joan soskin + lauren wyeth
Meet Joan Soskin and Lauren Wyeth, co-founders of Lufthouse
, a 2014 Flashstarts
accelerator company that offers an intuitive platform to translate sophisticated Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology into a drag-and-drop solution. Organizations can efficiently deploy the solution and consumers can access it with a connected device. Customers receive discreet beacon hardware and access to Lufthouse’s online content management system which allows them to easily curate and manage interactive experiences that can be delivered through our mobile application, currently available for download in the Apple App Store.
How did you come to be entrepreneurs?
The story of how we became entrepreneurs is somewhat serendipitous and is really a testament to the strength of Cleveland’s entrepreneurial network. We’re both Minnesota natives, but we didn’t know each other before starting Lufthouse. Our paths to Cleveland and entrepreneurship were very different: Joan arrived here with a liberal arts degree from Duke University and worked in operations management before she became a Ruby on Rails
developer while Lauren received B.S.E. and M.E.M degrees from Case Western Reserve University
We were both infected by the spirit of entrepreneurship here in Cleveland -- the energy and collaboration in this community is incredible and backed by such a strong network of mentors who are as passionate about economic development in the region as they are about each individual success. We found two such mentors in Charles Stack and Jennifer Neundorfer, the co-founders of Flashstarts, who saw potential in our partnership and made the introduction. It was that connection in the right moment, only months after Apple’s introduction of the iBeacon technology our platform is built on, that set us forward with the momentum that propels us today.
What kind of companies does Lufthouse benefit, and how?
The Lufthouse platform is designed to make it easy for any organization to implement location-based storytelling in any space. Our first use cases are museums, trade shows, and walking tours because the organizations in these industries are content-rich and have strong messages to communicate. Typically, these customers don’t have the time or technical experience to implement complex technologies, but they have so much more to say than can be expressed through printed materials or placards. With those customers in mind, we designed our web-based content management system with a simple interface that makes it easy to deploy and manage location-based messages.
What the most interesting project you’ve worked on so far?
The versatility of our platform has led us into a wide range of different spheres. It’s kind of an unfair answer, but the sheer variety of the projects is the most interesting part. For example, one of our favorite projects right now is an immersive walking tour of downtown Cleveland’s arcades in partnership with CityProwl
, a unique local company that explores the history of our city through guided audio tours. We’re exploring a similar concept in a different fashion through our work with the Western Reserve Historical Society
for their 1964: When Browns Town Was Title Town
exhibit opening on September 5th. With this project, we’re moving away from the city streets and into the expertly curated exhibits at WRHS. We think that both of these projects are so exciting because they allow us to transform a normal walk down the street or to add layers to an enriching experience.
What advice would you give to entrepreneurs in starting their businesses?
As young entrepreneurs in the early stages of starting our business, we have a pretty up-close-and-personal view on the challenges of getting a business off the ground. But we’ve been moving along a pretty steep trajectory and there are a couple of things that have really made a difference. First of all, we think it’s important to build your team strategically to strengthen individual weaknesses. This means that each team member needs to be self-aware enough to recognize where they lack skills or expertise and humble enough to ask for help.
Find mentors who are familiar with your space and ask them for advice. It takes a little courage to go out on a limb and make those connections, but you’d be surprised by how eager to help people can be -- especially within Cleveland’s entrepreneurial community. Not only can these conversations save you from your own mistakes, but they help to build a network of people who are rooting for your success.