Alese Stroud, CEO and of Merger Match and a long time consultant, specializes in the banking industry and banking software implementation as well as risk management of massive data conversions.
She recently spoke at the Little Rock Tech Fest and her topic was “Contracting for Techies 101: 10 Tips For Making It On Your Own,” which involved working with contracts and agreements between self employed and companies. She provided numerous tips for those navigating self employment and small business arrangements.
Merger Match was one of the first companies to join the Venture Center’s Pre-Accelerator program and has given back by being one of the Venture Center mentors.
“Merger Match is disrupting the M&A space by changing the way companies manage the merger and acquisition process. No longer are companies limited by just financial statements. Merger Match leverages a proven model that creates a gap assessment of the two companies and provides tangible data on culture,” said Lee Watson, president and CEO of The Venture Center. “Merger Match is a great example of the disruptive innovation happening right here in Central Arkansas. It started with an idea, made a major pivot on its road to viability. With Alese at the helm, the future is bright for Merger Match.”
Stroud recently took time to respond to a few questions for Entrepreneur Q&A at Talk Business and Politics.
TB&P: What was your favorite subject in school?
Stroud: Biology. I am fascinated with how bodies work. Do you remember the “Invisible Man?” It was a plastic model of the human body that you assembled, sort of like model cars. I put one together in the 8th grade. I could explain how I ended up majoring in art in college, instead of biology, but that might require a couple of bottles of wine.
TB&P: What was your first job?
Stroud: My first real job was working after school at the local Dairy Queen in White Hall. I learned how to make the perfect dipped cone – one that doesn’t leak on the sides when the ice cream melts. Done right, you can bite the top off and suck all the ice cream out without breaking the chocolate shell. I challenge you to try it!
TB&P: What book had the biggest impact on you?
Stroud: Robert Heinlein’s “Stranger in a Strange Land.” It was a gift from a young man I dated in college. I think his name was Stephen Rudolph. The book opened my mind to some concepts that one didn’t typically run across here in the Bible Belt. I went on to devour all of Heinlein’s work that I could find.
TB&P: What do you like about the Arkansas entrepreneurial ecosystem?
Stroud: The current Arkansas entrepreneurial system is amazingly collaborative and nurturing. The mentors at the Venture Center are generous with their time and expertise. There is a place for anyone to engage in this community. If you want to start a company, there is help for that. If you want to volunteer to help someone else, there is a place to connect. If you like to sling code, there is certainly a place for that. If you want to learn to code, there is plenty of opportunity for that as well.
TB&P: What are your top three pieces of advice for other entrepreneurs?
Stroud: 1 – START! Don’t wait for the stars to align. Don’t wait for the perfect idea. Don’t wait until the kids are grown or your health is better or you graduate from college. Ditch the delaying excuses and start today.
2 – Get mentored! Be humble and learn to listen and learn from those who have been successful before you. Get all the mentoring you can, even if you come down with a bad case of “mentor whiplash.” You will learn to get out of your own headspace and consider the opinion of others.
3 – Take care of yourself! Figure out how to take care of yourself physically, mentally and emotionally. Starting a new company will introduce you to interesting new kinds of stress. You will need strategies for dealing with those stresses. The worst thing you can do is quit (unless you find out that your idea lacks legs).
TB&P: What are your top five apps or tools to help with productivity?
Stroud: 1. Starbucks Cappuccino – Getting anything done without my daily cappuccino is doubtful. If you need me to do something, showing up with a cappuccino in hand significantly increases your chances of a yes.
2. Gmail – I appreciate having access to my mail from any device and being able to collect several email addresses in one place. Gmail provides filtering tools that I especially appreciate.
3. Google Drive – We use this tool to share files in a controlled and secure manner.
4. Cirrus Insight – This app connects our email to SalesForce. It includes a calendar scheduling function that reduces the number of emails required to book a meeting.
5. MacBook Air – I love being about to toss a laptop in my bag and have all my documents available on the go. Being able to work from anywhere helps us capture those spare 30-minute segments of time between meetings. We never have to drive back to the office to be productive.