How to Quit Your Day Job and Start a Wearable Tech Company
Wearable tech has introduced us to some really cool gadgets that make our lives easier, like the stylish Chevron necklace that doubles as awesome earbuds, or the cute ring that lets you pay for things on the go without carrying a wallet. Tech-savvy women entrepreneurs have been dreaming up ways to merge the innovative ideas in the tech world with the practical realities that make our day-to-day even more fun (hello, matching friendship bracelets with app lights).
This week, in our How to Quit Your Day Job series, we chat with Yasmine Mustafa, a #girlboss who is creating wearable tech that makes our lives safer. Her B-corporation-certified company, ROAR for Good, is developing products that empower women. If you’ve always wanted to break into the wearable tech industry, let Yasmine’s do-gooder ways inspire you to get started.
Meet the Wearable Tech Pro: Yasmine Mustafa
Yasmine’s hard-working parents owned a 24-hour convenience store when she was growing up and that taught her the importance of a strong work ethic. After putting herself through Temple University, Yasmine started a software business called 123LinkIt that she sold in 2011. She decided to take some time off and trek solo for six months in South America. During her journey, she met many women who told her horror stories of traveling and being assaulted. When Yasmine returned to her Philadelphia hometown, a woman was brutually assaulted just a block from where she was staying. “ROAR for Good was born when I read the news story the next day,” says Yasmine.
One of the first products her company is launching is Athena, through an Indiegogo campaign. This wearable circular device can easily be attached to your purse, worn a necklace or attached to your waist. If you feel at all unsafe when walking home from work or post-happy hour, hold down the Athena button for three seconds. This will activate a loud sound (or can be used in silent mode if needed) and sends a distress signal and the GPS of your exact location to an emergency contacts list. The lightweight device —about an ounce in weight and the size of a half-dollar — will be made in three colors: Antique Silver, Timeless Black and Rose Gold. In addition, Yasmine shares, “Part of the proceeds of Athena go towards nonprofits that teach empathy and healthy relationships to young children.”
Don’t get hung up on Imposter’s Syndrome. If you’ve had that irksome feeling that you’re not good enough for that promotion, even after you’ve gotten promoted, you might be suffering from Imposter’s Syndrome. Yasmine’s ROAR for Good co-founder Anthony Gold wrote about how Imposter’s Syndrome affects many successful people (a whopping 70 percent of high-performing women have felt this way). “Believe in yourself and don’t get trapped by imposter syndrome,” advises Yasmine.
Find a mentor. Never underestimate the value of reaching out to someone you admire in your industry who can guide you through the ins and outs of your particular field. If you don’t have a mentor from the get-go, Yasmine says, “Network and look for someone to bounce your ideas off and gain feedback from. Their input can be invaluable and encouraging as you move ahead.”
Don’t reinvent the wheel. You’re not the first person who has ever wanted to start their own business, so look to those who have done it well and learn from them. “There are many good books and methodologies for helping launch a business,” says Yasmine. She recommends The Lean Startup by Eric Reis and Zero to One by Peter Thiel.
Determine if your product is needed. Before pooling all of your financial resources into your dream idea, conduct research to find out if the market is ready for a product like yours, or if one already exists. “The first thing my co-founder and I did was validate the idea and be sure that the product we were designing was what the market needed,” says Yasmine.
Surround yourself with people who align with your values. Yasmine admits that creating a product that deals with sensitive issues like sexual assault is not an easy space. She relies on supportive friends and advisors who act as a “sounding board and a shoulder to lean on when needed,” says Yasmine. Find a tribe that understands your mission, gets why you’re not around when you’re working and can give you an honest nudge to get out of the office every once in awhile.
Stay connected to your mission. Starting a mission-driven B-certified corporation means a lot to Yasmine. Athena is just the start of what she hopes her company will achieve. “We don’t want to build products. We want to truly make a difference, and being part of a team that believes it and strives for it is inspiring and incredibly motivating,” says Yasmine. By staying true to your original passion, you can get that boost of encouragement you’ll need in the beginning days of your business.
Perfect Your Skills
1. Successful Crowdfunding — How to Win Backers and Raise Funds (Free): This free online course will teach you the basics for running your own Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaign for your dream product.
2. Connect With a Business Mentor (Free): MicroMentor matches beginning entrepreneurs with volunteer business mentors to help small businesses grow with the right connections. The free social network provides an easy way to connect with the right adviser.
3. Market, Launch and Sell Your Next Big Thing ($99): Yasmine advises testing out your idea before diving into your business. This Creative Live class starts with a free preview video called “How Do I Know This Will Sell?” and gives you the tools from an online marketing expert to grow your audience.
What career would you like to see covered next in our How to Quit Your Day Job series? Let us know in the comments!
(Photos via ROAR For Good; photo of Yasmine Mustafa via Alejandro A. Alvarez)