Small Business: Family business - Justin Wright

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Justin Wright, founder of PitchMetrics, a software as a service platform that helps organisations have high impact, concise and insightful face to face business development conversations with their customers.

Justin Wright, founder of PitchMetrics.
Justin Wright, founder of PitchMetrics.

It helps organisations deliver the right content to sales people out in the field to use in their conversations with clients. The content might be certain commercial insights associated with using a particular solution or a special offer only available for a certain amount of time. PitchMetrics will help measure the customers reaction to these insights or sales content so that the organisation can adapt its proposition and offers based on certain trends and behaviour to get better success.

When you were launching the company, who volunteered or did you enlist from your family to help?

We launched the business three months ago and I enlisted the help of my mother and father, Kandy and Peter Wright, my wife Katherine and brother Kelvin.

What did they have to offer the business?

They all are highly skilled in their particular areas. My parents are semi-retired. Dad was an electrical engineer for a major mining house and he had fantastic experience in managing commercial risk, negotiating with suppliers, writing scopes of work and so on.

My mother was the HR and marketing manager for a major law firm, She has fantastic skills at managing people, interviewing people and drafting marketing brochures, for instance. I need all these skills but because I am in early startup mode I can't afford to pay for these skills. On the open market they would cost a fortune. They are also now helping me with things such as writing blogs, researching certain market trends, updating my CRM database and helping customers onboard to the platform. The list goes on and on.

My wife, meanwhile, has a Masters in Motivational Psychology and is an HR Manager for KPMG. Her skills and understanding of how to build motivational work cultures, effective leadership, the benefits of team diversity, are all skills and knowledge I leverage in the day to day running, planning and strategies for PitchMetrics. I am consciously thinking of how to ensure we have diversity of gender / culture and skills in the PitchMetrics business as we move forward. I need to form an advisory board soon and she will be my sounding board all through this process.

My brother is in charge of IT for a UK government-funded service called Parentline Plus.

He has provided advice on what languages to develop the PitchMetrics application in and why. He has contacts in the software development arena and he has helped me with these where possible for the development that PitchMetrics needs. I would love him to come work in the business full time.

Have family also provided funding?

They have offered numerous times to provide PitchMetrics with some working capital. I have been very reticent to accept any of theirs or my mother-in-law's money because the business is in such a formative stage. I would feel more comfortable taking their money once I am completely certain the business is sustainable and we have a bright future. In a few months, I might have no choice but to use some of these funds to pay the mortgage and keep going. The balancing act for me will be PitchMetrics starting to have some success and market validation before using family funds.

What advice would you have for others thinking of calling on family for help with your start up?

One needs to be aware that family often tell you what you want to hear. I would not use family or friends during your market validation process. You need to get unbiased feedback and advice on your proposition and the best people to ask for this are people and organisations that don't know you. This is where an organisation like The Icehouse can assist you no end.

What else has your family done to help?

Outside of their direct assistance in the business they are constantly providing me with emotional support. I don't know how many family dinners are focussed on plotting PitchMetrics' success. Secretly they muse be getting very tired of PitchMetrics dominating the conversation all the time. They also keep me grounded and this helps me focus on other important things outside of work.

It also takes a very special woman to be married to an entrepreneur. Imagine sitting at dinner and hearing about the next big thing night after night. I don't know how she does it.

Do you get your entrepreneurial genes from your family anyway?

Yes, I think I get my entrepreneurial leaning from my parents. Probably more so from my mother than my dad. Mum can take the odd risk. I remember my parents owning, operating and selling a large plant nursery in their late 50s.

Have you seen family pitch in in other start ups you have come across?

Yes, I see other start ups using family to get the business off the ground all the time.

Family often has blind faith and this is often what it takes I think to go over obstacles and get things done. I would certainly look to help other family members where I could to get their businesses off the ground.

In the future, I will probably pull in other members of the family to help, here and there. I think that things will change as the business scales and it calls for more formal employment relationships. I will then go to the external market to full these positions. I would hate to think how I would go about firing my mother. No more Sunday night roasts for me at her house.

Next week: I am interested in hearing from businesses who have come out of a so-called dying industry and carved out a new niche for themselves, taking a different tack to reach a market which still wants a product. If your business fits this description please make contact..

- NZ Herald

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