This past Monday we had the pleasure of Stephen Hau speaking with the teams. Mr. Hau started Shareable Ink, a service platform that translates the handwritten notes of medical professionals into legible, digital form.
Mr. Hau attributes the success of the device to its unique advantage over the incumbent competition of the era. Most doctors prefer writing notes longhand, so unlike the Palm Pilot and similar data assistants, Shareable Ink did not seek to ask doctors for a new input method. With Shareable Ink, doctors did not have to change their behavior or preferred input method, and the issue of illegible or misplaced notes was solved.
Mr. Hau summed up his path to successes in 5 tenants of market penetration
1) Never enter the market too early. If the consumer has a need for your device but doesn’t know it yet, your best option may be to lay low and survey the market for a while. For example, the late 90′s saw a massive influx of competing MP3 players on the market. Apple, rather than immediately join the fight, surveyed the landscape of their competitors, which allowed them to design a superior device.
2) It’s very hard to change your consumer’s behavior. Devices aiming to disrupt the status quo or overcome a consumer’s natural inertia to change are in for an uphill battle. Again, the success of Shareable Ink is attributed to the fact that it didn’t ask doctors to learn a new data input method. It adapted and improved the existing one.
3) No one likes an IT project. A company’s IT professional is a difficult middleman to market to or expand through. These individuals are often too bogged down in IT projects for their company to help you adapt yours to the existing company structure.
4) Finding the proper sales channels is challenging. The best lead user is one who not only uses and appreciates your product but acts as a catalyst for expansion. For a health care initiative, the Vanderbilt Medical Community is a potent sales channel, as it is one of the most respected and followed in the country, and would greatly increase exposure to your product.
5) Venture Capital is not free. You may have received a $2 million investment, but you’ve traded a percentage of the company, and will need to produce a strong ROI on that number in order to receive further investment from the same or other parties.
What would you add to Mr. Hau’s list?
Posted on June 8, 2012