayton assess I need to do I didn't even have a calendar that was managing those maintenance tasks I just had to memorize it so things were in my brain as well so that was becoming very frustrating to me I was like there's got to be a better way but I think Meridian sparked that I knew it was possible because when you're managing these complex projects and you're seeing all these data points flow back and forth you're like okay can we take something similar to Meridian and build what a homeowner would need without the complexity because people go to school to be a construction project manager people don't go to school to be a homeowner it's just we just become homeowners that would probably be a boring it probably a popular degree it might be but at the same time we probably all need a little bit of it put a lot of buddy into a home it's a big asset we all need it but I don't know that you get a lot of people had really get that degree exactly so with that said I started realizing okay what do we need to manage in the house and I everyone had told me specifically my insurance company track your inventory like why what's the point well cuz you just never know someone could rob your house something could break in your house you could get flooding in your house cuz a toilet broke upstairs or something without effects we constantly in California living fire area so you can get fires hurricanes tornadoes or in every State and so all of those things could happen and I'm like alright so I'll just protect myself for the just in case the other thing that I told you I was frustrated about was maintenance I kept arguing with my husband when we did it when we didn't do it who's gonna do it that was just silly magic projects were all done on Excel and I was like okay wait why can't I manage this more effectively than just Excel because I know there's got to be better ways to do this and same thing with the overall finances of my house I knew my house was an asset but I also didn't realize quite how expensive it costs to take care of my house well apparently we spent 30 percent of our income on our house annually I was like okay and so I knew if that was the magic number I didn't want to spend more than 30% hmm and I I believe that I was I believe that things were being spent and I was not paying attention so I was like okay how do I pay attention to this so with that said I looked for another solution nothing was out there and my coat we had sold meridian and we had all worked for the publicly traded company which was an amazing experience that company is so fabulous they have great types of opportunities that I would recommend to anybody however we started talking the three of us three co-founders John David and myself and said could you be onto something and John actually brought it up first and he said I think you are and I'm like what are you talking about and he kept remembering that I kept complaining because that's how things start right personal need and complaints okay there's got to be a better way to manage our houses and John started crafting like a good product manager crafting what it could look like and then he was doing that on his on his off hours and then he said what if you what do you think about this I'm like this could work like I was getting excited this could work but I didn't think we were gonna build another company not write them in there but then we started talking and saying ok let's go get this done now fortunately for John and I we had worked with David before and David worked with a set Meridian I'm gonna stop now because maybe it's not an important guy that will jump to him just say so John if I remember kind of what you talked about now and what we talked about before John was almost the one that came in to you and said let's do this or he convinced you almost a person he drew an idea in the sense that hey I think this is a good idea he'd done some research he told you hey here's the idea and let's go out and fight you know let's get the other parts and pieces but it wasn't as much you say hey I've got to do that you know he wasn't using me to pull the trigger to the final decision but it was John coming and almost being a cheerleader of your own idea is that a fair summary absolutely correct I was like I had a great job with Trimble who acquired us I was loved in life I had a product that I believed in at my previous company Meridian / Trimble and I worked with amazing people so it doesn't get any better than that except for the fact that my idea was not being built by anybody and I was still frustrated with matching my house and so when John came to me he was really excited because he was the original co-founder in the previous Meridian business so he got the bug and he said there's one more in us we're getting a little bit older but there's one more in Isleta do it and I'm like why because of all the things I just said but then I started realizing that if we don't build this one I'm not gonna get the solution that I need personally but more importantly other people aren't gonna get what they need hmm and believe it or not I'm not the only one that was overspending on my property other people do it too and how can I help them with their finances because our homes affect our overall finances mm-hmm but also how can I help them understand how to take care of their houses because not everybody comes from a construction or a project management background and that's not what you need to be at home owner as we talked about yeah bye how do we help them with that process and people are really struggling with managing their homes so we have the ability to do that so that's when we said okay let's go try it but John and I did not have the skills to do the development we had different skills sales marketing partnerships product management finances we had those skills we didn't have the skills of pure development and you and I talked about this briefly that's probably one of the challenging parts to find the next piece or system to fit when you're trying to build out a company specifically in software hmm how do you find the individual that can help you now from our perspective we were very fortunate because David is someone we used to work with at Meridian he was our CTO at Meridian and he understood not only the architecture of software but he also understood how to develop and that was the the missing piece we needed in order to launch home SATA and to build a product and to release it to the public so that's a good point because I mean because I've worked with in some of the ventures I am a part of and Priestly been part of me as I mentioned I'm a bit of a serial officer as well and to have someone because everybody thinks oh you know a software guy or technology guy they're all the same right they all do a good job they're all either and it there's a wide variety both in yes everything from skill sets to tear to you know but also an ability to manage a project right because it used to be there was a software guy that one guy could kind of do it all if you have your software guy and now it's there's so many different areas of software and so many different things everything from back-end servers to those website web portals to the user interfaces to the app to in it and there's enough it's a lot harder to find that guy that you know someone that can solve on the software side they can find that out manage it get it done get it done right keep everybody on task so I think that that's you know not to be overlooked is that you know it isn't a critical person to be able to find that and if you already know that person it's that you know certain certainly someone that you want to have on your team yeah and for us we automatically had trust because we'd all work together but to your point David even will be the first one to say all of us will that we know where our strengths are and we know where our weaknesses are and Dave amazing back-end developer but even he suggested listen as a team were not strong in front-end development or user experience and you know UI UX and so one of the things that we looked at is not only did we need that experience we also didn't come from the consumer world we came from the commercial construction project management world which is the b2b world or business a business so one of the things that we did was we recognized all of our skill sets and then we found a UI UX design team so user experience user interface experience right team to help us build this product and you need them together to do this because in order if you build one part of the product first and then you kludgy on the other part then you could actually end up costing you more money so you really need the team to come together to build it at the same time which is why it's also important to bring someone like John in who's a great product manager as well mm-hmm so then you did that so you get you get John on board you get the other co-founder and reminding his name d-david okay I just want to make sure I didn't felt some difference so you get those people on board say okay we've got one more in us we're gonna do this we've got the core team of people that can you know kind of get things launched and off the ground and we'll build a build that you know other people around that and then how did things go so you got all those in place and then how did it go now actually building homes odda so like anything there's ups and downs and so we release the product we we build it first obviously we build it we release it we go to market people like what we have and we do not release everything all at once so today home is all that can help you manage a lot of different aspects of your home what we released it with two aspects arm inventory and how maintenance to start then we added projects then we have a finances and so on and so forth so we needed to get it to market and that's really important to see if people want your product the big thing that we did we also not only built the product in parts and pieces to see if people wanted it but we also tested out digital marketing aspects what part of digital marketing work what part didn't we also hired people who had that skill set that we didn't have and not every startup can afford to hire people I mean we went and secured some initial funding but if you can't then there are ways that you can build relationships with people for small shares in the business however I would you know really dot your i's and cross your T's in order to make sure that you're managing that specifically so set guidelines set milestones on what projects need to be delivered and what you get in exchange for these shares so it's really really important but we were able to secure the funding we then found the right resources and then as you build out your company you go through ups and downs and ups and downs and ups and downs and ups and downs and the best way I can describe a start-up is a lot of people think it's the roller coaster and I one half percent disagree with that I think it's the entire amusement park it's going with your family who get super excited you can't wait to get there everybody's negotiating what they want to eat when they want to eat what riders they want to ride oh you got to wait in lines oh wait do I have to do this too the way I don't want to do this and then you get on every ride sometimes you're not feeling so good sometimes it's great sometimes you know you go down the waterslide and everybody's soaking wet and all different kinds of things happen but during the course of that day you're just stressed excited elated irritated all those different emotions are flooding through you leave exhausted and then you get excited and do it all over again the next day or a cure that just saying a roller coaster so if I feel that sometime but I like that would ya free it's and it's amazing but that's what you need to be able to be prepared for and we ran into all different kinds of challenges excitement's but one of the things I will also suggest to people is make sure you also celebrate the wins even the smallest win can make all the difference because we get so mired in we've got more work to do we've got to do this now it's today we have to do this but it's important that you also celebrate those little wins and you do it as a team because I think because I and is not a point to be able to looked in the sense a night because I've done that and y'all oftentimes you're in the startup and you have big successes but you're always thinking about the next thing you need to get done the next thing that needs to get built or the next you know next client the next customer the next account whatever it is and you know you over while they're big wins you almost over look you married just say okay down low we're out of the deck see and he never really stopped to celebrate hey we just did something great or big or we had a big success and so you know often times that man goes overlooked but it you know and sometimes as a founder of the startup you're saying okay you know I great we're doing good and now I'm not but then he all the rest of the team that they put in a ton of time work and effort it's sometimes it can get overlooked and they're saying well wait we did a good job right so I think that's a great thing is to celebrate the wins so now we jump to where are you guys at today so you did the option you did not just see roller coaster but the whole abusive part the whole you launch because you came up with homes on I think you saying you kind of you started in 2011 launched in 2012 we're now it's a 2004 2020 and so how is that how things gone where you at what's the next six six months to a year for you yeah so I'm super excited as usual downs ups downs and you have to embrace them so we launched the product we've got users all over the world and this is what's ironic we only market to users in the United States so we have users in all 50 states as well but people around the world find us so people really do need a product that comes with our challenge that we face is with a small company and with a limited budget how do you get your message out there so that's one of our biggest challenges but we've also built a lot of partnerships so we have partnerships with large insurance companies and large finance companies in the mortgage side we also have relationships with real estate companies and agents and so on and so forth because they also see an opportunity to stay connected to their home owners and their customers beyond that transaction and whatever that transaction is they secured a mortgage they secured an insurance policy or it sold a home they can do that with home sava so not only do we build homes auto for the consumer we also built homes ala to support the professionals that also support the homeowner which is also important and in both cases we're continuing to grow our users both on the consumer and the professional side we're also growing our company and testing other marketing aspects that we can and now we know what works on the marketing the PR side as well as the development side we've got a big schedule ahead of us and we're going out for our next round of funding so we're looking for our series a and we're excited about it because things just keep populating and one of the things to keep in mind with kovat is how learners are flocking to use tools to help them manage their homes right now and so they are actively looking for tools and ha masada is doing extremely well because of I but I'm just happy because now I get to help homeowners manage this large asset and large expense efficiently and easily and for those who have multiple homes my customers have multiple homes tell me on a regular basis oh my gosh you've just made my life so much easier because now I have everything in a pub in my hand and I can just manage all my homes from all over the country no cool well cool well that's a lot of fun things I always get to the end of these when we're getting towards the end of the podcast and I always wish we had about another I don't know two or three hours and we'd go through all the fun things to talk about because there's always more things to talk about the time to do it but we are reaching the end of the podcast I think that's a that was a fun journey to talk through and we'll have to have you back on soon to see how things keep going for you maybe post Kovac but while we do that I always end up to wrap up the podcast with two questions so I'll ask those now and so the first one is what was the worst business decision you ever made so when you posed this question to me I really struggled with this because I don't I look at challenges and decisions differently than most people I always see the good bad and indifferent of those decisions and so I look at those and I said okay what did I learn from this experience mm-hmm and generally I've always learned something but I've made some really doozies in the past whether it's both at Meridian or at home saw that just moving down the path that you think could work but you're not sure you just it doesn't work out as you thought it would but I will say this I've also avoided making decisions now that's probably the biggest I guess mistake that I've ever done is doing nothing and not trying that is something that never pans out well so if I can at least try in a controlled environment where I'm not spending too much money and I'm measuring all the results of something then I can make educated decisions but if I don't try at all it's I think it's like the Michael Jordan saying you miss a thousand percent of the shots you don't take yeah and so that's my advice to people is one of the things is make sure you try at least but I don't see a lot of worst decision bar to summarize the worst decision you ever made was not making a decision yeah probably school not doing it not trying a lot of wisdom to that all right now I'm gonna jump to my second question which is if you're to have someone that was just getting into startups or wanting to get into startups or small business it would be the one piece of advice you'd give them one okay this is to quote two-part question whine it's amusing amusement park like I just explained to just get ready for it just get ready for it and keep yourself up keep yourself positive and then move forward with measuring everything that you do but the second thing is and this came up recently when another startup was talking to me and someone has said well I'm afraid of making a bad decision and I'm like okay how do you know it's gonna be a bad decision that's what I asked the startup and they're like why don't and I go that's exactly it you don't know whether it's good bad or indifferent until you make a decision so my suggestion to people is make decisions do your best to gather the data that you need in order to make that decision but just make a decision people go into decision making they automatically assume it's bad it could be a worst business decision or it could be a best one but you don't know until you make the decision and if you know you're gonna sit there you're never gonna move anywhere so no I exactly and even if you make a terrible decision I can guarantee you you can move through it you mean it may be hard maybe really hard but you can get through it you just may need to ask for help no I that's very good advice so one it and they kind of go worst business decision was also the advice you could give up the decision so I think that goes hand in glove very well so all right why as I said wish we had more time kind of wrapping things up but I appreciate you coming on the inventive journey it's been fun to have yet if people want to reach out they want to use Holmes auto or they want to connect up with you or they want to invest or with your series a whatever the case may be what's the best way to reach out to you two ways one at wwm or they can contact us at info at Holmes Auto comm perfect so they'll either email you or they'll go to your website and they'll reach out and we'll make sure to include that in the show notes so people wouldn't find that easily well thank you again for coming on it's been a fun time to talk about your journey it's a very fun and interesting journey for those of you that are wanting to beyond the in dentist journey and tell you to tell your journey I didn't go to inventive journey calm and apply to be a guest and for those of you that needing any patent or trademark helps we're certainly here to help any startup or small business and you can just go to Miller IPL comm and look us up and we're happy to help thank you again for coming on it's been a pleasure and look forward to hearing how your journey continues to go thanks to Evan have a great day you [Music] English (auto-generated) All Sales Conversation

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