Top 10 tips after 10 years of innovation in flexible electronics
Richard Price, CTO
As the team at Pragmatic celebrates ten years of driving forward innovation in the semiconductor industry to manufacture a new generation of flexible electronics, Dr Richard Price, Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder of Pragmatic, shares his top ten tips for success and the key lessons learnt over the last decade.
Stick to what you are good at and find partners to help solve the other challenges. The nature of our partnerships has changed over the years as we have matured, but collaboration remains just as important now as it did at the beginning. We have been able to develop some really close strategic relationships with companies like Arm and Avery Dennison, but also with technology partners in industry and academia. I like to think of each of them as customers and understand what success looks like for them.
Sometimes you have to let some of the big ideas go and focus on fewer options. This can be difficult, but the momentum and impact from the shared sense in achieving what are seemingly small milestones should not be underestimated.
By definition deep tech is aiming to develop a technology based on new scientific understanding and/or a significant engineering challenge to translate this knowledge. Ideas will fail, people will become frustrated and it can sometimes feel futile. There’s no magic formula, but resilience accumulates from consistently picking each other up, reminding one another of the big picture and looking for positives even when things go wrong.
Things always take longer than expected, however, I prefer to have a plan for success and adapt as things change. That way the next goal feels within reach and achievable. A bit like running an ultra-marathon or climbing a mountain, it’s easier to break things down into mini milestones along the way that each bring a sense of accomplishment. We now use OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) across our business to set out our goals and break down the key steps to achieving them.
5. Learning from mistakes
At the time these mini crises can be all consuming, but these can be gold dust for developing intellectual property including enabling know-how. Provided that the same mistakes are not repeated these provide opportunities for improvement and development.
Build a team that has strong mutual trust. Many of our team have worked together now for more than 5 years. We also have several colleagues who will reach 10-year anniversaries in early 2021. Trust helps to overcome challenges and to have those difficult honest discussions when needed.
7. Company culture
Looking back this is one of the things that has pleased me most. Our company culture is like holding up a mirror on all the people within our business. We have a shared set of values which everyone buys into and is a guide to the way we behave. As we have grown we have been able to add new perspectives, skills, backgrounds and experience to our team. This has created a richer and even more diverse culture.
A bold vision is what gets everyone out of bed every day. This isn’t just any other job or company.
Be honest with yourself, your colleagues and everyone else who you work with. Problems are far easier to address at an early-stage and people value being open even if it means things being delayed.
Start-ups can be relentless. Everyone is different, but we all need to recharge our batteries every once in a while. Knowing when we can push hard or when we need to back off a little is really important to ensure we all feel supported and part of the team. People’s happiness drives their enthusiasm and motivation at work which becomes infectious to colleagues.