What’s the best business advice you’ve been given?

What’s the best business advice you’ve ever been given? We asked Colin Richardson, CMO and Co-Founder at Cocoon, to share his insight from a varied experience across startups and larger companies. He found it hard to choose highlights, having gleaned lots of wisdom over the years, but two things stood out. Be selfish with your time and trust your gut instinct.

Being an entrepreneur can be tough, but you don’t have to go it alone. Learn from other people’s stories, family, friends and mentors. Read books. Attend events and listen to the experiences and thoughts of those around you. Not all advice is good advice, but most advice can be learnt from and it’s up to you how you use it. Advice that’s adapted to suit your personal challenges can reassure decisions and guide actions.

Here are five pieces of advice based on Colin’s experience. We’d love to hear your best business advice, do share with us on Twitter.

1. Fail and move on.

Following business leaders won’t prevent you from making mistakes, and sometimes you will fail spectacularly. Accept this and don’t try to fight the tide, failure is good if it’s controlled and it will stop you believing the hype.

This is based on my own experience and from reading Richard Branson‘s books. He’s quite clear that everyone fails and you need to prepare for how you deal with that.

2. You don’t know everything.

Expert advice from a trusted and grounded source is pound for pound more valuable than the money you would be prepared to pay for it. Good advice = great decision-making = saving time and money.

This is something I’ve learnt from a bunch of different sources, but the one that stands out the most would be a talk we went to at TechCity UK’s Upscale program where Simon Calver (BGF Ventures/ former CEO of LoveFilm) gave a talk on investors.

3. Your customers matter most.

A great product needs exceptional customer support. Products break, updates fail, and sometimes despite your best efforts some folk just have edge-case complaints that need to be heard. Treat your customers as well as you would treat an employee and just like they are one of the team, they’ll have your back when you need it most.

I’ve learnt this from Tobias Lee (CMO @ Thompson Reuters)

4. Take care of your mental and physical health.

Just like computers, sometimes you need to turn off and back on again if there’s a problem you can’t fix. Humans are not machines and we need to rest and have fun to work properly.

I learnt this from Jerry Colonna & through some of my own experiences. This is why Cocoon will very soon be joining many other brilliant companies working with Sanctus on The Mental Health Pledge, and why we use Perkbox to offer employees benefits in health and wellbeing (as well as freebies and discounts).

5. Be selfish with your time.

I only have three hours a day when I’m even able to get in ‘the zone’. I own those three hours and I don’t let myself waste them. Adjust your diary so that you do the important stuff in the time when you’re productive, and move the ‘have to’ drone work (that we all have to do) to the time when you’re not.


If you’ve got any business advice or tips you’d like us to add or any thoughts on these, then we’d love to hear from you. Simply send @cocoon a tweet.

Where to locate your Cocoon home security cameras

You’ve just unboxed your beautiful new Cocoon, the award-winning home security gadget, and now need to choose a good spot for it in your home. To help you decide, we’ve pulled together some tips on where best to locate a Cocoon camera.

With Cocoon, you get home security without complex installation or ugly sensors on your windows and doors. Cocoon senses low-frequency sound waves in the air of your home to detect movement that normal cameras and sensors would miss. It’s smart, working best when the camera is located in the right spot of your home.

We’ve designed Cocoon to be an incredibly easy home security system to set up. First, plug in your Cocoon and download the app and you’ll be guided through some simple steps. The next step is choosing where to locate Cocoons in your home, so here are our tips.

Give Cocoon a good view

Cocoon has received praise for its picture quality both in reviews and from the UK Police force.
With 720p HD video, night vision and a 120-degree wide angle lens, you get a clear view of your home from anywhere. We’re often asked why Cocoon has 720p rather than 1080p video, and there’s a really good reason for it. It gives you much more reliable streaming of the HD video. When looking after what you love and catching important moments, the reliability is what counts. Not the extra pixels. And at 720p HD, Cocoon gives you a crystal clear video of your home with less annoying buffering.

It’s best to place Cocoons at central locations in your home. Then, should something happen, it will be caught on camera. We recommend you have Cocoons overlooking main thoroughfares, passageways or living spaces. Avoid having your Cocoon facing a window though, reflections of the LED light can distort your video image.

Keep Subsound® sonorous

Our unique Subsound® technology means a Cocoon can detect things that a normal home security camera would miss, by sensing the low-frequency sound waves caused by movement. Its A.I. then learns what’s normal for your home, improving accuracy and avoiding false alerts. (You can read more about the magic of Subsound® in this blog).

For Subsound® to work at its best, accurately alerting you when you need to know, we recommend the following:

  • Place your Cocoon on a flat stable surface, not one that might wobble, creates sound (eg. on a fridge) or reverberate (eg. glass)
  • Avoid putting your Cocoon next to a window that’s by a busy road. External sounds can interfere with Cocoon’s understanding of the normal sounds of your home and therefore with its accuracy.
  • Avoid placing your Cocoon near other electronics
    • As with all sound equipment, if Cocoon is too near to other gadgets or telephones it can cause feedback in the sound recording of your videos.
    • Air conditioning, dehumidifiers, and fish tank pumps, all create vibrations in the air that can interfere with how Cocoon detects movement in the air.
    • Active dishwashers and washing machines left on in an empty home can trigger Cocoon to send alerts.
  • Choose a spot near a power source. We provide you with a 2m long cable to give you flexibility over where you locate you Cocoon, but it does need power.
  • Keep your Cocoon within good range of your WiFi router, set to 2.4GHz.

Of course, not every home is the same, which is why Cocoon uses A.I. to learn to better protect your home. Sometimes, the unique elements that make your house your home can affect how Cocoon’s Subsound® technology works. So if you experience something that doesn’t seem quite right, or you have any questions, our brilliant support team are happy to help.  You can email them on [email protected] or chat instantly on our website.

 

“Insurance is a real social good” Edmund Dilger from PolicyCastle

Technology is changing insurance. An influx of innovative businesses are improving things for both the insurers and their customers. PolicyCastle is one of these companies. Their CEO, Edmund Dilger, shares his thoughts with us on InsurTech and why insurance is “a real social good”.

By working together with insurance providers, including PolicyCastle, Cocoon offers innovative ways to better look after customers. Using smart home technology to enable better pricing and to reward those who are taking a smart approach to looking after their home. For example, Cocoon customers in the UK get a market-leading 15% discount on home insurance with PolicyCastle.

PolicyCastle’s transparent online service helps customers make informed choices when buying home insurance, perfectly aligning with Cocoon’s mission to help people feel safe at home.

Edmund Dilger is CEO and founder at PolicyCastle, he tells us how technology is changing the insurance industry.

What’s special about PolicyCastle?

PolicyCastle makes insurance easy, transparent and fair. It is a digital platform for customers to buy insurance. Our customer accounts are ahead of anything else available and the management information system enables insurers to make the most of data available to them. This, in turn, means better products and services can be offered to customers.

What needs to change in the insurance industry?

Legacy systems have been holding back the insurance industry’s ability to use data in creating relevant products and experiences for today’s consumers. These legacy systems cannot be replaced quickly. This has led to an industry mindset that they, alongside the resulting high operating costs, are inevitable.

Technology in insurance must catch up with those being used by customers and businesses in other industries. This means starting from scratch with new systems, which is what we have done at PolicyCastle.

How is smart home technology impacting insurance?

Despite research suggesting that smart home devices could reduce insurers’ loss ratios by 25%, the incumbent insurance industry has been slow in adopting smart home technology.

Insurers are always interested in new sources of customer data and understand the potential that certain smart home devices, like surveillance devices and leak detectors, have to improve individuals’ lives and reduce losses. However smart home devices have developed independently from the insurers. As a result, unlike telematics devices in cars, insurers have been fairly cautious about smart home technology.

Underwriters like seeing a track record of how losses are affected. With large-scale adoption of smart home devices being relatively new, there is no long track record showing the impact of smart cameras or leak detectors, let alone how different types of customers may use them.

PolicyCastle is seeking to establish a first-mover position on smart home insurance. We are linking data from smart home devices to claims experience. As part of that, PolicyCastle is offering discounts on home insurance for customers with smart home devices, including a market leading 15% for those with a Cocoon.

What appeals to you about changing an industry that’s 300+ years old?

Insurance is a real social good.

The insurance industry has a poor reputation but is actually providing a hugely important service that helps many people every year. It supports the fabric of our lives in a way that very few other services do. Having said that, insurance has a bad reputation in part because it is not transparent – pricing often isn’t clear and documents are often more complex than they should be. All this can lead to dissatisfied customers, particularly when a claim is made.

Most insurance products don’t provide any service during the life of a policy. If you don’t make a claim you’ll likely feel that you haven’t received any value. There is also a real problem in how claims are processed. The customer often feels disconnected and doesn’t have an understanding of what is happening.

PolicyCastle is solving these problems through transparency and ongoing customer service. In time, we will also be improving the speed at which claims are processed.

Is it important that big insurers work with smaller companies like PolicyCastle and Cocoon?

I think collaboration is important for both the big and the small businesses.

There seems to be a recognition in big companies that they need to interact with smaller businesses to challenge their culture and learn how to evolve. For small companies, working with large businesses can help by increasing the pace of growth and reach to customers.

What’s the most exciting thing in InsurTech right now?

PolicyCastle.

By providing transparency, clarity and an ongoing service to the customer, we are addressing what we believe to be the insurance industry’s key problems.

Find out more at policycastle.com

Cocoon wins Best Product in the Crowdcube Awards

We’re delighted to announce that Cocoon was voted winner of Best Product in Crowdcube Awards 2018. Voted for by the public, this award shows that our smart home security system really is changing how people protect their homes and making them feel safe.

This time last year we smashed our fundraising target on Crowdcube, hitting £2.3 million with support from more than 1,000 investors. We can’t think of a better way to celebrate this anniversary than winning this prize. Showing that the product those investors backed is proving to be “the future of home security”.

We’re proud to sit alongside some brilliant businesses, including Monzo, Grind and Freetrade, as winners in The Annual Crowdcube Awards.

Quotes from the voters

Many of those who voted shared kind words about why they were nominating Cocoon to win Product of the Year. Here are a few we’d like to highlight, courtesy of Crowdcube:

“Incredible, affordable product with a transparent team dedicated to making home security smart and easy.”

“Simple and intuitive home security with no hidden costs and excellent customer service”

“They really have added something new to the market with a product in a very digital world. It is tidy, non-intrusive and very smart. Hats off”

Thank you

Thank you for the support and votes! As you can see with this award, you really are making a difference as we continue our mission – making it simple to protect your home and the people you, so you can feel safe.

We haven’t got this far on our own. Cocoon products are now looking after homes in over 70 countries around the world, getting five-star reviews from customers and winning awards. We’ve achieved all this by working closely with our customers, fans and investors. So, this one’s for you.

Thank you for being an important part of the Cocoon story.

Three of Cocoon's founders celebrate winning the Product of the Year award in the annual Crowdcube awards
Three of Cocoon’s founding team, John Berthels (Head of Software), Sanjay Parekh (CEO) and Nick Gregory (Head of Hardware) celebrate winning Product of the Year in the annual Crowdcube Awards.