At TandemLaunch we bring together the trifecta of great startup ingredients (break-through inventions, market expertise, and talent), and then give them the resources to build the products of tomorrow. The Innovators-in-Residence program plays a critical role in identifying founding talent. As our next Innovators-in-Residence pitch day approaches, we thought people might be interested in hearing the experience of someone who has already gone through the program.
Meet Daniel Nahmias-Léonard, past Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EiR), and current Director of Marketing and Communications at Algolux, a company that improves optical quality through algorithmic software, most notably for smartphone cameras.
What got you interested in the TandemLaunch program?
DNL: I had been working as the “digital guy” in marketing departments for a few years and felt like I needed a change, and wanted to work somewhere I’d have greater ownership of the work I was doing. I asked around and a friend of mine, who was an EIR at the time, reached out with a mysterious message: “If you’re ready to take a risk, I have something for you…” We had a few meetings and I came aboard, not really knowing what was lying ahead.
What was it like after joining?
DNL: I had come in at a very early stage on a series of projects that weren’t quite ready for prime time, and where my get-stuff-done skills were more in demand than my communications skills. I pitched in where I could on the technical end, I set up a blog for our contributors and I read a LOT about computational photography, startups in general, and entrepreneurship. Once we assembled the founding team and received some seed funding from TandemLaunch, we were off to the races!
What kind of advice would you give incoming EIRs?
DNL: Talk to everyone. Everyone. Talk to other EIRs, talk to the people around you, your family, your friends, people at conferences, academics in your field. It’s amazing how amenable people are to just talking. You’ll get market validation and tech insight, great questions and probably a few potential partners. You might hit a wall at some point – if you do, take a step back, figure out where else you can go, and get back on track!
What was the biggest challenge you faced?
DNL: In my first four months, we were playing around with 4 unrelated technologies and it seemed like maybe nothing was going to come out of any of them. We were hitting technical roadblocks without the expertise to move past them. But we persevered, added really amazing people to the team, and ended up finding a bleeding-edge computational photography algorithm from a contact we had made.
What has been the highlight of your last year?
DNL: We decided last November that we’d fly out to Las Vegas in January and have a booth at CES, the largest Consumer Electronics Show in the world. At that point, we had just gotten seed funding and, on top of the tech team working on overdrive to get a demo ready, I had to create and produce brand and marketing material from scratch AND find potential customers. We pulled it all together over winter break, and the show went great. There were plenty of big companies scouting our exposition hall, resulting in strong traction that has helped propel us forward to our upcoming fundraising round.
DNL: That I didn’t make the leap sooner! Everyone I’ve met at TandemLaunch and its spin-offs is working with passion, and that’s not something you see in every workplace.
What are you excited about in the next year?
DNL: If all goes well, Algolux will “graduate” from TandemLaunch in the next few months. That means scaling the team up and continuing to work to commercialize a technology that we hope ends up in your next smartphone. It’s a lot of work, but I wouldn’t exchange it for the world. And all because I was “ready to take a risk”.
A big ‘Thank-You’ to Daniel for taking the time to share his thoughts! Feel free to pose questions to Daniel below, or contact us for more information on the Innovators-in-Residence Program.