Many of you were at the Brad Feld event after work yesterday–wasn't it great? Still, it was interesting to see just how few women were there. And as a woman who is looking for mentorship and advice about starting up, sometimes it's nice to sit down with– well, I'll be honest, another woman–who has done the same. (No disregard to any of the wonderful men who have spent time giving us advice, you've been supportive and great!) That's why I was very excited to interview Sarah Morton, CEO of Backbone Systems about her road to building a successful IT company.
1. What is the core business of Backbone systems and how did you get the idea to start it?
Backbone Systems delivers IT on tap, that being we host business IT systems that every business needs via the internet, much more cost effectively than running it in-house. We allow owners to concentrate on running their businesses rather than running technology. We keep the geeks away from the end user and deliver a solution that just works – simply and without any fuss.
I got the idea for Backbone while working for a software company, at that time I saw business owners struggling with the same IT problems; each individually trying to fix it themselves. I thought a better solution would be to develop a kind of co-op model, whereby Backbone hosts and manages the systems, such as email, off-site backup, and the cost is shared among our clients.
2. What makes someone an entrepreneur? A good one perhaps?
The ingredients are: a great idea, a strong vision for how that idea will make money and a willingness to take a few risks to see that vision a reality. And can survive on very little sleep!
3. What were your biggest challenges at the start?
The immense amount of work involved in starting a company, and getting people to understand what I had in mind for the business.
4. Best or worst reasons to startup in Vancouver?
Best – you can work all day and get a full night of skiing in! That or head to the beach after work.
5. Advice for entrepreneurs? Females in particular?
Make sure there is a market for your product, and make sure you believe in what you’re doing because a lot of people will have a lot of different opinions and you will need to navigate all that ‘good’ advice.
6. Has the slow economy impacted your business?
Yes, in a positive way because businesses are looking to save money and our products do that. Instead of spending loads of money on in house systems, companies are realizing they need to manage their costs, which the pay as you go model allows them to do, by paying for what they use and the number of people who use it, rather than one big purchase.
7. The future of women in tech? What are the challenges, advantages, where do you see it going?
I think the line-ups for the ladies bathrooms at technology events are going to become a lot longer!