Hardwired: Smart Air Vents, Art Displayed Electronically, #Fencing, #Logistics for #Startups
Posted on October 28th, 2015
10/17/2015 @Wework, 115 W 18th Street, NY
The four speakers were
- Tim Morehouse, Olympic Medalist, US Olympic Fencing Team
- Renee DiResta, Co-Author of “The Hardware Startup: Building Your Product, Business, and Brand” and VP Business Development at Haven (online platform for ocean freight)
- Ryan Fant, Founder and COO of Keen Home (smart vents for the connected home)
- Vladimir Vukicevic, CEO of Meural (art streamed to your wall via Connected Canvas)
Ryan Fant@Keen Home (will sell a smart vent at Lowe’s starting next week) talked about the challenges they have faced over the last few months getting their product into stores. Ryan walked the audience through the requirements to place an item in Lowe’s stores.
- Break packs containing two units
- Master cartons which hold several break packs
- UPC and faceplate labels so Lowe’s can track stock
- Serial numbers on all items and matching numbers on the break pack and back side of each retail box
- Pallet labels
- Overseas logistics – need to book product from Shenzhen to Hong Kong
- Customs forms
- They also need a partner such as FedEx, Flexport, or DHL
- Their warehousing in Denver
- Preparation of in-store displays to bring visibility. These include physical displays, screen showing to configure your home and a video commercial to run on those screen.
Their rollout at Lowe’s was further complicated since they were unable to get product to Lowe’s 6 distribution center prior to the rollout next week, so they needed to ship product directly to the 900 Lowe’s POs for rollout next Monday.
In the next presentation, Vlad @Meural spoke about their dedicated hardware device that displays high resolution art images on a wall display. Meural will start shipping in a month.
Vlad talked about the main driving influences as the product was being developed
- Start with the creators. Incubated in an art studio in the lower east side
- What they create will influence people. Portrait orientation important to distinguish it from TV. Have a haze cover that absorbs light. Also have wood frame. Image algorithmically optimized.
- Need to be able to update the product even after its delivered. So can update over the air.
The display is run on System on chip that is more powerful than a Raspberry Pi. The display has a sensor that adjusts colors for the ambient light. It can an also be set turn off if the ambient lights are turned off.
They were initially self funded and then had a 500k seed round.
They currently control the entire system, so they can control the scarcity of images.
Their team consists of Vlad (COO), chief designer, CTO, operations (supply chain/manufacturers), head of partnerships who gets content.
Now if you buy it, you get full access to a full library of content. In the future you will have the opportunity to get subscriptions for specific artists or galleries.
They have a utility patent on the full package
Next, Tim Morehouse @XGenFencing talked about developing a new technology for refereeing fencing competitions. As an Olympic silver medalist, he wanted to bring fencing to schools, but faced the barrier of high equipment costs to monitor touches. The current scoring system technology remains virtually unchanged since its introduction in 1932 and is expensive, requires a lot of setup, and breaks easily.
Tim’s first prototype was a chest plate that registered strikes.
Tim demonstrated his technology which put sensors in foils and lights on the epee guard so you know when there is a touch. The system also locks out so only the first touch is recognized and uses an accelerometer to track when one lunges (also tracks dangerous sword movements by beginners). This system could eventually eliminate any discretion by judges.
Audience comments revealed interest in tracking performance and moving fencing into the virtual world.
Renee @Haven talked about the complexity of logistics faced by startups.
She first talked about the complexity of tariffs and how even slight modification in the imported product affect taxes. Renee then talked about many of the practical considerations when bringing your product onshore from the offshore manufacturer:
- Air vs. Ocean – 5x cost different, but can be higher if a holiday rush or if labor issues. Might ship 25% by air to guarantee the initial back is delivered on time.
- LCL vs FCL (less than container load vs full container load) – often cheaper to book an entire container. Cheaper since deliver directly to destination. Also if there is a problem with the shipment in the other half of the container, then you may be stuck at the dock.
- Have a guy who can do negotiating. Have the price broken down, not all-in
- If doing truck to a port in China, it might be better to let the local person do it since they are most familiar with the shipping. (a selected violation of the previous point)
- Deciding whether to take ownership at factory, or at the seaport, or on shore,…
- Warehousing vs fulfillment – inhouse or outsourced. Amazon and Shipwire are the most used by startups.
Haven is a market place to connect buyers and sellers of shipping capacity and helps startups understand the supply chain.