By Abbey Cannan
If you use a mobile phone or surf online chances are you are using a product or service – such as a website, an app, a game or a social network created by a tech entrepreneur.
It takes a lot passion and perseverance to become a successful tech entrepreneur, and not everyone is going to be the next celebrity entrepreneur like Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates.
Many may think that they have a billion-dollar tech idea that will change the industry, but there are a lot of necessary steps to actually get that idea off the ground.
Someone who knows exactly how to take an idea and bring it into existence is Noosa local Raeleen Kaeseahgen.
Raeleen’s tech business has been nominated for two awards, 2019 AusMumpreneur Awards and 2019 Sunshine Coast Business Awards.
Raeleen founded an online booking site in February called mudputty.com and her team developed their software platform in-house on the Sunshine Coast, in under 12 months.
Mudputty is an online community of classes, workshops and activities for women, men and children of all ages and interests, including outdoor and adventure, technology, health and wellness, food and drink, language and culture, entertainment and business.
Noosa is a growing hub of entrepreneurs and Raeleen’s company recently moved into the Peregian Digital Hub to be co-located with other high-growth local startups.
“The digital talent in Noosa is far beyond what meets the eye,” Raeleen said.
“As a tech entrepreneur who moved here 10 years ago, I didn’t realise the talent on our own doorstep. Moving into the Digital Hub is a great step for the business because it gives our team a place to collaborate, grow and thrive. There’s an amazing buzz with great things happening and Noosa is definitely the place to watch as the place for great emerging businesses.”
As a mum of two, Raeleen understands the power of community. In a world so connected, yet disconnected, so many are lonely and seeking their ‘village’.
When she became a mum, she found a support network was vital and started looking for classes to connect with other local mums and learn something new. What she found was that many people were closing down their classes due to lack of attendance and the hassle of administering a business.
“The idea for mudputty came through my own frustrations of trying to find local classes,” Raeleen said.
“As a mum I use classes for myself socially, for the kids as things to do and at a higher level I feel face-to-face classes and workshops provide a connection for community – taking us out of the online disconnected world and reconnecting us back with interests and things we love doing.
“Trying to find local classes was so time-consuming, having to look in so many places, only to come up empty handed. I wanted to check if it was just me or if others were having the same problem. I surveyed people in mum’s groups, at cafes, people out for a walk, people of all ages and interests. From the survey it was clear people were just as frustrated as me in trying to find classes and wanted to be able to find classes by very filtered searches quickly and be able to instantly book. I then asked providers of classes about their biggest issues and problems. The biggest problem was lack of attendees. They would tell me how they’d spend hours handing out flyers, posting online, telling their friends to spread the word… yet all they would get are a few attendees turn up.”
Raeleen said the reaction has been tremendous to the site since launching Australia wide in February.
“With over 1000 hosts and helping thousands of people find classes in their own backyard they never knew existing. The feedback has been wonderful. We’ve already had hosts tell us they were about to shut up shop due to lack of attendees and they’ve been able to continue thanks to mudputty,” she said.
“The success of the site means mudputty can keep making a difference. Our small dint in the universe creating something amazing that impacts the lives of so many in a great way – whether it’s trying something new, taking up an old hobby or being able to make a living from teaching skills and passions – it’s a beautiful ecosystem.”
Raeleen said it was wonderful to be recognised by people in the community after being nominated for a Sunshine Coast Business Award.
“Also being nominated in the People Choice AusMumpreneur Awards in the ‘Business Making a Difference’ category is an absolute highlight – as it means people are resonating with the purpose of mudputty and the difference we want to make,” she said.
As a mum of two kids, Raeleen doesn’t get much spare time these days as she spends her days juggling her business and family life.
“My theory is there’s no wrong or right way to do it. Just go with what works for you. For me that means being different and being okay with having no time off.”
“I like the saying you can have everything, just not all at once. I can climb Everest, I can have a baby, I can do nothing and have an amazing social life, just not all at the same time.”
Raeleen, a software developer herself, was into many different activities growing up.
“I played basketball for most of my years growing up. Then in my late teens moved on to wake boarding and kite surfing and then took up rock climbing. I wasn’t one for sitting around, and was part of so many groups, clubs and associations, even co-founded the QUT Snowboarding club and the QUT IT club – as things to do,” she said.
Raeleen’s journey to becoming a tech entrepreneur started at the ripe age of 22 when she founded a successful SAAS (Software as a Service) company.
“In 1997 while studying IT and Law at QUT I wrote a computer program for my parents retail jewellery store to take care of the running of the business. Finishing my degree in 2000 when the GST came in I saw a real need in the industry for what I’d created and decided to start a business selling the program. In 2002 I re-developed the program to be a web-based SAAS program. Quit before it’s time, with most stores not even having internet we would ship a small server to the store (and sometimes a modem), so the software could work across their network. The business grew, and the software evolved into a cloud based SAAS being used by jewellers in 29 countries and in 2017 I sold the business to a US company,” Raeleen said.For any aspiring entrepreneurs out there that are struggling to turn their idea into a profit, Raeleen said the key to starting your own business is to ask yourself three questions: “What’s the problem, who’s the audience (who’s having the problem) and how is solving this problem going to make money?”
“A technology business is not about the technology, it’s about people and their problems, and the problem being big enough that they are willing to pay to make it go away. Too often people come up with a technology solution that has no problem,” Raeleen said.”If you really know intimately the problem you are solving, who your audience is, and ask with your audience continually, you can create, grow and adapt your solution.
“My advice to do this well, especially if this is your first business is at the beginning bootstrap. By bootstrapping you are forced to get something out quickly, see how it performs, if it doesn’t work, bring it back in, tweak and send it back out again. The hustle and challenge of bootstrapping means you are talking with your audience continually, trying to find the best product market fit.
“If you come up with an idea, and go on the investment seeking road straight away, you are talking with people who are not your audience, you are spending so much time and energy selling to a different audience. If you do make it through that road, by the time you get your product out, you can either be exhausted or worse, realise the idea and solution you created and spent all that investment on, didn’t have a problem that needed fixing.”