Women-Owned Business Spotlight with Juliet Edjere, Founder of Maze
Updated: Mar 30, 2022
As a part of our interview series on women-owned businesses, I had the pleasure of interviewing Juliet Edjere, Founder of TryMaze Ltd.
Juliet Edjere founded Maze alongside Sarah Nantume and Winner Adebayo with a focus to connect people relocating with service providers, reduce moving costs and enable the optimization of customer journeys. Alongside her role as the CEO, Juliet is a no-code evangelist and leads product development and business strategy at Maze. Outside her day-to-day managing of her company, Juliet is a Legal Practitioner with an educational background in Law and Business. She has a BSc in International Law and Diplomacy, LLB from the University of Birmingham, a PgDip in Legal Practice Course and LLM in Commercial Legal Practice.
Thanks for joining me! Tell our readers about what you do.
As a product owner who builds micro tools to solve my own problems, the core of what I do is intrinsically motivated by understanding people, their processes, behaviours and what they’re trying to achieve. My entrepreneurial nature rests on the realization that building is one thing and understanding the legalities to ensure products/services are policy compliant is another thing. Thus, my knowledge of law, tech and business management fused together made the journey easier.
I manage the customer discovery journey at Maze to identify new areas and priorities we should focus on. As the central player in driving Maze’s mission forward, I manage the business direction, vision and shape the way relocation decisions are made. On the product side, I strategise the roadmap and prioritize what needs to be done to achieve the initiatives and strategic goals behind the product.
Outside my day-to-day management of the company, I work as a Content Marketing Lead and Technical Advisor where I manage all things API and no-code integration. I develop prototypes and products using low and no-code tools like Airtable, Zapier and Integromat Zapier to effectively capture, understand and analyse data. My satisfaction is derived from making things run smoothly and creating great customer experiences.
I build products that solve problems and help others, particularly with software and operations. My workflow entails managing automation to ensure data is processed effectively so that when something is done more than once, there is an automated process in place so we don’t it over and over again.
What does being a woman-owned business mean to you?
As a person of colour in entrepreneurship, more representation means that gender and racial bias are being dispelled. It is important to see other people and realize that they can go after their dreams and really make a change in our world. Leading a black-owned business means amplifying representation as being a pivotal part of my input in my society. Your age, race, and personal circumstances should not be a disqualifying factor.
How did you come up with the idea for your business?
People always move from one place to another yet moving is still one of the most stressful life events and can get quite lonely a lot of the time. Getting integrated into a new place is a big deal—even when we aren’t in the midst of a global pandemic.
As founders and immigrants, we were motivated to create a solution we wish we had, as well as capitalise on a gap in the marketplace. We started as a service-based business helping people plan, book and manage their short and long term trips. However, when the pandemic hit, we reviewed our strategy and pivoted to provide an end-to-end solution.
Okay, coming up with a great idea and actually taking the steps to become an entrepreneur and launch your company are two very different things. How did you know it was time to start?
Prior to starting the business, I had some startup insight and gained robust entrepreneurial experience as a YCombinator Startup School graduate and an early participant at the Founder Institute 2020, the world's largest pre-seed startup accelerator, amongst other accelerator programs. Thus, getting the team together to work on Maze was great for scalability.
The first step was deciding which area I wanted to venture into. I was inspired to create a solution I had experienced - providing an end-to-end solution for people relocating.
Then came getting the team together. I was keen on not being a solo founder because the value of a team with a more specialised focus in certain business areas was very important to me. I put together an extensive business plan and presented it to my two partners to get them on board with the idea.
We conducted a blend of interviews and surveys for the primary research. After directly contacting a few volunteers who represent the target audience, 80% of participants said it took them at least 6 months to adjust to a new place. This was attributed to lack of assistance and culture shock. In the global scene, migrants make up 3.5% of the world's population. This is estimated at about 272 million international migrants according to the IOM World Migration Report 2020. The annual relocation industry is worth $17B with a 4.7% annual growth rate. This was the moment we knew that the same problem we faced was being experience by thousands of others and we needed to play some part in addressing this problem.
Becoming an entrepreneur is no easy feat. What are some of the lessons you learned along the way?
First key lesson is talk to your users. Listen to what they say and what they don’t. Speak to them every step of the way. Don’t fall into the phase of planning for months without actually speaking to your (potential) users.
The first hard part is starting, so just start. As I started out my entrepreneurial journey, I learned to position myself to be portrayed in a positive light by building a startup that solves problems. Also knowing that 90% of startups fail, I constantly take advantage of the learning process and work hard on getting Maze out there. Don’t attempt to do it alone.
Another key lesson is evaluate the acquisition costs. If possible, monetise early on. The goal is to not pay attention to vanity metrics that don’t grow the business but identify how many users are willing to pay to use your product or service.
If you had to list three traits or attributes that have been pivotal for your success, what would they be?
Diligence, Focus and Resilience.
How is your company making a difference?
People need community and inclusion. We understand that by capturing peoples’ desires, we’re one-third of the way there. People always consider others opinions and look for a community to share offers with. We facilitate this through our social well-being support.
We cater to the unique needs of our users, taking care of the time-consuming research from help finding a new home abroad, staying abreast of immigration laws, travel restrictions to help in understanding new cultures better.
Our services do not end on getting into the country, unlike immigration consultants. We help newcomers get set up for their new lives, find products and resources to hit the ground running. Once they are settled, we continue to provide them with tailored content and services so they do not feel isolated from the larger society. This allows for making decisions quickly and focusing on building a new life.
I know you probably have many, but what’s your proudest moment as a founder?
Building a community of relocators - Maze has a community of ‘relocators’ that’s growing rapidly. Through this medium, we help people connect to others relocating, answer questions, make friends and extend their network in their new city. Never underestimate the power of a community.
What's one myth you'd like to debunk about your line of work?
Everyone can be an entrepreneur! Not quite, Entrepreneurship is not a walk in the park, a lot of work goes into the process.
What advice would you give to burgeoning entrepreneurs?
Know that 90% of startups fail. So take advantage of the learning process and work hard on getting your product or service out there. Don’t attempt to do it alone and don’t fall into the phase of planning for months without actually speaking to your (potential) users. YCombinator startup resources have helped in defining our activities at Maze. There are a lot of useful video and audio resources that cover product-market fit, lean startup model, traction generation, technology, and setting up the startup for scalability.
What does the future look like for your company?
Over the next months, operations will be focused on seamless integration of services which pose the biggest hurdles to newcomers. We are in the process of securing partnerships with reliable third-party service providers - institutions, movers, recruitment agencies, relocation management companies, travel agencies, housing agencies and ride-sharing services. We intend to expand from a B2C model into an enterprise B2B model to facilitate global mobility, providing one-stop-shop relocation services for corporations, government entities and consumers.
What words do you live by?
Start small, dream big.
Any final words of wisdom?
Use scheduling and automation no-code tools like Zapier and Integromat to free up time for direct engagement with employees and users. Whether its moving information between apps, adding a recurring task to your to-do app or another boring repetitive task, it takes a lot to manage data across multiple platforms. There’s always a new app that’s guarantees to help you streamline work and make the tedious tasks easy.