Chris Augeri, CEO of Drive Spotter, was the guest for January’s Square One DSM Startup Stories Event on Wednesday, Jan. 18. Drive Spotter is a software company that uses dash cam video and machine learning to provide insights to enterprise fleets. Augeri’s two-year-old startup experienced a near-vertical growth curve in late 2016. Augeri credited much of the success to his experience in the Des Moines-based Global Insurance Accelerator and the Techstars Mobility accelerator in Detroit.
Augeri shared some lessons learned with the audience.
Feedback is crucial
Augeri received feedback from nearly 100 mentors at the Global Insurance Accelerator and then many more at Techstars. He said that was the most important part of his accelerator experience. The ability to filter that feedback into meaningful action led to pivots in the company’s business model and marketing strategies, which led to a more viable startup.
Test your feedback
Moderator Mike Colwell, Executive Director of Square One DSM, noted that many entrepreneurs can suffer from “mentor whiplash,” a struggle of taking so much feedback that it is difficult to know what to follow and what to scrap. How does Augeri deal with that? Organization, he said. Drive Spotter does a lot of hypothesis testing, “treating everything as an experiment,” and then tracking it for results.
Get past your ego
Augeri admits that it took him awhile to appreciate the feedback at the Global Insurance Accelerator. Once he did, he pivoted Drive Spotter from being a hardware company to a software company. Likewise, at Techstars, he went in not expecting to make any kind of pivot. During the final week of the program, he had a breakthrough moment where he realized a better way to describe his product to potential customers.
Be willing to react quickly
In the Aforementioned Techstars example, Augeri had to work with his team to quickly update presentation and marketing materials to reflect its new model. Although in the moment there was a lot of hard work to be done, in the long run the team knew the effort would pay off for the company.
Take advantage of your network
Augeri noted that he has lived in 15 different states and overseas. “I did not realize the extent to which Iowa is connected. That is something Iowa has that I hadn’t seen.” The connectedness helped him in building relationships with mentors, funders and customers, particularly in the insurance industry.
Watch Augeri’s full presentation by clicking here.