Lean In. Tech Won’t Bite
I grew up in an ancient time, when television was black and white, radio was the only source of music, a home phone was considered luxury and the Internet was a distant dream.
Despite such beginnings, I launched head-first into tech at age 30. I assembled a crew of volunteers, gathered all my gumption, and produced a pilot show for Optus Vision’s new cable network. It was called ‘Straight Talk’ and featured a panel of twenty year old’s talking about what it means to be young and their views on cultural shifts in values and ideas. The show was a hit and we went on to produce 20 episodes. This prompted Optus to back my next venture, which was called TV.com. This show aimed to demystify technology, break it down and help the audience understand how tech works. The irony of it! A technophobe directing a show on tech!
Then came Media Minds, a 2-day hands-on video production workshop for grade 5 and 6 students. Sponsored by Apple and Optus Vision, we successfully ran over 300 workshops in schools across Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide.
At this point, I still had little knowledge of tech. The internet was just starting to become a household asset. Mobile phones were still the size of a brick and social media wasn’t even a word yet. What I did have and what I’ve always had, is a very clear vision of what I want to create. I don’t have to know how to do it and I don’t dwell on what I can’t do. I either learn how to do it myself, or I find others who can.
More shows followed and other production opportunities. I began hosting women’s business events and used our technology platform to market them. Within a few years, our team was hosting events in 5 major cities across the country.
It was 2010 when Cancer came knocking on my door and technology saved my sanity. After a radical nephrectomy (cancer and kidney removal) I had to spend months in bed recovering. I asked myself ‘how can I keep my brand alive without needing to look good, feel good or go anywhere?’ Then it came to me – with my production background, I decided to produce a podcast show. I could interview people in bed in my pj’s and no-one would be the wiser. I researched how to do it, hired a producer in the USA and a month later I was interviewing CEO’s from all around the world – in bed. My first guest was Poppy King the Lipstick Queen in NY, then Dianna Williams from Fernwood, Kerri Pottharst – Olympic Gold Medallist and the list went on.
Podcasting hadn’t yet hit the B2B market in Australia and I was considered somewhat of a tech pioneer. So I decided to produce a webinar series called The Podcast Masterclass, to teach others how to do it. By now a faithful convert to the power of tech, I started investing in, and advising, other tech companies.
As you can see, I never intended to pursue a career in tech. It has been a series of decisions and circumstances that have led me here. Throughout it all, I have tried to epitomise the ‘can-do’ approach to life. Don’t fear it, just get stuck in.
Fast forward a few years, and I launched my first start-up – The Room Xchange. All these years I have been preparing myself for this moment. Everything I learned along the way, the mistakes, the highs and lows, the contacts I’ve made, all prepared me for this moment in time.
The Room Xchange is an online platform that connects time-poor households with guests who provide 2 hours of domestic help around the house each day in exchange for food and accommodation. I re-mortgaged my house to self-fund the first two years. With the support of Thundering Herd I then raised over $500k in my first capital raise. Over the last four months, we’ve been building our tech platform and we just launched it a week ago. We have a team of 15 people, we’ve won two business awards, have registrations in 35 countries and we’ve only just launched.
Over the journey, I’ve had many opportunities for mistakes and the challenges have come thick and fast.
One of the biggest hurdles for entrepreneurs is the juggling game, especially when it comes to family. In my case, I was a full-time caregiver and home-schooled my two children until they were in their teens, but I was lucky enough to have a wonderfully supportive husband and in-laws who helped immensely during this time. I often reflect on this time and feel grateful for honing my juggling skills, which have been an invaluable asset in my business.
Technology is a part of our everyday lives now. Children today are born into it, infants have a digital footprint not long after they take their first breath. Business is no longer about tech; business is tech. Everyone in business needs to embrace technology, not as a core part of doing business, but as a core part of life. No matter how old you are or what your gender is, you can no longer use the excuse that you don’t understand it. Look at me. I was in my 30’s when I first came across tech and now, 21 years later, at 51, I’m building tech.
Take a moment every day to learn something new. With online courses such as Udemy, you can learn so much for so little. I’m constantly studying something new. Whether it’s tech, art, cooking or business. Technology has brought the world to our fingertips. Information is just a click away. Embrace it, lean into it. It’s not going anywhere.
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Ludwina is a successful and multi-award-winning entrepreneur with over 2 decades of start-up and digital media experience. As founder and CEO of The Room Xchange, Ludwina brings her years of expertise, including digital, new media, business, marketing and communications.
Find The Room Xchange at – www.theroomxchange.com
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