Serial Entrepreneur Shares Key Lessons From Three Startups
By Dr. Maha Achour (Founder & CEO, StarsVu)
My passion for Physics started when I was in Algeria during my high school years. At that time, not only books and good Physics teachers were scarce, but women were discouraged from pursuing exact science fields.
Driven by my fascination for how the human brain predicts the fundamental building blocks of the universe with a paper and a pencil, I was determined to “master” nature’s language by majoring in Physics in college. Algerian women back then took education very seriously since it was their only escape from social constraints that were imposed on them.
In 1985, I was admitted to UCLA Master Program, an excellent Physics program, but my dream was still to attend MIT or Harvard. So, I re-applied in 1985 and this time I got accepted at MIT and was later awarded full scholarship when my GPA remained steady 5/5 throughout my graduate school. Completing the UCLA Master Program in three quarters was extremely challenging and I managed to pull it off with a GPA 3.8/4.
My entrepreneurial skills emerged during my first industry job at Tiernan Communication. Back then, I was leading MPEG2 and HDTV projects for broadcast network and quickly realized the Last Mile bottleneck problem in order to support broadband video applications. So in 1999, I co-founded my first company LightPointe Communication that focused on commercializing free-space optical systems for broadband connectivity. In 2006, I co-founded Rayspan that focused on commercializing metamaterial structures in cell phones and wireless LAN devices.
Last year, I founded my third startup, StarsVu, which is democratizing the video production process by leveraging its proprietary technology that integrates collaboration, script writing and video editing tools to eliminate the need for expensive hardware, complex software and studios access.
Below are the challenges I faced and key lessons learned throughput my experience with startups:
- Build a core team that is driven by the technology, products/service and target market and that can quickly adapt to changing market conditions.
- Fully understand the market opportunities and technology limitations.
- Keep a close eye on customer needs and competition to adjust roadmaps accordingly.
- Focus on generating revenue as quickly as possible and scale products and company accordingly.
- Pay attention to fine print in legal agreements.
- Always be vigilant to company finances.
StarsVu started when my son shared his frustration after spending months looking for the right tools to collaborate with his peers on creating videos without being in the same location and at the same time.
While supporting him, I realized that:
- There is a market opportunity.
- There is an unsolved problem that can be addressed by a propriety technology.
- The product can be built with low capital.
These are the three pillars that I always used to build my startup foundations on.
We released our Beta version early in 2012, the first version in June, and now we are in the process of executing the first phase of our business plan.
Editor’s note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below.
About the guest blogger: Dr. Maha Achour is the Founder and CEO of StarsVu. She is a serial entrepreneur who founded and led three high-tech startups: Lightpointe, Rayspan and most recently, StarsVu. Dr. Maha Achour secured funding from government agencies and from tier one venture capital firms and built Rayspan’s 120+ patents portfolio from scratch in less than five years. She holds a Ph.D in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.