By Alex Leduc, CEO of Perch.
My name is Alex Leduc, and I’m the Founder and CEO of Perch. We’re a real estate tech company based in Toronto, Canada, and we offer our service to all provinces across the country. At Perch, our mission is to empower Canadians to make more informed decisions about their real estate and provide them with the best interest rates on the market. We love helping buyers become homeowners and assisting homeowners to optimize their finances and grow their wealth.
The Essential Tools for a Digital Startup
Perch is a fully remote startup with employees across Canada or India, in multiple time zones. Because of that, it’s pretty crucial for us to use tools that enable the team to work collaboratively and efficiently and are user-friendly. Most importantly, as a growing prop-tech startup, the platforms and tools we use need to scale as we increase the number of employees and customers. Here are some of our favorites:
HubSpot: The flexibility of HubSpot’s platform, the ability to tie in Operations and Marketing functions, and the comprehensive HubSpot Academy training material are a few reasons we chose to work with them. Their workflows (automated emails) have saved us a ton of time when following up with customers, and their API is highly flexible.
Jira: With a lot of moving pieces, and the speed at which we work, we need to be able to track tasks cross-functionally and hand things off to a coworker without always needing to default to a meeting or lengthy brief. Jira is great for this!
Slack: A work collaboration platform that’s easy and fun to use. While a lot of our work is completed asynchronously, having Slack is like being able to tap a coworker on the shoulder when you have a quick question. Best of all, an extensive suite of integrations with our other tools helps employees with their productivity.
Google Workspace: Given how popular Gmail is, many of our new hires come into Perch already having some familiarity with Google Workspace. This knowledge expedites their onboarding process with us and allows them to pick things up much more quicker.
Power BI: Let’s face it—not everyone will be a numbers guru who can build out their models and forecasts. PowerBI helps make data visualization more accessible to employees across the company. Having our data more readily available helps to hold people accountable and gives them the confidence to make the correct business decision.
The Most Influential Books for Entrepreneurs
I’ll admit that early on in the business, I had way more time for reading when we weren’t yet live, and I only had 1-2 other staff. My background was in finance, and I had never worked in tech, worked with anyone in engineering/design/product/growth, or ran a business (other than side hustles). I had a lot of blind spots that I set out to learn more about hopefully, so I went on a binge reading spree during my workouts (tablet on the spin bike) and burned through 12 books in a few months. Some of my favorites:
- Principles(Ray Dalio) helped me explore what kind of company and culture I wanted to have and some valuable insights into running a business and being a leader.
- 4 Hour Work Week(Tim Ferriss) opened my mind up to optimizing my work schedule, beefing up my time management, and then also focusing on what matters
- The Lean Startup(Eric Ries) helped me understand what a product development cycle looks like, how to organize a team around that and how important having metrics is.
- Hooked(Nir Eyal) helped me understand what a product needs to have to be successful beyond features, how users interact with a product, and how I should test for success
- The Hard Thing About Hard Things(Ben Horowitz) helped me grasp the kind of things you’ll encounter running startups and think through how I’d want to handle it. It also had solid tips on building your operations to be set up for success.
- Hacking Growth(Sean Ellis + Morgan Brown) outlined how you should approach growth experiments and prioritize your time. It also explained who you need on a growth team to be successful.
Advice For Aspiring Entrepreneurs
To be successful, you need to have a unique product.
We made sure we were truly solving our users’ problems. With Perch, I knew we had the right product fit when people started saying things like ‘I’ve never seen anything like this!’ or ‘I can’t believe no one else is already doing this.’ (P.S. if you ever want to validate a startup founder’s feelings, just keep repeating those lines to them!)
Starting our business, we used freelancers and contractors to build our MVP, which gave us flexibility without having to commit too much capital.
I’ve also quickly learned the power of prototypes. At Perch, we use Figma to design prototypes and test the product-market fit with our target users before ever writing a single line of code. Doing so saves us from making a lot of rework and wasted effort.
Don’t forget to take advantage of government grants or grants from organizations that serve startups and entrepreneurs. A lot of times, these grants can help you with hiring the resources you need much sooner.
If you’re not sure where to start, try contacting a local university or college with a strong co-op or internship focus. Typically, they will be extremely well-versed in available grants to enable startups and small businesses to hire their students and are very willing to share their knowledge with a potential employer!