Name: Darlene Menzies
Companies and Designation: The Development House (TDH) – Founder and Chairman, SMEasy Business Software Pty Ltd – Founder and CEO
What do you do every day? Team role – leader and innovator. I run a business that develops simple scalable software solutions that address gaps in the small business market. I enjoy the risk and challenge involved in taking an idea from concept to commercialisation – going from initial ideation and market research to product design, the development of a minimal viable product, market piloting to demonstrate early user traction and then raising venture capital to fund product commercialisation. In terms of my role in the team I am the ideas person, the team leader as well as the product evangelist. I love my job.
How did you get into the tech space? I started work as a bank teller and got involved in the bank’s IT division through my interest in helping test new IT systems that were being implemented in the bank at the time. I was moved to the regional IT division in KZN in the late eighties, there were no ladies in the division at the time. I worked in corporate IT for 15 years before starting my own software development business in 2004.
What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? If you don’t totally love what you’re doing stop doing it, immediately…then do everything you can to get started doing what you are passionate about. This one decision will change your whole life.
What advice would you given someone wanting to get into the tech sector? I encourage them to do it, it’s the future, the opportunities are endless. I tell them they have to be prepared to work hard, very hard. If they are starting a tech business I usually tell them to be prepared to make big sacrifices and take massive risks, the rewards down the road will far outweigh the sacrifices in the early years. Also that the key to success and growth is your team. If you focus on building your team, your team will build your business.
For people who ask me if I have any particular advice for women wanting to get in tech – I tell them to forget about gender and just do what they are gifted to do and passionate about, that is what will ensure their success. It’s not about gender, it’s about ability, timing, hard work and a bit of luck!
What motivates you to get out of bed every day? I totally LOVE what I do; I would do it even if I didn’t get paid. I wake up on a Saturday and Monday feeling equally excited about the day ahead.
Who do you want to be when you grow up? A mix of Melinda Gates, Hillary Clinton, Meryl Streep and Katy Perry… LOL. I think all these ladies are incredible in their own fields! Seriously, I want to be me but with loads more money; I would like to be able to make the kind of social and economic impact that someone like Melinda Gates is making. It’s a privilege to be able to change people’s lives.