iReportSource is helping clients achieve operational employee health and safety excellence so that employers can protect their number one asset – their employees.
Location: Loveland, Ohio
Product / Service Offering: Safety Collaboration and Program Management…the way it should be.
Co-founders Interviewed: Christi Brown
Other Key Management Team Members: Brad Brown, Erin Rosiello, Karl Weidner
This article is part of our Women Entrepreneurs Spotlight Series featuring female entrepreneurs and their companies. We hope these founders’ interviews will inspire and motivate you as you undertake your own entrepreneurial journey.
Tell us a little about yourself with a focus on what motivates you?
I want to change the world. I want to teach employers to train their employees to be self-aware and develop proactive habits in the workforce, using my technology. Some day, employers across the world will be using this idea to ensure employees and processes are performed safely. Hopefully, this will allow every employee to make it home safely every night.
When did you establish your company and where did the idea originate?
While working as the COO for my other company, CompSource, I noticed that all employers are not created equally. I also noticed that many employers were struggling with 2 things when it comes to safety management.
- They had the right people but the process was weak.
- The process was good, but they had the wrong people and nobody was following it, or they had turnover.
After helping an employer with a death claim, I realized that technology could improve the process tremendously, but an app was needed to collect the real time data.
What need or needs does your company seek to fill for its customers?
With our app and safety collaboration platform, we are helping our clients achieve operational employee health and safety excellence. Employers can protect their number one asset – their employees.
What is the one thing that sets your company apart from its competitors?
Our competitors are large enterprise systems that take years to implement and millions of dollars to purchase. iReportSource is the ‘QuickBooks’ of the safety industry. We allow employers of all sizes to manage and streamline their entire safety program proactively.
What was the biggest challenge you faced while getting your company up and running, and how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge we face is lack of developers. Cincinnati has some great talent but our tech ecosystem is growing so rapidly that there just aren’t enough computer science experts in our area. We decided to initially outsource the development but are now working with the local colleges to groom our team. Our high schools and middle schools need to start teaching kids early in their educational informative years how to code, to prepare them for the 4th industrial revolution that is upon us. As baby boomers exit the workforce and millennials take over, the need for this skillset will continue to grow rapidly.
Are there resources you have utilized that other founders might find compelling or useful?
If you are a tech startup company you need to be involved in the ecosystem in your city. UpTech 5 is the best decision we ever made. We have access to support, coaching and resources needed to make our business successful.
What steps have you taken to secure funding for your company and what, if anything, would you do differently if you had to start over?
We own another company, so for the most part we have self-funded our company. It is our desire to hold on to as much equity as possible. We did secure our first round of seed funding through UpTech, but we feel the trade off for the mentorship and resources is well worth the terms of the note.
Need help finding out where you are in the funding process? TurboFunder can help make you an investable company!
Have there been any questions you have had as an entrepreneur of a fledgling startup that you had a particularly hard time finding the answers to?
Determining the price of our SaaS software was the most difficult challenge. We are teaching employers a new way of doing things, collecting workplace safety information with an App. The B2B world is in the beginning stages of catching up with the consumer world of apps created by Apple. By 2018, experts expect around 3,000 baby boomers to exit the workforce daily. This is profound. Statistically, Gen-Xers are changing jobs every 2-5 years, and millennials less than every two years. We have found that the millennials are our influencers but baby boomers are the decision makers. While there are many forward thinking 52-70 year olds out there, they have been at their jobs for 25 plus years. It can be a challenge to convince them that they need to be solving a global issue that is about to rear its ugly head and it hasn’t been so obvious until now.
What challenges, if any, are you grappling with?
We are grappling with IP (intellectual property) issues. The Obama administration has made it increasingly more difficult and costly to get a patent for technology and EPD (enabling public disclosure) with the app store. We suggest you deal with this issue early and often and spend the money even though it’s difficult to justify in the early seed stages.
What is the most helpful tip or “hack” you’ve ever learned, stumbled across, or been given?
Your product brand development should be hashed out early on. Know the difference between brand development and branding. Your marketing message should evoke emotion. By making these decisions early on, entrepreneurs will focus which equates to brilliance. By developing your brand, it will force you to narrow down your target audience, thus helping you to create the product you intended to deliver value.
Former P&G branding executive, YBG Ventures founder Gary De Jesus, taught us this. He used the example of Coca-Cola #3 Brand in the world and Pepsi #33. Coca-Cola understood this concept early on when they chose the message “Have a coke and a smile” which have nothing to do with their features and benefits. It provokes joy. You drink a coca-cola, you are instantly happy. Pepsi chose “the Pepsi challenge” in an effort to say their syrup mixture was better.
The entrepreneurship road is exciting, scary, and full of many other adjectives that I can’t say here. It is imperative to have a growth mindset. Learn to pivot and don’t let the obstacles stop you. Find a way around it. Money is a good motivator but it’s not always enough to get you through the tough times. Focus on your mission and don’t give up, keep going day by day. One day, you will turn around and say, “Wow, look what we accomplished!”
Are you familiar with other Women led startups? If so, we would like to hear from you. Tell us about them, sharing your comments below!
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