In this episode of How to CEO, Murray welcomes Andrew Thomas, Co-Founder and CRO of Skybell Technologies. This company has revolutionized smart doorbells and contributed to encouraging more consumers to adopt smart home technologies and connected devices.
In this episode, Andrew shares the challenges he faced before starting his company. In his mid-twenties, he struggled with depression. As soon as Andrew realized that life is too short, he put all his energy into getting where he is now. His story proves how hurdles should not hinder you from attaining the goals you’ve set for yourself. He also shares the high points in his career thus far. Although Andrew is not the CEO of the company, he understands the challenges and perspective of leading the strategic intent of a startup as well as how to treat employees and work with the investment community.
Building Blocks of Success
It’s been a long journey of six years, but all that hard work, vision, resilience, and determination has garnered over $100 million in sales for Skybell. Validation for Andrew came when their crowdfunding campaign nettee $600,000 despite other investors stating that they would need a suite of smart home products rather than just one. He disagreed, believing that his research found that consumers are more likely to purchase one smart home device at a time.
From there, the results happened quickly, creating the effect of an overnight success. Apple came calling within the first year for a strategic partnership. Soon after, large retailers like Amazon and Best Buy were selling Skybell doorbells. Then, large deals with Honeywell, Comcast, and Alarm.com followed.
While those “highs” were tremendous, one of the wins that stood out the most for Andrew was the TechCrunch coverage and his picture on their website. Early on in his finance career, Andrew would look at TechCrunch and dream of being one of those startup founders. Making that publication proved that he manifested his dream. Andrew tells this story because he wamts others out there to realize they can do the very same thing.
The Rollercoaster Also Goes Down
Startups are a rollercoaster. Andrew is the first one to tell you that the lows that everyone will experience at some point feels lower than the higest “high.” But, he’ll also say that is okay and is meant to happen for a reason. These are lessons that guide you toward some of the most important attributes that a founder and CEO should develop: resilience, vision, determination, and will power.
It’s through discomfort that you arrive at opportunity, according to Andrew. To work through the discomfort, he suggests going to your co-founder(s), if you have one or more, as well as seeking the guidance of a seasoned business advisor. Continue to lead in a positive way so your team is reassured that continuing to work will help get through any setbacks.
Andrew also recommends staying mentallly fit. Meditation and surfing have helped him reflect and mentally recharge. For other founders or CEOs, this mental regimen will be different but very necessary. Where he sees most founders go wrong in their approach is when they view themselves as the company. In reality, there are two identities — the startup or company and the founder — that must remain separate.
Finally, should the company fail, focus on what you accomplished rather than just wallow in the fact the company died. While it is okay to grieve over your business, it’s also important to remind yourself of what you did develop, what you did learn, and what type of impact you did make.
To learn more about Andew’s journey, how to work with investors and your team, and why he most admires the CEO of Patagonia, listen to the entire podcast here.