Let’s chat: in conversation with Co-Founder/CEO and Senior Consultant - Fiona McLeod

Published on
June 1, 2023
Elisha Dunn
Content Manager
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What does a founder AND senior consultant at BeingIconic have in common? The unique understanding of what it takes to not only start a business but the challenges, growing pains and rewards that come along the way as that business grows and evolves. 

I had the pleasure of sitting down with my fellow colleague Fiona McLeod to talk to her about all things scaling – from scaling her business to scaling our clients. Here’s how the chat went! 

Firstly, tell us a bit about yourself … 

“I am the Co-Founder and CEO of Otis Life Pty Ltd, a tech startup on a mission to make TV show and movie discovery a simple, fun and engaging experience, with friends. I’m deeply passionate about solving a problem that I know so many of us are suffering from!

Prior to founding Otis, I spent 20+ years leading, building and growing teams across the media and entertainment industry in the UK, APAC, North America, Australia and New Zealand. I’ve spent much of my career in sales and marketing and in recent years have been more involved in commercial strategy, digital & technology transformation, and organisation design at both local and international levels. I’m at my best when I’m building high performing businesses and teams or helping existing teams perform better. I love giving brilliant people the tools, guidance and support they need to perform at their very best and then watching them thrive.”

Impressive much? I think so! 

For those who don’t know, can you elaborate more on what Otis is and what it offers? 

“Yes of course! 

Otis is a discovery engine (a mobile app) that enables like-minded friends who are TV show and movie lovers to discover great content they will love quickly and easily which means that they will never have to face endless scrolling or go through the pain of wondering what to watch ever again! Otis is essentially a private friend space for those that love to stream. Because we all know that the best recommendations come from like-minded friends, don’t we?!

In addition to discovering awesome new content through friends, Otis is a place where you can manage all your streaming services in one location, share content, chat, react and build your community with like-minded TV lovers.”

What has been the most challenging part of starting up Otis Life? 

“Balancing putting food on the table with pushing the business forward is definitely one of the biggest challenges. You’re not taking a salary from your startup but you need time to continue moving it forward and somehow at the same time generate an income. Working in a full-time job takes a lot of energy – energy you need to pour into your start-up if you stand a chance of succeeding and making an impact. It’s tricky!

With the loss of a corporate income and the safety net a regular income provides, you’re quite literally putting everything on the line and there’s no doubt that this puts a lot of pressure on everything in your life. It’s definitely not for the faint-hearted!” 

And the most rewarding part? 

“Seeing the product grow, from an idea on a page to a functioning platform. It’s still early days but seeing what we’ve achieved in terms of building the product, acquiring regular users and learning so much so we can keep improving their experience is a pretty incredible feeling.”

At BeingIconic, we help founders scale. How do you apply your own experience of being a fellow founder to our clients? Is it through wisdom, key learnings, empathy?

“Being a fellow founder plays quite a big role when it comes to working with our clients. Rather than it [the advice and solutions I offer clients] being deliberate, it’s instinctual so comes very naturally. 

When clients are talking about their challenges, I find myself sitting there going ‘yep’ – their journey is very familiar as I’m also living and breathing similar challenges every day. I’m walking in the same shoes albeit they may be a slightly different size! An example might be needing to find legal or finance support and taking the initiative to source the right people who can help fill the gap in knowledge/skills.

Some of our clients don’t know where to start when it comes to overcoming some of their challenges which is of course where BeingIconic can help. I know just how overwhelming this can feel though as I have been there with Otis. I can therefore really relate to founders and their journey.

I also learn from working with our clients at BeingIconic. Many of our clients are scale-ups who are further along in their journey than we are so hearing about what worked/didn’t work and the steps they took (or the advice BeingIconic give) to make positive change to their business is hugely insightful.”

What is one piece of advice you would give to founders? Or to those who are looking or thinking about starting their own business? 

“With the explosion of influencers/influencer marketing in recent years and the ability for pretty much anyone to make money creating and publishing content I think that some people might have the misconception that building your own business from the ground up is a simple or straightforward thing to do. It couldn’t be further from the truth!

This is particularly true when start-ups need to start building their team – looking after and developing people comes with a huge weight of responsibility  – not just financial but employee health and wellbeing, growth and development (work and personal) are all critical to having a healthy, happy, energised team who will perform at their very best. As a founder you also of course have a great responsibility to your investors; the people that have put not just their money but their trust and faith in you as a person, not just your business. I can’t put into words how great a responsibility this is.

Starting your own business is a huge, life changing decision. If you’ve done all your research and still think it’s the right thing to do, take a deep breath, strap yourself in and get ready for the ride! No matter what happens, you will learn and grow in ways you didn’t think were possible.”

Lastly, what is the most rewarding (and most challenging) part of working at BeingIconic? 

“The most rewarding thing without doubt is that the BeingIconic team is filled with super talented people who are deeply passionate about helping clients become hugely successful and will stop at nothing to make it happen. Everyone is laser focused on this goal. They are also just an awesome bunch of people, a real pleasure to work with.

When you’re trying to achieve a lot with a small team there are always challenges but with the right people and the right mindset you can do anything. BeingIconic has this in spades!”

If you’re looking to grow your business, reach out to us at BeingIconic today – we would love to chat!