Kate Mitchell is a Premium member of Business Chicks and Founder and CEO of A Perfect Space. Except, this isn’t Kate’s first rodeo and she’s been learning a whole bunch of business lessons to make this one a success. This is her story…
What were you doing before A Perfect Space?
For over 24 years I worked in media, tapping into all sectors of advertising, agency, client and media sales. I always had an inkling to work for myself, which grew to my first start up, KIDS CONNECT back in 2003, but it wasn’t until my last start up Love to Share Food that I really found my feet in this space. This was a digital start up that was a seven-part series appearing on Network Ten. Through the frustrations of location scouting for the series I knew there must be an easier way to scout and book locations, which fuelled my fourth start up two years ago called A Perfect Space.
Can you tell us a little bit about your business, A Perfect Space?
A Perfect Space is a multi-facet marketplace that brings together locations for content creators and producers who need great spaces to hire. Whether you are looking for a unique private event space to house your next conference or want to create a new suite of content for your Instagram feed, or work in TV like me and found the process excruciating, we have 900 locations that are curated on our platform with a vision for another 1500 over the next 12 months. Through tech tools developed in the website you instant access fit-for-purpose locations and connections with local experts wherever you are.
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We have a number of event ready locations in Australia, Los Angeles and Bali. With a designated event planner at your disposal, share the stress of finding the perfect location with us. #aperfectspace #aperfectevent . . . . #eventready #highendevents #productlaunches #parties #weddings #fashionevents #launch #photography #photographers #stylists #florists
Before launching A Perfect Space, we understand there were two previous business failures (or lessons!). Can you talk us through those a little bit?
#1: My first business hiccup was KIDS CONNECT, a space to help parents make better choices for their kids. I was bought in via a friend’s connection where I invested $75K of my own money. I ended up funding the business through my agency, with only 10% shareholding and no say in the management and day to day – I never saw the books.
Lesson: Never ever give your time or money without seeing a plan, KPIs and having a shareholder’s agreement.
#2: I had a small digital agency called Tomorrow Marketing, which I was running whilst also trying to build KIDS CONNECT. As a result of the pressure and taking my eye off the ball this business suffered. Even though we were billing over $3 million a year I had a team of six full timers and outsourced all my accounts and services to a large multinational group whom I had worked with for years. After I negotiated a sale to a large group, they reviewed the books and had found major fraud. My accountant had siphoned $300K from me without my knowledge, had not paid PAYG or Super for three years and this resulted in me filing for voluntary administration (P.S. I had just found out I was having twins at this time!). Every one of my team sued me for their unpaid super and four major brands were going to bankrupt me.
Lesson: Never allow any accountant to have access to your bank account without your signoff. And do not reply on reports provided by suppliers – you need to verify this information.
What did you learn through the first tries that has set up A Perfect Space for success?
I have learnt that nobody will believe in your idea the same way you do, which is why you mustn’t give up on this. Make sure to establish a strong plan and don’t waste money when your business is moving quickly. Alongside the business elements you must also consider thinking about building a great team and strong culture alongside the product you are growing. Choose your team wisely.
What are the best qualities you bring as a leader?
I’m a visionary – I have had this business mapped, validated and built in my head for three years. I have the next ten years planned out, so my challenge is to be able to articulate this effectively and ensure I don’t leave the team behind scratching their heads.
I have never ever given up. If I set my mind to something, I can convince anyone it will work, I just need to make sure it is a great unique proposition and scalable before spending money.
Who are the most important people in your support network and why?
I have a huge support network both personally and professionally and they all provide something that has helped me to date. On a personal level both my ex and current husband are my biggest supporters and have to be with seven kids between us. My sister and mother have always been there for me and will continue to be a huge help in allowing me to grow my business. On a professional level, I have three mentors who offer to be candid and direct when needed, but also act as a sounding board, which you absolutely need. I’ve just joined two boards that are peer to peer business boards of successful companies to also network and leverage for this next global scale of my business.
What project are you working on right now that you’re most excited about?
We are launching a brand-new version of our website in the next two weeks and it will blow the market away. I have worked for the past eight months on this stage and I know this will launch us to the next big stage of our growth.