How I Succeeded: Mad Paws’ Alexis Soulopoulos

Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. Today: Alexis Soulopoulos, CEO of Mad Paws.

Current gig: Mad Paws, Australia’s #1 pet services market

Location: Sydney, Australia

Current mobile device: iPhone 6

Current computer: Macbook Pro

One word that best describes how you work: Working with fantastic people

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

Campaign monitor is excellent e-mail software. It’s connected to our database, which allows us to send hyper targeted e-mails to customers with relevant content, for example: “5 ways to keep your Border Colie active during Winter”. I love Mixpanel, an analytics software to keep track of all metrics of our business. It’s great to analyse user behaviour, find out who your most profitable customer segments are and how often they use your service. I use it on a daily basis. Google Analytics is great to track website traffic and to analyse effects for promotional things, for example a television appearance. GA is free software and any company starting up should use it!

What social network do you find the most useful?

LinkedIn, it’s extremely useful for business and networking.

What were the most important lessons you learned while growing your business?

Culture is crucial. Being a high-growth start-up, we are extremely numbers driven and at times its tempting to place less emphasis on softer elements of the business such as company culture. However, company culture is what makes or breaks a company. Culture begins to form the moment your startup has a team of more than one and it’s everyone’s responsibility to shape it together. When culture is great, people are motivated and excited to come to work and get results by working together as one team.

What has been the most surprising part of your business journey?

People management. Prior to my role as CEO at Mad Paws, I didn’t have much experience in managing people and I underestimated the complexity, but also the enormous gratification and potential of effective team management.

What’s your sleep routine like?

I make sure to sleep 7 – 8 hours every night. This ensures my productivity the next day is on top.

What advice would you offer to other businesses on how to succeed?

1) Focus. It always seems to be so much to do in a startup, yet resources are scarce. Therefore, it’s super important to be laser focused. Define one metric that you will maximise and then do whatever it takes to grow that metric 5%-7% per week. For Mad Paws, this is the number of weekly bookings.

2) WOW your customers. By going above and beyond when helping your customers, you create a WOW experience that happy customers will tell their friends about. In addition, you will learn about everything the customer likes – and equally important – hates about your startup. This is how you improve and build a solution that people will love.

3) Good is great but perfect is too much. In high-growth start-ups, speed is often more important than perfection. We rather roll out a product feature 80% perfect and on time, rather than 100% perfect and 4 weeks late. In any case, what you may think is perfect is often not the same for others. We learn to optimise by placing our technology in the hands of consumers sooner rather than later and we continuously improve from their feedback.