Posted on February 09 2016
Last week we were invited to participate in Solidworks World 2016, a conference organized by the 3D modeling software company Solidworks for its resellers, its users and those who appreciate computer aided design. Here at Trusst, we use Solidworks to create the support structure that is integral to our bras, so it was a natural fit (pun intended) that we attend.
One of the best things about Solidworks as a company is their dedication to showcasing those who use their products. This year debuted what Solidworks coined the “Entrepreneur track”, a series that delved into the ins and outs of being a hardware entrepreneur. They invited us to participate in two presentations. The morning was in front of the general audience on what they called Mainstage during their General Assembly. The afternoon was a smaller 3 part panel focusing on hardware startups.
First: General Assembly.
Imagine a rock concert in a convention hall - loud music and strobe lights filling the room as over 5000 people flood the seats to get the best view of the main stage. We were backstage watching the action - they say this is everyone’s favorite part of the whole conference. Along with two other new companies, we were asked to be interviewed by David Pogue, the Founder of Yahoo Tech, in front of the entirety of the conference. This was a fantastic opportunity to share more about our product to a group of people that might not have otherwise heard about what we were doing. Also, nothing makes you rethink your outfit choice like being broadcast onto screens that are 20 feet tall…
We started our interview with a viewing of our Melon Man video. If you haven’t seen this yet, it’s definitely worth a watch. A while ago, we created a video that would appeal to a subset of the population (let’s be real here, men) who might not necessarily understand what it is like to live with a larger bust. So, when this video was shown to an audience that was roughly 90% male, you can bet that we got a whole lot of attention. After the video, David Pogue spent about 10 minutes asking us questions about Trusst - how we came up with the idea, the progress we’ve made, and, oh yeah, how we use Solidworks. It was quite an honor to be up there!
Second: Entrepreneur Panels.
The second part of our participation at Solidworks World 2016 was through a series of 3 panels geared towards the entrepreneur. We sat in two of the three panels that provided those interested in starting a hardware company how to get the company started, how to get the product made, and how to get the product sold. While we’ve been at this for a year and a half already, we were excited to share some of our takeaways from starting Trusst.
A question we got asked a lot during the entire conference was “How do I start?” Our answer: there are so many aspects to creating a company, but the best way to start is just to dive right into the problem you’re trying to solve. Prototype your product, test with as many people as you can, get feedback. Rinse and repeat until you have something that your customers like. However, this isn’t the time for perfection - getting a product into the hands of a larger group of customers is far more important, so don’t miss your opportunity to take the market by storm!
Another big question was “how will I fund my company?” There are a variety of ways to go about funding. We have mentioned in a few other posts about the startup accelerator that we participated in, AlphaLab Gear. This was a great option for us, as a pair of founders who had a grand idea and needed some startup capital. However, this option isn’t for everyone, as we did have to give up a bit of equity for the mentorship, office space and initial seed funding we received. There are so many other avenues to funding: federal and local government grants to start business are a great option for non-dilutive funding, especially for minorities and women run companies.
So what about getting your product sold? There was a lot of debate on the best way to get a product into the hands of customers and there isn’t a correct option for everyone. We did a Kickstarter earlier this year and were successful in using that to help us get to our customers. There are more ways than crowdfunding to get your product out into the world! Take into consideration different approaches for B-C vs B-B company structures and sales methods. If you prefer the B-C approach, look into various sales platforms such as your own e-commerce site or Amazon Launchpad. Find out where your customers are and use those channels to get your product sold.
We love SolidworksTo recap, we love Solidworks as a tool for creation and as a company that supports its user base. We met a lot of fantastic people at the conference and feel so lucky that we had the opportunity to participate. Next week we’ll be talking about some of the people we met and how they’re changing the world through their innovative thinking.