InteraXon’s Derek Luke says empathy, patience important traits of non-founder CEOs


For incoming CEOs wondering how they can add more value to a startup, InteraXon‘s Derek Luke has some words of advice.

At the latest TechTO, Luke talked about his experience as the CEO of InteraXon, and the value non-founders can bring to a company. Luke took the helm of InteraXon, which offers the brain-sensing meditation headband Muse, after founder Ariel Garten moved to a board position.

In comparison to important founder traits like intelligence and passion, Luke explained important traits in “hired gun skills,” like himself. He said CEOs need to know how to be patient, but also know when not to be patient as a company experiences both growth and pitfalls.

“It’s very important that sometimes you actually want to just chill out, lay back and figure out, and let things happen,” said Luke. But when a company hits a roadblock — like when InteraXon was burning a $1 million a month in cash — CEOs have to take action, fix things, and “figure out how to get the company stabilized.”

Luke added that being capable of hiring A-players and knowing the value of empathy are also key skills that can help CEOs add value to a company.

“You know that A-players are people that hire people better than themselves, [and] don’t have [an] ego,” said Luke, adding that you should surround yourself with people who aren’t just seeking a title like EVP of sales. “Look for people that say ‘I have built a business from $1 to $10,000.’ That’s the type of people that you want to hire.”

According to Luke, really understanding what you’re doing and knowing how to execute are also crucial when managing a company and carrying out its vision. “Don’t forget that you have to watch the [bottom] line and figure out not just what that dream is, but figure out how you get there at the same time,” said Luke.

In December 2016, InteraXon entered a partnership with Safilo to help the Padua, Italy-based eyewear company enter the wearables space. InteraXon also raised a $10 million Series B led by OMERS Ventures in May 2015.

Watch the full presentation below:

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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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