CEO and co-founder of ProcedureFlow, a knowledge management software platform that makes complex information and procedures more visual and easier to follow.
Hometown: Beresford, N.B.
Alma mater: Université de Moncton (Bachelor of Informatique
Headquarters: Saint John, N.B.
What does ProcedureFlow do?
ProcedureFlow, whose corporate name is Gemba Software Solutions, is a software platform that helps companies organize key information and procedures and creates hyperlinked visual maps for each process. The idea is to simplify complex information and make it more accessible. “Our mission is to make employees experts from day one. We do that by providing employees with a visual, step-by-step guide for every type of work scenario within the enterprise.”
A nurtured beginning
The idea for ProcedureFlow grew out of another company called Innovatia, where the initial concept was tested on a wide range of customers. “Because we had the benefit of incubating it within Innovatia, we were actually able to prove that the idea had merit,” says DeGrace. “As we were seeing that every single customer was seeing the same return on investment, from there we spun out into ProcedureFlow.”
Full speed ahead
The company is now in what DeGrace describes as an “aggressive-growth stage” supported by a mix of institutional funding and some venture capital investment, with more funding rounds on the horizon. “I would say within the next year and a half or two years our growth plan will likely require additional VC funding.”
Pandemic provides moment to shine
As COVID-19 forced companies to throw their regular processes out the window, ProcedureFlow found a business opportunity in the turmoil. “This is where we shine. It’s very difficult to achieve a single source of business operational truth in a time of crisis and chaos like we are in today. At ProcedureFlow, we thrive in operational complexity and we make all of that complexity simpler.”
Many of the customers of ProcedureFlow have large contact centres. With employees working remotely and things in constant flux, DeGrace says companies realize that it’s more important than ever to ensure workers have accurate and timely information to pass on to customers.
2020 Pandemic Tech Innovation Award winner
DeGrace says winning the international award has been “phenomenal” for the company, giving it a visibility boost and a chance to show businesses how ProcedureFlow can help resolve some of the issues COVID-19 is creating for them.
Key partnership with Deloitte
In January 2020, ProcedureFlow became one of Deloitte’s strategic partners, so now the software platform is one of the solutions the professional services provider offers to its clients. “What this has done is create visibility and brought us credibility,” says DeGrace. “We obviously leverage the brand itself as we speak with customers, but we also will go to market together.”
A long history of startup wins
This is startup number four for DeGrace. With key executive leadership roles in each one, she has established an impressive track record of building businesses, successfully exiting and leaving something of value behind.
She takes pride in knowing innovative products from previous startups are still making their mark. “That’s the mission. It’s not to build a fly-by-night technology but to build something that has a real impact—that’s pretty motivating and it’s exciting.”
On the funding side, DeGrace says it gets easier to find investors after a few successes. “Certainly, having done four, I do have a network that I can rely on that I can go back and have conversations with. Also, you have a bit of credibility and experience that is reassuring for those who are going to invest.”
Is there an exit strategy for ProcedureFlow?
Not at the moment, but she isn’t ruling it out. “I think there’s always a chance that’s what will happen, but you don’t build it with that intention. You really build it to be a company that’s self-sustainable.”
What do you think of the startup life?
“The startup life has its highest highs and lowest lows, and you really have to enjoy the entire ride. You have to enjoy all of it because that’s really the ticket that you bought as your journey and as your career. I just love the ride.”
DeGrace says she’s learned from both the highs and lows. One low point came early in her career when she felt the company that bought the startup didn’t tap into its product’s true potential. “You spend a lot of time and it becomes your baby. You know what it can do and you know what the potential is and, of course, if you don’t see the potential maximized, it is disappointing,” she explains. “For me, that was a memorable low in the journey of one of the startups, but it taught me a lot about the importance of really aligning with the perfect acquiring company.”
What’s the best advice you received as a startup founder?
“I think it’s simple really. Have a plan, work the plan and stay nimble.” To her, that means creating a plan to set goals, measure and test but never getting locked into it. “You don’t want a plan to force you to stay on one path if the path is wrong.”
Biggest lesson learned: go bigger.
“Think bigger than big because there’s always so much counter pressure from all directions as you’re developing your business at every step of the way. So, if you’re going to spend your precious lifetime doing something, just hit it out of the park. Go all the way.”
She says thinking big is especially important when it comes to deciding where your market is. Her advice: Think outside your own backyard. “Don’t let your mind put an artificial framework to your market. If you do that, you may miss an opportunity that could make your startup a rocket ship as opposed to a scooter.”
Maritime charm sets ProcedureFlow apart
“Our culture as New Brunswickers and as Maritimers, we’re just good with people and with customers. And I’ve always really encouraged our team to bring that out. Don’t hide that because ultimately, when we deal with our customers, it shines through. And that’s the reason we have such close relationships with our customers. We have a lot of fun with the individuality that we bring to the team, and I think that’s working for us.” •