Doing the job of an online personal assistant, accountant, sales manager and web marketing expert, the Smarty platform allows individuals to focus on growing their business and shrinking their workload. We met co-founder Agnes Gradzewicz to tell us more about the business.
(1) Who are you and what’s your business?
I am a co-founder and chief marketing officer at Smarty Software. We are based in the heart of London in a fantastic co-working space BathTub 2 Boardroom. I have just turned 30 this year and spend most of my life spent working in marketing, events and business consulting. Smarty Software is a venture I started with my colleague Farhad Reyazat out of passion for small businesses.
Smarty Software was designed by a group of entrepreneurs who know first-hand the struggles startups face, the platform covers a plethora of areas for businesses. Doing the job of a PA, accountant, sales manager and web marketing expert, the Smarty platform allows individuals to focus on growing their business and shrinking their workload. Incorporating multiple platforms into one, the Smarty analyses vital parts of businesses and summaries performance in simple to understand reports.
(2) How long have you been around for?
Having released the Alpha version of the software at the Great Business Show 2015, we officially launched in early 2016. The team under the leadership of our CEO Farhad Reyazat have worked extremely hard to bring this product to market, and I am convinced that small businesses should have the same access to the technology which is currently available only for larger firms with better budgets. It has taken two years to launch this ground-breaking product, and we believe it will change the way small businesses work.
(3) How do you make money?
We are making money from selling subscriptions to our cloud services, users pay on ongoing basis a monthly subscription fee starting at just £25 and going up to £200+. The minimum contract is three months afterwards our clients can cancel anytime. Our aim is to provide the best service so that the drop-out rate from the software is very low. We also pride in providing some free features which could be used by startups.
(4) What makes you different and why should people take notice?
Despite the world seemingly becoming more technical by the day, research recently conducted by CBI and IBM has found there’s a significant digital divide opening up across Britain’s economy.
According to the research, just 55 per cent of firms adopt digital technologies and processes, with the remaining 45 percent falling behind. Although made up of both small and large businesses, it is small businesses that make up the majority of the private sector businesses that aren’t embracing the technology.
Smarty Software is the country’s newest and most intelligent digital automation software. Helping SMEs to deliver an outstanding service to help them compete with their larger rivals, Smarty aids in accounts and payments, tracking sales, managing contacts and sending out automated emails and keeping an eye on a website’s SEO. All areas that small business owners often don’t get the chance to give the amount of attention they require, or have the financial resources to focus on, Smarty takes the stresses out of these processes and allows small business owners to keep up with their competitors.
(5) What was key in terms of getting started?
When starting new ventures, managers need to be multi-skilled and capable in numerous aspects of the business as they are in charge of all the operations taking place. For someone inexperienced it can be a disaster and the business can soon begin to fail. A good manager needs to be able encourage productivity, delegate effectively and is a strategic thinker who is able to look at the ‘bigger picture’ for the business. We have designed software that helps micro businesses operate their sales, marketing and business operations. At the tap of the finger they can monitor cash flow, issue an invoice on the go, send promotional campaign or create a website.
(6) What’s your biggest achievement to date?
With over 200 clients, Smarty is not simply a flash in the pan. In fact, the Smarty platform was chosen by a panel of expert judges as the winner of the Elevator Pitch Series 5 for its ‘potential to change the world’ by Tech City News. As it prepares to raise $1m in series A funding, Smarty is already looking to the future by continually monitoring usage, trends and feedback from users.
I am also proud to say we managed to offer every month free workshops and mentoring to other small businesses and startups interested in improving their efficiency or keen finding out how they can automate their business.
(7) What setbacks have you had along the way?
So far our main challenges were associated with product development, finding right people and selling the product. Although we experience setbacks on a daily basis, we try to stay positive and motivated to grow our business.
(8) In five years’ time, I will be…
In a five years’ time I hope we will grow to international team with offices around the globe and a large team working to support our dedicated clients. I would also hope we will be going public with IPO. I would also like to see Smarty establishing a foundation helping young entrepreneurs from difficult backgrounds and disabled people starting business.
(9) What one tip would you give to others starting out?
I would say the most important thing is not to give up too early, there will be plenty of challenges in front of everyone starting a business but sometimes people give up too soon.
During my journey as entrepreneurs I met so many small business owners who just rely on their instincts. It is important to believe in yourself but personally I think it is absolutely important to create a business plan when starting the business. A business plan will serve us as a road map in moments of desperation, and motivational machine when you achieve first success in business. It will also be very useful in presenting your business to potential investors and business partners.
Another key piece of advice is to be consistent and well organised. Having had struggles with procrastinating different tasks, I know how crucial it is to be in a mind of getting things done. It is not about working around the clock; it is more about being efficient with your time even if you spend just 5 hours a day working.
(10) Who are your business heroes and why?
My business heroes are Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and Marrisa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo. Both of them are extremely inspirational business figures leading the way for women in technology not only in Silicon Valley but also globally. I think there is still poor gender balance in tech business and having seen more women getting a high position is very promising and motivating.
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