Guest post by Tania Walter, Founder and CEO Obzervr
I wrote recently about why I started Obzervr. It wasn’t my first business but it was my first foray into commercialising a technology product.
Women tend to be underrepresented throughout the Tech sector. They are less so within the Resources sector (Mining, Gas & Oil) which typically has the most relevant use cases for Obzervr.
Obzervr addresses many of the challenges that remote mobile workers face doing their day-to-day jobs. These field service assignments can include things like collecting Asset Maintenance/ Management Data, Environment Data and just about anything else that requires a worker to go into the field and capture information. Traditionally this has been a ‘pen & paper’ approach or something that resembles filling in an Online Form (not good in remote areas) or Excel Spreadsheet (little better than paper).
1. Avoiding Cognitive Bias
My 15+ years in Project Management within the Resources sector gave me a real understanding of a) the Problem and b) who would Benefit from solving this.
This experience helped me avoid the “Dunning–Kruger effect” which is a cognitive bias wherein relatively unskilled/unexperienced individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their ability to be much higher than is accurate
I lived the problems that Obzervr addresses. I knew the pain for my colleagues and the companies they represented. I was pretty sure about what the Solution needed to look like, what it needed to be capable of doing to be of VALUE.
2. Validate before you Initiate
Whilst I was confident that I was on to something big, I made sure that this was not blinding me in some way….so avoiding over-confidence in my idea (also a cognitive bias). I knew the competition which primarily was one of “we have always used Pen & Paper’/Excel/Form Tools” (more on this in a future Blog, so stay-tuned!). I knew that this status quo was ripe for digital innovation. The market existed for doing something faster, cheaper and more accurately. I knew I could offer Value. I validated by engaging with the industry that I spent many years. I tested my Assumptions on my Idea, the Competition and the Market. Through my Network I was able to provide the basic concept before initiating the building
of the Obzervr Mobile Workforce Management Platform.
I started Obzervr as a means for organisations to effectively manage their Environmental obligations for compliance purposes. This is a necessary process that many companies, especially Mining, Oil & Gas, have to do on a regular basis. Their permit or license to operate depends on this Environmental Data collection. Having a clear focus on the type of problem and the types of organisations that would value a solution like Obzervr is critical in getting all-important sales traction. For someone who had no prior sales experience, this focus helped me get the results I needed in the market
4. Be brave, Pivot
Whilst it is important to have focus on your Vision, it is important not to let this blind-side you completely. I was fortunate (or was it part of my vision?) that I built a Platform to enable the Productive Mobile Worker. It helped field workers capture field data – it did not matter what that data type was. I originally focused on Environmental Data (e.g. sampling out in the field) but it became clear that the early Customers who were using it for the environment use case also had a need to collect all manner of data in the field e.g. Asset Management. The key point here is that if you need to get the traction with your first addressable market, Pivot and quickly identify other problems your solution can solve.
Here is the cool thing – with Obzervr, I now have a true Enterprise Mobility Platform for companies to collect data across their organisation. Not just one or two internal teams. This further adds significant Value to our Customers. One tool to help with multiple problems.
5. Stick to your strengths
As a founder of a Start-up, you are going to be wearing ‘many hats’. This is certainly true in the early days. My Project Management experience helped me with managing the process of building out my solution; working with initial customers and getting them successful. That was where my strengths were. The Platform build was outsourced. Further, I soon realised that to scale-out Obzervr and for it to be the Global success I know it will be – I needed expertise in other areas such as Sales and Marketing. I sought to fill the gaps in my experience to take Obzervr to the next level. Bringing in expertise in other areas has also helped me learn along this journey. Having Mentors has been a great way to learn and skill-up.
At Obzervr we believe that field workers are living with broken processes and are being held back from doing great things. We also believe that by connecting people, Enterprises can do amazing things.
This is an exciting journey and I am learning every day. If you want to join me on this journey and see where it takes us – please Connect with me or Follow http://www.linkedin.com/company/obzervr