Personality, Purpose and Passion: Building a Company With a Shot at Success
Lots of people have great ideas. And, you can find lots of folks who are willing to invest in those great ideas, if presented to them at the right time with the right amount of passion. Then there are those of us who want to take on introducing a great idea to the world… the entrepreneur.
Great ideas are worthless without the ability to execute. Build a team with personality, purpose and passion – now you have a company with a shot at success.
Countless startups have launched with a clearly defined purpose, but have ultimately failed because the passion of the company’s founders was not behind the purpose. Passion waned while chasing funding, customers, market share or profits. Those pursuits are important to building a successful business, don’t get me wrong, but an entrepreneur’s passion should be clearly focused on the great idea that made you want to launch a business around it in the first place.
True passion flows freely through your veins. It helps get you out of bed when you’re exhausted, and it motivates you to work that extra hour. It percolates to the surface in every pitch you make to potential investors or partners, it attracts talent to your business like a moth to a flame, and passion energizes your team in the midst of what can be an intense “startup” life.
As it relates to my current startup and two co-founders, YoonJin Chang and Crystal Lee, I knew the three of us wanted to work together to improve the world through technology, if the right opportunity came along. We shared a similar passion, first, and then found our purpose with LifeSite.
In February of 2015, I flew to New York to evaluate a potential technology spinoff product developed by one of the nation’s leading insurance companies. The project was a “digital life organizer” that was designed with security as the leading priority in the product’s architecture. It didn’t take long for me to realize that there was an open and huge opportunity for this type of solution. I knew that with the right additional strategy and product work, funding, and of course – the right team, there was a winning solution to be developed and a company to be built, addressing a universal problem.
As soon as I got out of the meeting, I called YoonJin and Crystal. “Everyone has life information, everyone has a family, everyone needs to share and manage that information. Let’s do this together!”
Fortunately, I already had previous success as an entrepreneur, but I know I can accomplish nothing alone. So, with my co-founders sharing my enthusiasm, we immediately went to work to assemble a winning team, including a brilliant former IBM cyber security expert, an accomplished Google BD executive, and a white hat hacker whose development credits include a diverse group of Fortune 500 companies.
Together, we created LifeSite Vault to facilitate everyday personal information sharing among trusted family members, as well as provide peace of mind for our own families. We believe in doing this for all families, around the world.
We quickly received rave reviews from cyber security experts and users alike on our pilot product, and LifeSite was selected as a 2016 winner of Red Herring’s Top 100 North America, a prestigious list honoring the most innovative and promising private technology ventures. With the introduction of LifeSite Vault, we are impacting the way families organize, store and share information.
Honestly, it has been pretty easy for all of us to remain passionate about LifeSite. Each of us has a personal story, where we either need to locate a critical document or manage and share important information with a loved one. In my case, I have parents in their 80s, and I have four children, two are young and two are adults, starting out on their own. What is interesting about my family scenario since we started LifeSite is that now during Sunday dinner with my aging parents, my mom brings up the fact that they have some documents related to how they want to manage their health situation, insurance information or even sensitive end of life issues. Prior to LifeSite, my mother would proceed to go into the refrigerator, which she considered the safest place to store documents in their house because it is fireproof. (True story.)
No one can predict the future, but there are ways to be more prepared for whatever life has in store for you. Nothing is more crucial in times of crisis than to have information ready, organized and accessible when you need to act. As you move through life, record keeping becomes more important and more time consuming. Staying up to date on finances, insurance, legal documents, healthcare and other important needs for you and your family can be overwhelming. But it shouldn’t be. LifeSite is committed to providing secure, convenient and smart solutions to help you manage, discover and share the most important information in your life with your family and those you trust.
We are what we call a B2B to C company. We work directly with consumers, but we are also using companies to be our primary marketing and distribution partners. We are working with large and small corporations who view what we provide as an employee benefit. They co-market with us and introduce LifeSite Vault to their employees as a way to connect and collaborate with family and deliver peace of mind. In addition to corporations, we have a lot of interest within client-based industries such as financial advisors, estate/wealth managers, retirement planners and family offices who all want to purchase LifeSite to work with their clientele. Soon, we will be introducing LifeSite Pro, our core business product, to satisfy those markets.
When we started this company, our goal was to make an impact in the world, particularly with families. One of the more interesting conversations we have had in the past year is with organizations based in Japan. Unfortunately, Japan has gone through a few significant natural disasters over the last decade, as we have over the past few months here at home. In all cases, families lost paper records that could have been saved by digital record keeping. Whether it is in countries like Japan, domestic communities where we have seen recent weather disasters like those in Louisiana, or anywhere in the world, we can keep important information safe and help families connect and collaborate. Military families facing the separation of deployment are another great example. Our goal at LifeSite is to inspire and empower you by connecting your head and heart – helping you manage a lifetime of information for your own peace of mind today, and for your family and loved ones tomorrow.
Throughout my career, I’ve been told I have a distinctive talent for teamwork. I don’t think I’m a person who has great or highly original ideas. But, by listening carefully, and really understanding what everyone has to say, I connect the dots. I synthesize all the input into a strategy, and focus people on executing.
In fact, I often quote Yoda “Do or do not, there is no try.” Some people are paralyzed by their fear of failure; they over analyze, and often under deliver. Especially with technology, execute with conviction, and evaluate and iterate as needed based on the feedback you receive. You can learn a lot by listening to your customers and partners – But you can’t move the needle, if you don’t make a move!
I have learned that if you encourage your team to use their imaginations to drive your company’s purpose, you are tapping into their passion, as well. That has always been fundamental to my business philosophy: it is not about me; it’s all about the people that I work with and what we can accomplish together – personality, passion and purpose.