“If you’re not willing to accept the pain real values incur, don’t bother going to the trouble of formulating a values statement.” – P. Lencioni (HBR, Make Your Values Mean Something, July 2002)
Written by Herman Leybovich
One of Klas Telecom’s values is entrepreneurship. When most of us hear the word, we might think of a team working out of a garage and taking risks to build something new and innovative. In many ways, that’s true of our team – though we’ve moved out of the garage.
This month we’ll share how the same traits that make entrepreneurs successful have been at the core of our success too.
One of our greatest successes over the last 10 years has been an unexpected one: the integration of tactical radios in the Voyager chassis. When we were approached with the idea, I was skeptical. We made awesome network and compute modules, but now we were being asked to build brackets to hold other vendor’s products. I thought the value we\’d be able to add would be limited.
I\’m happy to say I was wrong! Radio integration allowed us to solve new problems for our users, specifically:
- The powering, cabling, and integration of deployable systems that had radios (most do!)
- The use of different radios among organizations that work together
The integration of radios was a shift from what we thought our users wanted, but we listened and responded. That\’s what entrepreneurship is all about! As the Moonshot Factory loves to say: “Don’t fall in love with the solution, fall in love with the problem”.
2. Find your edge
To keep building the best products you need to know what makes them the best… and keep doing it. For us, we knew that our products were special in these ways:
- They were simple to use
- They worked when others didn’t
- They were a great value (bonus: they looked great!)
There were opportunities along the way for us to make trade offs on these points, but we knew that what we were offering in our space was unique and a great value. Today, we’re recognized by many for those points in DoD, Public Safety, and transportation.
Entrepreneurship is about believing in something, executing on something and delivering on something. With Voyager, we saw an opportunity to do something new and have been executing for a decade. We found our edge in the market and became known among our users for that value.
Speed bumps are inevitable. Many opportunities that appeared to be a perfect fit for our unique value in Voyager didn’t seem to pan out. Those moments of feedback (not losses) gave us opportunities to double down on what we believed in and find new ways to show our users and our partners what we were made of.
What we didn’t do was change our identity or the identity of our products. We continued to build on simplicity and reliability, we looked for new ways to communicate our value. In fact, we would often push on the development of a new release or the next generation of a module so that we could set the tone in the market for the next opportunity.
Entrepreneurship is defined by these moments. As an entrepreneur, I find this to be the most challenging point. When we get this one right though, the results last longer than any product.
How has entrepreneurship as a principle shaped our product development? It’s taught us to listen to our users, find our edge and keep pushing when things get difficult. Along the way we’ve had the chance to create and disrupt an industry that supports our warfighters.