Fearless Founders: Meet Cheryl Kellond of Bia Sport
It’s time to inspire her mind! In our constantly connected world, women are inundated with information and opportunity. Especially inspiring are the true innovators that push through barriers and prove that women are equipped to excel in any industry. Many of them are changing our world one startup at a time. At Glam, we love women who encourage other women to push forward in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) based education and professions. In this series, Jesse Draper sits down with fearless founders to talk about their career paths, educational backgrounds and why STEM matters:
Since the STEM Initiative was launched, we have been looking for the best women to represent careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math oriented careers, and Cheryl Kellond, founder of Bia is ABSO-EFFIN-LUTELY a leader in this department! Kellond and her girlfriend were looking for a great fitness device and ordered everything they could find on Amazon, by Nike, and nothing worked for them so they returned them all! Like any good entrepreneurial minded female, this was the beginning of her creation of the Bia wearable self-tracking device. Kellond is a triathlete, was formerly at Etrade and Yahoo, and raised over $400K in a Kickstarter campaign. Here are 12 things I learned from Bia Sport’s Cheryl Kellond…
In your own words, what is Bia Sport?
Bia is a tech-enabled lifestyle brand that helps women face their fierce and achieve new athletic firsts.
What triggered the creation of a GPS watch designed for women?
Necessity is the mother of invention. I was an adult-onset athlete. When training for my first half-ironman I tried every training watch on the market and found them all too clunky, too hard to use, and not aligned with how I viewed myself as an athlete. I was sure I could build something better for myself and the millions of others who thought like me. And I did.
You’ve been product manager and advertised for so many prominent companies–what made you want to start your own?
I've always been entrepreneurial and loved to take risks. Even when I worked for other companies, my specialty was seeing the whitespace in the status quo and taking new businesses from concept to launch. I've always been entrepreneurial and am very comfortable with risk so this is a natural progression.
When I finally came across not just the problem I wanted to solve but a market that inspired me, I was hooked. When I realized that I had an insight into the market that other male-run companies didn't have, and then saw a product emerge from our requirements that was so incredibly different from anything else out there, we knew we had to move forward with it.
Crowdfunding gave your company life. Do you think crowd funding is changing the game for entrepreneurs?
On the tech product front, yes and no. We were one of the last companies to launch on Kickstarter without a full working prototype. Crowd funding was truly mission critical for us. Now it's mostly used to generate pre-sales for companies that will ship their product either with our without a successful Kickstarter campaign. As such, it has lost some of its power in giving life to “non-stereotypical” entrepreneurs.
What was the last math problem you did?
Calculating how many Bia's we had to sell to hit break-even.
How involved were you in the watch design process? What was engineering the first prototype like?
Insanely involved. Unlike many other hardware companies we did our hardware, firmware, and mechanical design in-house. We didn't outsource to an engineering design firm. I am not an engineer by training but I am both very technical and the voice of the customer so I was intimately involved in every technical tradeoff.
For the first prototypes, I was in charge of opening up devices to solder in new batteries and update firmware. I was part of the first 3 pre-production builds in China. Particularly from a mechanical and manufacturing standpoint I know every nook and cranny of this device.
How do you prioritize?
Ruthlessly. And I use data whenever it's available to guide the decision.
Do you have a celebrity crush?
Totally! And I am a girl-crusher. From a movie star perspective, it is Jodie Foster. I even named my bike after her. From an athlete perspective, it's Heather Jackson the triathlete.
What is one rule on leadership you try to abide by daily?
Lead by example.
If you could offer the working woman one tip on making time to exercise, what would it be?
I have a hardware start up, 4 awesome kids, a dreamy husband with his own company, and I am about to do my 2nd Ironman. I don't have much sympathy for the “I don't have time” excuses.
Grab a friend and pick a big hairy ass goal and use that motivate you. Maybe it's a 5K, maybe it's your orange belt certification in Karate, maybe it's Kilimanjaro, maybe it's an Ironman. Whatever it is, pick something that captures your imagination and that you think you cannot do and train to do it. The incremental change and habit formation will come as you pursue that goal. But you need the BHAG to shake your routine, your support system and your soul into a new alignment first.
What was your favorite subject in high school?
Tell me about your best friend.
He is tall, athletic, very cute, rock solid dependable, and infinitely patient with my crazy. I married him.