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Geneviève Dutil got her start working as a mechanical engineer at the R&D centre for Bombardier Recreational Products. In her time there, she saw the growth of engineering simulation technology—and the potential for it as a commercial product.

In 2009, Dutil started her own company, Lx Sim. Instead of toiling away over a physical prototype, companies could hire Dutil’s firm to produce a professional computer simulation of their engineering project.

Today, the Quebec-based operation has a client list that includes the likes of Cirque du Soleil and Disney. And Dutil placed No. 91 on the 2016 W100 ranking of Canada’s Top Female Entrepreneurs.

But things weren’t always so good. “When we started the company, the companies we spoke with were aware of the technology, but they didn’t know the full extent of what it could do,” Dutil explains. She had to knock on a lot of doors before prospective clients started to see the benefits of what she had to offer. “In the beginning we did a lot of what’s called évangélisation in French, or ‘telling the good news’ about it,” she recalls. “I spent a lot of time educating.”

Now, six years later, the technology is better understood. But if she could go back and do it again, there are things Dutil would do differently. “Since I was coming out of a job as a mechanical engineer in a really technical environment, I would advise myself to maybe take a step back and try to use more simple words—get out of the technical aspect of things and put more emphasis on the business aspect of it all,” she explains.

The problem was her clients lack of technical literacy. So Dutil had to find a language that was universal. “Now I use simple words, metaphors, and images. It can be so complex and so technical,” she explains. “As engineers, we get so excited by the technical aspects of things. As I went along in my business, I realized I needed to focus on the business side of things—what could my product bring to their business?”

So how do you convince someone that a product they don’t fully understand is essential to their business? “Here’s an example I often use: the library versus the Internet,” explains Dutil. “Today, when we want to look for something, we go on the Internet and we Google it. Before, you would have to go the library and read a book on the subject.” After a potential client concurs about this incredibly shift in technology, Dutil makes the connection to her product. “It’s that big of a step to use engineering simulation. Without it, you have to spend your time making a physical prototype, going to a lab, testing it. It takes time and it’s expensive. Now, [with engineering simulation], you can do the whole process quickly, with just a computer.”

So her advice to those looking to sell a technical product? “I would probably tell them to really understand the business benefits of what they’re offering,” says Dutil. “They need to focus on how they’re going to sell it, what the business model is going to be.

“I used the passion I had for the tech to help me figure out how to get the message across. I’m living proof that something really technical can sell.”

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