Woman entrepreneur leads growing tech company


Task Retail Technology Managing Director Jennifer Houden. Credit: Task Retail Technology

Jennifer Houden is the managing director of Task Retail Technology, a family-run business that has grown to become a leading developer of point-of-sale software in Australia. Houden oversees staff and company culture while managing accounts and looking for growth opportunities.

Tech Page One recently spoke with Houden about her career, running a business and her experience at last month’s Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network conference in Istanbul.

How did you become an entrepreneur and what motivated you to start Task Retail Technology?

Mine was not a conscious leap into the life of an entrepreneur. Rather, my journey began under compelling persuasion from my husband, Kym, to back ourselves and go it alone.

Keeping to the family ethos of Task Retail Technology, we enlisted the expertise of our son Daniel to develop xchangexec — a sophisticated, customized and cost effective POS software solution. At the time it was a big gamble. We invested a lot of money in software development and moved away from selling a well-known, dominant brand that our customers knew. But we knew we were developing a unique and superior product.

It took time, and with a small team of only seven, we had to be creative about how we interfaced with existing customers and grew a new part of the business. Also, as we have always been self-funded, we could only grow as fast as we could afford. With Kym as the businessman and Daniel as the innovator, my role of chief financial officer/chief operating officer managing the financials, business administration and accounting was the third side to the triangle.

What has been the most challenging part about being a female entrepreneur?

I would say identifying the right advisors for areas that are not my expertise and then learning when to heed advice different from my own and when to go with my gut. We are governed by instincts within us, yet how do you know when your decision is the right decision? Successfully balancing risk with a commercial point of view has been one I have learned over time. It’s been challenging yet incredibly satisfying over the course of this journey.

How does Dell technology help to empower you and your role at Task Retail Technology?

Task Retail’s growth is underpinned by Dell technology. The team uses Dell laptops, desktops, monitors, mobile devices and our entire back end is built on Dell PowerEdge servers and Dell EqualLogic storage arrays located across two data centers in Sydney and Las Vegas.

The Dell servers and our xchangexec software technology are processing $3 million per day and $1.1 billion per year, which equals to 286,000 transactions per day and 1.1 million transactions per year. Our clients are in hospitality, clubs, casinos and stadiums across Australia and New Zealand. We have just commenced doing POS rollouts in the United States.

What was your favorite part about DWEN 2013 and how do you think your experience will help your business?

Without a doubt, the connections made with so many wonderful and inspiring women.  Also, I particularly enjoyed the session on leveraging investment to grow your business so that it works with you without giving away equity.

Task Retail Technology is growing rapidly having recently signed Sizzler, Rubio’s, Luby’s and Fuddruckers in the United States, as well as KFC and Sizzler in Queensland, Australia. We need to ramp up our services arm to manage large-scale rollouts, so we have also begun some exploratory discussions with Dell Services. Partnering with Dell makes sense for us, and it has been the perfect technology partner.

How do you intend to implement this year’s DWEN theme — Pay it Forward — to help aspiring female entrepreneurs?

Outside of our group initiative, I am going to raise my focus of bringing talented women into Task Retail Technology, specifically our growing media and branding arm run by my other son Dean. I am also going to actively mentor two young entrepreneurial women I know and encourage them to find other mentors to help them realize their goals.

Katie Manderfield is a writer and producer based in New York City whose work has appeared in Business Insider, The Browser and Venture Beat.

Katie Manderfield
Katie Manderfield is a writer, producer and digital strategist based in New York City. She specializes in thought leadership, emerging trends, and cultural intersections. Her work has appeared in Fast Company, Business Insider and on NPR.
Katie Manderfield
Katie Manderfield
Tags: Business,Data Center,Entrepreneurship