Attendees were loving March’s unseasonably warm temperatures the morning of the New Hampshire High Tech Council’s TechWomen Power Breakfast, featuring guest speaker Dulcie Madden.
Dulcie is CEO and Co-Founder of Mimo, providing technology products to enable a “smart nursery.” Mimo creates groundbreaking baby products within the connected home, leveraging wearable computing and the Internet of Things.
“Take time to do things that will fill and help your personality.”
Dulcie Madden grew up in a small New Hampshire town surrounded by a large family, learning the importance of family. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Georgetown University and traveled the world, working a multitude of odd jobs. She was a “ski bum” in Oregon for two years working as a ski instructor, waitress, and bartender. It gave her the opportunity to find herself.
“Surround yourself with really smart people and you’ll figure it out.”
Dulcie went on to live in India for four years, building social entrepreneurship and development programs with the Deshpande Foundation. She learned the language and culture and found that she was drawn to helping women in particular. It was there she developed a desire to become an entrepreneur so she could create sustainable jobs.
After returning to the United States, she consulted her mentor, Desh, for his guidance on the best approach to creating a start-up company. His advice: Don’t enroll in business school, learn as you go. As it turned out, she ignored his advice and enrolled in MIT’s Sloan School of Management.
During her first week there, she met three like-minded people and their entrepreneurial dreams flourished. While working on developing a new kind of sensor that would help doctors to better understand how people slept, they spoke with a lot of people, many of whom were parents. The parents all asked the same question: why can’t the work they were doing be applied to the nursery? From there, Mimo was born and they never looked back.
Dulcie took a break from MIT and in 2011 began to focus on bringing Mimo’s first product to market, the Mimo Baby Monitor. The monitor sends a baby’s breathing, sleeping, and body positions to parents’ smartphones in real time. It tracks sleeping trends over time to help parents know when babies are transitioning to sleeping longer during the night.
During the product’s Beta testing, parents supplied valuable user feedback that helped make it “the most accurate, comfortable, and (yes!) machine-washable monitor on the planet.”
When the monitor was ready to be sold to the public, Dulcie worked tirelessly to find funding, meeting with 63 venture capitalists. Some stated the market wasn’t yet ready for the product, or the market wasn’t large enough, or they didn’t understand the market at all. Still, she was determined. She called in a few favors from her contacts to set up a meeting with Babies“R”Us to pitch the product. Babies“R”Us loved it and it launched in 2013, selling out within six weeks. Currently, Mimo is sold in 600 stores in the United States and Canada, and is sold online at Amazon and at buy buy BABY.
“Surround yourself with positive people.”
All of Mimo’s manufacturing is done in New England (most of it in Manchester, NH).
Dulcie told the Power Breakfast audience that being a business owner is simultaneously relentless, exhausting, and energizing. It will “wreak havoc on both your inner and outer confidence.” (She believes that a person’s inner confidence can be radically different from what is outwardly portrayed.) Despite moments when she felt she wanted to quit, she was energized to keep going. The feedback – both good and bad – provided by parents motivated her to work faster and harder to develop a product that they would love.
Here are the key lessons Dulcie shared with the TechWomen audience:
- Get used to hearing “no” – but hear “yes” in your head.
- Have a great personality and smile when meeting people.
- Blind optimism is your friend. It will help you do what needs to be done.
- Plan for failure (over and over). Sell the vision, execute it, and set the bar high to achieve it.
- Ask for help (over and over). Men ask for help all the time, while women tend not to or feel bad for asking.
- Share your mistakes. Talk with others about what you’ve done and compare notes.
- Lastly: Figure out what drives you and embrace it!
Dulcie, 34, recently married one of Mimo’s other co-founders, Thomas. She continues to lead Mimo forward as they develop additional products for the Smart Nursery.
The TechWomen Power Breakfast series is an initiative of the New Hampshire High Tech Council, serving professionals enthusiastic about technology and supporting the efforts of girls exploring STEM as a career or area of study. April’s meeting will be held in Manchester, New Hampshire.
Candice Benson is an internationally recognized management consultant and CEO of Benson Consulting Inc. She is chairperson of the New Hampshire High Tech Council’s TechWomen Power Breakfast Series committee. Connect with her and her blog here: http://www.linkedin.com/in/candicecbenson.