How it all started…
How this all came about isn’t too different from any myriad of Startup stories. It all started with a water-cooler conversation between Waleed and I which lead to the inevitable question, “Yousef, why don’t you start your own business?”
This is a question I’d heard more times than I cared to recall. Most people have a hard time understanding the scope of what that entails!
- Startup costs
- Legal fees
- A workable business model
- Strategies and plans
- Saleable products and/or services
- …and let’s not forget, customers!
* That last bullet is what’s most important! *
Who are your customers? How will you find them? Do they really want what you’re selling? Are they willing to pay what you’re asking?
For me, this was the hardest lesson I’ve learned in the last 20 years. From time to time, I’ve done IT consulting for individuals, small and mid-sized businesses. I bought my first car building a website for a neighbor’s landscaping business. I operated by word-of-mouth, but never managed to get enough customers to make it a full-time operation.
Nevertheless, I learned a lot from my experiences and mistakes. I even had an opportunity to work for several startups and learn from theirs too! I could have explained all of this to Waleed, but decided instead to respond by saying, “Sure! Let’s go into business together. How much would you like to invest?”
My question wasn’t intended as serious, but what Waleed said next was! He smiled confidently, then said, “I am working on a bracelet that will detect when someone is having a seizure.”
This caught me off guard, but without breaking stride, I managed to sputter, “Sounds interesting… how can I help?”
Come to find out, this is a project Waleed had been working on in his spare time since May of 2014. The inspiration for this project came from his brother, who suffers from seizures. Although Waleed wasn’t the first to tackle this, the solution he was developing is based on his own original circuit designs, software and algorithms. Waleed excitedly described (in loving detail) every aspect of how his device worked, and showed me a copy of his IEEE membership certificate.
At this point, I was nominally convinced of his bonafides, but asked again, “So, how can I help?”
After further inquiry, we established that Waleed didn’t have a lot of business experience. He’d dabbled in sales, but had never set up a website, designed a logo, worked with eCommerce or written a business plan. It became clear that if he was going to bring this product to market, he was going to need help. These were all areas I had experience with, so we agreed that this would be my de facto role.
Several more conversations and a little brainstorming lead to the name, which I touched on in the ‘about us‘ page. I toiled away at a logo and our brand was born!
So what’s next?
By the end of June, 2015, we expect to have a working prototype. We’ll be partnering with an industrial designer and manufacturer to produce the first wearable model, and in the meantime, will be looking for customers who’d be interested in this project.
Nominally, we’re looking to leave the software side of it open to encourage 3rd party developers to write apps which utilize the device.