Sometimes, it’s in our most trying times that we find inspiration. This was the case for Melissa Davies, Founder of Holdmine, who shared with us her devastating, but hopeful story at the M2 Summit on Thursday 20 May.
Davies was flying high in the corporate world, until one phone changed everything. “It felt like my world stopped,” said Davies, recalling the phone call from her brother where she received the heart-breaking news that her father, at just 55 years old, had passed from a sudden heart attack. She admitted the news affected her in ways she didn’t think possible; “Here I was, this ‘boss bitch’… ‘I can do the hard things; stuff can come at me, and I’ve got this.’ Oh, how I did not have this.” Davies grief and stress were compounded by the unexpected revelation that she had been named executor of his estate. What came next was what Davies described as “the hardest thing (she’d) ever had to deal with”. She revealed she spent the next two years of her life in “what felt like a full-time job, managing and trying to honour this person that I’d admired without them there to guide me through it”.
But it was through dealing with her own grief that Davies said she found her purpose. As Davies struggled to access all of the important information she needed to distribute her father’s estate, as well as organise his funeral, she realised that there must be millions of others who have been in the same spot; “It made me realise, I could create a product and leverage technology to solve a human problem”. This was the inspiration for Davies company, Holdmine. Holdmine provides “a ‘digital filing cabinet’, for you to put information in and share it with those you trust, be that a copy of your will, or your Netflix streaming password”. Davies’ main goal for Holdmine is to relieve stress for family members after their loved ones pass, and allowing them to focus on looking after each other instead of focusing their attention toward the administrative burden that inevitably has to be dealt with.
However, Davies revealed it hasn’t been plain sailing getting her company off the ground, and she admitted that as of right now, she doesn’t have a product to show for her hard work and planning. She asserted that the key reason for this is her inability to create what she defined as a ‘high-performing team’. Davies explained that while she had believed she had built a team that were “capable and likable” and had the skills, desire and work ethic to make her innovative idea a reality, there were worrying signs in her team that she attempted to compensate for with her own effort, money and resources. “I did what any driven entrepreneur does… I took on the responsibility to make it better… and I shouldn’t have.”
She attested that “the people challenges are the hardest ones, especially if you like the people, but you’ve got to make those hard decisions early”. After consulting with some trusted advisors, Davies decided the team she had built wasn’t going to get her product where she so passionately wanted it to be, so she made the tough decision of effectively shutting it all down and starting again.
Davies then shared with the audience one of her key takeaways from this whole experience; working with product earlier in her career “was easy, because it was objective, fact-based decision-making”, whereas when working with Holdmine “making those decisions (wasn’t) easy (because) it’s ‘heart-led’ innovation”. Despite that admission, Davies did not discourage the audience from following her path because she believes that the heart-led innovations are the ones that are truly impactful.
She left the audience with a poignant message. “Lead with your heart, but take your head with you”.