The opening day of Startup Launchpad got off to a great start, with the halls of the Asia-World Expo full of buyers looking at the newest products on offer from startup exhibitors. Everything from swim performance enhancing wearables to water-proof foldable solar panels to dog computers was on display, providing a captivating glance at the present and future of mobile electronics.
A wide range of experts came to discuss startup topics around wearables, funding and manufacturing, offering invaluable information to all who attended. We’ve provided short summaries below.
Topic:How to Launch a Six- Figure Crowdfunding Project
Predictions: Continued growth in crowdfunding and equity crowdfunding.
Summary: Patel talked about how crowdfunding provides a good alternative to loans or investors for building up project funds. Many people have the misperception that you must be a startup just starting out to engage in crowdfunding, he said, but in reality it can be used to generate capital for any kind of new project and to build up attention to new products being developed before they launch.
The best way to decide between the two prominent crowdfunding platforms Kickstarter and Indiegogo, according to Patel, is to look at how products similar to the one you plan to launch on each platform and see how they fared. There are also platforms like Crowdcube where startups can raise money in exchange for equity as well, he said.
The five key elements to success in a crowdfunding campaign include a good landing page, social media, press, a good crowdfunding video and a good crowdfunding campaign page, Patel said. Landing pages should include a one-sentence description of the product and what it does, the launch date, a call to action that explains clear incentives of early sign-up or pledging and the key benefits that the product offers to users and how. Quality product images are also important, he said. Pop-up email capture forms on campaign pages, while annoying to some, lead to a 30 percent increase in sign ups and drive a lot of conversions, Patel said. Quality product videos that showcases the product and tells consumers why they should buy it in the first 10-15 seconds are also key, he said. When providing delivery estimates startups should give themselves a three-month buffer, he said. Crowdfunders understand that schedules can fluctuate, he said, but it is better to deliver early through the buffer time than over-schedule.
Social media is a key way to drive interest and traffic to campaigns, Patel said. He encouraged startups to join communities and forums on social media, including Reddit and to post about a product in a way that adds value to the conversation in exchange for vital feedback from your target audience. Use Facebook as a newsletter he said, posting key updates and offering competitions to help drive conversions. Many times, startups will get too self-oriented when posting on social media, Patel said.
“They say ‘hey, hey, hey, this is me, look at me!’ but they don’t think about how other people will perceive it,” he said. “So don’t get to spammy.”
Social media is a good way to interact with press, but press is not a silver bullet, Patel said. He encouraged startups to think of press as a fan to flame the fire created through pre-launch work. He encouraged startups to find journalists whose coverage area coincides with their product instead of blasting random journalists or entire news organizations with product information. Wednesdays and and Thursdays at 10:20 or 2:20 are optimal time for sending pitch emails, he said.
When reaching out to journalists, he said, send them a succinct email two weeks beforehand and avoid major industry events to maximize the likelihood they’ll pay attention to your pitch, use an attention-grabbing subject line and ask them cover the product on embargo to help maximize traffic around a product’s launch date. If your product doesn’t notably build on what’s done before in a way that can grab press, he said, focus on social media and other areas for conversion.
For fundraising goals, he said a good rule of thumb is to have it be 10 to 20 percent of what you plan to earn from your project. People need to see your product three times: the first is to recognize its existence, the second provides its validity and the third drives them to say I’m going to buy this product, Patel said.
Topic: The Next Step of Wearables/Hearables
Predictions: Wearables will represent billions of dollars by 2026, with embedded wearables gaining prominence. Insurance companies will embrace wearables more when they’re better able to authenticate user identity.
Summary: Ping discussed Idtechex’s recent projection estimating the wearables market will represent $150 billion by 2026, saying that even that is a low estimate in light of the huge market and continuing growth. He projected that soon we will be able to embed sensors all over the body.
“We’ll have data oozing out of all parts of your body,” he said. “This offers a lot of opportunity.”
Wearables will continue to develop the current range of areas they develop and expand into new ones, ranging from sleep, exercise technique evaluation to prevent injury, early illness detection, balance to detect warning signs of dementia and more. He said while some think smart body devices are just a trend, FitBit has reversed the trend to a certain extent.
The key problem with today’s wearables, Ping said, is that they’re unable to provide information accurately enough. 95 percent of wearables, he said require red or green infrared. Green has a shorter wavelength, but it doesn’t go deep in your skin and as you move, your skin’s density creates signals. Signals are clearer on greenwave, he said, but for people with darker skin or tattoos it doesn’t work well. Cold weather also causes blood flow restriction which can also interfere with accurate readings. Developing infrared measuring in wearables similar to pulse oximeters in hospitals will allow for deeper skin penetration and more accurate readings, he said. Multiple sensors can also help compensate for the noise of activity Ping asserted. Wearables also need to more accurately read a range of motion from standing still to full activity.
“If your pulse is 160 and you’re standing still, you’re in trouble,” he joked.
He said accumulated information from wearables beyond the wrist, such as from glasses, can paint a more accurate, contextualized picture of activity. If someone was sitting in an office all day waving their arm around, readings from the glasses showing a steady line of sight would inform the readings from the wrist and keep it from congratulating you on reaching a fitness goal or providing incorrect advice, Ping said. Wearable on other parts of the body like the eyes can also measure exercise gait and balance, providing better advice and preventing injury more effectively in concert with wrist wearables than a wrist wearable alone.
Another area for potential expansion is authentication. He said while many insurance companies have been using wearables as incentives for young consumers and for consumers to engage in healthier practices, being able to authenticate the identity of the user prevents them from being able to offer bigger incentives like insurance discounts to users or utilizing the devices more fully. Wearables that can detect the unique heartbeat of the user and other similar developments still being researched offer potential way for further growth of the industry, Ping said.
Analytics can also be further cultivated, Ping said. More accurately compensating for bodies’ adaptivity to activity levels and more effectively analyzing the wealth of data coming from wearable devices is also a key area need for the growth of wearables, he said. This will allow for advice that takes into consideration a users injuries or other factors, he said. Focus on creating a health device and data ecosystem, he said.
He said his organization had been seeing a lot of innovation from small startups in the wearables field. He encouraged startups to look to new areas when delving into wearables.
“Making another wristband, what’s the point?” Ping asked the audience.
He said research his organization had conducted in China showed that price is becoming less sensitive and is not the topmost consideration anymore for consumers in the market.
“If Xiaomi is going left, you go right,” he advised startups. “Think about what information you can give to the user that can provide them real benefit.”
Topic: Challenges that Wearable Startups Face During the Stage of Manufacturing
Greg Fisher talked about the ins and outs of manufacturing for startups. It’s hard to do all the things you need to do as a startup, Fisher said. It’s important to pick your battles and decide what you’re going to invest your time in, your team ‘s time in and let your partners do the rest. Partners should have high integrity, transparency, responsiveness, experience with startups and ability to execute at the factory level and long-term focus.
“The way you make money in manufacturing is by not having problems,” Fished said. “Cost increases are small compared to the cost of a defect or a crate of defects or a flight to fight fires at you manufacturer’s factory.”
Clearly understanding responsibilities is key, Fisher said. Startups must clearly define what will be made, including tolerances, ideally with test guidelines, while manufacturers are responsible for making and testing the product accordingly. If startups aren’t clear or if leave things out, that leaves room for finger-pointing later if things go wrong, he said.
“It’s up to you to clearly explain the expectations,” he said. “They don’t know your market.”
Often, products that seem simple in concept can actually be extremely difficult to execute in manufacturing, Fished said. He used the example of a startup that designed a water bottle with openings on both ends. It was simple in concept, but it was an engineering challenge because there was no production machinery currently in existence set up for the task of making it.
“There’s an under-evaluation of things that may seem very easy to do,” he said. “When you talk to your manufacturer, you may need to cut back what a product can do or accept price alterations. You can’t just be bullish and say get it done.”
Fished said that big companies are going to win on price and distribution, so it’s important for startups to distinguish themselves in another way, such a guerrilla marketing.
Communication is something that’s really undervalued, Fisher stated, saying there’s huge difference between a startup capable of communicating well and who’s not. Startups should make an effort, be clear and concise and quantitative, include all details in an organized way such as an official document to ensure all parties throughout the process are informed and can refer back to it and to follow up phone conversations with written confirmation to have a record that can be referred to at any time and by all parties.
Fisher said that fundraising and manufacturing can distract startups from other important areas like testing.
“Specs get least amount of attention but are so important,” he said.
It’s vital for startups to define what an acceptable product is and how to make sure product is acceptable, he said. Specs need to be translated into test criteria and sample plans, he said, with 2D designs just as important to provide to manufacturers as 3D designs. Testing should be inclusive of raw materials, incoming, in-process and outgoing products. When defining acceptable flaws, it’s important for startups to educate your manufacturing partner about your customer’s expectations, he said. When engaging in testing, it’s key to catch defects before they get in the boat. Have third parties conduct final inspection or conduct it yourself, he said.
Topic: Transforming Your Wearable from Being a Startup to a Real Business
Predictions: Wearable face major pain points, but adoption could increase if technology better addresses them.
Summary: Derek Kwik discussed the wide range of issues regarding startups and wearables.
You don’t want to spend too much time circling around in the initial startup stages with incubators or accelerators, Kwik said, when you need to be generating sales and revenue. Many incubators and accelerators offer similar information, so learn what you can and then progress, he said.
Startups should think about whether they are adding value or just enhancing performance, Kwik said. You need to have a scalable business model to be viable, he asserted.
Today’s wearables market has a lot of business models, either vertical or horizontal. He said because wearables have only been around a few years still have many paint points including charging, it has to always be on to collect data, you have to always have it tight on your skin. These are all issues making adoption challenging for wearables, he said. Another obstacle is that other non-wearable devices that can perform similar functions without having to be worn all the time.
“Imagine a wrist-worn device you have to wear it to sleep for it to track you sleep patterns,” he said. “Or during the day, every morning you have to be reminded to put it on to track your daytime movements. That type of thing where you have to constantly be reminded to wear it is a pain point.”
For these reasons wearable adoption isn’t as high as it could be. Kwik said he believes adoption could be increased, but for that to happen technology also has to get better, he said.
Kwik also discussed the importance of finding trustworthy manufacturers and being on the ground to ensure final execution of your product, saying physical presence provides much better accountability.
“You can be in the office and ask a question and then wait until they provide you the answer,” he said.
Aiming for huge manufacturers may not be the best strategy however, as they may have larger customers they’ll prioritize and you will be relegated to dealing with their less-skilled teams and have less ability to have things responded to immediately, Kwik said.
Kwik recommended startups be ambitious, aiming for large distributors rather than a collection of smaller ones. Startups should strive to be stand out and differentiate themselves as well, he said. Hustle is also essential in having a viable product. Having a scale-able business model and pushing to move your product and ensure its success is what will define your startup, Kwik closed.
Topic: Transforming Your Wearable from Being a Startup to a Real Business
Predictions:Greater adoption of wearables, the growth of digital currencies and payment methods, retail spaces with emphasis on experience or efficiency, IoT alter power methods within the home, IoT growth in the automotive and government sectors.
Summary: Kyle Ellicott discussed wearables,IoT and more. He predicted wearables would start being used from birth, providing a trove of data that had significant opportunity for improving people’s lives.
Wearables are great at collecting a ton of information but they’re not great at telling people what to do with it, Ellicott said. The analytics are archaic, but they’re there, he said. Startups should invest in improving the recommendations wearables provides as well as better utilize the real-time capabilities the devices offer, Ellicott said.
In terms of security, he said he believes security has made gains over the past several years, but it still has room to be improved. He said consumers can opt out, but they should consider what data they want to get and share, considering the positive impacts it can have.
“If you’re ok with that and you want to know it, letting it be shared can actually be for the better,” he said. “Products will get improved, industries may change because of it. On the security side, a lot of it is still anonymous. It’s not straight ‘Kyle’s Daily Eating Habits’, it’s ‘Daily Eating Habits of Middle-Aged Man’.”
He said startups can help safeguard information through thorough product testing and being well-informed on information regulation in the markets they operate in, as well as staying updated on security issues and developments.
He encouraged wearable and IoT companies to use data to understand customers and serve them better.
“If I’m sleeping from the hours of 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., that’s probably an ok time to do an update for my Apple Watch versus when I’m out running from 7 a.m.,” he said. “Focus on using data to understand habits. Companies that are focus on power are doing a great job of taking the data and analytics and seeing where there are spikes, where there are lulls and injecting the updates.”
He delved into different areas for IoT, saying it will continue to significantly alter industries and sectors throughout the world, including housing, energy production, payment methods, retail and vehicles.
As IoT devices saturate homes, Ellicott said, new means of powering them through power-generating wall panels and other methods would impact power companies and home designers alike. On a larger scale, he said IoT data would enable cities to not necessarily become Big Brother, but to improve city planning, design and services to improve its citizens’ lives.
The automotive industry will also offer great potential for IoT, he said, as they continue to implement new technology in vehicles, providing car owners more information and utility for their vehicles.
Retail spaces will become more experience or efficiency-focused, prioritizing window shopping, Ellicott said. He discussed the rise of tap and scanner payment methods as well as people’s increasing aversion to cash, predicting that cryptocurrency, Blockchain payments and other alternative means of payment would only continue to grow and that retailers needed to adapt.
The adoption of payment methods will differ based on country attitude he said, pointing to China’s quick acceptance of digital and scan payments compared to America’s slow transfer to chip-based credit cards. Retailers looking to slowly modernize can look at QR codes, beacons with push-promotions and notices and payment apps and contact-less payments to better serve their customers, he said.
For day two of tradeshow, we’ll be having product demonstrations, the Buyer’s Corner for startups and buyers looking to negotiate potential orders and a slew of speakers talking about the hot topics of IoT and big data. Come join us!