Founder Feature Fridays: Stephen Foley, Co-Founder + CEO of Member365
Can you tell us a bit about Member365?
Member365 is an all-in-one membership management platform that provides organizations with a modern cloud based solution to run their operations, drive membership engagement, and increase revenue.
Member365 plugs directly into your website, so there is no need to replace your existing public website. The tool saves you time by providing your members with self-service tools to renew membership, register for an event, manage their communication preferences and more.
How did you come up with the idea for Member365?
Since, 1997, Steve and his brother Mike, worked for their professional services company focused on servicing member facing organizations.
Member365 was born through this predecessor company.
The pivot from a professional services company to a SaaS company happened when the two brothers recognized that their breadth of domain knowledge could solve a prominent issue facing the industry. The problem was that many of their member base customers were using a whole portfolio of software to manage and run their member portals, events, email marketing, etc. So, they set out to develop a platform that would bring all of this together into one, streamlined process.
Where did your passion for building this business stem from?
“I like helping people… I probably should’ve been a teacher.”
Steve and Mike witnessed the need for a streamlined process first hand, and the pain points were so obvious across all of our customers. The drive to want to help people fueled them to help these companies through the development of a software solution.
What was the hardest part in the early stages of the company’s growth?
“Hands down, the hardest part was hiring the right people – finding and retaining talent that is aligned with the company.
As we grew, we struggled with hiring and scaling the staff. We approached hiring from the angle of filling seats and not focusing on finding the right fit. The right fit is so key.
We aren’t HR experts so we’ve never been the best at running interviews, we have the most unorthodox recruiting process.”
Any advice for other entrepreneurs?
“In the early stages you are going to have a lot of people give you a lot of different opinions. Align yourself with a mentor, someone who you can trust and who has been there, who can help you work through all of the information you are receiving.
Bottom line, you’re not alone. Whether it’s your mentor, your team, or other founders, there is always someone to lean on. Don’t be shy to leverage those around you.”
How do you determine when to listen and when to ignore advice?
“Having a co-founder has been huge for collaboration. Because my brother is my co-founder there is an extra element of trust baked into that. I may be biased, but everyone should consider having a partner; if you can have someone you can trust it can help you figure out what’s good and what’s bad, and when to listen to or ignore advice.”
What do you say to all the people who tell you not to work with family?
“It’s a fallacy.”
Steve considers himself biased on this topic, as Member365 is not the two brothers’ first venture together. The pair have been building little businesses together since they were teenagers; their father was an entrepreneur.
“You can get away with a lot more with your family as your partner. This is because at the end of the day, we are family so we need to work through everything.
The one piece of advice I have for those wanting to work with their family is to always have an out. That way, if it doesn’t work out, there is a way to move on and also salvage family relationships. This said, I would never tell anyone not to go for it. We have proven it can work.”