Last Wednesday, our Founder and Chief Technology Officer, Dr. Soodeh Farokhi, was invited as a speaker for a Wagon Talk session organized by le Wagon Montreal. These sessions provide founders, accelerators and other important players in the local start-up scene an opportunity to meet with future entrepreneurs to share their successes and lessons learned.
Below are the key lessons that Dr. Soodeh spoke about during her session, which revolve around her own entrepreneurial journey and the key lessons that enabled her to evolve C2RO to what it is today.
Jumpstart your company
Jumpstart your company rather than starting from zero. Look for technologies that give you the jumpstart you need to build your own technology stack on top of that. The starting point for C2RO was when I got to collaborate with Indiana University and acquired the real-time stream data processing technology that had everything I needed to start.
Your product is constantly evolving
As you begin to introduce and sell your product or service to customers, you might be forced to change or tweak your offering to satisfy customers’ needs and align yourselves with the market’s demands.
The feedback we got from the market and customers about our original offer was that customers loved the software and technology we were incorporating into the service robots, but the robotics market was still emerging so the value proposition was not enough to convince even the more visionary customers to commit in purchasing a fairly expensive robot in order to use our pay-as-you-go SaaS solution, which on its own was affordable.
Since our software offering is device agnostic and simply needed a camera as a sensor and the connectivity of that sensor to the internet, we started to offer integrating our SaaS solution into a company’s existing surveillance cameras. With this move, we were able to address the main barrier to entry for our product and got better traction among our customers as several were willing to commit in purchasing our solution. Having a customer feedback loop provided us with a better understanding of the market which led us to develop our current product C2RO Perceive™.
Focus on what differentiates you from the competition
Focus on what differentiates you from competitors, rather than wanting to be the only product available on the market because if you don’t have any competitors, then your idea or product is probably not that great.
This applies to our main product C2RO Perceive™, a machine vision AI platform that reuses existing surveillance cameras to anonymously capture visitor journeys in physical spaces. In the retail market, there is a lot of competition for analytical tools that provide insights on customers and their purchasing habits, but none of them provide a comprehensive view of the end-to-end customer journey like we do, while still being fully compliant with existing and future data privacy regulations.
Moreover, the insights we provide are not just useful for retail. Understanding the visitor journey and contextual factors that influence their behavior is useful for any business operating in large commercial spaces. We are currently looking into the smart city market and were recently awarded a prize by JalonMTL and STM that will enable us to advance the implementation of C2RO Perceive™ in smart mobility.
Learn to accept uncertainty
Being an entrepreneur is very rewarding because every day is different as you get to learn about so many different aspects of a business, but you will also find yourself constantly outside of your comfort zone and faced with a new challenge every day.
At every stage of the company, you will feel like you have learned a tremendous amount but the minute you find yourself feeling comfortable saying at this stage, a new challenge will come up and push you completely out of your comfort zone again. At the end of the day, you must ask yourself if you are the right person for entrepreneurship, and whether you can handle the pressure and constant uncertainty that comes with it.
Finding your vision is important, but one thing you must define from day one is whether you want to build a product or service company. If you step into the service path simply to help secure your financial means to build a product company, you will quickly lose focus and will not reach the goal you had originally intended to achieve.
To watch the full interview, check out Le Wagon’s Facebook page!