RISE Entrepreneur Spotlight: Paula Soileau
One of our founders, Paula Soileau was recently featured in the RISE Entrepreneur Spotlight. RISE is an incredible organization and we encourage you to learn more about them here.
Paula Soileau’s confident, concise business pitch won the interest of the judges at our June Fast Pitch by a landslide. Managing to keep her calm, she answered every single question with poise and humility at the same time – and it didn’t hurt that the very concept she was pitching was fascinating to everyone in the room. After all, what could be more relevant in the state of our economy than a solution that predicts job success formulas, results in increased productivity, enhances work culture, and reduces costs? Read on to learn more about Paula’s experience at the RISE & Rice Alliance Fast Pitch.
Can you share more of what Affintus is about? (you’ve got more than 60 seconds this time!)
In 2008, Deborah Kerr, Dennis Wilson and myself, decided to offer a solution to two problems: businesses constantly challenged to hire the right employees or plagued by high turnover and poor performance, and the some 60% of the workforce who is unhappy in their position, underemployed, or unemployed.
That solution, which applies 50 years of science, generates company-specific, predictive job success formulas that are used to immediately identify job candidates with the highest likelihood of success. The algorithm is based on cognitive ability, personality traits and work culture—yielding top performing employees that align with the company work culture and outperform average employees by as much as 40%. For the last 2 years the company has been working with beta customers. We are currently working on a small round of angel funding and are positioned for a full-scale launch before year-end.
How did you prepare for the Fast Pitch?
We did a few things that most companies pitching do – we practiced our pitch in front of “friendly fire.” Some of the best advice that we received was to “tell our story” rather than give a formulaic presentation. We integrated customer results into our story, with the goal being to convey what we did in a way that the audience would understand and relate to us. Based on audience feedback, we definitely achieved that goal.
Did you make any business relationships as a result of your participation?
We’ve made quite a few relationships as a result of the Fast Pitch. One of our key advisors now is someone we met the night of the pitch. We’ve met several prospective customers too. And most importantly, we received quite a bit of media exposure and our name is more recognized in our community.
How are you overcoming any major challenges you’ve faced in the life of your start-up?
One of our major challenges has been that we bootstrapped our business, so resources have been limited. We were fortunate to get a line of credit with a bank in late 2008, when credit virtually dried up, and we realize how unusual that was for any business especially at that time. However, that small bank was the Affintus lifeline through our R&D and early startup phase.
Any not-so-obvious lessons you’ve learned along the way?
I’ve been overwhelmed with how much help others are willing to give if you just ask. People involved with RISE and so many other groups and individuals have been extremely generous with their time and have made a huge difference for our company. We’re fortunate to be in Austin, but I think wherever someone is based, they should take a chance by connecting with others and ask for help.
Looking back, it would have been helpful to have formed a well-rounded team earlier. We would have benefited from more secondary market research earlier on. It would also have helped us to identify key advisors earlier in the process.
Any blogs or books you suggest for our readers?
We try to follow quite a few blogs and e-news for businesses and startups. A few of them are Inc.com and many of their subgroups, The Leadership Blog, Startup America, and of course RISE. We also follow quite a few that are local – Austin is a great place for information sharing and has quite a few entrepreneurial groups and blogs that are helpful to us.
Any news you’d like to share about Affintus?