Reimagining work-life balance with Instant Teams Co-Founder and CEO Liza Rodewald

Welcome to another episode of The Female Founder with Bridget Fitzpatrick, Co-founder of ASBN and the CBT Automotive Network. The Female Founder is a show all about helping women grow their businesses and reach their full potential. Each episode will highlight inspiring stories, offer real-world tips, and advice to help you grow professionally and personally.

Today’s guest is Liza Rodewald, Co-founder and CEO of Instant Teams. Instant Teams is a technology platform that enables companies to create and manage remote customer success teams powered by a workforce of military spouses. She’s a four-time entrepreneur and a software engineer with over 16 years of experience.

Courtesy of Instant Teams via Facebook

Transcription: 

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Liza, thank you so much for joining us today.

Liza Rodewald:
Thank you for having me. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Yes. Can you talk to us about what was your motivation for starting your company?

Liza Rodewald:
Sure. So, I call myself kind of an accidental entrepreneur. I started my first software company when my son was actually 16 months old and I was doing a lot of traveling for work and I wanted to kind of have a little bit more flexible lifestyle and time on my hands, and so, I went to my first company I worked for and pitched becoming a consultant for them and started my entrepreneurial journey there. And then, that really took off and really started to get my creative juices going on creating companies and being in that entrepreneurial space.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
And, now with so many people working remotely, talk to us about the impact the pandemic has had on Instant Teams.

Liza Rodewald:
Sure. So, the pandemic, while a terrible thing for us all to have to go through, has really accelerated the timeline and companies adapting remote work, which is really great for especially women in the workforce, in this kind of environment and having to juggle multiple things, families, schools, daycares being out, those types of things. And so, seeing the industry adapt so fast… I would say it sped up that timeline by at least 10 years.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Yeah.

Liza Rodewald:
And, especially in government and health care. Some of the slower moving industries really had to adapt overnight, creating a lot of opportunities.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
That’s… That’s great. Now, can you describe your leadership style? Is it different from men that you’ve worked for or with in the past?

Liza Rodewald:
Yeah. My leadership style is very, I think, visionary and hands off. So, I like… I love the creation part, so what I love about being an entrepreneur, finding problems, solving problems, really being creative but empowering people to also have that kind of same leadership style within my team so that they can really take ownership of things. Ownership is one of my main core values. I think growing up in tech… So, I’ve always been in tech since I graduated college, so I’ve always been predominantly around men in the workforce… That my leadership style… I don’t know if it necessarily adapted from that, but has always just been a part of what I’ve done in the different businesses that I’ve created, that I really like to empower. Empower the people that work for me, empower them to join the vision and be really creative. That’s what really gets me excited.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
I think that’s great. Now, for those women out there thinking about starting a business, what advice do you have for them?

Liza Rodewald:
Well, first of all, it’s very hard, so I always like to be very transparent about creating a company, starting a business is a lot of work. Right? So, it’s going to be more work than a typical nine to five. It takes more grit to dig in and lots of highs, lots of lows. But, it’s very, very rewarding and very exciting. So, if you have kind of that personality who wants to go out and get something, you have big goals, I strongly encourage it. But, I also strongly dislike some of the narrative that’s online these days about how easy it is to start a business or how quick it is. It is a journey. It is difficult. But, it is worth it when you get in it and do it and I just like to encourage people. Go for it. If that’s what you really want, go for it. Just know that it’s a roller coaster that you’ll be on during the creation and even the lifeline. It doesn’t get necessarily easier. The problems just get different.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Exactly. Yes. It’s a lot of hard work.

Liza Rodewald:
Yes.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
So, on your most challenging days, how do you stay positive and motivated?

Liza Rodewald:
So, I like to start all of my days… The first thing that I do is exercise and I think it’s really important as a female entrepreneur, as an entrepreneur in general, to take care of yourself because if you’re run down, you cannot stay—. Your body will literally break down on you and I had kind of that sort of experience about eight months ago, where I was a little burned out. I wasn’t eating really well, wasn’t sleeping really well. And, I knew, okay, to be my best optimal self, I’ve got to create better habits and better routines.

Liza Rodewald:
And so, doing that, making sure you’re taking care of yourself, making sure you’re getting exercise in. It’s very easy to sit at this desk for 12, 13, 14 hours and not get up.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Yeah.

Liza Rodewald:
But, really making those things a priority helps keep you motivated, help keeps your mind clear, helps keep you inspired. Just moving keeps your mind inspired. I usually think of my best ideas and my best thoughts when I’m exercising and doing things like that versus sitting here at the desk.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Absolutely. I couldn’t agree more. Now, knowing what you know now, is there anything that you would have done differently when starting your business?

Liza Rodewald:
So, we’re a venture capital backed company, so we raised money, which only 2.2% of venture capital goes to female founders.

Liza Rodewald:
So, it is a different road that a lot of female entrepreneurs don’t go on and there’s a lot of things I learned early on that I would love to take back now and go redo. So, what I’m doing instead of that is helping other female founders in the same stage, about to raise money. Okay, here are some things to look out for and here is some things that I didn’t really understand at the time, but now having walked through several rounds of funding, it becomes very apparent. Right? So, just pouring those kind of lessons back.

Liza Rodewald:
Definitely nothing I would completely redo, but just some little lessons I’ve learned along the way that if you’ve never done that before is hard to really understand until you walk through it. You see the numbers all translate and then you’re like, “Oh. Okay. That is how that works. Next time, I’ll know not to do these three things.” And so, really just helping some other female founders watch out for those types of things.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Yes, and learning from those mistakes. That’s… That’s great advice.

Liza Rodewald:
Yeah.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Can you recall a time when you might have been treated unfairly because you’re a woman?

Liza Rodewald:
These are always interesting questions to me because I did grow up in tech, right?

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Uh-huh.

Liza Rodewald:
And so, I’ve always been, I guess, a little confident and self-assertive in situations because you just kind of have to be when you’re in those kinds of rooms. But, I do remember specifically when I was working as a software engineer, I had… Was talking to another male colleague that I actually got the job for at the place we were working for and found out he was making like $15,000 more so that I was. And so, I just went straight into my manager’s office and I said, “Hey. I should be getting paid X. He’s getting paid X.” And, I got a raise. Right?

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Good.

Liza Rodewald:
So, I think also being aware that those things happen is important for women and to not be afraid to ask for or to confront it if you do see it is really important. So, there’s a few little episodes that I can kind of mark along my journey, but just having the confidence to address it, I think is really important.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
That… That’s very important. I think in my early days of being entrepreneur, I was a little bit more passive, but over the years, I’ve learned you really do have to speak your mind, say what you’re thinking.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
And, if you want to get what you want, that’s the only way. So, great. Great advice there.

Liza Rodewald:
Right. Yeah. For sure.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Now, in your opinion, what are the qualities of a good entrepreneur?

Liza Rodewald:
I think one of the main qualities I usually talk about is mental stability. If you are going to go on the entrepreneur path, make sure that your life feels pretty stable in any aspect that you can actually make it stable in.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Yeah.

Liza Rodewald:
Because, it is so much of a roller coaster. You can literally have the highest of highs and the lowest of lows within a 30 second to 30 minute interval. Right? These things happen very quickly.

Liza Rodewald:
So, having just that grounding force in your life is really important going into that stage. So, that’s one of… That mindset of just steadiness as things fluctuate is a really important skill set to… At home, to make sure that you have before you kind of start that entrepreneurial journey.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Absolutely. Now, so, what’s next for Instant Teams?

Liza Rodewald:
So, I am really happy to announce that Instant Teams just closed our round of Series A funding.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Congratulations.

Liza Rodewald:
We just raised $13 million from Tiger Global in investment capital. And, we are growing really quickly, so we are hiring a lot of roles at the company, expanding that and continuing to scale. Our goal is to be the number one employer of military spouses and we are definitely on track for that, so a lot of expansion going on in Instant Teams right now.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Awesome. You’re doing great work, so keep it up and congratulations on your success. Thank you so much for joining and we look forward to having you back for a recap later on.

Liza Rodewald:
Sounds great. Thank you so much for having me.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Thank you.


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