Eric Migicovsky is a Partner at Y Combinator, one of the top of U.S. startup accelerators, and he was previously Founder and CEO at Pebble, the company that created the first commercially successful smartwatch. Last Friday, he was interviewed by Adora Cheung (another YC Partner) on being an entrepreneur at the intersection of hardware and software. Here you can read a summary of my five biggest takeaways.
Fast iterations can save you a lot of money
7 out of the first 10 smartwatches built and shipped at Pebble ended up exploding (as in, broke into pieces), and the company learned a ton about what caused the issue. This early finding prevented them from making hundreds of devices with the same problem.
“We screwed up everything you could possibly screw up.”
Going from implementation to validation as fast as possible helps uncover issues that can be fatal if discovered in future iterations, when it might be impossible to recover due to lack of resources like time or money. Validating your product with real users is the ideal case, but you risk losing customers’ trust if a problem is not handled properly: if you ask your customers for their feedback, you better be ready to listen.
Continue reading “From 0 to 1M customers, a conversation with Y Combinator”
I sold my 1st generation Apple Watch a few weeks ago. Since it was right before Apple’s event, I thought it would be fun to revive my Pebble watch and use it with my iPhone while I waited for the Series 4. The thing is, Pebble was acquired by Fitbit in 2016 and stopped giving support to these old devices earlier this year. After a bit of research, I discovered the light at the end of the tunnel; here’s how I brought a Pebble watch back to life in 2018.
In case you are not familiar, Pebble was a smartwatch launched with the biggest Kickstarter campaign in 2012, reaching $10.3 Million in a little over a month. The watch started shipping in early 2013 with a black and white memory LCD screen, which provided about a week of battery life.
Given the head start that Pebble enjoyed, a thriving ecosystem was created around the tiny device. In the 2 years before giants like the Apple Watch or the Samsung Gear started selling, more than 1000 apps and watch faces were available on the Pebble app store.
You might think that the Pebble had an odd design, but you could forget about charging it and there were a lot of cool apps: sleep tracker, fitness tracker, even a Domino’s Pizza tracker. Regardless, when Apple released their competitor in April 2015, the Pebble ended up stored in my closet, and it stayed there all these years… until now.
Continue reading “How to revive a Pebble watch in 2018”
Apple announced during its last earnings report that it sold 74.5 million iPhone units in 2015’s first fiscal quarter. Let that number settle in.
As CNN Money wrote, that means “34,000 iPhones sold every hour, every day, every week of the past three months. That’s 9 iPhones every second.”
But that’s not it, Apple also sold 51 million iPhones only in 2014’s first fiscal quarter, and 47.8 million units the year before, which means that there are over 170 million potential customers for the Apple Watch.
Now, I know that doesn’t mean every iPhone user will get an Apple Watch, especially since smartwatches sales are having a rough start (only 720,000 Android Wear smartwatches were shipped in 2014). There are, however, 2 points that I believe will make a difference in Apple’s case.
Continue reading “Why the Apple Watch will be a success”
Smartwatch sales are set to explode by 2020, according to a NextMarket Insights report from 2013. And according to a more recent CCS Insight’s global forecast, “by 2018 over 250 million smart wearables will be in use, 14 times more than in 2013.”
That’s a lot of people and a lot of wearables. What will these gadgets do? A lot of things apparently:
Let’s reflect on one aspect: “50% of wearables sold by 2018 will be smartwatches.” That’s impressive, considering that most people today don’t even know what to do with a smartwatch. The cultural change is going to be massive.
Continue reading “I bought a smartwatch as an experiment, and I liked it”
Tell me, do you find interesting a watch that monitors your blood glucose levels or your heartbeats? I don’t. Sure, I’d be interested in knowing how it works but, would I buy one just because of that? No.
Since all the rumors of the iWatch started, I got really excited about the possibilities. I imagined a light wristband that I could use to talk to Siri and check my phone notifications without taking it out of my pocket. Now all I hear about is sleep patterns, glucose levels and heartbeats. Not my cup of tea.
Don’t get me wrong, I like activity trackers, I own a Fitbit One after all. But its gamification factor is what actually caught my attention. If it was all about accounting for my daily steps, I would have already stopped using it, but competing with my friends makes the whole experience a new one each day. I completely agree with Alvaro that smart sensors are the future: little gadgets making our lives easier, more productive or even more fun, is the next big thing.
Continue reading “Wearables are not for everyone”