Julie O'Donohue proves that founding tech startups isn't the exclusive domain of young bucks. As a woman launching a real estate startup in her late 50s, in an industry predominately consisting of men, her success and determination are an inspiration for women of all ages.
1. Tell me about your company. What problems does it solve?
Next Address is an online real estate marketplace. We directly connect buyers and sellers to each other through the use of smart technology. NextReality3D is the virtual reality marketing arm of the business.
We focus on utilising innovative technology to enable an efficient and streamlined sales process, and target people people who are buying or selling a property and want to have greater control, transparency and value in the process.
The things is, we know our clients are capable individuals who understand the power of technology and who value a transparent and trustworthy process. In turn, we provide useful information, leverage the latest technology and give the best service and support.
Ultimately, we connect buyers and sellers in a transparent manner and without costs of traditional real estate models.
2. What is your role, and what do you love about it?
I am the CEO, Founder and Managing Director of Next Address and Nextreality3d.
I love the challenge of creating a truly innovative product that reduces transactional costs and brings greater transparency to the real estate sector.
We often enter the real estate market at significant points in our life journey, such as having a new baby, or downsizing to a smaller home. These can often be stressful times, and our service is designed to reduce the costs and ensure complete control for our customers.
The real estate sector has been slow to utilise smart technologies to reduce all associated costs and to streamline services. At Next Address we are creating industry-wide change for the benefit of all Australians.
3. What is a piece of advice your parents gave you that sticks with you to this day?
Work hard. You are definitely a product of your environment. I grew up with parents who placed great value on work ethic.
This has permeated my life and now my children’s lives. You get back what you put in.
4. What is one thing you credit your success to?
Resilience and tenacity, with a deep desire and belief in the need for change. People deserve a smarter, more affordable real estate experience; I advocate that the power of smart technology will improve processes and results for all.
5. What technologies/innovations are you particularly excited about.
The virtual reality space, augmented experiences and digital twins are changing the user experience forever. As one buyer recently said. “I was able to fully explore the home becoming emotionally connected through the process. I was already one more step down the buying process by the time I inspected”.
6. What advice would you give to your 20-year-old self?
Learn how to budget and stick to a budget early in your life.
“Work hard. You are definitely a product of your environment.”
7. What does your morning routine look like?
As I'm an empty-nester, my husband and I have now have a particular routine. I’m up first and pop the kettle on! We then breakfast together most mornings and then do a few domestic duties.
As I predominately work from home, I am usually in my office by 8.30. I have an afternoon routine which is walking my dog Tilly for at least 4 to 5 km. This is a great way to wind down from the day.
8. What do you to blow off steam?
I love to cook and do so nearly every day. It is a great way to de-stress for me. I also walk most days and play tennis most weeks. I am a keen reader and audio book listener.
9. Do you have any personal experiences of gender inequality/bias/discrimination in the workplace?
Yes, loads! As a female founder who is in her late 50s, I have experienced a huge amount of gender inequality and discrimination over the journey.
As an older female founder, I am convinced this has played an impact in our funding journey.
While this is extremely frustrating it is has also made me extremely determined to bring my idea to the market.
My experience has meant I really wanted to do things differently in my business. Next Address is predominantly lead and managed by a group of amazing female leaders and technologists; this flips the script on the traditionally male-dominated real estate sector. We have a true flexible work place model and our team has real diversity not only in gender but also in their vast lived experience.
10. What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
I can still slalom water ski at 58!