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LUMO: Co-founder shares tips on seeking feedback and using networks

Christina Hernandez Sherwood, eMed Editor, MedCity News

As the latest tool in the fight against slouching, LUMOback is a smart sensor that straps around the waist to track posture and movement. When the back hunches or shoulders slump, the sensor vibrates as a reminder to correct the posture.

LUMOback is the first product by LUMO, a Palo Alto-based company founded by three entrepreneurs – including one who suffered back problems for years. Charles Wang, co-founder and CMO, shared what he’s learned since the company’s launch in 2011 and the product’s release last year.

Use your networks – When it comes to hiring, Wang said, the toughest challenge is to find the right people. Another obstacle: LUMO is based in arguably the most competitive region in the country for startups, he said, and it’s not easy competing with the likes of Google and Facebook. Rather than trying to compete on salary and benefits, Wang said, LUMO seeks out employees who are motivated for personal reasons, such as a desire to help people with their health. One way to find them is to use your networks, such as a school alumni group. “We’ve signed a lot of really good people through people we know,” Wang said.

Seek feedback in the marketplace – LUMO thrives on knowing what solutions people need, Wang said, and building them. But it’s also important to seek feedback along the way, he said. One success for the company came when it put itself up for a cash infusion – or cold rejection – through a Kickstarter campaign. “You don’t really know if people will buy it until they put their credit card in,” Wang said. But the company met – and exceeded – its campaign goal. “Kickstarter helped us to validate that we were onto something,” he said.

Fail early – “We had so many different interesting, random ways of thinking about how to deal with [the problem of posture],” Wang said. Entrepreneurs shouldn’t be afraid to try out all those crazy ideas, he said, and share them with others without being embarrassed of early flops. “You have to be not afraid of making a bit of a fool of yourself,” Wang said. Just don’t start building the final product until you get some feedback first. “Failing in the beginning is a lot less expensive than failing later,” he added.

Push ahead – Keep moving forward, Wang said, despite the challenges and setbacks. “It’s just important for people to go for it,” he said. “It’s often easier said than done. But the way I see it is you don’t want to have any regrets later.”

Photo, top: Charles Wang

Photo, bottom: Model wearing LUMOback

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