Many businesses have started with owners daring to try things a different way – and IrisPR Software is no exception.
“I was having challenges and wanted to grow my public relations agency [then Ubiquity PR],” says IrisPR CEO and Founder Aly Saxe. “I just felt that we could be much more efficient and use our client’s budgets more efficiently – that we could do better by them.”
Aly says that as her PR company grew, it became more difficult to guarantee that the agency was delivering the best possible results for clients without having a clear view of what was and wasn’t working.
She sat down with a mentor and went through the type of matrix she sought for what she was trying to do. He suggested that she hire a software developer. Aly did just that.
The new software became her agency’s proprietary tool. In just a couple of years, she started to notice the difference the software was making in her agency; so she decided to distribute it to the industry at large.
“I didn’t spend the money to build it, or continue to build it, for the benefit of anyone but my own agency,” says Aly. Then she realized she could have a bigger impact on the public relations industry by sharing it.
She explains that the software “helps companies get the best possible PR for their investment and helps them quantify that investment.”
While Aly brought on her first IrisPR Software customers in 2013, she says that “we really didn’t start ‘going for it’ until 2015. Those early customers were all word of mouth.” After things got rolling, she shut down Ubiquity PR.
Though she had run her own business for many years, she admits that the business approach to services is very different from that of products. She took some lessons learned from running the other company and applied them. Still, Aly “really had to learn everything from scratch to run a product company.”
Two of the most surprising challenges came from the product itself. “I really underestimated the pace of scaling,” says Aly. “There was so much we had to learn; it really took a lot longer than I had envisioned to figure that out. Software is a very challenging thing and to do it right costs a lot of money. I always wondered why tech companies raised so much money before they even got to revenue and now I understand why – it costs a lot to build quality software.”
Aly says that everyone in the technical field whom she spoke to about her endeavor warned her that it will “‘cost twice as much and take twice as long as you think it will’ – and they were right!”
Though Aly works in the male-dominated software industry, she has only encountered sexism a few times, and never from other software executives. “The Phoenix tech community is very progressive,” says Aly. “[Executives are] very open and working hard to create an environment of gender equality. I am very proud of that.”
Aly has also found her own community, guided by her roots. “My faith taught me to establish a community and to lean on that community, which I think is a really cool part of American Judaism. I think I have found that in the tech world in Phoenix,” says Aly. “I’ve got a really good support system here, which is really important for a start-up [company].”
When asked what advice she has for other women who want to start their own business, her words are thoughtful and sincere: “There’s never a good time and it’s always the right time – so stop talking yourself out of it! You’re not going to be successful overnight. You might not even be successful in the first three years; very few entrepreneurs are. But don’t give up because it’s hard.”
As for her own business, Aly says, “It’s good to have healthy skepticism. We are definitely in a less vulnerable place now than when we started. We have great customers and they are growing with us. My goal is to make it as big as possible, as quickly as possible. We want to be the [software] cornerstone of the PR industry.”
Reach IrisPR Software at 888-869-6645 or visit irispr.com.