In her pitch at the Microsoft Accelerator demo day, Faith Forster compared her product Pinipa to an X-Ray, “it gives you visibility through the organisation but only highlights what matters: through analytics and real-time updates we drive business agility,” she said. An enterprise SaaS platform Pinipa is one of the Microsoft Accelerator startups that already acquired some high-profile customers and secured long-lasting partnerships.
As a project oversight tool, Pinipa makes engaging stakeholders easy. It helps reduce project admin through targeted stakeholder updates and makes visible progress with discussions and decisions all in real time. “We are transforming the very heart of what it means to manage a business,” says Faith who spent 10 years as a change consultant. ‘Moving from a corporate to a startup’, ‘Building a functional team’ and ‘Executing a startup idea’ are just some of the topics she gave us insights into in this interview.
You have over ten years of experience in the business transformation industry. How did it help you whilst executing your own idea?
Supporting businesses go through significant change is probably one of the best preparations I could have asked for. You learn to be flexible, think on your feet, build strong relationships, get exposure to all areas of a business, and most importantly, be resilient. I’m glad I started my own business, although if I had known how difficult it would be at the time, I probably wouldn’t have!
How smooth was your transition from a corporate to a startup? What are some of the key learnings?
I was a senior change consultant, helping businesses undertake major changes to the way they operate, meaning restructures or changes to their processes and systems. I had been sitting on an idea for about six years. Whilst working on a post-merger integration, one of the most complex changes a business can undertake, I had thought ‘surely there is a better way to manage this’. The powerpoint slides and spreadsheets were just not up to the task. Prior to launching the idea, I attended a lot of meetups to learn about the sides of a startup I wasn’t familiar with, such as investment. Having the right team around me was incredibly important and helpful for me.
Pinipa CEO at the Microsoft Accelerator 2016 Pitch Day
Pinipa is almost 3 years old. What do you offer now and what were your mission and vision at the outset? Did they change throughout your journey?
Yes, it certainly has. We got a better understanding of our market, who the buyer is, and what they are looking for. So we had to refine the proposition to fit this. One of the best things we have done to date was over 50 interviews (twice!) to refine our proposition and product. In addition, we completely redesigned our application earlier this year and took a UX-led approach, which was a game-changer for us.
What has been your biggest achievement with Pinipa so far?
We are certainly proud to have Microsoft and Capita as customers, as well as having signed a joint business relationship with PwC. As well as helping our customers with projects, we are now exploring more regulatory and compliance driven needs, such as SOX compliance for Finance and the new Senior Managers Regime in banking, where leaders need greater oversight and control of operational activities. This is creating some very exciting opportunities for me personally, as it is helping address many of the issues I saw first hand as a consultant working with Board level clients during the heart of the financial crisis.
How did you build your current team? What were your criteria for your first hires?
We hired a lot of our team as graduates from General Assembly. They were inspired to create something great and Pinipa is definitely a very exciting place to be.
What is your advice for a Talent looking to kickstart their career at a startup?
Working for a startup is a passion rather than a job. Make sure you are committed to the cause, for everyone’s sake!
What helped you conquer the moments of doubt every entrepreneur goes through? What has been pushing you through?
I have amazing people around me. If all else fails, keep going and something good will happen.
Faith Forster with Eileen Burbidge, Partner at Passion Capital
Resilience and sheer determination make an entrepreneur successful. A good founder needs to be open-minded, a good listener and willing to do whatever it takes.
What would I tell women trying to enter the startup/tech industry? Just do it!
Eileen Burbidge is a female figure in technology that inspires me most. I feel lucky to have her as our Non-Exec Director.
What I wish I knew before I started Pinipa? It would be helpful knowing what to expect i.e. how long it would take to get it right, what it means and what happens when you do get it right.
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