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The value of passion in your founding team

Ryan Amin

Some entrepreneurs have compared co-founding a startup to being married with a child. It takes teamwork, passion and focus on the goal as a whole, according to Owlet's Co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer Jordan Monroe.

"A great thing for all entrepreneurs to do is to test drive each other like you test drive an employer in the beginning," said Monroe. "I've seen other companies where it looks like a team is a great team from the outside, but on the inside they really don't function."

Owlet's baby monitor, The Smart Sock, is worn by an infant as he/she sleeps. It collects heart rate, oxygen and sleep data and sends it via Bluetooth to the parent's smartphone. The infant's data is then pushed to the cloud and is available to any Internet-connected device.

CEO Kurt Workman, COO Jacob Colvin, CTO Zack Bomsta, CFO Tanor Hodges and Monroe are the five founders of Owlet and their team chemistry is driven by four of them being fathers themselves. "You have to be passionate about what you are doing. It takes a lot of passion to work two all-nighters in a row, and a paycheck isn't going to motivate you enough," said Monroe.

With Owlet's first shipment of Smart Socks going out in the late fall, the team planned its equity splits months ago, according to Monroe. "It's always going to be an awkward situation…You need to know that everyone has bought into the vision of the company, and it's not, 'How can I do the best?' it is 'How can we all help each other so that what we have can be worth something one day?'"

Other lessons from Monroe:

Minimize risk for investors - "We're first in the market and our patents are extremely strong," said Monroe. A key to Owlet's investment pitches was having a physical product to demo. "Not many startups in this space have products already built. Anyone can pitch an idea, but to actually build it and have proof presents a lot less risk for investors," he said.

One goal at a time - The Owlet team has considered expanding the technology to monitor other body conditions, but the team remains focused on taking its current first step with Smart Sock. "The biggest thing that kills startups is lack of focus," said Monroe. "It is a lot more important to know what not to do than what to do in order to accomplish goals."

[Photo by - Denise oz]

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