An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Matt Tresidder (co-founder and CEO) of Leadr, which was honored in our:
Tell us the origin story of Leadr – what problem were you trying to solve and why?
As a 29-year old manager of 130 employees, I learned the value of the top performer. One employee, in particular, stood out to me. He had a will to improve, a connection to the mission, and empathy for our customers. I knew if I had 50 more people like this, we would win.
I began to try and screen for these intrinsic qualities in the interview process. Yet, even with an updated hiring process and an idea of the qualities which made for a high-impact employee, I kept getting disappointed. I would assume the best but only succeed with one out of 10 hires. The other nine were decent team members, yet they weren’t yearning to grow or improve, and this lack of desire hurt the business. We needed innovation and engagement from all levels and never got it from most of the staff.
When I think about an audacious problem worth solving, I think about the 90% I could never seem to reach consistently.
At Leadr, we’re building a new kind of people development software that empowers managers with the tools they need to develop leaders at all levels of the organization. Could the right people development software change the culture of an organization by engaging with the 90%? We’re going to find out.
What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?
Three particular challenges come to mind: (1) building MVP, (2) launching amidst COVID, and (3) building culture with a remote/hybrid team:
- We outsourced version 1 of the product with an offshore team. This resulted in 9 months of us spinning our tires with a below par product. I’d strongly recommend against doing this for your MVP unless you have leadership on the ground full-time.
- We started selling in March 2020. Great time to launch, am I right? As you can imagine, this was a time filled with doubts and hesitation. In hindsight, we’re really glad we decided to push forward. A lot of organizations needed a tool like Leadr amidst all of their team transitions.
- We have around 60 staff, split evenly between DFW and around the country. Not creating a split culture of people being perceived as the ‘A Team’ or ‘B Team’ based on being around the team and/or having the flexibility to work remotely has been challenging.
What does the future hold for Leadr?
From the initial onboarding process to ongoing one-on-one meetings, our goal is to help leaders build new habits and rhythms to engage and grow every employee. Within that scope, we are just getting started. We started in the leadership development and HR space but have recently added health plans to our offerings which helps us further address the holistic employee experience.
What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in Plano?
Plano is booming with opportunity. We moved to the Dallas-Fort Worth area for advantages such as easier air travel for prospects and customers, a lower hiring cost, and a time zone that can flex with more prospects. In addition, we took advantage of the special economic zone in east Plano for tax purposes.
What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
- Once you’ve led one thing, you can lead anything. Just keep growing.
- Culture drift – culture eats strategy for breakfast – prioritize this over everything. I recommend establishing core values early on.
- Only start a company if you couldn’t live with yourself if you didn’t. It’s great work but hard work that takes unparalleled passion.
- Create clear boundaries early in your career if you want to lead well without burning out – this includes mental and emotional boundaries.