Zer0 to 5ive’s Veteran CEO Helps Young Entrepreneur Change the Lives of Veterans
As a veteran of the U.S. Army, Zer0 to 5ive’s founder and co-CEO, Michelle Pujadas, is a big veteran supporter. Over the course of 15+ years, she served on active duty, in the Army Reserve and in the Individual Ready Reserve, achieving the rank of Captain and commanding a unit during the first Gulf War.
When Michelle heard the story of Amira Idris, a social entrepreneur who is developing a wearable to address the ‘phantom limb pain’ that many amputees face, including military veterans, she knew she wanted to get involved.
Idris’ startup, TheraV, has developed the ELIX, a wearable that stimulates periphery sensory nerves with vibrations, which in turn activate large sensory nerve fibers. Activation of these large sensory nerve fibers closes the pain gate, thus inhibiting pain signals from reaching the brain.
After meeting in Washington, DC, Michelle, the Zer0 to 5ive team, and Amira created a plan to launch an integrated Veterans Day campaign that combines public relations, social media and crowdfunding in order to raise money to help Amira get 100 ELIX wearables to veterans in need.
On a personal level, Michelle is donating to the campaign, as well as leveraging her personal and professional network to help Amira meet her goal.
The TheraV campaign for Veterans Day will begin November 6. To learn more about the campaign or to make a donation, please visit: https://www.gofundme.com/therav-for-veterans
This past Thursday, I had the opportunity to be the keynote speaker at the Plexus Healthcare Innovation Hub in Philly. What an amazing place for health tech startups, especially medical device companies to get started – the space, equipment, people and networking at Plexus are incredible!
I was lucky enough to follow two amazing demonstrations that kept everyone glued to their seats and fully engaged – the first from Dr. Alan Flake of CHOP, who demonstrated an artificial womb that has the potential to significantly decrease the mortality and birth defects that can arise with premature births, and the second from Dr. Johann deSa, founder of Instadiagnostics, which is innovating healthcare at the point of care. Both companies have the potential to have a tremendous impact for patients.
My presentation was focused on how to develop a GTM plan for these types of startups that can stand up to the scrutiny of seed or first round funding. I was excited to present because not only do I love to see what’s coming next, I want to help what’s coming next get funded, get to market and get adopted.
My presentation followed the steps of the Zer0 to 5ive Roadmap™ – what you need to do to get to the point where you can develop a defensible GTM plan, especially necessary when you are looking for funding. These steps are:
2. Positioning and Messaging
3. Brand Strategy
4. Brand Identity
5. GTM Plan
As part of the presentation I also gave out this handout, which includes tips for conducting research. Basic competitive, industry and prospect research is within any entrepreneur’s grasp – you just need to know where to look and what to look for. My Tip Sheet will help!
One thing that I emphasized throughout the presentation was setting realistic and measurable goals. Too often entrepreneurs, in an attempt to impress investors, are unrealistic as to how hard it is, and how long it takes, to actually get your product market-ready, launch and acquire customers. Your objectives need to reflect your reality of time, money and resources, as well as market readiness and competition. Seasoned investors will appreciate that you understand the road ahead.
A new season of ABC’s Shark Tank just kicked off on January 20th. For those who work in or near startup companies, this show alternates between fascinating to watch and uncomfortably painful. New business ideas from smart people = fascinating. Debating from your couch about which ideas have the most potential, who gave the best pitch, and which investors are making the savviest deals = fascinating. Watching green entrepreneurs flounder with unrealistic expectations = painful.
Because of this dichotomy, Shark Tank has spawned a lot of healthy discussions online.
Fox Business did a piece about the “Shark Tank Effect” – entrepreneurs who try to rush to market with one big investment (like some of the show participants do), but end up with contracts that they probably shouldn’t have signed. Watch here.
For a couple of days in November, the entire Zer0 to 5ive team holed up in our Philadelphia offices for our Fall Retreat. The focus of this retreat was education and we were able to learn with some very hands-on activities that went beyond PowerPoint presentations and into the application of the principles.
There were some of the usual retreat activities, all with a football spin for fall: account reviews, a crash course from ouraward-winning creative group and way too much caffeine. However, the opportunity to brainstorm with local entrepreneurs on a variety of topics, including branding, website design and go-to-market plans, made it a touchdown for all of the team members.
The beauty of these interactive group sessions are undoubtedly the unique lessons that each individual departs with. Here are just a few key takeaways that struck me as often overlooked – but ultra-important – best practices, for those starting a new business or endeavor.
Get off the sidelines and into the game: If you have a business idea, do yourself a favor: get organized and get the ball rolling. Don’t lose out on a great opportunity because you hesitated for too long. Just like there are new players coming from college to the pros every year, someone will be always be rising up to steal your thunder.
Develop a good game plan: Start with a clear and concise business plan. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day and I’m pretty sure neither was any successful business! It’s the foundational elements like this that keep you on track and focused on the end goal, even when the unexpected happens.
Identify your fan base: Whether you’re offering a product or a service, know who you’re trying to appeal to. Some business models are best suited for the mass market while some appeal to highly targeted niches. Knowing who you’re targeting allows you to answer the key sales questions of how, when and where to target them. If you can’t answer those questions correctly, you might end up looking at a lot of empty seats.
What are your best practices for entrepreneurs? Leave them in the comments below!
Post by Kristen Everett
Zer0 to 5ive Senior Strategist
Last night I had the pleasure of presenting to a group of entrepreneurs at theCorzo Center at the University of the Arts. The topic was “Moving Your Ideas Forward,” where I talked about brand building and what that means to brand success. Connect to presentation here.
What I liked best about the night was the excitement that young entrepreneurs have for their companies. Everything is shiny and new, and the journey is just beginning. I have always loved this time in the lifecycle of a company. It’s all about potential and opportunity. This is where branding begins.
I’ve given this presentation a few times, but added in a new section – defining brand success. One of the important aspects of branding is where you think the brand will ultimately go and how you define success. For some, it’s money, others fame, others just doing good work. As you contemplate your brand and your vision for your company, don’t forget to define how you will measure success and how that contributes to the brand you are building.
Zer0 to 5ive Founder and Co-CEO