Yazz Krishna was always destined for a life on screen – but not the silver screen you might expect.
The Brisbane entrepreneur and proud-as-punch new dad has found a niche in digital marketing – connecting display screens to cloud software so businesses can manage content as they would on an app or website.
If you’ve ever walked into a Bupa Optical retail store and booked your eye appointment using the touch screens, chances are you’ve come across the work of Yazz’s company, Five Faces. The screens can be used for all manner of things, from finding your way through the twists and turns of a hospital to digitally testing different shades of lipstick without ever having to apply it to your lips.
As a university student, Yazz sparked an interest in entrepreneurship while running a business fixing computers. Before long, he’d stumbled upon a truly innovative and unique business concept and set about working nights and weekends from his parents’ garage.
“The idea at the time was to create software that would make managing a network of screens easy. Changing content on websites is easy, and we live in a content-rich world, but getting the message into the physical environment is hard,” Yazz says.
Yazz came across the problem while working as a project manager with the task of rolling out digital screens to display corporate messages. He quickly realised that what seemed like a simple job was going to be quite complex and involve huge expenses.
Yazz began working on a concept with some university friends, using cloud-based software to centrally manage screen content.
“The software quickly expanded to include touch, mobile, beacons and other integration points, and the business became a complete end-to-end solution provider for a connected experience, focusing on the health and retail sectors,” Yazz says.
But it didn’t happen overnight. Yazz attributes the business’s success to his team, which constantly worked to improve the software before the launch. Once they arrived at a marketable product, they tested it in friends’ cafes and small businesses, where they started to attract paying clients.
Realising the business needed a full-time resource to properly manage and scale, Yazz left his full-time job, joined a local incubator and started working with mentors.
He was introduced to angel investors and grew his team to make his business more attractive to investors. Not long after, Five Faces secured seed funding from a number of Brisbane and Melbourne angel investors.
“We were able to raise enough funds as we had a built product, test clients, a clear technical team, and a dedicated founder with a story. I think all three are hugely important to raise funds in Australia, particularly if you are inexperienced like we were,” Yazz explains.
Yazz says the challenges in this period were endless.
“The hardest part is getting doors to open for you in order for you to present your solution. Presenting your solution or business to a customer is personal so it is easy to take it personally when there is negative feedback,” he says.
He also says having the right people on board is crucial.
“What may take you five hours on Google and another 10 hours of action can be solved in two minutes by someone in the know. Surround yourself with the right people to help – a mentor group with relevant skills and personality fit,” he says.
Five faces recently expanded to Melbourne and has started to supply to businesses in the United States and South East Asia.
1) Believe in what you do, and talk to your customers about it early.
2) Surround yourself with people who can add real value to your business.
3) If you want to raise capital, ensure you and your investor are aligned on what you want to achieve. Don't take money if you are not.
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