In this Q&A, Mary Mellor, co-founder of VODIUM shares her career journey going from marketing technology products to building one, her experience as a non-technical founder, and why she's proud of VODIUM's success and its ability to actually help people navigate virtual communication in the remote workforce.
Talk about your career before VODIUM, how did you get started?
I started my career at CEB in 2014 as a VE associate producing 300 webinars per year, and then I went into product marketing at EVERFI.
I had always wanted to move to Los Angeles and live out my "California dream", so I quit my fancy product marketing job at EVERFI to do that and focus on building my product marketing career.
How did your career change when you moved to LA?
Honestly, it was really difficult. I had moved there in hopes of making the connections I needed to land my dream tech job and I was met with a lot of rejection.
After a couple months of "no's" and closed doors, I was depressed and running out of options.
Then, I randomly joined a friend in Palm Springs one weekend and I met a CMO who was gearing up to launch a $50M marketing campaign, and a week later he called me to manage the project—that was when Mary Mellor Consulting was started.
How did you go from consulting tech companies to entertaining the idea of co-founding one?
After betting on myself and my skillset to start my own business, I was billing 60+ hours a week with clients across the country managing complex product and project launches.
Enter: a global pandemic.
Every company in the world, including my clients, had scaled back their budgets. No one knew what the future would hold for their businesses. I ended up moving back home to Memphis in March of 2020 to quarantine and be with my family—I was trying to stay afloat like everyone else.
A couple weeks into the pandemic, Camille called me and told me about a Zoom video shoot that she was managing and needed a virtual teleprompter that could sit on top of the video conference to allow someone to read their script directly to the camera.
"It doesn't exist," she said. "I think we should build it."
I had just started my own company, moved home to help my family business, and we were in the midst of a world shattering pandemic—there was no f*cking way, but I was open to thinking about it.
So, what made you decide to jump into building VODIUM after that call with Camille?
I spent the next 24 hours after that call with Cami researching and scouring the internet for proof that a product like this already existed.
"Fine," I thought "The product may not exist, but is there even a need for it?"
I realized that not only was I personally feeling the struggles of presenting or communicating virtually, but the politicians, executives, and talking heads (some of the best speakers in the world) that I watched on TV were also having trouble effectively navigating virtual communication.
We all had been thrust into this new virtual world due to the pandemic and this was a real opportunity to help people—we had to do it.
As non-technical founders, how did you and Camille build VODIUM to the product we see today?
We used a few thousand dollars from our own savings and with the help of our development team, we launched the beta of our patent-pending technology for the first ever virtual teleprompter only a week after founding the company.
Two months after releasing the beta, the entire product crashed. It was unexpected and overwhelming.
As non-technical founders, we couldn't rebuild the product ourselves, so we had to go out and raise a pre-seed round to rebuild the VODIUM that exists today—and that's exactly what we did.
VODIUM just celebrated its 2nd birthday, what are some notable moments since founding that you're most proud of?
Looking back, I think Camille and I are really proud of both the good and bad moments on our journey since founding.
We've had a lot of people tell us that we would never succeed for every reason you can think of: our pedigree as non-technical founders, being a diverse female-founded company, even our brand colors—baby blue, pink, and purple—being too feminine. Plus, like many female founders, Camille and I have gone through periods of serious imposter syndrome.
Ultimately, the good moments have overwhelmingly outweighed the bad. We've had some incredible experiences like raising our first seed round in January and pitching at SXSW in the Future of Work category.
The most rewarding thing about starting VODIUM for me is really just getting to fulfill a dream of building something amazing that really helps people—while having fun with my best friend as my co-founder.