ecobee’s Stuart Lombard says myths set the foundation for your startup’s culture


At its most recent meetup, TechToronto invited Stuart Lombard, president and CEO of ecobee, a Toronto-based company that produces wifi-enabled smart thermostats, recalled the story of how humans survived in early history and its similarities to surviving the early stages of a startup.

Lombard started his talk by reminding potential startup founders that not everybody has to like an idea in order for it to do well.

“Don’t expect people to like you or your idea. You don’t need everyone to love you or like you, you need a very small group of very loyal fans,” said Lombard.

When talking about building a team of like-minded people that are driven to succeed, Lombard gave the example of how humans (homosapiens) survived and succeeded instead of Neanderthals, because of their ability to create myths and work together with Neanderthals in large groups.

“The same is true for you and your company,” said Lombard. “So today you may be seven people in a room, but the reality is in order to motivate people, in order to get people together…to get people going in the same direction, you want to create your own myth, culture, value, your aspirations, your brand, your strategy. You should write it all down so people can get aligned and get behind it. “

Lombard added that when starting out, startup founders should “hire for culture.” They should also understand who their customers are and put 100 percent effort into making their company or product great.

“There’s this thing called social media…if you only do 75 percent of the execution, the result is your customers think your product is only 25 percent good. What happens when you have bad reviews is that they get tremendous momentum and people pile on and you’ll get a ton of one star reviews. Conversely, if you get five star reviews, people will be much less likely to give you poor reviews.”

In October 2016, ecobee announced a new program that allows its customers to voluntarily contribute their home data to energy efficiency research. The company also raised $35 million from the Amazon Alexa Fund, Thomvest, and Relay Ventures in August 2016.

Watch the full presentation below:

The next TechTO takes place on March 13. Get your tickets now!


Amira Zubairi

Amira Zubairi is a staff writer and content creator at BetaKit with a strong interest in Canadian startup, business, and legal tech news. In her free time, Amira indulges in baking desserts, working out, and watching legal shows.

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