When it comes to crowdfunding, we feel that it’s the ultimate platform for first-time entrepreneurs. A place for them to take that first chance of scaling their idea into a mainstream business. But, what about the serial entrepreneurs who are giving it a shot just to explore this new field of fundraising? It might seem easy but if you think deep, they are actually taking a bigger risk than those who are crowdfunding their very first product. The biggest thing at stake here is brand reputation.
There are a lot of factors under consideration when crowdfunding. If not taken care of, the chances of harming your business are bigger than you may realize. Lisa Tamayo is one such serial entrepreneur who surpassed all those hurdles and kick-started her first hardware product with crowdfunding. It was tough but, nevertheless, she did make it work! Check out our exclusive interview to get to know more about her journey.
Evan: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
Lisa Tamayo: My name is Lisa Tamayo, and I am the CEO and co-founder of Scollar. I’ve been a serial entrepreneur for quite some time now. Scollar is my fourth but the first hardware company. Prior to this, I was also the co- founder of Green Building Studio, which was sold to Autodesk in 2008. Until now, I’ve built all my companies with my husband and CTO, John Kennedy.
Evan: What is your product and how does it work?
Lisa Tamayo: Scollar is an open platform pet care system offering an evolving suite of products and services for pets and their owners. These offerings revolve around the modular Scollar smart collar that seamlessly integrates with the Scollar Mobile App. The app stores user data in the Scollar Cloud Service. This system eliminates the need for multiple collars by giving pet owners the wide variety of functionality they need in one smart, sleek device.
Evan: What do you attribute your success to?
Lisa Tamayo: I would say hard work, persistence, staying up to date on future trends, and knowing what would ￼￼￼delight me as a consumer.
Evan: What do you look for when you are adding to your team?
Lisa Tamayo: We are very selective about bringing folks onto the Scollar team. We call ourselves the Scollar Pack. Our pack is made up of industry veterans who are experts in their fields. They are all much smarter than me and John in their respective domains. We want to work with people who are comfortable getting into the trenches of building a business. It’s messy, chaotic, frustrating work and all of us work very tightly together. There is a lot of respect and camaraderie as well as shared vision for where we want to take Scollar as a company.
Evan: What is your biggest piece of advice for someone launching their own business?
Lisa Tamayo: I would say two things are very important. They are:
1. Do your homework and don’t just believe your story about how successful the business will be. Find out if you are correct or full of hot air. Talk to potential customers. Read everything you can get your hands on about business, your industry, company culture, etc. Become an absolute expert in your business.
2. Be persistent. You will be facing so many obstacles while you build your business that your faith in yourself and your vision will waiver over and over again. Stay with those terrible feelings, then brush yourself off, put your thinking cap on and keep going. No exceptional business was ever built without a significant bruising of the founders.
Evan: What motivates you?
Lisa Tamayo: What used to motivate me was having a Scollar on my dog and cat. I hate having to manage all the separate collars and apps and tech. It’s too much work. Now that we have a piece of working technology, my motivation is all of those people who are part of this journey with me. They would be the amazing staff, passionate customers and committed investors. Failure is just not an option so I continue to place one brick at a time for all of us.
Evan: How do you define success?
Lisa Tamayo: According to me, success has a lot of definitions. Success with Scollar is hitting a new and exciting milestone, seeing a new functionality work like it’s supposed to, and having a great interaction with a customer who loves their pet. Ultimately, my definition of success for Scollar would be that when a pet lover reaches for a smart collar, they think only of Scollar.
Evan: What has been the most satisfying moment since you launched Scollar?
Lisa Tamayo: There have been a lot of them. Seeing the technology work was thrilling and each new technology milestone we hit just adds to that sense of accomplishment. When we put the RFID into the pet collar and it actually worked on the pet doors and feeders, we were really excited. Also having paying customers and having early success on SeedInvest with investors is deeply satisfying. It validates our hypothesis that people understand what we are doing and value it enough to come along on the journey with us.
Evan: What is your office culture like and what have you done to establish this culture?
Lisa Tamayo: We are huge fans of Tony Hsieh and the culture he built at Zappos. We also work with an incredible woman named Dr. Frumi Barr, who is helping Scollar grow using the Gazelles method. Our overall cultural ideal is that we all bring tremendous value to the team and all have a voice. And we are all accountable to each other, our work and the company. That starts with me. I will be the first to fall on a sword if necessary. We all trust each other to be honest and forthright, and that extends to our external partners as well. It makes for some colorful conversations, but it is absolutely necessary for a high functioning team.
Evan: What has been your most successful form of marketing so far?
Lisa Tamayo: Direct outreach has been very successful for us. I do direct emails to people I want to take the journey with us. We also know our customer and what they like and tailor our social media and web content and direct outreach to them so they will engage with us. We are millennial focused and know they don’t want to be sold to but engaged with. So we talk to them and share with them and ask them to share with us. That is much more fun anyway.
Evan: Who is your ideal customer?
Lisa Tamayo: Our ideal customer is the person who loves their dog and/or cat like family and dotes on them and will spend extra on them to ensure they are healthy and happy. While we focus on millennials, we also know that Baby Boomers love their pets and Gen Xers have pets as part of the family. Our ideal customer is also seeking a way to simplify their life with their pet and will reach for Scollar because they trust we can make that happen.
Evan: What can we expect to see from your company in the future?
Lisa Tamayo: We are in the middle of our SeedInvest campaign, which runs for a limited time. This autumn we will launch a huge promotional outreach to introduce Scollar Trek, our smart collar for medium and large dogs. We are on track to deliver our first Scollar Mini smart collars and accessories mid-December this year. Our long-range plan is to build out our partnerships and functionality to add exceptional value to pet owners who are part of the Scollar universe. We want to be the one smart collar that people reach for to take care of their pets.
Evan: Where can we find you on the web?