Tags: infant monitor parents reflections sensors vision
Reflections of a 23-Year-Old Entrepreneur
Three weeks ago, we took a big chance: our business team would explore using our sensor technology for a new type of baby monitor for parents. We divided and conquered the research we needed to do into this alien world [note: the majority of our team is under 25]. We surveyed people, talked to retailers, read online reviews, and started talking to moms and dads, as we recognized that we were totally new to this space and had no clue how parents think.
But, we found that describing our product vision was tough, as we had no idea what the product would ultimately do. Furthermore, most of our previous work had been in the medical space, where product value centered on cost or accuracy. We quickly found that parents, on the other hand, wanted to hear about safety, usability, and reliability (“and why would they want to hear about that?!”).
Following that, we had a never-ending series of questions about the actual logistics of raising a baby. Questions like “what do babies wear when they sleep?”, “why is sleeping position important?”, and “how quickly do babies grow?” could be heard around the office for days. We even had a debate on whether a premie could fit in someone’s hand! But, we read everything we could, and Thomas even read “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”, which led to fairly humorous conversations each day. Eventually, though, we got through (most of) the basics and were finally able to think about the actual product we wanted to create and how we were going to sell it.
We knew that marketing to new mothers was a big deal, as Charles Duhigg’s eerie article—which described Target’s statistics team and their success in drawing pregnant mothers to their stores—showed us earlier this year. Yet we were having trouble understanding what drove their actual purchasing decisions. And we only found that the questions got harder to answer as we explored the baby product space more. There are so many different products, companies, and types of parenting techniques that we once again became overwhelmed. This time, we took another approach: we took a step back, way back.
Last month, Mathias had sent me a link to a great TEDX talk by Simon Sinek and an idea he had coined “the Golden Circle.” It described how inspiring leaders and successful companies spoke less about what they did but more about why they did it. We had started with the how: using our proprietary technology and consumer-focused product development. But we had forgotten to include our own vision and the actual parent into the equation. We then decided as a team to focus more on understanding the moms and dads, which meant leaving the question of what we should be producing to the last priority in our chain of ideas.
We spent hours reading Amazon reviews and talking to parents on the phone. I found myself thinking babies 24-7, checking out “cute” baby clothing and talking in mom-speak, with words like “prego” and “mombrain” and “little one.” Once I had talked to dozens of new moms and dads, I began to understand why parents buy monitors. The first few months of having a baby are incredibly stressful, exhausting, and nerve-wracking. If you’re a first-time parent, you’re trying to keep track of a billion different new things (feeding, sleep, and diapers, oh my!), and then your mind can get the best of you on top of all that. I heard from several moms that they would lie awake at night staring at a video monitor to see if their baby was breathing. Another mom said her husband almost broke his nose running to the baby’s room when their movement monitor went off. Raising a baby is an amazing process, but yes, it is indeed intense—heck, I was stressed just from reading about it. Getting through those first few months of a baby’s life is a battle, and building something, anything, that makes it easier has a ton of value. This process is not over, but we feel confident that we can build something that would make new parents’ lives much better. And we are pumped! Stay tuned.