Think big but start small. Begin by testing a core idea or hypothesis simply. See how your customers respond and shift or build from there.
Katrine Strickland is Founder and CEO of Soulments, a memory-capturing and journaling app designed to help parents organize their moments in a private and thoughtful way. As a mom of two, she’s passionate about living mindfully and capturing the fleeting moments of childhood. In 2016 as a solo non-technical woman founder she set out on a course that many cautioned against – to create an app that she hoped would inspire others to connect with their own lives and end forgotten memories. After seeing firsthand the harmful effects that social media can have on parents and their children, she knew there was a need for a private place to reflect and capture the moments that make a life.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
Once I became a mom, my desire to capture life’s moments went into overdrive, but my time was much more limited. I had photos across multiple devices, words and phrases typed into a notes app, and then there were the videos – what I knew were the closest I’d get to making time stand still but stayed buried in my phone. I knew there was a need for a modern, heartfelt place to keep family memories organized and private – a place more connected to the life we’re living than a scrapbook or fill-in-the-blank baby book could ever be.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My day begins with a 10-minute meditation and a run or workout. I know that I am most effective if I have made time for myself. Like many entrepreneurs who happen to also be mothers, I juggle multiple plates (sometimes literally) so I live by my Google calendar and schedule my work time intentionally. I make a point to set aside time for deep work where distractions aren’t allowed to sneak in, and I can write and strategize without interruptions.
How do you bring ideas to life?
When I first was thinking about creating an app, I drew the wireframes on blank sheets of white paper. I had a multitude of screen variations with different features and button placement that I iterated on. I found that I could easily compare what I liked and didn’t like from my sketches because I saw them side by side. Once I had my first shell of a UX, I created a clickable prototype using a web-based platform called Marvel.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I’m excited by the growing number of women in tech. I believe this is important because decisions are being made that impact how technology will revolutionize our lives. This is uncharted territory with important questions being answered regarding the human consequences of tech. I am glad there are more women being a part of those conversations and hopefully helping to steer those decisions.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
The first thing I do when I wake up is to meditate. This sets the theme for my day and reminds me that I can handle whatever comes my way. I think clearly about what the most important things are that need my focus that day and am able to plan with a clear mind and heart.
What advice would you give your younger self?
It’s not going to be easy, but it will be worth it. Look for opportunities to be uncomfortable. That’s where growth happens.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Technology is replacing human connection. When people allow the number of likes or comments to dictate their self-worth, we will see detrimental effects on our humanity. Social media is the highlight reel and it can be demoralizing at best and tragic at worst.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Near the end of every meeting, ask, “who is someone else I should talk to?” Let every conversation open the door to the next one. This way you will never stop learning from other’s real-world experiences.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Think big but start small. While there are many features I hope to build for Soulments users, I started with simple functionality to see how people would respond. This approach is particularly important in tech because development costs can skyrocket quickly and building features that users do not want is a quick way to write your own ending.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
My biggest mistake was taking someone’s word and not doing the necessary due diligence. My first app developer relationship cost me more time and money than I had, and had I done the necessary background checking and had pointed conversations with references, it might have been avoided. Speak in detail with references before entering into a contract, and don’t just assume that since a person has references that they are in fact qualified and honest.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
How can we use the energy created by humans working out at a gym or fitness center whether through spin classes, treadmill and rowing machines to power the actual building they are exercising in?
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
An adjustable stand-up desk that gives me the freedom to sit or stand easily.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Evernote is the digital version for the old school composition book lover like me. Everything in one place, organized by notebooks and tags makes life so easy especially as I hop from different devices. My favorite feature is saving and highlighting articles that I know I will want to reference later.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath. It’s an insightful read regardless of where you are in your business because the quest for change and growth is one that always remains. The authors talk about the elephant side and the rider side, two systems in our brains that in order to spark change, you must appeal to both sides. The rider provides planning and direction while the elephant provides energy. When they move together, change can come easily.
What is your favorite quote?
“Perfect is the enemy of go,” Donna Orender. I saw Donna speak at a Female Founders Forum several years ago and her words have stayed with me.
- Think big but start small. Begin by testing a core idea or hypothesis simply. See how your customers respond and shift or build from there.
- Make sure technology isn’t replacing human connection whether it’s in the company you start or the dinner table.
- Speak in detail with references before entering into a contract with someone who you are paying to do work for you. Ask hard questions and don’t just assume that since they have references that they are in fact qualified and honest.
- Not knowing is a harder fate to live with than failing.
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.