Starting a company these days is easier than it’s ever been before. It takes less than 10 minutes to incorporate on Companies House, a couple more to register a domain and away you go. There are thousands of tools that you can try for free and automate so much. With a small team you can move very fast and have a big impact.
Or so goes the theory. The reality is that starting a company is still really hard. Cledara is my second attempt at it. I left banking nearly 3 years ago now. There, I helped a bank that needed to changed its processes and technology as part of a modernisation programme. I left with the idea of starting something – at the time I didn’t know exactly what.
Before long, I ended up back in financial services, but this time in a fast moving fintech startup that was changing all the time. It all started as a short two-week project to travel to dopay’s Cairo office to help them improve their Customer Onboarding and Success processes. Those two weeks turned into 18 months running dopay’s middle and back office and spending a lot of time in Cairo to learn about our customers.
Along the way, I learned a lot. dopay grew into more than 100 people. It was my first time working for a company that was changing on a daily basis and I was shocked to see all the tools that we could use to help make it a little easier to manage. In just my part of the business, we used Trello, Pipefy, Freshdesk, Salesforce, Slack, Jira, Confluence, Prodpad, Lucid Charts, Looker and Zapier to plumb most of it together. Each of those helped us with something, but each one contributed to creating an almost impossible overhead – who had the administrator privileges, who was responsible for setting up new hires with access to the right tools, whose card was being used to pay for each of them, why did we have two products that did virtually the same thing (Trello and Pipefy!) and how did we even know that we still used all the things we were paying for?
When I was a young girl and I was thinking about what I wanted to be when I grew up, I wanted to be a hairdresser. My career ended up taking me to financial services instead, but when I think about that dream, I think that what I actually liked about being a hairdresser was interaction with people, making them happy and the opportunity to have something that I could call my own. So, despite all the fun I was having at dopay, the idea to start something myself never quite left my mind.
And so, enter Cledara. I figured out that if I found it hard to have visibility of all the SaaS tools the various teams in the company were using, perhaps other companies struggled with it too. So, I started speaking to founders of startups to see how they managed it. It turns out that we were all in the same boat, not really knowing what teams had signed up to and having no way to manage it. The other thing we all had in common was that we were all trying to keep a spreadsheet or Google Doc up to date, but we weren’t very successful at it.
Founders work very hard to raise money from investors (this is something I’m going through right now – more on this in a future post!) and so it’s important that they stay on top of their burn. My mission with Cledara is to help companies stay on top of the SaaS tools they’re using, while still giving their teams the freedom and flexibility to move fast and register for the tools they need.
It’s going to be a long road. Starting a company is hard. We are getting closer to launching – the front end is finally designed and Tom and the team are working hard on developing the MVP. I’m so grateful for all the people that have made time to help me get this far and so I want to pay it forward by sharing my startup journey in the hope that I can help, in even a small way, others that are starting their own startup.
In the coming weeks, I’ll be writing about the journey to find advisors, how I prepared for those important first meetings with those incredible advisors that I’m so thankful decided to help me bring Cledara to life and the road to raising a seed round.
In the meantime, it would be fantastic if you could tell your friends about Cledara and, if your company is struggling managing all the SaaS tools it uses, I’d love if you could join those that have already registered at Cledara.com to join our team for our MVP release. You’ll help set the direction of the product as it evolves from MVP and, in exchange, I’ll make sure you always can use Cledara for free.
Thanks to everyone for your support!