Whenever I have an idea or thought, I record it on my smartphone. That way I never forget anything. And when I have the time to address that idea, I’ll take action.
Anlynn (Hang) Liu is a co-founder of Boston startup Lifestone, which has developed a pocked-sized wellness device that monitors vital signs.
While many fitness trackers count calories or steps, the Lifestone device, with its high-tech sensors, actually monitor your vital signs – in real time – including: body temperature, blood pressure, oximetry, ECG/EKG, respiration rate, heart rate, and an add-on stethoscope to hear and record the heart/lung sounds.
The Lifestone device is distinctive because it synchs with a smartphone app not only making monitoring your health simple and portable, but allowing results to be sent to family members (or doctors) around the country and around the world.
Anlynn graduated from Sichuan Normal University in China and received a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree in Marketing from University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.
She is a Vice President at the MIT-China Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (MIT-CHIEF), which promotes intellectual exchanges and collaborations between China and the United States in technology, innovation and entrepreneurship.
Where did the idea for Lifestone come from?
My co-founder Xin Xie and I both live in the Boston area and have aging parents in China. We share concerns daily about how they are doing, and how is their health? So the idea to invent the Lifestone vital signs device is personal.
Xie’s mother has high blood pressure and measured it every day using a mercury hematomanometer and writing down results on a piece of paper. He knew this was not a smart or accurate way to track critical vital signs. In my case, my father has hypertension. My parents don’t want to discuss their health with me so I would not worry about them. But I do. I also realized there had to be a better way to not only monitor their vital signs, but be able to see the results here in the United States, and also have doctors view them. This was the genesis of the Lifestone vital signs monitoring device, a smart and simple pocket-sized gadget that helps people track their health data at anytime and anywhere.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
As an entrepreneur, every day for me brings new challenges. On a typical day, I’ll meet with investors, industry experts and mentors, who offer important advice. These meetings are invaluable since they often raise concerns or problems I’ll experience bringing our product to market. These meetings provide a roadmap to the traps ahead, how to avoid them, and how we can be a successful startup.
How do you bring ideas to life?
The creation and launch of Lifestone is a perfect example of how I brought an idea to life. We saw a need for a new product that would be useful to millions of people. The original concept was to develop a device that not only could monitor your vital signs, but when synched with a smartphone app, would allow the results to be sent to family members (or doctors) around the country and around the world. Key to all this is listening. Listening to people who have launched business and products and learn from their mistakes and their successes.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
I’m very excited about the mobile healthcare. How this movement or trend is helping us live healthier and simpler. For example, imagine clicking an app on a smartphone to make doctor’s appointment. Or using a phone to order a prescription in a pharmacy. Or sharing medical records with a doctor, hospital or even family. Our Lifestone device and app is one of many exciting breakthroughs in wellness tools. I’m excited about where this technology is today, and where it will take us in the future.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Simplify. I will try to simplify my life and my work. Being an entrepreneur is pretty hectic so why make it more difficult? From my clothing, to what I eat, to running a startup, I’ll always cut to the chase and find the quickest, simplest way to achieve a goal.
Also, I strive to eliminate noise and distractions. For example, I’ll turn off notifications on my phone or switch it to flight mode. Same with my computer. Although it seems a lot of things are urgent, most are not. A lot of things that may seem urgent, really don’t need my immediate attention. Eliminating distractions makes me more focused and more efficient.
Also, whenever I have an idea or thought, I record it on my smartphone. That way I never forget anything. And when I have the time to address that idea, I’ll take action.
I also try to reduce the number of business tools I use. I’ll find the one tool I need to accomplish my goal, and only use that. There are so many business tools available. You can be overwhelmed. Again, make it simple and you’ll simplify your life.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
My worst job experience was working for a credit repair company. My job was in online marketing promotion, letting people know how we could help them repair their credit.
It was all new to me and it was my first marketing job. My boss told me to use an online software program to do promotions. He gave me a very brief introduction to the software and left me on my own. I thought I could teach myself, but three days later, I still had no idea of how to use it correctly and was too shy and scared to ask my boss. At the end of the week, I finally told him I could not use the software. He was very puzzled, disappointed and mad and asked why I did ask him for help?
It taught me to be true and honest. Do not to be shy and ask for help when needed.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
If I could start again, I would do more work to prepare for Lifestone’s launch. I would increase more seed users, collect more feedbacks from them and do a deeper marketing analysis and more PR advance work. Also I would have spent more time improving the look of the website and make our social media channels look more appealing with lots of intriguing visual designs. I would also have spent more time striving for a better user experience.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Make lists. Every day before bedtime, I write down the to-do list for next day. It not only prepares me for the next day, but it insures I get a sound sleep. No midnight ideas!
The next morning, I start attacking all the tasks on the list. At the end of the day when I see the list achieved, it brings me great satisfaction.
My other suggestion is avoiding distractions. I will put my phone into a silent mode or even flight mode, so I am completely free from outside interference, and concentrate on finishing my tasks in a speed and high efficiency way.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Networking is key. As a startup business, we lacked a lot of business experience and budget. By networking with other entrepreneurs, start-up founders, and venture capitalists, I’ve gained tremendous knowledge and confidence. And it’s helped me bring the Lifestone device from an idea to a wonderful product.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I was involved in a startup platform to help international students find roommates when they rent housing or apartments off campus. At that time, neither me, or my colleague had any experience doing this. We lacked market research and analysis. We had little idea how to use our platform to increase users. Finally, we decide to pause, and focus on making ourselves more familiar and experienced for the business.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I think there’s a successful business renting cars via the sharing economy. So many people commute to work by trains, subways or busses and they leave their cars in garages, driving only on weekends. Those same cars can be rented to people who need it at a lower price than rental companies. Car owners can make extra money instead of parking and people who need cars can rent them inexpensively.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I recently spend $100 to purchase two tickets for my boyfriend and I to take the Mount Washington Cog Railway. It was my first time visiting the White Mountains in New Hampshire. It was a nice day, warm with sunshine. The leaves turned red and the view was just amazing.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
We use Wix so far. It’s simple and affordable.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I’d recommend Why Nations Fail. We can learn a lot from economics and history and also have a better understanding of why nations develop differently, why some succeed and other fail. Learning from our predecessors’ experience will help us to achieve a better present and future.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
“’You’ve got to find what you love,’” said Steve Jobs. I enjoyed his speech and learned that in our lifetimes, we should find out the one thing that we have passion and love for, and go do it. Passion and focus are the key of a meaningful and rewarding career.
Lifestone on Facebook:
Anlynn on Facbeook: https://www.facebook.com/anlynn.liu
Anlynn on Twitter: @AnlynnLiu
Anlynn on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/hang-liu-b1a5b0b1
Email: [email protected]
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.