Akshita Iyer Ome
Akshita Iyer, founder of Ome. (Credit: Courtesy of Ome)

The idea for Akshita Iyer’s smart stove knob, Ome, came from a kitchen accident that almost turned deadly. Iyer’s mother, who had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, accidentally left the stove on – almost starting a devastating fire in the process. It was a reality check – Iyer knew she needed to find a way to ensure her parents’ safety. But instead of discovering something on store shelves, she invented Ome, a smart knob that can be installed on most any gas or electric stove, transforming it into a smart appliance that users can monitor and control remotely via an app. The Atlanta-based entrepreneur has experienced her share of hurdles running her business – especially with regards to supply chain issues during the Pandemic – but she chooses to view setbacks as opportunities to learn, grow and adapt. 

Here’s our lightly edited Q&A, from The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project.

How is your business different from others in your industry?

Unattended cooking is a leading cause of residential fires — a trend poised to persist in the post-pandemic era as two-thirds of families struggle to balance their home and work lives, and as an increasing number of individuals opt to cook at home. Our Smart Knob keeps them safer.

Tell us about your biggest success so far. 

I hit obstacles immediately after starting up – from investor rejections, to manufacturing defects, to running out of capital. But instead of giving up, I leaned on my strong support network and mentors, and learned the importance of adaptability. I became more open to pivoting, and successfully adjusted our strategies based on market feedback and changing circumstances.

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?

During the pandemic, our business confronted severe supply chain disruptions. This not only paralyzed operations, but also left us unable to honor commitments to our customers.

We directly communicated with our customers, shedding light on our manufacturing challenges and delivery delays. We set up a “war room” to think of solutions, covering both immediate and future needs. Initially, we re-evaluated our stockpile and sought out alternate suppliers with the promise of expedited lead times.

Our adaptability and persistence not only enabled us to overcome the immediate hurdle, but have also strengthened our operational framework. Now, we stand better prepared against any supply chain volatilities.

What is your biggest tip for other startup entrepreneurs? 

Speak with conviction, no matter what you’re saying. As someone venturing into the world of smart tech as a woman, it’s been quite a journey. This field is male-dominated, and as a first-time founder, I’ve battled with imposter syndrome. Being in rooms with seasoned individuals who are older and more experienced used to overwhelm me. But over time, I’ve learned that confidence has the power to change your game.

How do you find inspiration on your darkest days?

By being able to view setbacks not as failures, but as opportunities for growth — and to keep moving forward either way.

Who is your most important role model?

Author Brené Brown! I’ve read all of her books and watched her miniseries, “Atlas of the Heart,” on HBO. Her work has been a guiding light during some of my most challenging times.

In her book “The Gifts of Imperfection,” she talks about how we often think of ourselves as logical beings, but that in reality, we are emotional ones. When we accept this, it becomes even more important to recognize and label the emotions we feel every day. Once I learned how to identify them, I was able to move through them. ◼

Instagram: @omeforhome
Facebook: @omeforhome

Check out our Advice + Tips for entrepreneurs starting-up
Watch our latest
Subscribe to our podcast