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Lines and Dots – A Musical Interpretation

Illustration of trumpets

Lines and Dots – A Musical Interpretation

Our time on the Opportunity North East (ONE) Digital Accelerator in 2019 was a bit of a blur.  However, one piece of advice that really stuck with me and that we use within our business is “lines not dots”.  This originates from a guy called Mark Suster.  Here he explains about the interaction between an investor and an entrepreneur or business and how if only a single dot is visible then it makes it difficult to see the progress that has been made and you need to turn those dots into lines, like on a graph.  Yes you might not always be on an upward trajectory (in terms of customers and revenue) but you will be moving forward and growing potentially in other ways.

As an engineer, I like graphs, however they can lack personality and can be difficult to interpret without clear annotation.  So I like to think of our dots and lines more like music, with changes in tempo, dynamics and intonation and an acceptance that it takes practice and patience to master your instrument.

In this blog article I will share with you our latest “dot” or “musical passage” and what we do as a tech start-up to help communicate our activities and plans with our business advisors and supporters.  This is just one way of doing things, but we get a lot of value from collating the information to include in these regular updates and it keeps me inspired and motivated to carry on when things get tough as I can look back and see how much we have achieved already.

About Our Blog

We live in an ageing society. But what does that really mean?

In the next 20 years the balance of young and old will shift to the point where there will be one elderly person for every two people of working age.  The challenge this presents is two-fold, a reduction in family members able to provide support and a smaller pool of professional carers.

TL Tech is a Smart Homes Solutions provider with a difference.  We help people get the best out of smart home technologies and create unique home environments to meet their needs and budget.  Our vision is to “create a home that cares for you as you age”.

Smart home technologies have the power to transform lives, especially for the vulnerable in our society.  This blog series will be looking to showcase the opportunities, find out more about the people working in this field and how we can create a world where “smart meets kind”®.

Our Latest Musical Passage

I prepare the updates as a very short PowerPoint PDF file and I like to put a nice picture on the front that might be something fun or family related.  The updates are not a formal document and I think it is okay to include some of your personality.

Usually I follow a basic format of:

  • Activities & Traction
  • Interesting Smart Home & Social Care News
  • Look Ahead
  • Thank Yous

However, this last two months we have actually been super busy and have more special news to share, including our new hire Ecaterina and the launch of our Facebook Live tutorials.

New Hire News

This is a massive milestone for us to be able to take on a data scientist to help develop some of our ideas and prototypes.  Ecaterina Vidrascu is one of The Data Lab MSc students and will be working on building an Amazon Alexa Skill (like a mobile phone app, but for voice) that can support vulnerable adults in isolation.  We’re hoping that Ecaterina can share more on her experiences and this project in some guest blogs over the summer.

Facebook Live Tutorials

Video and voice are key communication tools for the future.  Despite being a bit petrified about the whole idea, we know that providing a service like this is really important right now and we are very honoured to be able to make a difference in people’s lives.  We’ve had some good engagement so far and are looking forward to building on this with more help guide resources and videos.

Activities & Traction

In this section I would usually bullet point all the things we’ve been up to.  This includes events, training, competitions, funding applications, meetings and progress that we have made with key aspects of our business growth and development.

This has been a busy period for funding applications and linking up with other organisations where there are synergies.

We’ve spent a lot of time working on the updates to the website so that we can pivot to provide remote support instead of in person home visits.

We’re still developing the concept for the overarching company mission.  Which is to redefine the role of a smart home and create a future where your home cares for you.  Where your home can adapt as you age and your needs change.

Interesting Smart Home & Social Care News

Next, I share my curated list of interesting articles since the last update.  These usually focus on Internet of Things (IoT) technology in general and aspects of social care or retirement and assisted living.

As you will no doubt be aware the news lately has been dominated by the devastating impact of Covid-19 on care home residents and people receiving care at home.  While some have discussed that this may finally get the government to invest in social care and improve working pay and conditions for the carers, I fear that change will not materialise with any real pace.

I find the news right now makes me emotional, instead I have looked for more positive or non-covid related articles.

Look Ahead

Our look ahead summary tends to look only at the next 1-2 months.  This will usually talk about what meetings we might have coming up, or if there is a new round of funding.  In this update we are focused on continuing work on our website knowledge base and the Voice User Interface for Assessing Wellbeing and Support Needs project.

Thank Yous

We are incredibly grateful all the support we get.  I think it is nice to be able to give thanks for this, as I know that people’s time is precious.  We have had help with our funding applications, advice on marketing, HR and personnel support and what we have appreciated most all, people helping to make introductions and widen our network.

Joining the Musical Passages

We’ve been “recording our start-up music” since the end of October 2019.  This is passage number 5 in the series.  When we join the passages they come together to make a sound, that is unique to our business and the journey that we are on.  It tells a story in a consistent and easy to digest way. Who knows maybe we will work our way up to a full Sonata one day.

There are loads of ways that you could present your “dot” or “musical passage”.  You could do an infographic or a short video.  I’d be interested in hearing if anyone else makes regular progress summaries in their start-up and what format they use.

If anyone else would like to start something like this, my key pieces of advice are:

  • Keep it Simple. Don’t write large paragraphs, make it easy for someone to skim through quickly.
  • Be consistent. Try and have your dots fairly evenly spaced apart and be disciplined about creating your update communication to a regular schedule.
  • Use it as a tool to reflect and plan. By far the most useful thing about maintaining regular updates is that it makes you review what you have done and what you have learned.  It also allows you to think about how this relates to your next steps and what you should be focusing on to move the business forward.

If you are anything like us, you will have felt like that last couple of months have literally just disappeared.  But in preparing our regular communication updates, it is actually heartening to realise how much we have progressed.  Maybe you’d like to do something similar in your personal life.  It really does help to write things down and share your thoughts with others, as it also makes you more likely to achieve your goals. You could start by reflecting on any positives or identify areas for growth. Perhaps you’ve:

  • Helped a neighbour?
  • Found a new hobby?
  • Started walking regularly?

Maybe you’d like to:

  • Spend more time reading or meditating.
  • Improve you confidence in public speaking.

If you liked this post, do get in touch as we’d love to hear your thoughts on communication.

You can also check out our website for more technical advice or subscribe to our mailing list to be notified when we have new posts and support material available.

Finally, we’d love to chat to you at one of our weekly live online tutorials, they’re every Tuesday at 11am on Facebook.

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