☑ design solutions. We went through several iterations of designs
A physical clip
A choker - hide the cables in a choker that it can be clipped to with a “broach” to hide the earphones on one side and another broach to hide the audiojack. Expensive to make and clunky to assemble before and after calls.
After 14 years in the corporate world as a partner in a management consulting company, I have decided to: ☒ join the Fantastic Fortune 100 company X as their Chief Technology Officer ☒ lead the non-profit organization Y to change the world ☒ make oodles of money by joining PE firm Z ☑ start my own company that will design and bring to market innovative products that started as scribbles on the back of napkins.
So, why in the world would I do this? (Yes, it has crossed my mind that I am leaving a steady and generous paycheck, health insurance and benefits and incredibly exciting work).
I currently have 100+ (and counting) product ideas which solve consumer gripes, where no real solutions are on the market today
I have a creative spirit (as those of you who have seen the cakes I make for my daughters’ birthdays know) that craves an outlet beyond Powerpoint
I want my kids to be resilient (able to recover when they fail) and as an Insecure Overachiever who has always taken the safe route (good grades, good schools, top consulting firm) it is very hard to teach them that
I will learn and grow in ways I can’t even imagine and worst case scenario is: *It doesn’t work*. If it doesn’t, I can chalk it up to an experiment and then go find a more traditional job
Although this may seem a bit from left field, I’ve spent most of my time in the corporate world, driving innovation for my clients. This has entailed helping companies who have invented lots of cool technologies find problems that these technologies could solve - helping them move from technology push to market pull. As such, I’ve spent over a decade wiring myself to look for problems that need solutions and as a consumer, I constantly see problems and design products in my head to solve them.
Although my dream is clear, it is my daughter who is giving me the courage to do this. A few years ago when I was up for partnership, I was waiting for the outcome and fretting. I was deep in conversation with my husband Mark and my then five-year old daughter overheard us and jumped in:
K: “What happens if you don’t make partner?” Me: “I will have to go do something else.” K: “Why is that bad?” Me: “I like what I do, I know how to do it and I think I am good at helping people." K: “What’s wrong with doing something new? It’s just like me applying to first grade right now. I like the school I am at, but I might like my new school even more. I just don’t know right now because I haven’t been there yet. A new job is kind of like that.”
After making partner I didn’t think that much about the conversation but last year it replayed itself and… the time has come to switch schools. I may decide I don’t like it but if that is the case, I can always switch to something else. On the other hand, I may LOVE it (just like my daughter loves her new school). But I won’t know unless I try…
During my soul-searching phase, I met many people in the corporate world who are aspiring entrepreneurs but are afraid to take the plunge. So hopefully my journey will help inspire people into (or scare people from) doing the same. Who knows where this adventure will take me but I look forward (with a healthy dose of optimism and a side of trepidation) to the twists and turns that will come.
Vanessa Chan is a consultant, engineer and designer. In 2015, she decided to fully embrace her inner tinkerer and founded re.design. She lives in Philadelphia, PA with her husband Mark van der Helm and their two daughters.