Mary Juetten is the CEO & Founder of Traklight. Traklight provides cost-effective online IP identification tools and resources that enable inventors, creators, entrepreneurs and businesses to identify and protect their IP. Completing a dynamic set of questions, users can identify the potential IP associated with their ideas. Users may store trade secrets and confidential information to the secure, online storage – the IP Vault – where files are date and time-stamped. Law firms and more established intellectual property professionals use Traklight products for business or practice development, to assist clients, and identify, store, protect, and manage intellectual property.
BusinessInterviews.com: What are some of the most common issues you see your clients facing when it comes to intellectual property and how can they be avoided?
Mary: Customers often do not realize that they have intellectual property (IP). Most think of IP as only patents and take no steps to identify it and therefore have no IP protection. Many believe that IP is cost-prohibitive and something to be taken care of “later.” And worse, without a basic understanding of IP, accidental infringement can take place and be costly. Therefore, we see a lot of people being reactive and dealing with a problem or crisis situation that could have easily been identified early on. In the end, it usually costs more to fix the mess. Thinking of IP or intangible assets as just as valuable as your cash and other hard assets, and routinely evaluating, inventorying and measuring that innovation is good business practice.
BusinessInterviews.com: What are some tips for startups to protect their IP when utilizing crowdfunding platforms?
Mary: Crowdfunding is like any other type of public pitch or fundraising in that you have to be knowledgeable about your IP on several levels. First, you need to identify what needs protecting because once it’s out there, there is no taking it back. Patent protection, even a provisional, should be done in advance of any campaign. Second, once securities-based crowdfunding rules are completed, there will be additional information for platforms. Startups should be very careful about what is publicly disclosed. Trade secrets are only secret if they are kept that way! Finally, remember others are protecting their IP so when preparing for crowdfunding make sure you read the terms and conditions around any music, images, or videos that you may incorporate into your campaign. You do not want to work hard only to receive an infringement fine.
BusinessInterviews.com: Can you share how you’ve been working closely with your customers and using their feedback to help make some improvements and updates?
Mary: From alpha testers to private and beta testers, we have talked to hundreds of entrepreneurs about their pain and as result our ID your IP questions and reports have changed significantly. Since commercial launch we continue to gather feedback, using a follow up survey with Net Promoter Score (NPS). Every survey is read and we contact people to dig further when necessary. Our current report consists only of words but we are now adding in icons, checklists and flowcharts to improve readability. Our next version will also have a help menu. Attorneys approached us to create a report of the questions and answers so that ID your IP can be used as an intake tool or practice development tool. We are developing Enterprise tools based on several private betas. We work closely in our “Lab” to develop tools that solve problems with live customers.
BusinessInterviews.com: You’ve managed to tackle some incredible challenges this year, like the loss of your CTO during a critical development phase. Can you expand on how you not only overcame such a huge obstacle but did it well enough to be become a finalist for the Arizona Governor’s Celebration of Innovation award in the Startup of the Year category?
Mary: I could not have done it without our team; we talked each other off the ledge during a crazy time and in fact, I would say we overcame that obstacle, certainly not me alone. Our Traker team is simply amazing and committed to our mission. My personal philosophy is that everything happens for a reason. Our website re-launch was delayed by six weeks and we found our current Application Architect by having to rebid that work. We were able to continue with our existing SaaS applications but made the difficult decision to re-factor our entire website back-end rather than pushing new products out in 2013. It hurt us from a revenue perspective but I am convinced the “let’s-redo-it-all” approach will improve our SaaS products more than tweaking. Our new VP Technology was the rock that kept our senior team going during the chaos and he is simply a brilliant guy that will take us to the next level in 2014.
BusinessInterviews.com: How important it social media to your overall marketing strategy?
Mary: Social media is a critical component. We use Hubspot for our inbound marketing strategy and have become very active on social media. Our marketing and sales challenge is that we have to educate our potential customers on why they have this problem. Social media cannot be an after thought and we have invested in our team and technology to try to raise awareness around IP using social media.
BusinessInterviews.com: What’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for 2014?
Mary: Sustained and recurring revenue from our improved SaaS products and our new Enterprise tools that will be available over the next six months. Seeing the new ID your IP questionnaire made my New Year’s Day and our secure storage will give entrepreneurs a safe way to collaborate and grow their businesses. The user experience is improved along with the reports and I cannot wait to get this into our customers’ hands. We are thrilled to offer new, still affordable solutions for small businesses to identify and protect their IP.