Up to bat: Mary Juetten, CEO, Traklight,
Today we’re talking with Mary Juetten, CEO of Traklight. It’s a brand spanking-new start-up in the valley that provides easy, affordable, online idea identification and protection. She’s the Founder and CEO. Entrepreneurs are busy people – so we’re sitting down for a “fast pitch” session of questions and answers. See what tips and tricks you can pick up from our conversation.
Q. What’s the story behind the name of your business?
A. People know the concept of the light and the light bulb, and the notion that you want to track your genius idea. What’s better than reassuring and affirming that you’re starting on the right track ?
Q. What was the impetus behind embracing entrepreneurship? Did you always know that was your path – or did circumstances force your hand?
A. When I was in law school, I worked with a lot of start-ups at The Tech Ventures Clinic at ASU. After I spent more than 25 years in finance and accounting, I realized I loved working with start-ups to help them succeed. I knew I wanted to do something in this field, and I didn’t want to work as an attorney; I heard about IP loss and infringement problems and wanted to do something to prevent those.
Q. Tell us about your customers. What problems can you solve for them? What’s been the best way to get in front of them so far?
A. Our customer is anyone who has a great idea or business, whether it’s a product, invention, song or book. We save them time and money. We make IP (Intellectual Property) less scary so they don’t avoid it, so they don’t accidentally infringe. Between 85 Broads, AZ Tech Council Startup & Entrepreneurship committee and associations, I get out and educate people. Our mission at Traklight is to get people to identify their IP, and protect it, so they can succeed. JUST GET OUT THERE INTO THE ECOSYSTEM.
Q. Many start-ups experience failures before success – or at least they make some major mistakes. Can you share a moment during which you learned from a setback?
A. The biggest setback was finding developers. There was dissonance between what I wanted and what the technology people could do. It wasn’t necessarily the money; it was the time. It took an extra year out of our development schedule. As a founder you can’t just blame the tech people – you need to be able to bridge that gap.
Q. Why did you choose your particular industry? Do you think it’s critical to have a passion for your product or service – or can you just identify a niche or a need and meet it?
A. I chose this industry by evaluating my life and myself. I do think it’s just perfect for me. If I don’t have the passion for it I’m not going to do it.
Q. Why is Phoenix an ideal market for launching a start-up?
A. Phoenix is an ideal market. I think that it’s rising from the ashes. After being one of the hardest hit places in terms of real estate, we have a bit of a clean slate, and there are a lot of people involved in the ecosystem that are NOT jaded. It’s fresh here, with a lot of positive energy.
Q. Do you have a partner? Why or why wouldn’t this work for you?
A. Luckily, there is no need for investors. Currently, we’re hiring more employees with experience in sales and marketing. Generally we like to hire ASU students/graduates because of proximity. They need to be self-directed and motivated.
Q. How do you strike balance in your life when launching a start-up?
A. I have an amazing and supportive husband and 2 teenagers. I love what I do, I don’t hit snooze in the morning – I am ready to go. But I do try to twice a year to take a vacation where I don’t answer my emails.
Q. What was the most powerful lesson you learned about running a business in your first year?
A. Your culture and your way of doing business is key. It’s a marathon – NOT a sprint, and you have to STAY FOCUSED.
Q. What’s your very best advice to give to young start-ups?
A. The very best advice I can offer is to seek out and look for good advice from mentors and advisors, but know your heart. You’ve got to stay true to your gut
Q. What’s your philosophy on customer service?
A. Get out of the building and talk to your customers – that’s how you best serve them. You have to keep going and never give up.
Q. What dreams do you have for your business 5 years from now?
A. We want to build something, and then sell it to someone who serves the same customers. My dream is to exit after three to five years and help female founders by creating programs where they can access resources and capital.
Q. Who are some of the other key players who work alongside you?
A. We have a development team and a CTO out in Santa Monica, a CISO in New York, and a marketing intern from ASU, and mentors and local Arizonans that lend a hand as well. Finally, our Advisory Board has five amazing contributors.
Q. Complete this sentence: Social Media is ______________________________.
A. Time consuming but valuable.
To connect with Mary and learn more about Traklight, visit: