We caught up with Alex La Via, a member of the 2023 PARSE cohort, to find out more about her journey as a tech founder.
Tell us a bit about your company, and your role, in your own words.
I am Founder and CEO of Live More Offline (LMO). I founded LMO after two workplace burnouts within a corporate accountancy career and a 500 mile walk across Spain! We provide diagnostics and training to enhance workplace wellbeing, performance and belonging in a digital age.
From video call exhaustion, email and chat overload to isolation and inequalities in hybrid teams, there has been growing concern about the human impact of digital work. Our specialism and passion is how digital habits at work can help people and businesses to thrive. Our mission is to create a future where leaders are empowered by data and training to re-negotiate their team’s relationship with technology, to create a future of enhanced wellbeing, performance and belonging within digital workplaces.
I have consulted and trained the leaders of some of the UK’s largest employers to create healthier and more productive working environments for their staff. I also train early career graduates and interns and deliver workshops at universities to empower the next generation of professionals with the skills they need to establish healthy relationships with technology and thrive in the future of digital work.
I am developing a technology division with the recent award of funding from Innovate UK. This combines my vision for a better digital working culture for all with our belief in the power of evidence-based decision making. Our unprecedented software surveys digital workplace experiences, providing employers with data-driven insights into the opportunities and threats arising from the impacts of hybrid digital work. This is complemented with individually tailored learning interventions that will make meaningful positive transformations to the digital workplace.
What was the inspiration behind setting up your business?
My journey began in professional services for a Big-4 firm, experiencing first hand the pressures of burnout and digital overload. In a hyper-connected career I experienced two workplace burnouts – the first leading to Bells Palsy where I lost movement in one side of my face which ultimately spurred me to leave Big-4 accountancy.
In pursuit of a better tech-life balance, I was inspired to walk 500 miles on the Camino in Spain, where I became curious about the role of digital behaviours in my wellbeing, and wellbeing within the workplace and in society. I started a masters degree with the University of Aberdeen, researching the impact of technology on wellbeing and the use of data to measure employee digital experiences and their impact on workplace KPIs.
LMO’s success has been founded as I started talking about my passion and findings from my research. A wellbeing lead saw me speaking, and I was then invited to speak at different workplaces – and LMO was born. Six years on from that moment in Spain, we have now devised leadership programmes and digital culture diagnostics which support some of the largest global organisations to improve their digital cultures.
Why did you decide to take part in PARSE, and what are you hoping to achieve from the experience?
One of LMO’s values is community and I’m passionate about helping others and experiencing what it is like to be part of a community of like-minded people. The future of work is collaborative and a key part of the success of any startup is becoming an active contributor to your business ecosystem.
I think I will bring a different perspective to the group, not being from a software background but bringing a Big4 accountancy background – what I don’t know about software stacks I can supplement with cashflow, accountancy, R&D and tax knowledge!
My vision is for LMO to become the heart of a rapidly growing and vibrant network of business, collaborators and entrepreneurs in the West Yorkshire region in the emerging sector of digital wellbeing. I believe that collaborating with the PARSE community will help me to learn from my peers, discover more of the extraordinary richness of the Leeds tech community and aid me in establishing key relationships for growing my business.
From your experience so far, what has been the most valuable thing you have found within the Leeds tech community?
I was lucky to be chosen by Bruntwood to participate in their Female Founders programme at the Platform business incubator in Leeds. It has opened the door to opportunities to network with and learn from like-minded entrepreneurs and mentors. This has brought so many tangible benefits to my business. The most valuable thing that I have found is the spirit of innovation and support shared by everyone at Platform.
Being a sole founder has its challenges, so that feeling of sharing insights and successes within a community, as well as the signposting and network support has made all the difference.
What’s the biggest challenge you face as a Startup currently?
As a founder, I am used to the demands of running a business. Whilst our consultancy arm has been operational for over four years, we have recently launched a Digital Culture Diagnostic, propelling us into being a tech start-up. The sheer range of skills expected of an entrepreneur is both challenging and hugely rewarding and then the tech build brings this to a whole other level. I think it’s what makes this role different from any other.
The biggest challenge that I am currently facing is also my greatest opportunity – managing the rapid growth of Live More Offline’s technology innovations alongside our existing consultancy and training offerings.
I have found the answer is in having a great team around you. In addition to my amazing team within LMO, the encouragement and support that I have received from the Leeds tech community is helping me turn my vision into reality.
How do you personally define success?
I define success as achieving growth whilst staying aligned to our values.
For this reason, our values guide everything we do. Our values are impact, innovation, balance, community and being future-focused. This is why we invest in innovations that drive impact and are evidence-led rather than chase quick wins. This is why growing a presence in the Leeds tech community has felt like one of the greatest successes of the last year.
Looking forward, what are your hopes and ambitions as a company over the next 12 months?
Our aim is to empower individuals to succeed in the evolving landscape of digital work, and for companies to feel equipped to address the unique challenges faced by their employees.
To achieve this, we are eager over the next 12 months to see our Digital Culture Diagnostic being implemented in more organisations, particularly in the IT, legal, professional services and insurance sectors where there is a greater proportion of people working digitally. 91% of tech companies are now working in a hybrid way so there is a need for digital to be intentional.
Our goal is to increase workplace awareness regarding the effects of digital habits. Often, the impact on equality is overlooked, particularly when women are more likely to work digitally while men work in the office. Although every company is unique, it is clear that digital culture can either promote or hinder equality. We have presented on this topic before and aim to expand our reach in 2023 by speaking to a wider range of audiences.