Steve Jobs would often speak about the building blocks of a product – of a company – as if they were dots that just needed to be connected. Create the dots. Tweak the dots. Connect the dots. Done.
First Dot: Ask a question.
I met my step-dad Bryan twenty years ago, when I was just 10 years old and he started dating (and later married) my mom. We connected through our love of science and Bryan, an electrical engineer, encouraged me to pursue it in high school and college. About a year ago, while having dinner together one evening, Bryan said to me, “Meg, how does one measure the concentration of herbal compounds in home remedy recipes?” I shrugged my shoulders, perplexed. He went on to share with me the relevance of his question. A friend, diagnosed with a neurological disorder, struggled to find a solution to help with the symptoms of her condition, as well as with the side effects the recommended medications used to treat the condition left behind. She, like many patients who use naturopathic medicines, was seeking a place of balance. A place where symptoms and pain were tolerable but potency of the herbal compound effect was minimal. As a doctor in my residency program with a background in organic chemistry, it’s no wonder he thought I would have the answer. I didn’t.
After 20 minutes of dinner table discussion and Googling from our smartphones, we concluded that from a consumer standpoint, there was no way to measure the concentration of herbal compounds from home. We knew there was a need, but without any knowledge of medical herb or its market, we wondered if there was anything we could do. I remember laying in bed that evening perseverating over the problem. Unable to sleep, I climbed into the attic at 1 am, pulled out my old organic chemistry books, and went to work. Five hours later, the solution was obvious.
Second Dot: Have an idea.
I woke up the next morning to a text from Bryan. “Come up with anything?” We discussed my findings. While I had an idea how we could theoretically measure the concentration of botanical compounds in a sample, I had no idea how that theory could be translated into a product. Luckily, Bryan did.
Bryan came over the following weekend with a cardboard box filled with, among other things, a light, a voltage meter, and an empty toilet paper roll. We were about to test our theory and we were about to create our first prototype.
Third Dot: Build a prototype – build a company.
After months of trial and error, we were finally onto something. We had created a handheld device that was able to accurately and reliably measure the concentration of herbal compounds in a sample. The next step was to create a business plan that would allow us to move forward with the production, marketing, and distribution of our device. We enlisted the help of our friends Mark, an operations guru, and Peichen, a jack-of-all-trades, and Engineered Medical Technologies was born.
We named our device tCheck, and it’s a game changer in our market. Now consumers, including our friend, can feel confident that when they create recipes at home, they are doing it right every time. Quality, consistency, and affordability are back under control.