Morgo Stories : Carmen Vicelich of Valocity
Carmen Vicelich took our breath away at Morgo Queenstown. Not only does she talk fast, she lives life at a running pace. She heads not one but two successful companies: Valocity, a platform that transforms the mortgage and lending process to deliver a seamless and relevant experience; and Data Insight, which helps businesses leverage the power of data to make data driven decisions and deliver customer centricity.
We’ve summarised the key advice Carmen shared.
1. Don’t let anyone steal your dream
When she decided to embark on her entrepreneurial journey just over five years ago, Carmen was in a very high paying job with enviable flexibility. Despite this, she wanted to use her expertise to develop something even better than was possible with her then employers who were not willing to innovate to solve growing customer needs.
Her dream was to use the latest technology and data to transform customer experiences – particularly in banking – to help business deliver more seamless and relevant experiences and use data and technology to make the complicated simple.
It was a risky move as Carmen was the main income earner for her family of four children, and there were plenty of barriers along the way, but as she explains, “I had a lot of passion, crazy drive, and I hustled.”
2. At any stage you have the power to say: “This is not how the story ends.”
In the early days, Carmen attempted to partner globally to build the underpinning technology required for the Valocity platform, but this proved too slow and difficult with no one moving as fast as Carmen wanted to go. Rather than give up in the face of this obstacle, she formed her own in- house team to develop the software. Ultimately, this apparent setback has created a competitive advantage as the flexibility and ability to customise in an agile and fast way for clients is one of the key differentiators of the company’s mortgage and valuation platform.
The learning here, says Carmen is that, “Success is not a straight line. Something that might look like the worst thing that could happen, can often actually be the best thing.”
3. The power of the law of attraction
Every entrepreneur who has serious growth ambitions needs a very firm and very clear vision of what they want and where they are going, and this needs to be communicated to the entire team. When you’re focused on what you’re doing and where you’re going, the law of attraction kicks in to magically attract success and what you need to help you get there. It has been no different for
Carmen and her team in building Data Insight and Valocity; there is so much staff could do (they are innovative thinkers working in data and technology!) but everyone inside these companies knows exactly what they are trying to achieve and they work passionately towards that without distraction.
“A clear focus is crucial for execution,” notes Carmen, and strategic innovation with disciplined execution is achieved through setting and completing 90-day strategic goals, and using open and transparent communication when things need to change. This process ensures they stay competitive against much larger market incumbents who are slow and not evolving.
4. It’s all about people
Carmen describes her team as achieving miracles every day. A culture has been created which constantly challenges the norm through relentless evolution. Success is celebrated and team members look after each other as a family because it’s all about people first.
“It’s important to surround yourself with winners, and,” says Carmen, “we are a team of passionate people wanting to transform the industry we work in and that’s winning to us!” An incredibly high number of employees have been shoulder tapped to come into the company through colleagues and friends, and there are six married couples on the payroll.
It’s only possible to understand Carmen’s level of vitality and intelligence if you’ve met her or at least heard her present: she is awe-inspiring. Naturally, one of the delegates wanted to know: How do you transfer or find your level of passion in those you hire to ensure your business can scale? Carmen responded by describing her philosophy of letting her staff shine: “I have to pull my people up rather than leaning down – that’s vital if you want to develop your people and grow and scale your business.” She admits that she’s not a natural delegator, so this is a skill she’s had to practice over time to get the best out of her team, but also one of the greatest rewards is watching and helping people grow.
5. If it was easy everyone would be doing it
Developing Australasia’s first cloud-based lending mortgage valuation platform was certainly innovative but at the same time incredibly ambitious and challenging, particularly as Carmen had to connect together so many relevant but disparate parties, including a nationwide panel of valuers, brokers, lenders and consumers. She started the business with no data, no technology and no team, and so as you can imagine, building a modular and scalable bank grade secure platform as well as automated digital valuation models that were so precise a bank could lend on them was no easy feat!
Now the company is expanding into India, currently one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Success has required incredible tenacity and resilience, and Carmen has a couple of sure-fire practices to keep her company ahead of the pack:
* Always remember to focus on what problem you are solving. Make sure you’re super close to your customers in order to understand their needs and then just solve their problems better than anyone else can or will!
* When it gets hard, always remember your WHY as a way to keep going. Carmen’s WHYs are her family, her customers, and a passion to be the best she can be and live her best life.
6. Change is happening now
On a massive and ubiquitous scale, tech and everything digital is being integrated into our lives. Multitudes of amazing consumer experiences are available, and so customers now expect a relevant and seamless experience from every interaction. How do companies succeed in delivering this? Using data and technology advantageously is the only way, and this applies to any sector and any vertical.
Both Valocity and Data Insight are well placed to capitalise on the growing demand for data insights by smart companies, but equally, Carmen acknowledges the need to never become complacent from success and to continue evolving what they’re doing as thought leaders because “better never stops!”
The last word goes to Carmen, who after a long day of connecting with other entrepreneurs at Morgo, took to her keyboard at 1a.m. to post a few thoughts on how the conference was impacting her.
“The consistent thread [at Morgo] is Kiwi entrepreneurs openly sharing their roller coaster journey to globally build and scale a business. The result is a powerful reminder that knowledge is sharing, and of the super charged energy derived from surrounding yourself with like-minded people. Or in this case; big dreamers who are crazy enough to believe they can change the world.”