Here’s one founder who truly appreciates the value of PR and influencer marketing.
Meet Michelle Cowan
Michelle’s business, Justo Software, helps people just like you to make their ideas into a reality. Here’s her story.
1. Why did you start Justo Software and what were you doing before?
I was having some time out after 26 years doing corporate sales in the tech industry for Apple and then Cisco. I’d thought originally after leaving that I would do some sales consultancy freelance work, which I did and still do occasionally, but I came up with an idea for an app, I found a business partner (Bren Adams) who complimented my skill set and we formed Justo Software with a vision to bring software ideas to life and to market. Our first app originally named My SMART App and now known as ‘socialsendr’ is a social media content/scheduling/posting app for small business owners who struggle with ideas and time to dedicate to social media.
2. What were the biggest sources of inspiration and support when you were starting out?
There are lots of really great organisations and resources for start-ups in the UK, I found these super helpful. Interestingly when you engage with these organisations you meet other founders, people in the same boat as you but most importantly those who have walked in your shoes. Sadly, there are a host of ‘advisors’ out there who have never run a business but claim to be ‘experts’ and it’s difficult to not waste time with them.
3. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since starting the business?
Things don’t happen overnight, yes, you can get some lucky breaks which help but it takes hard work and focus to move from being a new start-up to revenue generation and then onto becoming a sustainable viable business.
4. What has been your proudest moment/biggest achievement so far?
It’s always the same feeling of achievement when we get customer feedback telling us how the app has helped them and their business by fixing something they were struggling with. It feels great and it’s validation that we created the right product.
5. What piece of advice would you give to anyone starting out?
Have a strategy and a plan. What is your longer term vision, what are the objectives of the business, can this be broken down horizontally or vertically to give you clear segmentation of your strategic priorities, what do you need to do to deliver on your objectives and meet the vision, how are you going to hold yourself accountable? And finally, what processes are going to underpin your strategy and plan? I’m a big fan of outsourcing where you have a skills gap. Bookkeeping is my pet-hate, it’s the first thing I outsourced when we became revenue generating.
6. What piece of investment did you make in the business that was worth every penny?
PR – without a doubt. Myself and my business partner can manage the words to a point, but we lack the skills to polish the text and make it an interesting read and we don’t have the contacts that a PR agency have.
7. Which element of marketing has made the biggest impact on your business?
So, I mention PR above, but this question is very relevant to me right now. I mentor a handful of early in career females, one of them Alexa is a nano-influencer on TikTok – she recently helped me get the business on the platform and did a TikTok for us under her account – within 48 hours of the video going live we have had 49 new subscribers to our app! Whilst it’s widely known that the influencer marketing is effective, it’s something I’ve never experienced before.
8. What do the next 12 months look like for you?
We have just launched a crowdfund to help us get our 2nd product idea ‘socialpostr’ developed and to market. We continue our efforts to grow our customer base and improve our financial position so we can start to take a wage sometime soon. Importantly we still need to enjoy what we are doing, keep healthy and have fun.
Do you have an interesting story to tell about how your business got started? Tell us about it.