Lauren Hall says she was born to be an entrepreneur.
Now, by working to build a billion dollar company, she hopes to complete a major exit in the future and become a role model for other female entrepreneurs.
Hall’s the co-founder of all-in-one events platform iVvy, and is already very much a role model for ambitious women everywhere.
She’s raised more than $6 million in capital to build the business, and last year launched the world’s first real-time booking engine for the events industry.
With plans to build a global footprint within three years, Hall’s just been selected as one of five Australians to take part in the Asia Pacific class of EY’s Entrepreneurial Winning Women program.
Below she shares what makes a successful entrepreneur, and how and why she put herself on this path.
Who or what inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
I believe I was born an Entrepreneur. It’s absolutely in my DNA. Since the age of 9, I have always wanted to control my own destiny and never be controlled by others. My father was a great example of a true Entrepreneur and worked at a very high level in the corporate world for which I learnt so much from his relentlessness and pursuit of success.
Have you ever worked for anyone else?
Very early on in my career I worked three jobs whilst studying at night including working for my father in his Retail Manufacturing and Distribution Company (FMCG). I started my first company when I was 17 years old and never looked back. I have built 5 companies from manufacturing, pharmaceutical, to digital agencies and technology companies so have been self-employed ever since I started. When you are an entrepreneur the only way you will ever be happy is to lead from the front and create the world in which you want to live.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
Through my digital advertising agency in South Africa I was involved in organising events for large corporates. One of the major challenges I experienced was the time it took to source pricing and availability for both venues and suppliers. Everything was very manual and time consuming, and it was a real pain point that not only I was experiencing. I simply wanted to be able to sit in front of my computer and search for a venue or supplier that was available on a specific day and how much it cost. So I set on a journey to change an entire industry and iVvy was born. It took 6 years to build but on the 29th July 2015 we successfully launched the world’s first real-time booking engine for the events industry.
Can you name three contributing factors that have led to success so far?
There were essentially three main factors. The first factor was finding my co-founder James Greig (Technical Genius) who was prepared to build my technology and deliver a global platform to the market.
The second was having shareholders who believed in our capability and backed us financially with more than $6M in capital.
The third factor was finding key staff that were absolutely pivotal to our success. Without all of them, iVvy would be a dream and not a reality.
What number one trait makes a successful entrepreneur?
A will to never ever give up, no matter how hard the journey may seem. It really is undeniable tenacity and endurance.
As well as your business, what other priorities do you juggle?
I have two young boys and a loving husband, and as I travel so much, balancing my home life and spending quality time with them is really important to me. Trying to manage their schedules as well as trying to get in some exercise is really challenging. I am very fortunate to have such an incredible husband who shares a large portion of the responsibility on the home-front, whilst running his own business, and who really supports my dream to change the world, because without him none of this would be possible.
Can you describe an ‘average day in the life’?
I rise at 6am and head straight for the coffee machine. I can’t function without my first cup of coffee. I then help get the boys ready for school, and if I finish early enough I hop onto my spin bike and treadmill for 30mins, which is not as often as I would like! I then head to the office or to meetings, and generally return home around 7pm. I then enjoy dinner with the family, put the boys to bed and continue working until around 12am. That is a typical day for me.
What books and online publications do you read to keep up?
I read a lot of books on building companies for growth, team management, capital acquisitions and success stories like Google story, Naked CEO, Screw it, just do it. I subscribe to CEO Magazine and read all industry publications like Spice News , Business Events News, CIM Magazine, micenet, Australian Anthill Magazine, Women’s Agenda, Financial Review, TechCrunch , Startup Smart to name a few.
What needs to change in Australia for us to see more successful female entrepreneurs?
I believe there needs to be a cultural shift to remove the ‘Tall Poppy’ syndrome and celebrate the successes of amazing women. Women need 3 key things, access to capital, a community of support to profile and connect them, and lots of encouragement to improve their confidence and ability to believe in themselves.
It all starts by building a sustainable ecosystem through programs and education whereby we can bring corporate Australia and Government together to participate in the real needs of the female Entrepreneur, which in turn will drive innovation.
What opportunities are you hoping to gain from the EY program?
I am hoping being selected for the EY program will assist in opening global connections which will build new customers, investors, advisors and long term relationships with other alumnae.
What are your future ambitions for the business?
My goal is to have a global footprint within 3 years, and become a multi-billion dollar organisation. I would like to take this company to an IPO and become a role model for all women in technology.
Which women inspire you?
Ita Buttrose, Naomi Simson, Gina Rinehart, Janine Allis, Sheryl Sandberg and Hillary Clinton.