In Coldstream, Karen Richard and her husband and co-founder, Jesse Richard are on a mission to bring children’s publishing into the digital age by offering an end-to-end platform where authors can write, illustrate, and publish books with ease.
Karen is one of twenty five recipients of the Level Up Local Grant, offered by Prospera Credit Union and Accelerate Okanagan. We caught up with Karen to learn more about how her business has grown and changed, the best advice she’s received as an entrepreneur, and how she’s leveraged the Level Up Local grant to prepare for launch.
What makes Coldstream the best place for Made Live?
Honestly, you can quite literally start and run a tech company from anywhere in the world. I think what makes Coldstream, and the Okanagan, the best place for us is the balance we find here. Being in a smaller community means we’re not bogged down with a huge commute and can usually get anywhere we need to go within 15 minutes or less. This means we can be more efficient with our time. We have everything we need within arms reach and the area lends itself to a better work-life integration.
How has your business grown or changed over the last few years?
The first iteration of Made Live was actually called Coldstream Tales, an idea we had for a massive creative book universe. We realized pretty quickly that we needed a platform or service to help us publish faster without sacrificing quality, but couldn’t find anything on the market. After taking a step back and looking at the problem in more depth, we realized we found a significant gap in the self publishing market and made a hard pivot to build the platform we needed. We opened the software to our first test group a few years ago, received some incredible feedback, rebuilt our entire code base, added tons of great features, and after working in open beta for the last several months, we’re gearing up for our official launch this fall.
Why should customers be excited about using your services?
We’ve talked to so many people with great book ideas, but their story is always a version of the same thing – starting, writing, getting stuck, feeling frustrated and quitting. The exciting thing about using Made Live is that you just have to show up – our software has taken the frustration out of the publishing process so users can focus on the fun part – getting creative and getting their book to the finish line.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve had in growing your business?
I don’t think I’m alone in saying the biggest challenge with growing a business is financing. Every business is so incredibly different and there is no one-size-fits-all option. There is so much information floating around, especially in tech, about how and why you should “always be fundraising,” and not enough clarity about all of the available options. Everyone has an opinion, so it’s tricky, especially as a first-time founder, to sort through the options and figure out what the best option is for you and your business.
What is a piece of advice that has helped you grow your business?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I honestly don’t remember who told me that, but it’s so key. I think that entrepreneurs believe they should have the answers, or they are afraid to ask for help. I have found that the vast majority of people are really happy to help – you just need to know who to ask and be clear in communicating what you’re asking for.
How has the Level Up Local Grant helped your business?
The Level Up Local Grant has been incredible! It saved us a ton of time right out of the gate, as it was easy to learn about and apply for. Once we were approved, it was easy to access the funds and get started on our project. We applied the grant to an SEO audit and updates to prepare us for our official launch this fall, and I am sure we will see the impact of this work in the coming months.
You can start your self publishing journey with Made Live’s online platform. To learn more about Made Live, visit their website.