Marina Hatsopolous, the founder and former CEO of Z Corporation, came to speak to our CEO Perspectives class today. Here are some of the lessons I gleaned from her.
- With pricing, what's big to you is not big to Fortune 500 companies. Don't focus on a $20,000 difference in the cost of a capital investment, but rather the way you add value.
- Additionally, don't apologize for being new. Again, focus on the value that your product generates for a customer.
- New products that change the process of how companies and people work require a lot of education. Sales cycles for these products will be longer than you expect, and the cost of building an educational work force is high.
- Cost of development for complex products will tend to be higher than you expect.
- The cost of development and manufacturing quoted to you by the scientist will tend to be lower by at least an order of magnitude. Marina was quoted $1,000 by the scientist for cost of materials, it costs closer to $15,000 to create the product.
- Understand how your technology is REALLY different. Z Corp discovered that it was really the chemistry of their powders that was really a differentiating factor.
- Key question: Can you exploit the window of opportunity within the life of your patent?
- Demo parts work better when you can use your clients products. Use custom marketing tactics whenever possible with new and innovative products.
Marina Hatsopolous Bio
Ms. Hatsopoulos was the Founding CEO of Z Corporation (www.zcorp.com) from 1994 through its successful sale in 2005. Z Corporation is a market leader in 3D Printing, a technology used to produce physical prototypes from design data at very low cost and high speed. At the time of sale Z Corporation had revenues of $30 million and a strong history of profitability. With 125 employees, Z Corporation was the technology leader and had reached a strong #2 in market share within its industry.
She is currently serving her fourth year on the Advisory Board of the Nantucket [technology] Conference and is also on the Board of Trustees of the Buckingham Browne & Nichols School in Cambridge, MA.
She was a Director of Contex Holding, the $100 million leading manufacturer of large-format scanners and software, from 2005-2007. Prior to that, as Chair of the Committee on Finance and Investment of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), she oversaw the budgets and investments of this 120,000-member organization.
Ms. Hatsopoulos graduated with a B.A. in Pure Mathematics and a B.A. in Music from Brown University in 1987 (Phi Beta Kappa, Magna Cum Laude, Mathematics Prize, and Faculty Fellowship). She received her M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from MIT in 1993 (Sigma Xi).