Felicite Moorman – Co-Founder & CEO, STRATIS

Felicite Moorman is an award-winning technology entrepreneur and attorney with over twenty-five years of experience in founding and building companies. She’s an EY Entrepreneur of the Year® Award recipient, and has earned an international reputation as a go-to Internet of Things (IoT) industry expert, developing pioneering strategic partnerships and unprecedented technology strategies and initiatives in the Internet of Things.

Moorman is the co-founder and CEO of STRATIS and CEO of BuLogics, companies that invent groundbreaking global IoT solutions. STRATIS is a SaaS platform for access, energy, and automation management and control for multifamily and student housing in Smart Cities. BuLogics designs, builds, and certifies ZWave, ZigBee, BTLE, WiFi, and LoRa devices and solutions for the Internet of Things.

Moorman is an international speaker and columnist and has been featured in Inc., Entrepreneur, and Fast Company magazines, Business Insider, U.S. News & World Report, Yahoo! Finance, and other national news outlets.

Prior to BuLogics and STRATIS, Moorman launched the Emerging Technologies Division for GE’s Consumer and Home Electronics brand. Moorman quickly established her reputation in technology, engaging eight Fortune 500 companies in less than eighteen months, entering new vertical channels, and creating and executing the strategic plan to dominate the Internet of Things home automation market. Today, the GE device line is a part of nearly every home automation and security platform offered in the United States.

How did the concept for STRATIS come about?
STRATIS was created to fill the gap in some of the most complex hardware installations in the world. We found that we just couldn’t “do it all” with hardware, and as hardware junkies, my co-founder and I knew we were going to have to expand our capabilities via software.

We got a call to fix a 300-unit installation of multifamily units (apartments) on a large campus, and we simply couldn’t give the property owner the control that he needed to enable energy efficiencies and maintain resident comfort and privacy with our hardware offering alone. That’s when we started developing a complementary software that is now one of the most complete IoT Platforms in the world, STRATIS!

How was the first year in business?
The first year in business was actually a lot of fun. STRATIS was a side-hustle, and that made all the difference. We were inventing a solution from scratch, in real-time, and fixing people’s real problems, receiving accolades and awards. We really began to understand our market and what our offering needed to look like. It wasn’t until more recently, when we started scaling, in growth mode, that the dynamic shifted. The pressures of perfection are far greater than they were at the beginning, when we were trying new things. I loved that first year.

What was your marketing strategy?
That first year, it was all about word-of-mouth marketing and networking. We didn’t have any relationships to push, not press, public relations, or otherwise. We had nothing. Our entire strategy centered on meeting people who had problems that we knew we could solve and leaning in to that word-of-mouth marketing strategy. I think we had, maybe, three collaterals at the beginning.

How fast did the company grow during the first few years?
We started STRATIS as an energy management system and iterated to provide a more complete building management system for multifamily and student housing. Our focus was more on creating the product than shipping the product in our second year as a company. Once we actually had a product that we could confidently install in the marketplace, STRATIS took off.

How do you define success?
Every day that we save resources in this very complex market is a day of success for our world. That’s not nearly enough for me to define my own success, though. My successful day is when I have expended every ounce of my potential, efficiently and effectively.

The definition of success for STRATIS as a company is being ubiquitously installed across the globe in every single building in which we can have a positive impact at the most reasonable cost and fastest return on investment.

What is the key to success?
Everyone has to define their own version of success in order to know what their key is. I can’t provide it for everyone, but I can say that your team is everything: capabilities and possibilities, and working harder is an absolute necessity in entrepreneurship. I think the saying goes, “I’ll work 80 hours a week to not work 40 hours a week for someone else,” and that’s just true for me.

But in addition to being aware of that and embracing that, find ways to work smarter. Working harder is a given, so pause from time to time and determine if you’re also working smarter.

What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
I learn new lessons every day and I probably have a “Top Five Greatest Lessons Learned as an Entrepreneur,” but one that may be the most important is this: when things are hard, having a co-founder or team that accepts you showing vulnerability, so that you’re not devastatingly alone in your journey, makes those really hard times bearable. Find a compatible, complementary co-founder and build a team that cares about you as a human and embraces your strengths, but also acknowledges and accepts your weaknesses, and complements them with their own strengths.

What are some quotes that you live by?
My quote of the moment is John Lennon’s, “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”

What are some of your favorite books?
I have hundreds of favorite books. I’m a fairly-voracious reader. A life-changing book for me was Seth Godin’s Linchpin. I read it at a time when I needed permission to re-engage in entrepreneurship after a brief stint as an employee.

Right now, I’m reading Blitzscaling, The Messy Middle, Dare to Lead, and Fooled by Randomness.

Tell me about one of the toughest days you’ve had as an entrepreneur.
Low cash days are hard. When you don’t know yet where your next paycheck, or worse, your team’s paychecks are coming from, those days can be profound challenges. But they also provide clarity in determining your commitment to your path, and your journey, and your “why.”

Hard days are good days. They are that which causes us to iterate and improve, so that whatever has happened, doesn’t happen again.

When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
My team is absolutely what keeps me going when the stuff hits the fan.

I don’t know how solo founders do it, and I will never be a solo founder again. I am so grateful for our leadership team. I am so grateful for our support team, our engineers, and our marketing team; every single person here is someone who I need. And not just at this company, but I need to work with these people for the rest of my life. If that’s not inspiration, not motivation, I don’t know what is. I’m motivated to work with these specific people, forever, and that is a profound realization, and blessing.

What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
1) Find a co-founder with complementary skills, and perhaps, temperament.

2) Don’t be afraid to share your idea. Ideas are worthless. Execution is everything.

3) Don’t buy into the hype around venture capital.

4) The end of a journey is somewhat anticlimactic. Please make sure that you enjoy this as much and as frequently as possible. I hate to say that it’s about the journey, but entrepreneurship is as hard as anything I’ve ever done (and I’ve had three kids). Make sure you make time to appreciate even small accomplishments as you go.

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Interviews are conducted for research purposes by author Jason Navallo for his upcoming book, Underdog.

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