The Launch, Lessons, and Pivot

Our first wearable tech idea was the Versa Prima. Versa Prima was a simple, yet adaptable LED strip designed to let the wearer build the lights into an existing outfit. For example, the strip could be fashioned around the waist and covered with fabric to accentuate the inherent design of the original piece. Or simply worn like a sash as a safety precaution on a nighttime run. And when not in use for fashion, it could still function as a way to light up your closet.

The Launch

September 2015

  1. Software development: Done!
  2. Hardware development: Done!
  3. Design: Done!

It was now or never. It was time for…. The Kickstarter Campaign. We were psyched and we were sure that we would be on the cover of Entrepreneur within the year. While we planned the Kickstarter campaign, we were perusing the La Jolla real estate listings for our next home.

The result: meh

So…. yeah…. that’s awkward. Cue the sounds of crickets and the rolling tumbleweeds. The result of our Kickstarter campaign was lackluster.  Needless to say, it was heartbreaking to see our baby, the Versa Prima, get no momentum.

No magazine cover.

No house in La Jolla.

Sad face.

The Lessons

  1. Size: You are small. Let me take that back. Small is an overstatement. You are very tiny. If anything, you represent an annoyance. Chinese manufacturing companies are not in the business of helping no-name businesses finalize the design.  
  2. Language: We didn’t speak Mandarin. And our sourcing agent grew tired of playing the middle-school telephone game. The end result was a communication breakdown and several product samples that looked nothing like our design specs. (Matt, did you ask for green plastic?)
  3. Distance: Did you know that when it’s Monday afternoon in San Diego, it’s like… next Sunday in China? The sheer distance between San Diego and China made everything move at a glacial pace. We needed a manufacturer nearby.  

The Pivot

  1. Kickstarter campaign: sad face
  2. Design finalization: crying sad face
  3. Manufacturing: weeping sad face

We weren’t giving up. In fact, we couldn’t — we didn’t have jobs anymore. It was all or nothing, and nothing wasn’t an option.

We set Versa Prima to the side and started brainstorming.

Cue: The gears in our head start spinning…