Melissa Kwan created her first software company in 2014 and then sold it in 2019. It was extremely difficult to start and even harder to grow, but it’s how she learned what not to do in her next startup and what was really “non-negotiable” in her life. Now she’s a nomadic world traveler and the founder of a growing software business.
Melissa started Spacio to provide a technology solution to residential real estate agents to capture visitor names electronically at open houses. It took years to find the right features that someone would pay for while tapping out her savings–and her family support. She sold the profitable business in frustration when she was no longer having fun and wanted new challenges.
Melissa started her second software business, eWebinar, to solve a painful problem she faced while selling and supporting software. eWebinar is an automated webinar platform that provides interactivity and real-time chat support for software companies. Her latest business also supports her personal priorities, including traveling around the world and working from anywhere.
“It wasn’t until then that I realized how awesome it was to call all of my own shots and how great it was to never think about needing to go ask someone else for money again. I was also hearing stories from my friends about how if they could choose all over again they just wouldn’t go and raise VC money,” Melissa explained.
“And then so you start to think, maybe I’m doing it right. According to what I want. And maybe all of that other glory is not as good as it sounds. So I kind of went through that transition of really wanting to be like everyone else. And then, after a few years, earning that freedom and thinking, I’m so glad I have this right now!”
In this episode, Melissa explains:
- The hardest lessons she learned from her first software company which helped her design her second startup in a different way
- Why she was frustrated selling to the real estate market and why she chose to serve software companies with eWebinar
- The pervasive myth of big funding, unicorn exits, and ego-driven ecosystems that ultimately rob founders of their own freedom and control
- What success means to her and how she is creating her business to support her version of happiness
- How she bootstrapped eWebinar with small investments from friends and how she is growing it steadily each month
- Why a “5% better” product design and customer experience “that just works beautifully” is their key competitive advantage
- Why nobody wants to talk to a salesperson just to get a demo of a business software product
Spacio Company Facts
- Founded: 2014
- Practical Funding Type: Self-funding, friends and family angel funding, personal debt, and debt from her parents
- Number of Employees: 5
- Acquisition: Acquired by Homespotter in 2019 for an undisclosed sum
- Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
eWebinar Company Facts
- Founded: 2019
- Practical Funding Type: Self-funded with some angel investment from friends and family
- Number of Employees: 2 co-founders and 6 full-time contractors
- Location: Vancouver and Amsterdam, or wherever in the world Melissa is traveling
- Melissa Kwan on LinkedIn
- Articles from Melissa
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