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Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

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Talk given at IOT conference in Malmo, Sweden on May 23rd 2017.

Published in: Design
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Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

  1. 1. Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger A case study in internet of things entrepreneurship Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino alex@designswarm.com
  2. 2. About me Industrial & interaction design education First UK distributor of the Arduino London Internet of things meetup organiser since 2011 #iot strategy consultant Writing a book on smart homes for Apress Founder of Good Night Lamp
  3. 3. Good Night Lamp The easiest way to sync up with your global friends and family.
  4. 4. What I will talk about A lesson in what not to do but also the importance of being pig-headed. (Reminder: I’m running an all-day workshop tomorrow that tells you a little about everything you need to know about developing a connected product)
  5. 5. Good Night Lamp The easiest way to sync up with your global friends and family.
  6. 6. My need (2005) My mom used to call me in the middle of the afternoon. Now as a widow, she doesn’t call enough. She ‘doesn’t want to bother me’. I end up calling a lot less than I’d like.
  7. 7. An open need (2017) Working parents Children in boarding schools Long-distance relationships & friendships Social media anxiety Cross-generational family rituals (reading before going to bed) Elderly parents who need care Work colleagues
  8. 8. Born in 2005 The Good Night Lamp was a response to a brief set by Droog design (Dutch art & design collective) to think about what living on your own in the future might look like.
  9. 9. First prototype The Good Night Lamp was a drawing on a wall during a brainstorm session at the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea in 2005. I built a prototype hacking a remote controlled car for our presentation and bent acrylic from the workshop.
  10. 10. First barrier Droog had first right of refusal of development of the idea. They rejected it on the basis of aesthetics, that it didn’t fit their brand. They probably didn’t know how to commercialise such a product either.
  11. 11. Lesson 1 Academic industrial support is rarely adequate. Traditional retailers don’t know how to engage with these new products.
  12. 12. Pause (2006-2012) I concentrated on growing Tinker London (first UK distributor of the Arduino) thinking I could grow a team to work on GNL.
  13. 13. Lesson 2 You can’t run a service company & commercialise a product at the same time.
  14. 14. An itch to scratch (2012) After closing Tinker London in 2010, I invested in a booth at CES, registered the company, bought the UK trademark and started to build a team and looking for investment. Made our first prototypes.
  15. 15. Lesson 3 That’s not what it looks like now.
  16. 16. Lesson 4 Don’t invest in CES until you’re ready to ship to the US.
  17. 17. Lesson 5 There is no investment for #iot in the UK.
  18. 18. Funding (2013) We ran a Kickstarter campaign 3 months after it had launched in the UK. We didn’t do so well.
  19. 19. Lesson 6 Crowdfunding is for marketing, not funding.
  20. 20. Keep calm & carry on (2013-5) I downsized the team and started looking for other ways of making a very small batch. I showcased the lamps at many tradeshows.
  21. 21. Lesson 7 Listen to what people like and what people don’t like.
  22. 22. Partnership (2014) I downsized the team and started looking for other ways of making a very small batch.
  23. 23. Lesson 8 Create the best condition for success, not the fastest.
  24. 24. Minimum viable customer base (2014) I started a Shopify account and got people to pre-order 200 units in September 2014. We worked with Tom Cecil Studio to manufacture them in London.
  25. 25. Lesson 9 Cutting corners will always come back to haunt you.
  26. 26. We get an email (2017) Spent some time negociating with a US company on the use of the trademark in the US. The nice people at FoxWilliams worked with me to defend my position but it’s slowed US activities down.
  27. 27. Lesson 10 IP protection is expensive but necessary.
  28. 28. A bit of bad news (2016) 2G is being shut down in the US, Australia and elsewhere. We have to re-engineer for 4G/LTE.
  29. 29. Lesson 11 You’re at the mercy of your technology choices and partners.
  30. 30. Minimum viable backend and support (2016-17) I worked with Tom Armitage and hired Laura Gordon part time to build a good tool to manage our data and support.
  31. 31. Lesson 12 You’re going to work with great people and learn a lot.
  32. 32. What now? We’re going back to crowdfunding to help cover our 4G/LTE re-engineering for the North American market.
  33. 33. What now? We’re in the London Design Museum and a few books.
  34. 34. Lessons I shared today 1.  Academic industrial support is rarely adequate. 2.  You can’t run a service company & commercialise a product at the same time. 3.  That’s not what it looks like now. 4.  Don’t invest in CES until you’re ready to ship to the US. 5.  There is no investment for #iot in the UK. 6.  Crowdfunding is for marketing, not funding. 7.  Listen to what people like and what people don’t like. 8.  Create the best condition for success, not the fastest. 9.  Cutting corners will always come back to haunt you. 10.  IP protection is expensive but necessary. 11.  You’re at the mercy of your technology choices and partners. 12.  You will work with great people and learn a lot.
  35. 35. The realities of the early days 1.  Most companies will have failed after a crowdfunding campaign 2.  Most companies will have burnt out after an incubator 3.  Too much pressure is put on companies to follow a Silicon Valley speed of development. What we need to build 1.  Early stage funding 2.  Affordable on-demand talent 3.  Specialised entrepreneurship education & training
  36. 36. Or come to tomorrow’s Masterclass A 3 day workshop compressed into a 1 day workshop breaking down what you’ll have to think about to build a connected product.
  37. 37. Lesson 13 Good news! You’re bound to do better than I did.
  38. 38. Thank you and good luck! Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino alex@designswarm.com

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