Software Circle Event:
Should I Get Potential Customers Involved in Product Development?
You have funding, your team is in place, and they are starting to draw up the details of your company’s first product. You could talk to potential customers, but you are hesitant to do that until you have a prototype to show. But, neither you nor your team are really comfortable talking to customers. Perhaps, you can leave that task to your sales team, when they come on board, in nine months. Hold on… you need to think ahead! The leading cause of failure of startups is the inability to grow a customer base. You could kill two birds with one stone, if you would start building your customer base from Day 1 and engage them into the development process, That is one of the fundamentals of so-called "lean startups.” They integrate product and customer development to validate assumptions early on and to better focus product design, marketing and sales efforts. Join us for a discussion with entrepreneurs who have successfully used "lean startup” principles to get their businesses off the ground.
Elaine Chen, Vice President of Product Development, Rethink Robotics
Elaine has spent her entire career in startups and small companies. She is currently serving as vice president of product development at Rethink Robotics, which is her fifth startup. Prior to Heartland, she had served at the VP level in engineering, product development and product management roles in several other Boston area startups, including Zeo, Zeemote and SensAble Technologies. She is also the founder and principal at ConceptSpring, a consulting business focusing on helping startups develop product strategies to bring their ideas from concept to market. In addition to lecturing at the Sloan School, Elaine is an active member of the MIT community and is currently an Entrepreneur in Residence at the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship.
Richard Pineau, CTO and Executive Vice-President of Engineering, Oncam Grandeye
Richard is the chief technology officer and vice president of engineering for Oncam Grandeye, a security solution that integrates the latest in command and control, facial recognition, biometrics and access control technologies with the world’s leading 360-degree video technology. He has a diverse background ranging from wireless communication, Internet and image processing technologies, consumer software and device applications to middleware, relational databases, and platform products. Prior to joining Oncam, Richard served as a senior engineering manager for Raytheon;a vice president of software and product development for Polaroid, where he was responsible for instant digital printing, wireless technology, desktop applications, device drivers, embedded software, core imaging technology, internet imaging platform, internet imaging application and software quality testing; a director of engineering for Kodak; a manager of hardware development for Adage, where he was responsible for high resolution and high performance video graphic system hardware architecture, display hardware modules, gate-array development, host interfaces and overall diagnostic design; and several other companies.
Sanjay Manandhar, Founder & CEO, Aerva
Sanjay founded Aerva with the express intention of bringing an intuitive solution for networks and enterprises to manage digital displays and also allow mobile devices to interact with the displays (indoor, outdoor and the web). He has 15+ years of product development experience, starting his career in software engineering/product development at Siemens, NYNEX and other high tech firms. He has also worked in Europe in finance and advanced product development in the late 1990′s. In the a few spare moments he has from running Aerva, Sanjay serves as a co-organizer of the MIT Enterprise Forum Software Community Circle and as a contributor to techentrepreneur.info.