The Adelaide start-up making the world of work a better place.
Noelle and Ben Smit came from very different professional backgrounds, but their entrepreneurial drives were well-matched.
The couple grew their first venture from one of Ben’s final year university projects in 2008 – building an idea into a business while Noelle was working full-time in the environmental management sector and Ben was transitioning out of a career in IT.
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Choosing to make the leap into start-up land when already comfortably ensconced in a stable career is hard, but Ben and Noelle were always entrepreneurially inclined.
“The joke story I tell,” says Ben, “is that between high school and uni, I was selling these products on eBay… and it was great, but it got to the point where I had guys delivering palettes of things to my house. Mum said, ‘you need to find somewhere else to do this because my living room is gone’.”
“My story is a bit different to Ben’s,” says Noelle. “I grew up with what I think would be called entrepreneurial parents – they never referred to themselves as that, but they built two successful businesses and sold both of them – so… I kind of just grew up with a lot of things that I can see now are integral to running a growing business.”
That first project the pair launched became UniOne, which Noelle describes as “a student activity software management tool for universities”, and it became the first product of their software company called Code360. UniOne is now used by 13 universities across Australia, and Noelle and Ben have both been working full time in the business since 2010.
But it’s a newer enterprise that is generating hype and growth for Noelle and Ben in 2017. Teamgage is a subscription software that Noelle and Ben launched in May last year.
While they had plenty of work to do with Code360 and UniOne, Noelle and Ben decided to also develop Teamgage after identifying a desperate need for better team and performance management tools.
“We both had experience in larger organisations and one of the problems we noticed independently was we were part of teams at good companies with good people, but they under-performed or we had teams with an eighty per cent turnover rate,” says Ben.
“So the idea behind Teamgage is really to create a culture of embracing change and continuous improvement so everyone in the organisation is working toward getting better.”
The software allows employees to give real-time, anonymous feedback on things like workload, energy levels, management effectiveness, and fulfilment via a 20 second survey, and also engages them in finding solutions to problems in a business.
“We can help people enjoy work more and feel like they’re improving and having an impact,” says Noelle.
“And then there’s the other side, which is helping these large organisations change and face the challenges that are coming at us hard in this fast-changing world, so that’s exciting and we’ve had some really great early traction.”
For Teamgage, Noelle and Ben are looking toward a global market. Now working with a team of six full-time employees, they are pushing the subscription software out to the world – concentrating initially on the Asia Pacific and the USA.
Last week, Teamgage was picked as one of only ten companies (many of which are from interstate or overseas) to participate in the first ever Techstars accelerator based in Adelaide. Techstars is a global network, and Noelle and Ben are excited about the opportunities that could arise from the program.
“Techstars coming to Adelaide and bringing their global network to us is very exciting and, without them, it’s probably something that would have taken us years to build up ourselves,” says Noelle.
But, while Noelle and Ben’s sights are set internationally – their feet are firmly planted in Adelaide, and that’s where they’ll remain.
“SA is home for us. We’ve grown up here, we’ve studied here, we had great first jobs here out of uni, and it’s been good to us,” says Noelle.
“We want to take what we’ve been given and give back and keep growing. We want to grow a big company here and create jobs, and we want to help the other companies that are here perform better.”