Mai-Li Hammargren is the CEO and co-founder of Mutewatch, a watch with a hidden touchscreen and silent, vibrating alarm.
I’m really into face-to-face meetings and direct contact with people – board members, retailers, business partners and customers alike. It’s an efficient way to attract interest and have fun at the same time!
Summer 2010 I bought an interrail ticket and went by train to 7 major cities in Europe. I asked the locals for advice and visited premium stores. The product was only a prototype (the battery was hanging outside) but many were excited about it and committed to a pre-order. On August 5th 2010, we unveiled the product and got about 1000 pre-orders through mutewatch.com. This was before crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter existed.
The biggest obstacle is to find capital to fund the development and production. To us, social media and our networks have been key. We closed the first round through a closed poker society of CEOs and founders. Other founders of Swedish startups part of that network are Spotify and Klarna.
I run. Physical activity is a great way to regroup. Or I call my Dad.
The Mutewatch team is a small bunch of different people aiming at the same goal. If I would surround myself with six “Mai-Lis”, I don’t think we would be where we are today. As a founder of an idea it’s important to know your blind spots and find the right people match you.
Focus on sales and on creating traction first of all. Pick your investors with the same caution you would pick a spouse ; it’s important that you really want to work together on a personal level and want the same thing, in our case, to create something great. “Ask for money and you’ll get advice. Ask for advice and you’ll get money” someone told me years ago and it’s a good advice. We managed to get a government innovation grant which covered the cost of the initial prototype development. My poker friends from the CEO and founder network supported us in the first capital round and funded the industrialization phase. We took pre-orders which then were matched by the bank, another institute and private investors, in order to fund the tooling and the first batch.
As a student at Stockholm School of Economics (SSE), I was in this ideation contest. ...