Wise Words with David Ingram

While some may be happy to stick to the old-fashioned stress ball when it comes to managing pressure, new technology is giving workers and consumers smarter options. One of these is the PIP, a small device that monitors moisture and heat when held, to detect stress but also offers users a way to learn how to control it. We caught up with David Ingram – director and shareholder in Galvanic, the Ireland-based startup that created the device – to find out how he relaxes when he’s not helping others to do so.

David is a specialist in finance, gaining experience at GE Money and later as the CEO of Start Mortgages. He is now focusing on leading new startups in bringing their products to market and offering his business expertise through consultancy roles. David joined the Galvanic team in January this year, overseeing its successful funding on Kickstarter.

1. Where did the idea for the PIP come from?

People everywhere in the world experience stress and need help in dealing with it. So the question was how can people be empowered to relax anywhere and at any time and it was from this question that the PIP was born.

The PIP is an easy to use, portable and unobtrusive device which is Bluetooth-enabled and talks to applications on smart devices, providing immediate feedback to the user so they can learn what works for them in managing stress and relaxing.

2. Can you describe a typical working day?

The thing about a young business is there is no typical day, as one day varies from the next. But having said that, there is a standard approach which has worked to date.

The day starts with the gym followed by a cup of strong coffee (the former is important, the latter imperative)
I get emails out of the way first, and try to read as many relevant technology news articles as possible.
This is usually followed by a Team Meeting – short, focusing on the deliverables we all committed to at the previous meeting and what we’re all doing next. As a team, we agree a “Top 10” at the start of each month identifying the key areas of focus and what success should look like at the end of the month for each area – it’s a one pager with one line for each area – no more.

3. How do you unwind or relax when you’re not working on the PIP?

With the PIP!! We also have a busy enough family life with four sons (two still in high school) so unwinding with the family is good. Taking a cycle down Dunlaoghaire Pier (south of Dublin City) with my best friend and partner, Carolynn, watching the boys play rugby and barbequing get my vote – in that order. In fact the boys are great advocates of the PIP… it’s used ahead of important matches to relax and focus, to wind down (the first time it was used by one of them I found him asleep at the kitchen table he was so relaxed). It’s often used with their friends for a bit of fun… The Lie Detective game is no longer used amongst the family as the boys now realise that they can’t fool it!

4. What’s the secret ingredient to success as an entrepreneur?

Entrepreneurs are opportunists, optimists and risk takers… these are the given ingredients. They may have a great idea but they don’t have all the answers and it’s critical that they surround themselves with good people who MUST be team players. Reward these people so they can benefit from the exciting journey and company growth and you have a real chance. This is code for “founders, don’t be greedy with the equity” – a smaller percentage of a bigger better business is much better than owning a lot of very little. There is a statistic that points to only a third of new businesses getting to their 10th year and I would bet a couple of PIPs that there is a correlation between the successful third and engaged and rewarded team players.

5. What drove you crazy when building your business?

Unnecessary bureaucracy, time wasters and big egos… Galvanic has a clean bill of health is this regard.

6. What motivates you to keep going?

Entrepreneurs are hard-wired with self-belief and like winning, and I guess I am no different from others here. Adversity is probably a strong motivating force for me. The saying “if it was easy everyone would be doing it” works for me and finding a solution or a way forward where others have stumbled or halted gives me a buzz.

7. If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

Throughout last year we were focusing on another project but our focus now is on the PIP. In a short period of time with engaged, aligned and dedicated team players we have achieved an awful lot. You should never trade backwards, and I don’t, but as the question has been asked, I would have started earlier.

8. Where do you see your business in five years, and how will you get there?

We have a very clear picture of what we want to be when “we grow up” and the route to getting there. What’s the vision? A thriving business with a global presence across a network of distribution and software partners with annual unit sales of 5 million where on a daily basis our people are proud and happy to come to work in a business which is “doing well by doing good” in helping people to relax and de-stress.

9. If you weren’t working on the PIP right now, what would you be doing?

Following our experience in getting as far as we have, I’d probably set up a genuinely impartial business (i.e. not backed by a major technology company) that helps incubate tech businesses with founders, but which really does have all the business, financial and fund-raising skills in-house, and can help them succeed and share in the rewards. I still haven’t seen this done properly in Europe.

10. Tell Springwise a secret…

The back door of our office is only 100 metres from a pub that serves one of the best pints of Guinness in Dublin (developers please note!)

11. Any final words for aspiring entrepreneurs?

I said it earlier: don’t trade backwards. It’s a waste of time, energy – and it’s a great way of losing the respect of existing and prospective partners.

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