The best strategy I learned as an entrepreneur after starting Karista — a unique healthcare business that assesses people’s needs and then matches them to disability providers — was that nothing really got rolling until you heard from your first customer. Put simply, what I learned was that customers simply don’t know what they want until you serve up the product to them, which means launch first, then learn from customer feedback along the way.
I was interviewed for a podcast a few months ago, and was asked, “I hear from other leaders that it can be a challenge to get team members engaged. Tell me your thoughts.” I replied, “I have been lucky to have always worked with teams that were mission-driven. I think that when you create a culture of people similarly committed to making a difference that it is far easier to keep them engaged. That being said, people are human. You need to give them room to take time off as needed if things are going on in their personal lives that are keeping them from being engaged. …
The path to taking your business idea to generating revenue doesn’t have to be a long journey. In fact it should be as short as possible. Before starting my own business I sought advice from people who had been there and done that and the key takeaway was don’t dilute. Just don’t do it.
It left me thinking how can you possibly build a product and take it to market without raising capital because ultimately that’s what you need to generate revenue….or is it?
My first start-up experience included an externally tested and solid market plan, innovation awards, and an investor that wanted to give us millions. I should have felt amazing, but I was uneasy. Something in the product development wasn’t feeling right to me. Although a scientist by training, as the CEO, my role was not to be the technical expert.
I was torn — it would be easy to accept the results the team was providing, take the investment and keep going. We were on the roller coaster of start-ups and technical progress was slow but positive, interest was still high, and we were climbing to the top of the hill. …
It has been a wild few months as I have found myself leading my company through the maze created as a result of COVID-19 and now navigating the complex realities of our city in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by the police. Rebiotix is located in Minnesota just north of the Twin Cities. It was wild before that too; with having finished enrollment in our pivotal Phase 3 clinical trial, striving towards being the first company in the world to have an FDA approved therapy based on the human microbiome, and experiencing phenomenal growth in the number of employees, while running out of space to seat them. …
In these recent quarantine times there’s nothing we’ve become more accustomed to than waiting and uncertainty. Not only do we (im)patiently wait, but we do so without knowing for how long. This is not so different for entrepreneurs. We often have to wait for the market to catch up with our transformational product or service. There’s an old joke that it takes a long time to become an overnight sensation. It often takes time for novel ideas to gain wide acceptance, dispel old paradigms, and filter down into actual practice. …
Licensing intellectual property can provide core revenue to your business. Everyone dreams of the fairytale deal … the brand name “Prince Charming” to fund your “happily ever after”! However, to truly maximize your IP’s value, it’s important to view any partnership as a long-term relationship. Don’t underestimate the challenges of finding the right partners and structuring a healthy marriage … I mean deal!
As a former collegiate swimmer, successful salesperson, entrepreneur, mother of 5, wife turned ex-wife, daughter, sister, friend, business partner, life partner…I always expected myself to be the best. However that can frequently result in feeling stressed. What’s the opposite of stressed? Desserts. As an ice cream lover, here are my tips for working through that stress by considering the much more favorable image of a giant bowl of ice cream with a cherry on top.
In three of the startups I led as CEO, I had active, engaged Boards of Directors that helped guide the development of my companies. My Board members included co-founders, angel investors, venture capitalists, and independent investors.
Working well with your Board of Directors is a critical skill for the CEO. I would like to share three insights that reflect my experiences working with Boards of Directors of early-stage, venture-backed companies.
So, here is what happened. I received an email asking me if I would be willing to provide some expert opinion on something related to my work…and the best part, they wanted to pay for my thoughts! So, you probably would have expected me to be extremely flattered, honored and reply right away.
That is not what happened. I closed the email. I ignored it.
Instead, I convinced myself that they must have been mistaken. What opinions of value could I possibly provide? I found myself quickly filled with self-doubt, anxiety and self-consciousness. All the old insecurities came rushing back.
And then, I heard this lyric “…fetch the bolt cutters, I’ve been in here too long…” I am not trying to sound cliché but this song came into my life at the exact right time. …