Elizabeth started her career in technology after securing an MBA from Loyola University in Maryland back in the early 90s. She climbed the career ladder and an early-stage startup in the commercial construction technology industry to Director of Business Development and demonstrated success driving multimillion-dollar sales growth while providing award-winning sales leadership. After a personal challenge managing her home, Elizabeth decided to build the very solution she needed to save money, save time and reduce her stress. Now she is the Co-Founder of HomeZada, an online and mobile home management portal that helps homeowners manage their homes to save time and money and reduce stress. Specifically, HomeZada educates homeowners in the areas of home management, inventory, maintenance, remodeling projects, and finances. She recently won the 2019 Female Founders and FinTech Pitch Competition and appeared on the NASDAQ channel.
What made you take the leap to start your own software company?
Originally, I wasn't going to start a software company, because my husband had already started one and I worked for that company. Lo and behold, I ran into my own problems, as the bio indicated, I started running into problems at my home, and it was broken hot water heaters that broke earlier than they needed to only because I didn't understand that simply flushing them, which is basically how maintenance makes them operate properly. Not understanding how to manage all my maintenance, all these different areas, where was the money going in my house, I was really, really frustrated that I couldn't figure out all the little details of managing my home, and how to actually get this data to make it easier for me to manage my home. Then I started realizing if I'm having this experience is everyone else? And so I looked for 10 years for someone else to create a solution like HomeZada, and nobody did. We had sold our last company and my husband who I actually work with right now, said we've got another startup in us. Let's do it again, let's build the company that you want and the product that you want because we could help all these homeowners everywhere. At first, I thought it was crazy! But then I said, "No, you know what? I still have these problems, the solution to my problems are not solved, I need to solve them and they also need to help other people solve their problems as well," because if I'm going through this, other people must as well. Sure enough, we have customers all over the country, and in many countries outside the United States who experience the same things. They're running into problems managing all the details about their home in one place and this is what HomeZada allows them to do.
What types of marketing are you doing to build your customer base?
We target directly to the consumer so we target the homeowner. We use a lot of different marketing activities to reach them. The first set of activities that we target for our homeowner customers is a lot of digital marketing. We are a digital platform so making sure that we can give them access to our platform as easily. Anything that's social, pay per click, email marketing, and we also do a lot of other marketing as it relates to PR. PR is also a really good way for us to get our message out there because we do a lot of things because we are total home management in one system and not everybody needs complete home management all at once. They may need one portion of managing their home, for instance, I live maybe in Florida, meaning this homeowner, and it's getting ready to be hurricane season so I need to track a home inventory. So that's maybe where they start. Or maybe you're a first-time homeowner and what you need is to track your home maintenance, because you're not familiar with how to maintain your home. Or maybe like in the pandemic, everybody was doing projects and so how do I actually manage those projects as easily and efficiently as I can? So having PR communicate specifically how a particular area of HomeZada can help a specific homeowner during that area of their homeowner journey makes it really easy for us to really reach our customers and for them to understand more about how HomeZada can be valuable to them. One of the other things we do too is, when it comes to social, we do use a lot of videos to help people understand why it's valuable to manage your home digitally so that it's efficient for you, it does save you time and money and how you can actually do that using HomeZada as well. So videos are really popular with a lot of our users and they can reach our YouTube channel. The other thing that we do is also target our business to business customers. They range from real estate companies, mortgage companies, insurance companies, home builders, home maintenance contractors, and many more others that find HomeZada extremely valuable for them. So one of the things that we do there is it's a straightforward business development and partner management to reach those businesses and to help them understand how HomeZada can benefit their business as well as their customers. So it becomes a win-win for everyone. But there is a common thread that we see both with the homeowners and the businesses is that everybody needs to understand a little bit more about HomeZada. So engagement and interaction through education is the common thread that we see in both the audiences that we target and it makes it more effective for us to get our message out there in order for people to understand that we exist so they can get better at managing their homes.
Can you share with me one of your most successful or favorite networking stories that you've had?
Oh, I have a great one for here. So I'm an extrovert, I love to network and I go to events all the time. So for me, it's really easy to network and I love meeting people and I love learning what they do and who I can connect them with. But there was one time when I went to a networking event and not everyone is an extrovert like me, many people are introverts. There was this young lady who was kind of off to the corner and I'm like, "No, this is not going to happen so beware here I come." We became fast friends after that, by the way, but during this time, she was really nervous. So we just got to talk in and having an understanding of each other's business and then I invited her to another event that I was actually speaking at locally here in the Sacramento area. She was really nervous and she explained to me, she was an introvert and I said, I could tell just because you're standing over by the wall, and not engaging, and I said, but we can actually help with that! At the next event, I said, just meet two people. Two people! You don't have to meet everybody in the room, just meet two people. Walk out with two people and that's it, make it really simple! She was so excited that she was given a goal that forces her out of our comfort zone, that not only did she meet two people, but she met seven people by the end of the night, and she was so proud of her achievement. She didn't realize how easy it was until it started going. But she was so stressed out about just I don't even want to talk to anyone and that simple little goal, a low-risk goal helped her continue to build out her networking capabilities. So then she met a lot of other people I know in the industry, and the tech industry here, and she ended up meeting many, many more, and then doing business with a lot of these individuals. So one little thing, one little goal, meeting two people was super simple, and then here it is, she's now got a thriving business because of just one tiny little goal.
How do you stay in front of and best nurture your relationships within your network?
That's a hard thing for a lot of people, especially if your networks are large. One of the ways I do that is through LinkedIn. I'm a big fan of LinkedIn, I can periodically see what's going on in people's lives, but I can also correspond and send private messages just to reconnect with a lot of people. Another thing that I do and perform now granted it, the pandemic has put a slight change on things, but it's also making sure that you are going to the events in your area. We had a lot of virtual events during the pandemic, making sure you're still doing that and continuing to build those relationships. One of the other things that I also participate in is what we refer to as Masterminds. A Mastermind generally brings a group of people together, not giant, just a small group, where individuals can freely speak about their business, and how each other can help each other, and not only help each other in the business and answer questions and suggestions for a particular task or a strategy but also because when you have a group of individuals, where you have the freedom to speak, they have networks that they have as well, that they can also bring to the table which also helps all of us nurture our networks because now we've got more people to introduce to each other, to help each other grow each other's businesses.
What advice would you offer that business professional really looking to grow their network?
The biggest thing I would say is one, get out there. Two, don't be shy with LinkedIn, I just love LinkedIn. So don't be shy with that, hear what people have to say. Even if they ping you through in mail or some other connection, hear what they have to say before you actually write them off, because you never know where you can support each other. Then I do encourage people, especially for those introverts out there just to meet two people at an event. Do not give yourself some astronomical goal that you feel intimidated by and you may not want to go out there at all. So if you feel so intimidated, you're probably not going to go out and network at all, just tell yourself that you only need to meet two people at an event. That's it, and make it a quality two people meaning that you spend quality time with them to get to know them a little bit more. Then once you start meeting those people, they'll start introducing the other people, and then you've got a built-in buddy system at an event because people just start introducing you.
If you could go back to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell yourself to do more or less of or differently with regards to your professional career?
I don't have a whole lot of regrets looking back, but I will say take the job. So there was an opportunity that was provided to me and I thought at the time, I wasn't qualified enough for the job. I thought that the job needed someone else's skill set in it and I declined the position, which was surprising for someone like me because I'm pretty confident. But I just felt this was for the best of the company at the time and then as it turns out, I ended up having to do the job anyway, over years of doing it. So take the job, if it's offered to you take the job, you will figure it out and people within your company will help you figure it out.
Do you have any final word or advice for our listeners about networking?
I would say get out there. However, you do it virtually, online, in person. Also, keep it simple, don't stress yourself out, especially after the pandemic, a lot of people have been inside for a long time, and they haven't been in offices, and they may be nervous. So it's just a little bit at a time and you don't have to jump in the deep end right away. Just step your toe in the steps and go on the shallow end with just a couple of people every time you go out. Just meet two people.
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