EcoFit CEO Coplin talks ‘overlooked questions’ at KCnext event
Cason Coplin, the CEO of Lenexa, Kan.-based EcoFit Lighting, spoke Tuesday at KC Next's Technology Entrepreneur Speaker Program, shedding light on important information for entrepreneurs. After talking briefly about his company's LED-based technology, he discussed frequently overlooked questions that …
Cason Coplin, the CEO of Lenexa, Kan.-based EcoFit Lighting, spoke Tuesday at KCnext’s Technology Entrepreneur Speaker Program, shedding light on important information for entrepreneurs. After talking briefly about his company’s LED-based technology, he discussed frequently overlooked questions that startups need to address as they build their product:
1. Market Validation
“You always have to be thinking about what the guy next door is going to do,” said Coplin (left, photo courtesy of KCnext). He said this after discussing how understanding your market is very important to delivering your product or business to the right market, at the right time. He made a few points about understanding markets:
- You should find out what the consequences are in assessing your market size/growth.
- Big markets mean many competitors with vast resources. Everyone wants in, so understanding your market has to be clear to distinguish your product among heavyweights.
- Niche markets, he said, mean specialists with distinct capabilities. Focusing on a niche allows you to focus and provide a product that is sometimes difficult for big companies to pull off.
2. Product viability
Coplin said it’s importan to ask customers what they think about your product, and customers will tell you if you have a pretty baby or not. “We needed that feedback,” Cason said of EcoFit, “and it told us that this is a good market to get into; though we won’t capture the entire market, we will capture a good size to create business.”
He said to seek opinions of people who probably would not buy your product, people who you “expect to be negative.” Simply put, get honest feedback and embrace bad news.
Cason touched on the importance of having products that are “truly differentiated.”
“Incremental improvements usually don’t catch on,” he said. Rather, you have to make increments that are different enough to make people swap out what they currently have.
3. Execution capability
Coplin suggested a list of questions to help gauge your capability to execute. A few of the higlights:
- Do you know how to make your product?
- What is your plan to scale up?
- Will the product still work?
- Is your supply chain secure?
- Do you know how to sell it?
- Can competitors effectively block your channel?
- Are you ready to provide adequate support after the sale?
- Do you have a marquis customer/partner ready to help and provide credibility?
- Have you covered the details?
4. Financial Support
“Investors make your company,” Coplin explained. Investors are an important piece of a business, he added, and businesses should find ways to utilize their expertise.
5. Management Talent
Coplin discussed the importance of finding people who are committed and can make up for your weakness as a co-founder. Having a good team, he said, can make or break the opportunity for your product.
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