Hi my name is Neda Ghazi, and I am the co-founder and CEO of Comfable, makers of QTemp. QTemp is a smart weather station that measures temperature and UV index in real time. It estimates the safe sun time based on the measured UV and skin type and notifies users when they need to seek sun protection. We made it our goal to reduce skin cancer rate globally.
Given that we are part of the tech industry, there is a constant influx of products and ideas that are being created constantly. However, with our gadget, we have managed to combine lifestyle, health and technology in a way that is convenient and easy for the consumer to use. Not to mention that apps have managed to still be a prospering part of the tech industry, and we have managed to integrate that within our product. Therefore, I think QTemp will impact the industry by highlighting a flourishing segment in the industry, and that is wearable tech that many consumers nowadays have a growing interest in. In addition, we will be part of all the other app creators that are helping the continuous development of this segment.
Tell us a bit about yourself. Who are you and what do you do?
My partner and I both have a PhD in sustainable design. We have extensive research and professional experience in analyzing weather data. We have always been passionate about technology and therefore wanted to be a part of this exciting segment. To do so, we founded our startup company called Comfable. At Comfable, we are continuously innovating and thinking of new projects to undertake. An example would be QTemp whereby we decided to combine our expertise is analyzing weather data and interest in wearable tech into one.
Our main aim in all that we do is to try to help people to lead a healthier and more comfortable lifestyle through the products we create.
My partner and I both have a PhD in sustainable design. We have extensive research and professional experience in analyzing weather data. We have always been passionate about technology and therefore wanted to be a part of this exciting segment.
What does a typical day in your life look like?
As a CEO of a tech startup, my working day is full of excitement. I don’t really have a set day routine, however, I work all seven days of the week as that is how demanding it is to make a startup work. Of course since my partner and I are the founders of the company, we have to do everything in order to help make our startup succeed and increase awareness among people. My duties encompass everything from being involved in the technical part of projects, to coordinating and managing different disciplines including industrial, IT and electronic engineers. Furthermore, a large part of my day is allocated towards marketing and finding the right channels to approach that will help spread our product effectively.
Tell us something that most people don’t know about you
Some people are usually surprised to know that I have a PhD in sustainability and urban landscape given the field that I work in. However, I feel that it has been a huge benefit as throughout my education I have learned how to be an entrepreneur which is extremely important for someone who wants to put their product out there. Also, it has definitely helped me with discovering how innovative I can be, which has definitely proved useful in creating products at Comfable.
How did you come up with the idea for your product and what made you “go for it?”
As previously mentioned, analyzing weather data is our expertise and we have always been passionate about it. Therefore, we wanted to make a project that revolved around that. In addition, our company’s mission has always been to help people lead a healthier and more convenient lifestyle. With the rise of skin cancer, and the lack of awareness that we have found in regards to people understanding how UV rays can be harmful, we decided that we want to create something that falls under wearable technology that can help people deal with this issue easily and conveniently. With that idea in my mind we started thinking about how we can actually achieve it and create such a product. We felt that there was a need for such a product to be out there in the market whether the consumer was aware of its need, or wasn’t until he/she heard about it. That is when we decided to actually go for it, and start our mission of designing and creating the product, and continuously improving and perfecting it.
What made you decide to go with crowdfunding (or venture capital)?
There are several reasons as to why we decided to go with crowdfunding, one of them being that there are less constraints to choosing this platform, than taking a loan for example that can translate to a high costs of borrowing. Also, we didn’t want to go for venture capital before making revenue.
Furthermore, with such platforms, there is a customer base that is already made where people could be interested in your product. Backers who support a project through crowdfunding platforms usually have a strong reason as to why they decide to have faith and invest in a project. Therefore, these people often root for the project and want to see it succeed, and can help with spreading the word to friends and family. We leant a lot from feedback we got from our backers. We are so proud of having such a great community on Kickstarter.
What is the best decision you’ve ever made with your product (financial, emotional, educational) that led to the product we’re experiencing today?
When deciding to create a startup company, there are many sacrifices that one has to do for it to be successful. My partner and I have definitely sacrificed a lot, both financially and emotionally. Financially, we used our savings to invest into our project, which of course is a great risk as you never know what the outcome will be. As for emotionally, we had to sacrifice a lot of our personal time where we could spend doing other things such as being with friends, etc. and we used that time to spend it on creating and launching QTemp. However, these sacrifices have proved to be the best decisions we’ve made due to the positive response we have received from our backers. We have reached our funding goal on Kickstarter and we are extremely excited that people have showed their support and faith in this product.
Where do you see your company or your company’s focus in 1-2 years?
QTemp has been successfully 100% funded on Kickstarter, meaning we can go ahead and start producing and shipping our orders. In the upcoming 1-2 years, our company’s focus will definitely be geared towards expanding QTemp’s customer base even more, and continuously finding ways in improving and expanding our offerings and updating and improving our product.
We also want to create and innovate new products, and hopefully with the positive experience that we have gained from working on QTemp and all the lessons that we have learned, we have new ways that we can use that could make the next project a bit easier. Also, with our current positive experience with crowdfunding, it is definitely something that we will consider utilizing for future endeavors.
If you could time travel back to day one of your startup and have 15min with your former self to communicate any lessons you’ve acquired with the intention of saving yourself mistakes and heartache, what would you tell yourself?
If I had this opportunity then I would tell myself not to be sad about how people respond to what you do. Meaning, sometimes it doesn’t matter how good your product is, and how much you’ve perfected it because when you work with others you can’t always predict their decision and how they will react to your product. Therefore, if someone ignores your press release, or doesn’t email you back, that doesn’t necessarily mean that there is something wrong with your product, it just means that you just have to wait for the right person to see that there is something special about your creation.
There is also an important lesson that I would tell my former self, and that is: think about what the consumer wants! When we first started off, we were very product oriented and focused on creating the perfect prototype based on what our idea of the perfect product would be. However, with our experience, we discovered that it is important to be consumer oriented as well, and listen to their feedback and what they want because at the end of the day they are the ones who are going to purchase and use your product, therefore it is important know what they want as well.
I would tell myself not to be sad about how people respond to what you do. Meaning, sometimes it doesn’t matter how good your product is, and how much you’ve perfected it because when you work with others you can’t always predict their decision and how they will react to your product.
Who has been the biggest influence on your life and work and why?
The biggest influence on my life and work would definitely be my partner. His hard work and work ethic have always encouraged me to do more, and work harder. Not to mention that we work together so we always give each other moral support when things do not go the way we want them to, and this definitely helps.
Any tips for aspiring entrepreneurs on how to facilitate a successful financing campaign?
To start off, personal financing is important to consider when deciding to start a business. Therefore, before starting one, make sure to save money, or use your own savings to launch one. Investors would want to see that you have made a contribution for them to consider investing, if not, then they probably wouldn’t. Family and friends can also be very beneficial in financing your idea as they are usually the ones that believe in you. In addition, nowadays, startups are gaining more attention and more people are becoming interested in them. Another tip that I would give aspiring entrepreneurs is to network. Networking is really important as you get to know a lot of people that would be willing to spread the word about you or help invest in your project. In addition, crowdfunding websites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo provide a secure and great platform for people to reach a vast number of potential consumers that might find your project interesting and worth investing in.
What do you see as the biggest advancement in your technology sector over the next 5-10 years?
Over the next 5-10 years, the biggest advancement in technology I think would be battery life, and actually having batteries last longer. It is something that would certainly help all technology users out there.
NFC (near field communication) is an area of technology that I think would improve in the future as well. It is such an innovative method that helps reduce friction between the consumer and tech devices. However, up until now, it is still not as capable as bluetooth. In the future, I think more if not all devices would be equipped with NFC technology.
What do you see as the biggest risk in your technology sector over the next 5-10 years?
As I previously mentioned, the tech industry is very volatile and continuously changing. There is always something new that will help make anything tech-related easier, faster, and more convenient to use. As for our sector, which combines the wearable segment as well as the weather technology segment, there is always a chance that something will emerge that will make the product even more convenient, or a way to measure weather data even more accurately. However, we are continuously paying attention to all the changes and making sure that we are the first to help integrate them into our products and continuously help our customers lead a healthier and easier lifestyle.