Entrepreneur takes on the 'next thing'

Lou Donnelly-Davey is the new marketing manager at Dunedin-based company Timely Ltd. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
Lou Donnelly-Davey is the new marketing manager at Dunedin-based company Timely Ltd. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH

Once an entrepreneur, always an entrepreneur, says Lou Donnelly-Davey, the new marketing manager for Timely Ltd, who is always looking for the ''next thing''.

Ms Donnelly-Davey moved with her husband and three children from Queenstown to Dunedin five months ago.

Life was ''crazy''as she settled back into living in her home city and started her new job this week.

But the timing was also right to join Timely, both with the stage the company was at and also where she was at in her life, she said.

Brought up in Dunedin, Ms Donnelly-Davey attended Otago Girls' High School and spent a couple of years at the University of Otago. But she did not really know what she wanted to do, and decided university was not for her. In hindsight, she wished she had studied medicine, she said.

So she took a year off before deciding to return to university, this time in Wellington, to study criminology. She later completed a master's degree in public policy.

Since her university days, Ms Donnelly-Davey's career has been diverse and interesting, including many entrepreneurial projects.

An internship at what was then known as the Ministry of Commerce, working in the capital markets team, was a ''bit of an eye opener'' and her first glimpse into entrepreneurship.

The team was looking at reducing barriers to finding money for SMEs, and also was working on a paper about establishing a secondary stock exchange for smaller entities.

From there, there were positions with Carter Holt Harvey, as a new ventures analyst, and at Vodafone New Zealand as a new ventures analyst in the finance team.

Following the arrival of her first child, she ''dabbled'' in a few things and established a high-end children's wear clothing brand, GiGi Designs. Ms Donnelly-Davey juggled young children with running the business which grew to having agents in Australia and the United States.

After breaking the business into various components and selling them off, she became bored.

By then living in Queenstown, she started Skout Trade Fair, an online social network and business forum for business owners in the children's product industry.

She then realised collaboration and relationships were what she did best. It was ''intensely satisfying'' to connect people on a level that made their businesses better, she said.

Again, she sold Skout and decided she wanted to ''do something fun'', so, with a Melbourne-based photographer friend, she started MAEVE, a digital lifestyle magazine aimed at an audience of smart 20-40-year-old women.

It was about raising children in an inspiring way and being inspired as a woman, ''not just a mum'', she said.

After getting that under way, she sold it to another designer and started a company called Scrattch which was a crowd sourcing knowledge initiative.

The company won various awards, including being named in Global Entrepreneur Week's top 50 most promising start-ups worldwide in November 2012.

After seven years in Queenstown, the family moved to Dunedin when Mrs Donnelly-Davey's husband, Nick Donnelly, got a job as director corporate services at the Otago Regional Council.

Lunch with Bex Twemlow, from Hail, led to a job at the start-up, where she helped get it investment-ready.

About 12 months ago, she spoke to Timely founder Ryan Baker about a possible role for her, but it was not the right timing for either of them.

However, they kept in touch over the ensuing year and, when he emailed to say he was looking for a head of marketing, she decided the timing was ''perfect''.

Timely, which was launched in 2012, produces a cloud-based appointment management system for businesses requiring scheduling of their staff and services.

Mr Baker had been doing the marketing role himself but it was time for him to ''step back a little'' and concentrate on being the chief executive, rather than combining the two roles, she said.

Ms Donnelly-Davey has been following both Timely and Mr Baker for a long time and she knew from the outset that it was going to be successful.

The company recently won the Deloitte Fast 50 Regional Rising Star award. It was also highly commended in the start-up category at the New Zealand Hi-Tech Awards.

Mr Baker said staff numbers had grown to 27, with 16 based in Dunedin, eight in Wellington, two in Auckland and one in London. Timely now had more than 4000 customers in 70 countries and business continued to grow quickly. The company was looking to expand its London team.

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