The first year is about convincing people to believe in your dream. Then you need to be a good salesperson, storyteller, and a pitch master to convince investors, potential customers, and partners to believe in your vision and to test your product. You will need to show your customer and partners how your product will make a difference, solve their problems, and how it will provide cost savings and workflow efficiencies. Be prepared to integrate and adopt the business model and product thousands of times until you have the perfect recipe. Then, make sure you buckle up and are fit to come up against strong resistance because building a new company comes with many growing pains that can either inspire you or take you down.
We have had many moments that have knocked us down. While we can laugh about it now, the grit through tough situations is what shaped us to be stronger, faster, smarter, efficient, and more humble.
I will share one of our first resistance stories.
In 2009, we went to one of the bigger radiology trade shows in Europe, with the intention to inspire our dream partner (GE, Philips, Samsung, and Sonosite) to try out our technology and become our partner.
We were talking to a lot of people at one of the biggest vendors in our industry, and one of them introduced us to the right director at this vendor. We very so excited to receive a couple of minutes with the person who had the power to take Trice to the next level. We did our pitch about replacing printing and faxing with sending digital images directly to phone or email and how it could revolutionize his industry. He looked at us, bent his head to the right, and his placed his hand on my partner’s shoulder and said, “Girls, that’s never, ever going to happen” and smiled. My business partner Åsa bent her head to the left and stared into his eyes and said, “That’s what Sony Music’s CEO said 6 years ago about iTunes and Napster. Two years later, he lost 50% of his revenue.” He just said, “I don’t think so,” and walked away.
Here is the opportunity for you to decide how you want to respond, and how you respond at this moment will decide your company’s future. Not everyone will believe in you/your product and a meeting could either take you down or fuel you to prove him (them) wrong. We looked at each other and said, “We are going to prove him wrong.” But the lesson is: If you are early in a paradigm shift or if people don’t understand your product innovation or case studies, you will often receive reactions like this one.
People will ignore you, they will laugh at you, they will fight the change you’re bringing. Leading is bleeding, but don’t ever lose your faith in your product, ignore the people that are laughing and throwing stones at you are not everyone. To build a power team and a support system is key. Put yourself around the people that believe in you, your product, and be sure to create strategies for how you and your team can convince the world, potential customers, and potential partners that this product (your product) is a must-have!
Below you find a list of my tips to survive the baby years in building a global product:
- The founding team needs to be in 100% aligned
The founding team needs to agree on what the companies higher purpose and dream is. Identify: Why are you building this company/product? What role do you want your company to play in the world, in your industry and your customers and partners life? Trice Imaging ’s higher purpose is Quality of care for people every at any time.
- Stay committed to the vision and take aligned actions
Establish your company vision and strategy and stick to it. With Trice, we have always been clear on our vision and strategy. This doesn’t mean we knew the quickest way or the best route to get there but our vision and strategy to build a game change product in the healthcare space have always been the same. With the many bumps, we have adopted, reinvented, and stayed in action to move forward towards our vision and strategy. Everyday.
- Put the right team in place for the long-term
The journey is defined by people so make sure you have a diversely skilled team with the right core values whom you can trust and run with.
- Consistency is a pathway to success
Fight through the repetition and boredom – and keeping on with the task – through the thick and thin.
- Fail forward
Failure is indeed the greatest teacher. So, fail fast, and learn what you need to fix, and fix as fast a possible when it comes to the product, business model, communication, culture, etc.
- A burning passion and anything is a possible attitude
A burning passion and nothing is impossible attitude can move any mountain and will open new possibilities and roads when you are in deep deep shit. We have used music to fuel our passion and attitude. We have a “love song” and a “war song” to get us through various times. Our choices: ¨Ain’t No mountain high enough¨ and our victory song ¨The winner takes it all¨
Show the world how your technology can make a difference in your space and make sure to tell your partners, customers, and segment. We do a couple projects every year. Our Mobile ultrasound patrol project won the GSM award for best Mobile Health solution in the world. Our Texas Ambulance project won multiple awards including the GSM award
- Set your framework up for success handling conflicts
Make sure you have a good founders agreement in place before you marry your co-founder. Have a framework/playbook and clear communication/resolution for how to handle conflicts and trust issues and how you should divorce. The number one reason why startups fail today is the team. My personal tip when the conflicts arise because they will is to take a big deep breath, calm yourself down, then lead with compassion, love, and, forgiveness, and openness when you act.