Produced by - Lucy Kippist
Edited by - Morgan Sebastian-Brown
Interviewers - Carrie Kwan and Lucy Kippist
Guests - Karen Joyce and Tracy Sheen
Carrie Kwan (00:01):
Women might be starting more businesses than ever before, but lack of access to capital is the number one reason we struggle to stay in business. That's according to the data from the Dell Technologies 2023 WE Cities Index report that measures the fuel behind the most successful global female founders. At Mums & Co, we refer to that fuel as livelihood, the systems and the processes that you've put in place to protect your money and time so you can focus on the parts of the business that you love while continuing to grow.
For most business owners, technology plays a really big role here and today's Mumbition guests are both business owning women who have put technology at the forefront of what they do. Karen Joyce, founder of SheMaps and GeoNadir. And Tracy Sheen, founder of The Digital Guide and technology expert for Mums & Co. Karen and Tracy are both members of DWEN, the Dell Women's Entrepreneur Network. Karen and Tracy, thank you so much for joining us on Mumbition Today. So we love educating and supporting women on how to pitch with confidence and share their stories. We'd love to hear your best elevator pitch. Perhaps Tracy, we can start with you.
Tracy Sheen (01:12):
Sure. 63% of all business owners in Australia are aged 50 and over. We didn't grow up with technology, so I work with those people to assist them to overcome the overwhelm around technology. Help them make more money, be more productive and save more time.
Carrie Kwan (01:29):
That's an incredible stat. I didn't know it was that high. And there is a bit of a leap in terms of getting your head around technology, so amazing work. And what about you, Karen?
Karen Joyce (01:44):
That's a tough one to follow. Thank you. So if you've ever used Google Earth to zoom into your home or your next holiday destination, you might notice that there's some really amazing imagery on Google Earth. And the data that we see there is captured from about 600 or 700 kilometres up. We actually know though that we have hundreds of thousands of people who own drones and they're capable of using the cameras on their drones to capture even more detailed imagery of Earth and its environments that we know we have some really tough challenges about. So what we do at GeoNadir is help those people to be able to capture data about Earth and to put it into a central place where we can all benefit from it. Make it easy, make it simple and to make drone mapping something that's even better.
Carrie Kwan (02:35):
And I know that you do a lot of work with especially women in this space too. Could you tell us a little bit about that?
Karen Joyce (02:44):
Yeah, it's a really interesting space as you might know, that we have a really low number of women in the STEM workforce. And in particular when I started working with drones, we had about 4% of Australia's drone pilots are women. And so over the past 10 years or so, it's really been a passion of mine to try to get more women and girls involved in the industry. I think it's really important that we have people with all different perspectives that get to have a say in how the technology develops and to be able to provide a good workplace for people that don't necessarily need to always be surrounded by a particular type of person either.
Carrie Kwan (03:28):
Amazing. And that's so true, the data that I think a lot of the decisions around how we develop products, were not actually based on data that was collected from women. So we naturally have some sort of biases creep in and the products, I know that when they first develop a phone, it was based on a man's hand. So that can only help us create better products for humanity. So helping members gain visibility is one of the core things that we love doing at Mums & Co, how to gain your next customer. And I'm really keen to hear about some of the processes that you might've put in place to find that next customer. How do you actually convert them as well? So perhaps Karen, you can tell us a little bit first about what seals a deal for you when you're connecting with customers?
Karen Joyce (04:22):
It's a really interesting one. I guess we search for customers in a number of different ways. We do a lot of social media advertising and we do a lot of just organic content on socials as well. What I think really resonates with our customer base is a level of authenticity about what it is that we do. We have a clear mission, we are very environmentally focused, very forthright in the people that we profile in terms of our community as well, which definitely sets us aside from some of our competitors that I guess have a different point of view as well. And I think it's important to me and our values base that we're constantly thinking about how do we make our products better for our customers and how do we make sure that we're able to educate them and bring them along on the journey as well? So for us, it's not always about, it's not a hard sell, it's educating and bringing people with us.
Carrie Kwan (05:26):
Amazing. And what about you, Tracy? How do you find your next prospect and how do you connect with your audience of customers?
Tracy Sheen (05:34):
I'm all about community. So I'm reading Michelle Obama's latest book at the moment and she talks about having her kitchen table. And I just love this concept of bringing people to the table and not knowing where those connections are going to lead. So I think for me it's about just building community and then allowing that community to do the work for you really. So I do a lot of work in regional areas and it's one of the things that I really love is that community. I don't feel like there's a need to pursue clients because I think if you just show up and to your point, Karen, you're authentic and you just keep doing what it is that you love, people gravitate towards that and they find their tribe. So that's more what I look for. And I also then look for other communities that have clients that I want to assist. So like Mums & Co. How can I reach a bigger audience by collaborating and combining communities?
Carrie Kwan (06:43):
What you mentioned is that sense of community is finding that like-minded group and I absolutely agree that that's something that Mums & Co does. And I think when you have that like-mindedness, you can actually open yourself up for collaboration. And by virtue of collaborating, that's actually your next prospect or your next customer because that collaboration can take many forms. It might be a customer, but it also might be someone that you just create content with or you create a partnership with. And I think it really lends it to female communities as well. So women are natural collaborators, we are really open to connecting with our customers, so love that community.
Karen Joyce (07:32):
I think that also goes to the idea that started coming around in COVID as well is, the fight or flight tendency for people if they hit conflict. But that's always been based around men and what they realise that women do is tend and befriend and we do naturally collaborate. And so when we work on that with our communities, I do think that that's a unique value proposition that women-led businesses actually bring to the table as well.
Carrie Kwan (07:58):
There's a lot of benefits too because when we collaborate, we're actually... I think if you're a female founder or business owner, you're creating an ecosystem of relationships around you. We're likely to employ more people. I think a small business is likely to employ six times more women. And as a female founder, we're absolutely also going to have more women in the startup. So win-win, I think.
Lucy Kippist (08:25):
Total win-win. Stronger together. Isn't that the line? So as you guys have both shared earlier, technology is a huge part of what you do and it's a huge part of the success of your businesses too. And we know, Karen, that you actually won the DWEN DREAM TECH COMPETITION. Can you share a little bit with us about what you won in the competition and what's happened with your business since?
Karen Joyce (08:52):
Yeah, for sure. So we were super lucky to win the competition. I know some of the other entries were amazing as well, so I was pretty stoked that my business was selected for this one. For the listeners, we won AUD$40,000 worth of Dell Technology product, which is phenomenal. And for us, what that has allowed us to do is to make sure that all of our staff are equipped with really high end Dell laptops, which if you're thinking about software development, this is a really critical thing. We also got a server workstation, which is our big data cruncher. And so that's super helpful. It is processing data right now. It's always processing data. 24/7 it's crunching, which is cool. And my personal favourite is my beautiful 75 inch Dell touch screen monitor so that it plugs into a computer. And I use it for looking at designing our platform.I use it for giving presentations, looking at the maps we're creating and lots of communication pieces as well. So I have loads of fun with that one. And I guess for us as a business, you know, the technology is core. It's something that helps us on a day to day basis, but also just having access to particularly the the marketing team at Dell has been really great. I've really enjoyed those interactions in terms of where we're at now, we're sitting around a 30% month on month growth of our active users, which we're really excited about and continuing to grow that and just about to head over to San Francisco to work with a number of customers and clients and starting to look at getting investment in the states as well.
So pretty exciting time for us and it's really great to have had some of the support that's helped to get us there.
Lucy Kippist (10:42):
Wow, that's an incredible achievement. So congratulations on that.
Karen Joyce (10:46):
Lucy Kippist (10:47):
And how exciting that an injection of support in that technology space, basically pushing your business to that next evolution.
Karen Joyce (10:54):
Yeah, absolutely. And I think it is not just the hardware, I mean it's being able to have the conversations with the marketing team at Dell as well, that's always really helpful and really supportive too. So really grateful for that support through the DWEN network.
Carrie Kwan (11:11):
Now, greater business growth means lots of good things, but it also means that you inherit a greater responsibility of risk and being mindful of that risk. Karen, what are some of the processes that you've used to successfully incorporate risk management into your business?
Karen Joyce (11:30):
Carrie Kwan (12:36):
A shout-out to your co here and great to have that sort of process and systems in place and just that awareness of that risk. I think risk doesn't necessarily have to be scary if you understand it and you make the best informed decision at that point in time. I think we have to be comfortable with a bit of that risk. We are stepping into the unknown as founders and business owners, so we know risk, but I think there's just an understanding and having those mitigation plans in place. And Tracy, what would you add here? You are in the digital space as well with The Digital Guide.
Tracy Sheen (13:15):
Yeah. Gosh, you've got to be prepared to dance with risk every single day in the tech space and digital spaces, as you said, and I'm working in AI now, artificial intelligence and working on my next book. Everything's changing. You wake up every day and something's changing and you've got copyright issues with what's it going to mean for AI and all the other things that are kind of happening. Just staying informed. And again, it always comes back to me for community, having those right people around your table that you can just know that you are solid with what you do. But I can go to Carrie, I can go to Karen, I can go to Lucy, I can go to a number of other people and say, "Okay, this is your space. Here's what I'm seeing, what are you seeing? What am I not seeing that I need to be aware of?" And just utilising that community so you're not an island, having those people around you that you can go to at any time and say, "Help me understand what I'm not seeing."
Carrie Kwan (14:23):
And so important, especially with women in business where they don't have big specialist teams around them, but they do have a community to tap into. So make the ask and find-
Tracy Sheen (14:35):
Make the ask. Yeah.
Lucy Kippist (14:37):
I was going to say that's a nice segue into the fact that Tracy is one of our Mums & Co experts who provides that service, I suppose, in the technology space, in your respect to our community. So you are offering what you're explaining there. And we know from a recent micro business report that it's access to those expertise skills that really limits women's ability to progress and to succeed in their business. So an excellent point that you're making and also thank you for the contribution to our community that you make.
Tracy Sheen (15:07):
You're welcome. It's one of the things I've really noticed that Mums & Co do really well is it builds in that sense of being okay to ask. As women, we still have that, like, "Oh geez, should I show that vulnerability that maybe I don't know?" And just having that environment, that community, that it's okay to ask, it's okay to be vulnerable, it's okay not to know, we don't have all the answers.
Carrie Kwan (15:36):
I like to think of it as this psychological safety. So you have to have safety in order to learn. And so there's no silly questions, there's no repercussions of asking a silly question. There never is. So I think that that's really important, especially with women as well, to be able to have that safety when they're finding their way with how to run a business.
Tracy Sheen (16:05):
Carrie Kwan (16:05):
Because there's going to be a heap that you don't know, there's going to be a heap that you do know, but we have to be experts in marketing and legal and technology and you need access to all those areas, capital raising, getting the mail. It's the whole spectrum of what we need to do. So make the ask and definitely have your team around you.
Karen Joyce (16:30):
I think that one of the other things that people sometimes have difficulty with is feeling that you're going to put somebody else out if, "I really want to ask you something, but I don't want to inconvenience you." But what I've found is that if you do actually build that culture of both asking and giving, people are actually really happy to give once you can be quite clear about what it is that you need as well. And I don't think I've been turned down when I've ever asked people for advice or assistance either.
Lucy Kippist (16:59):
I think a good hack there is you just return the favour. If you feel nervous, you just say, "I've got a question to ask you, but feel free to ask me one afterwards." A bit of recipro-
Tracy Sheen (17:08):
More of reciprocity.
Lucy Kippist (17:10):
Thank you. Having problems with speaking today. Let's switch gears a little bit and talk a bit more about the important role that relationships play in our businesses. And Karen, you touched on that earlier in terms of referencing the wonderful role your husband plays as a co-founder. So I know also that Tracy, you've created your business with the support of your husband. So I'd just like to ask you both, let's start with you Karen. What is the role that your husband's played in the businesses and what is your tip for being able to manage both those relationships simultaneously?
Karen Joyce (17:46):
Yeah. I'll start with the role that my husband plays. So we own two businesses together and we both work from home and we have a thin wall between us. So we are with each other 24/7, but we have very clearly defined roles in each of the businesses. We have some areas where there's a bit of overlap and we ask each other for guidance on those areas, but he definitely does the things that I really dislike doing. So the areas where... I guess not just that I dislike, but I know that I'm not good at it and he is better at it and he stays out of the technical side of things where my strengths are. So I think that's really helpful that we have those areas where we mutually understand whose job is whose and we don't need to constantly think about who's going to do what, we just kind of know it.
So one of the challenges for us is that because we both work from home, we both work on the same business, is that it's difficult to have our own personal downtime. So dinnertime conversations are work, beach walk conversations are work. And that's something that we know together we need to work on having conversations that are more private and less work related. So it's definitely a tip in that space to try to carve out the space that is your own personal as well. You're not totally tied to the business all the time. But I think the other thing that we've also been told is that it is risky to have co-founders that are partners, but by the same token that some of the strongest co-founders are partners. So when it works, it works really well. And I think that that is us and I think it's largely attributed to we know where our strengths are and we know where the other person's strengths are. It's not to say it's all roses, but I think we do work well together.
Carrie Kwan (19:51):
I just wanted to share something that I heard once about the co-founder dynamic and especially if it's family. So first startup, my husband said, "I'm here for you, I'm going to be your design director. I'll be any director you want me to, honorarily title me." And the second startup, he goes, "Yeah, I'm not working with you. You do your thing, but I will be here to support emotionally and equal sharing of the duty and all that sort of good stuff." So when you said, when things don't go to plan and it's your partner that you're talking to about an issue that's business or professionally related, and I wonder if I heard was, if it gets to the point where you really can't resolve it, you both have to go pretend that you're writing a board paper about your position and then you present it to the board, which is this imaginary-
Tracy Sheen (20:49):
Carrie Kwan (20:50):
... imaginary board. The children. Imaginary board. So because you're removing all the emotion out of it, it's very logical when you write a board paper, it's very specific in terms of the decision. So anyway, you might want to-
Karen Joyce (21:04):
I never want to get to that stage, my husband would beat me hands down.
Carrie Kwan (21:07):
Oh, because you said he does the legal stuff.
Karen Joyce (21:09):
Right. Okay. Any kind of negotiation, argument, whatever, I'm out. If we ever got a divorce, I would lose the lot.
Lucy Kippist (21:19):
Well, thank you so much for sharing all that, Karen. Super interesting and very generous of you to open up so much. Thank you. Tracy, over to you now. How would you answer that question? What is the role that your husband plays in the business and what's your tip for anyone out there doing the same?
Tracy Sheen (21:35):
I am so blessed. I kissed a lot of frogs before I met my prince and he's just hands down an amazing human being. 15 years today we've been together.
Lucy Kippist (21:46):
Tracy Sheen (21:47):
And I'm away. He is an engineer by trade, so he's very process driven and I am very big picture. So it's that yin yang that compliments really well, much to what you said. So he's so good on the detail. And my nickname around home is 70%. Because I start things and I go like, "Yep, I'm done." And I'm onto the next thing and he's running around behind me, dotting I's, crossing t's, finishing things off and making it all pretty and putting bows around things, which sounds quite similar.
We've given up pretending there's work-life balance. For us, there just isn't. We also take care of elderly parents. So the sandwich generation, there's kids, there's elderly parents, there's the business, there's no work-life balance. We just do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done. And as long as we can still laugh with and at each other, life is good. And I'm so blessed that we get to spend so much time together. I grew up, my parents were in business together as well, so that was a role model for me of I could see what this could look like.
So we designed that specifically to be, I guess some people might call it codependency. But we actually really love being together. We've just done three weeks or two weeks driving around Tassie. We are back now and we go away again next week to Mackay. And we drive and spend so much time in the car and in the car we're planning and talking through things and what are we up to next? Where are we going? What are we working on? And when we get back, we'll go play with the dogs or go for a walk and then we end up talking work again. So I think that when you love what you do, there is no, "Right, work is over. We must talk."
Lucy Kippist (23:58):
So staying with the relationship theme, what would you say, Karen, the benefits of joining a community of like-minded women who are facing similar business challenges to you?
Karen Joyce (24:08):
I'm not really sure where to start on this one because I think there's so many components of that. I think it doesn't matter if you are thinking socially or professionally, it's always important to find your people. And certainly if you are starting out in business and particularly if you've never been in business before, your people might not be as readily on hand. And so being able to walk into a readily formed community where people are at varying stages that you can rely upon is super important. And I think there's a number of different communities around that you can find. And I think, like Tracy said, being able to get into the right one that helps you feel safe to be able to ask for things and to feel that you can give something back as well. I think it's really important to feel like it doesn't matter who you are or where you are, there's always something that you can contribute. And to be in the right community that can offer you that support and you can contribute and reciprocate there as well, I think is super important.
Lucy Kippist (25:19):
And how about you, Tracy? What benefits do you see of joining a like-minded community where there's women with similar challenges to you?
Tracy Sheen (25:29):
Yeah, I think it's really important to be prepared to have different communities. Not every community and not every person is going to serve all of your needs and nor are you able to do that for them. So being able to walk into an environment or walk into a community where different women are at different stages of their business, different industries, different backgrounds, allows you to really tap into things that you wouldn't normally get from a standard group. And the other thing I would say is that if you are starting out, be prepared to find other women or other people in a community that are also in an entrepreneurship role, not from an employee role. It's a very different mindset. And making that transition from employee mindset to entrepreneur can be challenging. And you need that buffer, that group of people that have your back, that know what it means to be out on your own, to be responsible for the next sale, the next contract, the next grant, the next whatever.
Carrie Kwan (26:39):
That's really interesting. When you were talking about stages, you might need different people around you as your business enters a different phase. Or you might find... I think I see it as even if you have a community, you need to find the community within the community because you might want to just hang out with people that are in your same industry, like you mentioned, or perhaps you want to just hang out with people who are one step ahead of you. And I always love dropping in an analogy with parenting and business. It's a bit like your mum's group. When you first start your mum's group and you all get put together because you had children at that same time in your local area, but you don't necessarily gel with every one of them.
Some of them are a little bit too helicoptery parenting, some a bit perhaps too casual. You just need to find where you're going to click and who are you're going to learn from most. And maybe your core values have to have that alignment or it's a specific business need at that point in time. I just want to hang out with the people who are raising funds, capital raising. Or I just want to hang out with people who've got a retail business and are trying to figure out the best time of introducing sales for their customers. I love that concept. Find community within a community and also at the stage of business that you're at and it's okay to change
Tracy Sheen (28:03):
And being prepared to find people that challenge you. Often we look for the people that we're comfortable with. I actually seek out people that challenge me now. I might not agree with their thinking or the way they pursue a sales process or a marketing process might really set my teeth on edge to begin with. I'll actively now spend time with them to find out why. What is it about that that's freaking me out? Is that something that is triggering that I actually need to work on in the business or in me? Or is that something that, "No, it's okay. That's an ethics or a values thing and I can move on." So not just looking for the comfort zone, but looking for the growth zone.
Carrie Kwan (28:50):
So we're the community focus in mind, we are in the spirit of supporting women. Who are the Mumbitious? Those are the unapologetically blending motherhood and their ambitions that you'd like to call out to. Tracy, would you like to go first?
Tracy Sheen (29:05):
Sure. Hey, look, the first person I really need to give a shout-out to is a brand new mum. So Morgan Sebastian-Brown. I think six weeks mum, doing a bang up job and unapologetically being awesome in all things. So definitely Morgan. Jen Donovan is also doing some great work, about to release her first book. And Annette Densham is another one who I always look up to in terms of a PR and just holding it all together and just being authentically real.
Carrie Kwan (29:38):
And Karen, who would you like to give a shout-out to?
Karen Joyce (29:41):
I have to give a shout-out to my mum. So my mum's pretty cool because at the moment she is over in London, she's travelling around with my dad and spending quite a bit of time doing, I guess, a lot of stuff that they were unable to do when we were younger because they worked their butts off the entire time. And so it's really nice to see them in their retirement having their gap year kind of thing that we would've had when we were younger as well. And mum and dad are really strong role models for what we do, they've always supported us and I'm sure will continue to do so even though they're spending all of our inheritance on their travels at the moment.
Carrie Kwan (30:23):
Always beautiful shout-outs to family and to community. Thank you. As our listeners know, it's never a Mumbition episode without a question from our Little Co. So over to you, Cohen.
What's the most amazing thing you've done with your drone and can I fly it?
Karen Joyce (30:45):
I've done so many cool things with my drone. Most of the time I am taking it out to make some kind of map of an environment that I care about. A lot of that time it's the Great Barrier Reef. So I am out on a boat or at a research station, I put the drone up in the air and send it off on a little mission and it goes along taking photos that I then process as my data. I do run programmes with school groups for kids as young as six so for a seven-year-old, yes, absolutely, flying a drone is something that you can do and maybe you can get out there and use it for data collection and saving the environment one day as well.
Carrie Kwan (31:26):
Karen, Tracy, thank you so much for joining us on Mumbition The Podcast today.
Karen Joyce (31:30):
Thanks so much for having me. It was great to come down, meet you all and have a chat and sit around the table and talk tech.
Tracy Sheen (31:37):
Really wonderful to catch up with everyone again. And I'm definitely going to check out this drone business now. You've inspired me, Karen.
Karen Joyce (31:44):
Awesome. And you can get out flying on your trips too.
Tracy Sheen (31:47):
I'll come up to the Great Barrier Reef. We'll make a date of it.
Karen Joyce (31:49):
Yep. Definitely on your next roadshow for sure.
Tracy Sheen (31:52):
Lucy Kippist (31:53):
Thank you for joining us on Mumbition today. If you'd like to find out more about Tracy or Karen, you can find them on our Mums & Co membership directory. We hope today's story has inspired you and we'd love to help support your own business journey. At Mums & Co, we help women in business grow. Our four tiers of membership provides strategic advice, access to deep networks and opportunities to be more visible. Head over to Mumsandco.com.au for more details or book a member call today. And if you've enjoyed this podcast, please make sure to like and review. It helps other women in business find us so we can support their business journey too.