Why Marissa Sandler went from being a human rights lawyer to a tech entrepreneur

Marissa Sandler

Changing career paths is always daunting — you leave behind certainty and what you know, for the unknown.  It is less overwhelming when you really believe in what you are about to embark on and have good people around you to help you do it.

I had been a lawyer for 15 years working across human rights issues such as gender and disability. It was through the disability work that I saw the need for a service that gave people choice and control when connecting to care and support workers.

My co-founder, who is also my sister, and I had some family experiences of trying to keep relatives at home as they aged. It was really hard to find the right care.

These experiences meant that we really believed in what we wanted to create: an online platform to connect people needing in-home care with care workers with a focus on aged, disability and post-operative care in the home.

Read more: Why Kate Dinon left the corporate world

My sister has a completely different skill set to me — her background is in marketing and managing websites for social enterprises and startups. Having a co-founder makes all the difference.

There are many ups and downs when setting up a business. It is good to have someone to share the load with. The effort and work required to set up and then run a business day-to-day is huge.

When you change careers there is so much new information to get your head around. The learning curve is initially very steep. However, the feeling of mastering a new skill makes it worth it.

Because Careseekers is an online platform, finding good tech people to work with was critical to us. We needed to find people who could assist us through the process but didn’t take advantage of how little we knew about building a site.

We started with an agency, which was great but ultimately unsustainable. When we were looking for individual developers to join our team we had a few negative experiences but luckily, we didn’t waste too much time or money. Now we have found a gem. It takes time to build your team; it’s definitely worth waiting for the right people.

It was strange going from such female-dominated industries like human rights and marketing to tech — there are very few women around. We are often the only women at an event. As our business grows we will definitely do what we can to encourage and support more women to work in tech.

Changing careers, particularly to start your own business, is a big exercise in letting go of certainty and embracing what lies ahead. So far it’s been great. We went to market in October 2015 and the number of people using the site increases daily.

It’s so satisfying helping families and individuals find care and support workers. We know this support can be life changing for these families and individuals.

Our goal for 2017 is to operate throughout Australia, starting with the expansion of our services to Melbourne later this month.

Have you changed careers?

Marissa Sandler is the co-founder of Careseekers

This article was first published by Women’s Agenda.

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