Stacey Franklin Jones - Senior Scientist/Principal Investigator, O Analytics

Stacey Franklin Jones is a computer scientist who has been recognized for her contributions on complex high stake embedded aerospace defense systems such as the Offensive Radar System for AN/APQ-164 to architectures that support every day use of computing resources and broadband.  Jones has designed intelligent computer based training systems and has applied her background in image processing to areas such as optical and pattern recognition for civilian systems.  Her image processing experience spans technologies that include electromagnetic and lightweight electro-optical surveillance infrared, and perspective platforms that are broad within the air-to-ground, ground-to-air, and flat imaging spaces.  Jones’ sector coverage includes defense, health systems, space transportation, computing and safety emanating from commercial, state and federal agency work.

Jones holds a doctorate in computer science, graduate degrees in numerical science and engineering management, and a bachelors of science in mathematics.

What thoughts inspired you or your team to start this business?

The inspiration for O Analytics is life and business operation improvements using various technologies.  It started with having thoughts that we wished that something existed to make an aspect of life, a process, or a product – better; and then actually acting on it.

Without disclosing details, what revenue model are you working from?

Providing services, designing products and/or use of services and products.  Subject matter expertise is a needed service in a number of areas such as computing, computation, scientific exploration, design validation, evaluation and assessment.  Additionally, we identify and target innovation resources with designated research areas that seek an experienced team to affirm feasibility of a concept and/or to advance to develop a conceptual prototype.  Then there is team idea conversion to products and services of value in the same or similar space.  This is a composite revenue model that has a core set of capability and customers.

How does one create a profitability timeline for your revenue model?

You have to first define profitability for your company.  If during the initial period of operation you have enough resources to seed new ideas and products, then you can consider your company profitable for the composite revenue model.  The point at which your net operation is above and beyond that ‘composite’ breakeven point, you can consider your company profitable.  The timeline will vary greatly depending on the investment/reinvestment goals (ex: what it costs to bring your products to the revenue generating point). Suggest development of this timeline before you get started and then make adjustments as needed.

When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work?  If so, how did you handle that?

Yes. There are always going to be moments of doubt and they usually come when something you planned didn’t work out.  Handle it by just continuing to work your plan.  Move on to the next option on your list.  If you run out of options quickly, it might say more about the plan as opposed to the original idea.  So, you might want to go back and review your strategy.  There are a lot of smart people and great ideas out there.  That’s what makes entrepreneurship exciting; but, also very competitive.

How do you get your first customer?

The answer to the question of first customer varies depending on your particular operating space.  But, there are likely two ‘top’ categories of answers.  Either you know of a customer that finds value in your service and you make an offer to provide it (or they ask or invite you to propose); or you build a product for which a known or emerging market exists and you tap that market.  You shouldn’t be discouraged if you don’t know someone (or an organization) in particular to connect with to target as a first customer.  If you have something that someone else needs to be successful, they will stop and take notice.  The key is to identify and get in front of that person (or organization).  Both categories lead back to an idea of a product or service that adds value.

What is one market strategy (other than referrals) that you recommend using to generate new business?

Taking out referrals, generating new business has two basic components (1) Expanding existing customer relationships, and (2) reaching new customers.  Providing top notch services or products to your existing customers is obviously important and fundamental to expansion.  Knowing how your customers view the quality of the current service or product you provide requires a strategy.  Surveys and reviews are helpful.  But, I recommend more informal open-ended check-ins as a market strategy with your existing customers.  You can not only get a read on what they think about the quality of the current service you provide, but you can ‘hear’ where they are considering going and if it aligns with your company plan, you may be able to meet them there or get ahead of the curve.  This may very well result in expanding the existing customer relationship and consequently generate new business.

Reaching new customers may be a bit more challenging (when you take out referrals).  The goal should be to get the attention of the desired audience, make your pitch, and not waste your potential customers’ time.  My recommendation would be to reduce your message to a one-line benefit statement and get it in front of as many potential customers as possible.  Some will respond right away to further examine the ‘value’ you might bring to them.  Others may not, but if the benefit statement resonates with them, they will recall it when/if they feel they need what you’re offering and contact you.

What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?

The toughest decision I’ve had to make recently was to back away from what others saw as a safe ‘deal’ or arrangement, to move in a different direction.  It was risky, but it is working for us.

What do you think it is that makes one successful?

Success is something that each entrepreneur will have to define for themself.  For some it could be solving an important world problem.  For others it is just being considered a significant player in some particular space.  There are infinite positions in between.  No matter how you define it, it will likely change at different stages of your business and your life.  My definition of successful is setting a goal – big or small, long or short term – reaching it, and then starting the process all over again with an equal or greater sense of purpose and enthusiasm.  When you expect more of yourself, the ante goes up with each iteration of success.

Characterize your most satisfying moments in business.

My most satisfying moments are those where a thought transitions to a feasible concept that I am pretty confident will enhance some aspects of life, or significantly add to the general body of knowledge in a particular area.

What are you most excited about with respect to future business or technologies?

I am most excited about the new opportunities that will emerge from advances in areas such as open source intelligence, biometrics, and artificially intelligent health services.

What is a recent purchase you have made that’s helped with your business?

I recently purchased a Series 4 Apple Watch.  It helps keep me connected and responsive without having to have my iPhone on my person during the day.  For me that means not having to carry a bag, which is a big deal as I prefer to ‘travel light’.

You can learn more about Stacey Franklin Jones at behance.net and lmiexperience.org

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