Global connections made at the Pacific Connect ‘Women in Business & Digital Delivery’ Dialogue in Brisbane, Australia!

A warm and welcoming hug by the distinguished Special Advisor for ICDP, Taulapapa Brenda Heather-Latu from Samoa, set the tone for the Pacific Connect dialogue that took place in Brisbane recently.

As a guest presenter, I was asked to deliver a presentation about my technology business, inndox, and to talk about the challenges faced in trying to run a successful digital business in Australia. I was told that my audience would be female entrepreneurs, business owners and ICT specialists from New Zealand, Samoa, Tonga, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji who would be interested in networking and learning about how IT innovation could help with development in the Pacific nations.

In preparation for the event, I did some reading and was struck by the potency of the message conveyed in the 2017 report titled Women’s Economic Empowerment in the Pacific that: ‘where women can achieve their economic potential, economies grow, societies prosper, families are wealthier, (more educated) and more resilient (making the world a better place).’ To me, the message was loud and clear – we definitely need to encourage and empower women in our communities because it is the women who are instrumental in bringing about significant and long-lasting change that will benefit future generations. As technology plays an important and integral role in most businesses, it has become ever more urgent that we all learn and adapt quickly lest we get left behind.

So, it was with the purpose of encouraging other like-minded women in business, that I told my story of how I went from being a tech founder of a not-for-profit business to help children back in 1999, to being a property lawyer, then business owner, and now the CEO of a software business.

I spoke about how I wanted to change our property laws in the interest of fairness and that I had submitted a petition that was sponsored by a parliamentary Minister and tabled in Queensland State Parliament in August 2016. I went on to explain that despite the petition, I was frustrated because I knew that laws do not change overnight – laws can take years or even decades to change. I relayed that because I was driven by a purpose – to make a difference in the property industry – that strong sense of purpose became the motivator to keep me searching to find a better, quicker way and that is why I turned to technology.

My re-entry into the technology space was daunting and difficult at times but I remained determined. I successfully launched inndox – a property app for builders and property owners, into the marketplace in 2018. The app is now being used by customers in the ACT and across three states of Australia and there are plans to expand into international markets.

Trish speaking at the Pacific Connect Network Dialogue

As part of the presentation, I shared some lessons learnt throughout my journey by listening to other founders, business mentors, reading and by just doing!

The 5 tips that helped me overcome challenges along the way were:

  1. Have a strong sense of purpose. Knowing that you are in business to help others is a powerful motivator whenever times get tough.
  2. Set one big audacious goal each year. I use this as a beacon to help with my decision-making as I often find it difficult to say no.
  3. Be self-aware. It is important to know your true strengths and weaknesses and then find ways of overcoming those weaknesses so that you create the most capable team.
  4. Find your ‘tribe’ as success brings success. According to Oprah Winfrey: “Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher.”
  5. Customers are your gold. Listen and spend time with them to understand their needs and wants then find ways to make their lives easier, better, less stressful, less costly. This will give your business a competitive edge. “If you don’t listen to your customers, someone else will” according to a quote by Sam Walton.

My presentation ended with a quote (from the same paper referenced earlier): “Women’s economic empowerment is a matter of human rights and social justice”.

In my view this is a fundamental right that should exist in every nation but unfortunately it does not. To help improve the situation, we need programs such as the Pacific Connect Network Dialogue because it supports and facilitates the sharing of important knowledge and business experiences – it provides opportunities to network and make real and enduring business connections that should lead to increased economic prosperity.

The next presentation by Sarah Mak, co-founder of Folktale, a visual story-telling app, was very inspiring. Her desire to empower people and businesses to tell their own stories was well demonstrated in the authentic and emotionally-charged video clips presented to us.

Following the presentations and panel discussions, I quickly learned that my challenges in Australia paled into insignificance compared to other remarkable stories shared during the dialogue. Some obstacles regularly encountered by the Pacific women seemed insurmountable to me! Yet despite such incredible difficulties and hardships they often faced daily, they seemed incredibly optimistic.

Some of the actionable outcomes of the dialogue included launching a waste management project; establishing a new support network in Fiji; designing more inclusive apps for people with disabilities; launching incubator programs for smart business ideas and many more exciting projects that will make a positive impact on the communities and businesses into the future.

inndox is a property app for managing and maintaining property assets. This includes property records, appliance manuals, building plans, warranties, certificates, specifications, tenancy agreements,insurance policies etc. No need to worry about paper files going astray when managers leave or the owner dies or getting damaged or destroyed due to natural disasters such as flood, cyclone, fire or earthquake. All that important and valuable information can now be safely stored and accessible by the property owner on their mobile phone. inndox is FREE for the first 12 months and only $2 AUS per month if continued.

Builders use inndox to provide better customer service by giving owners a “digital handover” of the property via the app. Builders globally can use inndox to help them with compliance and save them money. The cost is only $49 AUS dollars one-off fee for each property handover.

Trish Mackie-Smith

CEO, inndox

A former property lawyer and co-founder of Australia’s most awarded building consultancy, she was a finalist for Optus MyBusiness Businesswoman of the Year 2016.