September 25, 2014
Tuesday evening in Crystal City overlooking the Washington, D.C. views of Capitol and Reagan National Airport, Martin Ringlein of nvite and Maria Thomas of SmartThings shared their business insights and knowledge at Tech Cocktail DC Sessions speaker series event.
Martin Ringlein, now the CEO and founder of nvite, after selling his last company nclud to Twitter, kicked things off by talking about the steps for how to get started with a startup. Some of my key takeaways were that sometimes you need to reword things to get what you want, and that you should focus on the primary needs and look at the uncommon.
First, let’s look at the rewording bit. This was interesting because it involves you having to change your perspective a bit. It’s kinda like that new indie game, Monument Valley, where you have to guide the princess through the Escher-like world. The point is, that if you look at something from a different perspective, it’ll most likely help you in getting what you want.
Second, was the idea of focusing on the primary needs. What that means is that you’re most likely to have clients who have clients of their own, so your business becomes much stronger if you focus on those clients’ needs. He was not suggesting that the client in-between should be cut out – that’s your client! Instead, you have to help your client solve their client’s needs.
Last, was the “look at things that are uncommon” idea. What are people not doing and why? Perhaps there’s a need or problem there that you can fill/solve. And then, there’s the obvious. Put your all into it, otherwise you most likely won’t get anywhere with your concept. Ringlein is a wonderful speaker and I look forward to listening to him again whenever I get the chance.
The second half of last night’s event was more of a fireside chat facilitated by the quick-witted Tech Cocktail CEO, Frank Gruber, with Maria Thomas, the Chief Consumer Officer of SmartThings. SmartThings is a company that helps you create your own smart home and was recently acquired by Samsung.
Thomas shared her career trajectory and how she has been a part of a number of great organizations. She also gave details on SmartThings and its acquisition process, in addition to her own investing adventures. One of my main take-aways was just how much Samsung respected SmartThings’ vision enough to let them keep doing what they’re doing. It was also interesting to hear about the Kickstarter process for creating/funding SmartThings, especially the story about people customizing their own kits, which you can actually do today. With SmartThings you can shop by kit or by individual product with your home as the canvas for you own “Smart Home” creation. All of it is linked together by the app. And the best thing to me is that it’s open-platform.
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