Meet Melissa Molinaro, Founder of Elite Partyz – Australia’s first double-sided party planning app.
Without prior tech experience, she has built a tech company that is both innovative and scalable through determination and facing every challenge head-on. Her team consists of herself, Kiera Elliot – Pickett as co-founder, and Basheer Sheriff as a technical founder. Their mission is to establish Elite Partyz as a household name in Australia and beyond.
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Thank you so much for giving us your time! Before we begin, could you introduce yourself to our readers and take us through what exactly your company does and what your vision is for its future?
Melissa Molinaro: My name is Melissa Molinaro I’m a 41-year-old mother of 3 kids who identified a gap in the market and knew it was up to me to fill it.
Elite Partyz is an party planning app that connects suppliers in the events industry together with busy people who love to plan epic events and stay organised. The idea came to me when I was planning my own children’s birthday party and felt frustrated that information regarding the party was spread over different devices. Suppliers emailed me their quotes/invoices, guests rsvp’d via text message, my to-do list and budget were on a spreadsheet on my laptop. I was stressed out that all this information wasn’t on one platform and the party wasn’t going to be a success.
My company allows listed suppliers to set up their business profile which includes company logo, name, social media links, website, images of their product/services their offer, descriptions and prices. This allows party planners to view their profile and book or purchase directly through the app. it saves the planner time because they don’t have to do endless Google searches to locate the perfect supplier. It also benefits suppliers because it saves them money by setting up a profile on a platform that brings their ideal customer directly to them resulting in hot leads coming to them with minimal effort
It also allows users to create any event they wish, invite their guests from the contacts in their phone or email contacts. These invited guests will receive an invite and can rsvp directly through the link provided, this will be automatically updated in your guest list. You will be able to stay organised on who is coming. who has declined and who hasn’t rsvp’d yet. Users can search through the many suppliers that are listed on the app in relevant categories and locations and purchase/book their services directly through the app which is updated in their budget. Once the budget is set and you buy through the app you will see exactly where you have spend money and what’s costing you the most amount of money. Planners can stay organised by adding tasks to their to-do list and crossing them off once they are completed.
Our vision for the future is that in 12 months time we are a household name in Australia. We plan to launch in New Zealand in 2023 and then Asia after that. We believe our platform is scalable and adaptable to any culture which makes it relevant to most people around the world. Every culture celebrates some sort of events therefor making Elite Partyz the go to party planning app.
NO child ever says I want to be a CEO/entrepreneur when I grow up. What did you want to be and how did you get where you are today?
Melissa Molinaro: I actually wanted to be a hairdresser and eventually became one at age 22. I completed my 3-year apprenticeship and straight after that ran my own business for 15 years. Unfortunately, I fell out of love with hairdressing but not out of love of running a business. I closed my business in 2015 and decided I needed a break but still needed to earn money, so retail work seemed like the easy option. It was 2 years into my retail position as 2IC that I planned my children’s birthday party and Elite Partyz was born.
I have come this far because I am determined to leave my mark on the world. I have so much more to offer, my potential far exceeds managing a retail store. I feel like Elite Partyz chose me because I was ready for something big and bold in my life.
Tell us something about yourself that others in your organization might be surprised to know.
Melissa Molinaro: I absolutely hated high school and didn’t get good grades despite the hard work and big effort I put in. I always thought that I failed school despite completing year 12 with low scores because I wasn’t smart. It took starting a tech company with no tech experience to realize that in actual fact – School failed me because it didn’t cater to my way of learning.
Many readers may wonder how to become an entrepreneur but what is an entrepreneur? How would you define it?
Melissa Molinaro: An entrepreneur to me is someone who starts their business journey despite everyone telling them they are crazy. Someone who ignores everyone’s opinions because they can’t stop thinking about this business idea. I believe a true entrepreneur is someone that fights for their business, faces all roadblocks head-on and after every setback, they get back up bigger and stronger than ever before.
Being an entrepreneur is something that anyone can be but only the true ones bring their idea to life and expand it from a one-person show, to an entire team and expand globally through determination and positive thinking.
What is the importance of having a supportive and inclusive culture?
Melissa Molinaro: It’s so important to have a supportive and inclusive culture because without this your team won’t feel free to express themselves, their concerns which will stop their creative ideas to stop flowing. My team members range from a female co-founder who is a mother of 2 children and runs her own pr company. I love that she is a working mother because she can plan her time and work efficiently because she know that she doesn’t have the pleasure to taking all day to do a few tasks. We work well together because we both appreciate the difficulty we face being busy mum’s with big ambitions and we are extremely accommodating of each others time.
We support each other anyway we can because we both understand how hard mum life an business life can be to juggle.
How can a leader be disruptive in the post covid world?
Melissa Molinaro: A leader can be disruptive in the post covid world by remaining open-minded and ready for change at any given time. They can be disruptive by planning for constant change and accepting that they will have to think on their feet and know how to be extremely good at communicating with their team.
I believe leaders will not withstand this new world post covid if they stay narrow-minded and are unwilling to pivot at the drop of a hat.
If a 5-year-old asked you to describe your job, what would you tell them?
Melissa Molinaro: That I have an app that small business owners can join and busy mums can plan amazing partyz for their gorgeous children just like your mummy does for you.
Share with us one of the most difficult decisions you had to make for your company that benefited your employees or customers. What made this decision so difficult and what were the positive impacts?
Melissa Molinaro: I’ve had to make the incredibly hard decisions to change developers because our relationship with the original team had run its course.
This was an incredibly hard decision because I don’t come from a tech background so I had no idea if I was going from one bad developer to another like so many tech founders do. I had to go with my gut feeling and trust my intuition and go with another developer.
Thankfully this was the right decision because we now use React Native technology, are building a web-based version, have a clear vision on how we will navigate future lockdowns, and still thrive even though people won’t be able to get together and celebrate. I have now partnered with a tech founder that is a please to work with, understands my vision, and shares the same vision for success.
Leaders are usually asked about their most useful qualities but let’s change things up a bit. What is your most useless talent?
Melissa Molinaro: I can rap to Ice-Ice Baby by Vanilla Ice.
Thank you so much for your time but before we finish things off, we do have one more question. If you wrote a book about your life until today, what would the title be?
Melissa Molinaro: “Against The Odds”
Mike Weiss, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Melissa Molinaro for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Melissa Molinaro or her company, you can do it through her – Facebook
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