Olio and Pebble founder and now startup or venture advisor Steven Jacobs walks us through the hardware space and how he founded two companies and is now focused on mentoring founders and helping startups achieve a positive social and environmental impact.
Taking up mechanical engineering and materials science and Stanford and Berkeley, Steve then went on to work for companies like Apple (as part of their product design team) and HP (in their Premium Products Group), after which he founded Olio Devices and also Pebble, which are both around wearables. Then, Steve went on to do product management for the big tech companies like Google and Facebook before moving onto being a venture advisor.
Steve’s goal was to make products that made people smile and create meaningful change. He talks about the stark contrast in his mindset from when he first started out versus today and how the definition of ‘impact’ changed for him. He even uses lettuce as an example of a business model and likens it to soda and later on, algorithms and software.
In order for startups to have a more positive impact, Steve talks about two ways for them to go about it, and he also offers advice based from his own experience on common mistakes founders usually make and how to avoid them. One important point he mentions is integrating the social impact into the incentive structure so that it becomes the core of the company culture and values. Lastly, he emphasizes the importance of focusing on creating the greatest impact for your target audience to ensure you stand out, and only then, he suggests that you broaden your horizons.
Steven’s key lessons and quotes from this episode were:
In this episode, we also talked about: