[quote style=”boxed”]Rapid prototyping. We test very early on and iterate. It’s a grueling process, but is worth it in the end.[/quote]
Anupam Pathak is an inventor and entrepreneur at heart. He founded Lift Labs with the intent to apply his technical background to improve the quality of life for people suffering from Essential Tremor or Parkinson’s Disease.
Lift Labs is currently launching an active cancellation system that allows people to function despite their illness or disability. Anupam received his BS and MS from UC Berkeley, and his Ph.D. from the Univ. of Michigan. He studied a diverse range of topics within Mechanical Engineering, including materials, controls systems, thermal science and design.
Outside of work, Anupam loves to teach hands-on science to children. In the past he co-founded a non-profit called Explorabox, whose mission is to provide hands-on science kits to children growing up in economic hardship.
Where did the idea for Lift Labs come from?
The idea for Lift Labs came from my general research as a student. I discovered that there was a large population of people suffering from neurological disorders that make life very difficult. I knew that I had the knowledge and skills to help, so after graduating I started prototyping devices to help stabilize their tremor.
What is your business model?
We plan to sell to the end-user, friends/family, as well as care-givers. We are a technology development company, so we will continue to innovate with more and more products.
What does your typical day look like?
Every day is different, but I usually ensure that I spend time with the team, and make sure that we are on track. But days vary from spending time on marketing, talking with potential customers, patient advocacy groups, and working on new technologies.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Rapid prototyping. We test very early on and iterate. It’s a grueling process, but is worth it in the end.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
The open hardware trend. Some pretty advanced stuff has come out of hobbyists sharing their work on internet forums from across the world. It’s pretty amazing.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I can’t say which one because I loved the people there. But, it was non-technical work and I found it to be extremely boring. I learned that I needed to be in a creative field (working toward a collective goal with a team) in order to feel truly happy.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I would have brought on our medical and physical therapist advisors earlier on. They’ve been extremely helpful, and we shouldn’t have only been focusing on the technology in the beginning.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Don’t be discouraged. Have some advisors and pitch to investors for some frank, honest feedback. Test your market. Take that feedback and work with with, but don’t give up.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
We focused on product quality and early customer feedback. Ensuring that our early customers are happy is the most important priority for us right now.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Quickly becoming a manager without proper management experience caused several failures early on. I had no clue how to hire the right people, deal with HR issues, and management. I had to quickly learn, and luckily had very experienced people in my life to mentor me.
The main lesson is to recognize shortcomings early and find experienced people to help.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Fix the email overload problem. We spend way too much on email and less time productively working. It the solution were good and saved time, I’d pay for it.
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
My cell phone is still an old flip phone (I still don’t have a smartphone).
What are your three favorite online tools, software or resources and what do you love about them?
CAD tools and compilers (for turning ideas into reality), online forums, and the startup community in the bay area. Plugging into your local community opens many doors.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Okay so since I’m on the hardware side. Get this book:
“Manufacturing Processes for Design Professionals” it is amazing and will help the product designer create something that can be mass produced. Books recommended by Steven Blank are aways excellent resources for the business side.
List three experts who have helped you as an entrepreneur who you think other entrepreneurs should follow and why?
I really only read two: Steven Blank and Paul Graham at the moment. I read their blogs when I need some inspiration.
What did you have for breakfast today?
Cereal and a Banana.
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