Katrina Donaghy is the Queensland #FemaleFounder of Civic Ledger, a RegTech (regulatory technology) solutions business that creates trusted shared information systems for government using blockchain technology.
By pooling data into a shared digital ecosystem, governments empower citizens and industry to take accurate stock of existing public resources, like entitlements, registers and natural assets. Civic Ledger makes this happen and protects the security and privacy of all the data.
Civic Ledger was founded in late 2016 and is a multi-award-winning Brisbane-headquartered global company. We spoke to Katrina to find out more about Civic Ledger and her journey as a Queensland #FemaleFounder.
What inspired you to start your business?
Civic Ledger was created in late September 2016 as we were delivering the first blockchain permit proof of concept with the Queensland Government. After validating our approach to applying blockchain technology to solve the problem of inefficient paper-based workflows, we sensed that we had a product-market fit and felt that we had something to offer that was different to other vendors in the market at that time.
What milestones have you reached?
Many! For a start, Civic Ledger will turn six in September 2022, which is quite telling given that blockchain technology has not necessarily had a smooth evolution over the years. We have been technology agnostic to ensure that our approach to applying blockchain technology in our solutions was always with the customer in mind, which may be the reason why we are still operating as a company today.
What business achievements are you most proud of to date?
Being chosen to join the World Economic Forum Technology Pioneers 2021 cohort – the only Australian technology company to be awarded such an honour – because of the problems we solve rather than because we use blockchain technology. We also just won an award in the 2022 Fintech Australia ‘Finnies’ Awards for Excellence in Blockchain/Distributed Ledger.
Have you participated in any Advance Queensland programs, or received any support from Advance Queensland to date?
I have participated in the Mentoring for Growth program and was part of the Female Founders cohort selected to attend London FinTech Week in 2019.
What’s your advice for other female entrepreneurs and businesses starting out on their entrepreneurship journey?
Be very clear on the problem you are solving and testing whether you have product-market fit. Be prepared that as a female entrepreneur that you will have challenges unlike your male counterparts. There is still an enormous amount of bias in the ecosystem and unless you are well connected, you will find it very, very hard to raise capital.
If you are serious about starting a business, the first two decisions you must make is get a good lawyer and accountant. Don’t shun away from your governance obligations because you want to be focused on your product. Shareholders agreements, company constitutions, financial literacy are the things that you must understand in the first instance. If you don’t understand what a shareholders agreement is, then have your lawyer take you through each clause and explain it in plain English. If you don’t know how to read a profit and loss or balance sheet, have your accountant explain.
The three reasons why startups fail: co-founders fall out, you run out of money, or your product is not wanted by the market.
My last piece of advice is don’t build a C-suite in the first instance – yes, it is nice to have a chief executive officer, chief financial officer, chief technology officer or a chief operating officer. But you need a team of people who can help you build your product and vision first – good software engineers to build the product and exceptional digital communication/marketing to tell your story and create product/brand awareness so you secure your first customer. Customers are the difference between being a business with an idea and being a business with a product-market fit and revenue.