Sara Hasan is an inspired inventor and the CEO of Aha! Solutions, Inc, a company she formed out of her passion for bringing solutions to the “real, repetitive problems in the real world and daily life by designing and producing unique customer products.” During this week’s Women-Owned Spotlight, we got to learn Sara’s startup story, key factors to consider when launching a new product, and how her two children helped to inspire her latest invention: The Next-Step Stool.
Before we dive into your story, tell me how you help cultivate confidence?
I believe my confidence is fueled by my passion in what I do, and the way that my products are benefiting people around the world. Seeing that my hard work is actually improving and easing the lives of families globally gives me the conviction to push harder in my company and keep providing the value that people are looking for.
What does being a woman-owned business mean to you?
Being a woman-owned business means a more challenging road to success–from acquiring funding, to demonstrating potential, to creating a reputable, competent business. Although the statistics may show that woman-owned businesses face many challenges, I believe women are more resilient, empathetic, and have an innate sense of management, all of which can become the defining characteristics for long-term success in any business.
What was your business origin story?
A successful female entrepreneur once said, "the true moment you become an entrepreneur is when you are looking for something that doesn't exist." This is exactly what happened in my situation. Although a pharmacist by profession, I started on the path of starting a business after becoming a mother and discovering a large gap in the children's step stool market. I could not find the one, perfect step stool that optimized both safety and practicality, and one product that could be used by my two children as well as myself. When my search came up with no results, I wanted to create the solution, and hence, my company was born and my idea began to grow.
Okay, coming up with a great idea and actually taking the steps to become an entrepreneur and launch your company are two very different things. How did you know it was time to start?
Since I had never started a business before, I was always unsure if I should even take the first step to start a business. I was grappling with the idea for my product for almost two years, and then I watched the movie "Joy." I saw the main character risk everything to start a new venture with a revolutionary idea-- it was that moment where I realized that risk will never have 'good timing.' I decided that in order to avoid the lifetime of regret that would otherwise be a daily reminder of letting the opportunity pass by, this was the time to take that first step and just start.
Sometimes entrepreneurship can be a hard and isolating journey. How do you stay confident along the way?
I try to do video calls with my team members or collaborators whenever possible, because even a little bit of social interaction can add depth and a higher level of business conviction that may be otherwise absent in bland communication like emails. Confidence and positive energy can travel far, and I try to offer that to my team on some days, while I am on the receiving side on other days.
If you had to list three traits or attributes that have been pivotal for your success, what would they be?
Passion in my mission.
Desire to keep learning as I build my business.
What's one myth you'd like to debunk about your line of work?
Making a product sounds like it should be easy and cheap, but it is the opposite. There are so many factors to consider, such as the details of the market and growth; competitor strategy and how to differentiate from the crowd; and how to design your product to reduce cost while optimizing value. When done right, this process may be time-consuming, but offer valuable insight for future success.
What advice would you give to burgeoning entrepreneurs?
Always test your product or service before spending tons of time and money creating something that no one will buy. Remember that people do not buy YOUR why, they buy THEIR why (this is a quote paraphrased from the CEO of Raindrop).
What words do you live by?
Sometimes the journey is more meaningful than the destination.
Any final words of wisdom?
Success does not have the same meaning to everyone. Define your success, and work for it; do not let success define you.