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Week 81: A year of fundraising

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So it’s been a year since I first started to look for funding to get our first batch of products made and it’s been an education. I wanted to share with you who we have reached out to and lessons learnt. It might be useful for our friends in London and beyond who are looking for funding in the space of the internet of things.

1. Never fail a crowdfunding campaign
I never realised that a failed crowdfunding campaign would become a burden I’d have to carry around with me at every meeting. The fact is even if we were able to get up to £43K in January (the worst time for retail) the fact that we failed somehow was a tool that was used against us at every meeting. Even if I had really good reasons to try to raise a reasonable amount (such as financial viability), the perception of success supersedes accuracy and transparency. My advice to anyone thinking of raising funds, is go with a low objective and get the rest of your money after. It will be easier than trying to explain failure over and over again.

2. Be aware of the equity gap
When you’re trying to raise between £100K and £250K you’ll find it more difficult than if you’re trying to raise a small amount of money or crazy money. The problem is, in product terms, a small amount of money won’t get you very far. So it’s an almost impossible equation to solve. That is essentially what crowdfunding is there for, assuming you can raise enough money.

3. Telcos are where it’s at.
The world of telecommunications and M2M (Machine 2 Machine) are the most dynamic people I’ve met in the past year. When traditional investors would snif at what we’d done, they would get excited, and they are conversations I’m looking forward to pursue. No wonder Wayra is supported by Telefonica.

4. Be patient.
It took 4 years to turn the Barbie doll from an idea to a marketable product. Products take time to make, develop and find good partnerships. The problem with the investment scene in technology is this idea that everything needs to happen within an 18 month cycle, from start to exit. I still believe that doesn’t happen with products. I used to sell Arduinos from my boyfriend’s flat in 2007 when noone knew what they were and my company was the only distributor in the UK. I feel like I’m back in that flat a little bit, but that’s ok. Things happen at the pace they are supposed to.

5. Keep talking
I continue to receive incredible promotional opportunities, emails from retailers and potential customers signing up to our newsletter and emailing me with their stories. Obviously we’ve struck a cord and that’s what will keep me looking and keep me hungry. It’s not 100m sprint, it’s a marathon.

6. US vs UK
This is just a last note to say that if we’d have been based in the US, there *a chance* we might have had more luck with funding as investors don’t like investing in companies they are too far away from, but their reasons for not investing have been more or less the same everywhere. So really, it’s all the same right now.

7. So what are the reasons?
The thing about the internet of things, is that it’s about a thing. A thing isn’t enough though, you have to come up with a roadmap of many products, and a way of growing the marketplace that is very clear. If you can’t well, it’ll be harder. We’ve developed a whole line of products & add-ons which we’re pretty happy with. We’ll see what happens in the coming months, but to think beyond the first product is probably my most important learning.

Week 65: GNL near you?

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We’re looking for physical shops where the Good Night Lamp could be sold around the world and we thought who better to ask than you our beloved readers.

Have a favorite design or gadget shop in your city? We want to know about it! Fill in this quick form and we’ll contact them and see if they want to order some lamps from us!

LeWeb London

In other news we’ve been shortlisted out of 350 startups to pitch to this week’s LeWeb London. For those of you who don’t know about this event, it’s the London version of the very popular yearly tech conference LeWeb Paris conference lead by Loic & Geraldine Le Meur.

Alex our Founder will be there with Jeremy to pitch the Good Night Lamp and show it off, so if you’re attending come by and say hello!

Week 63: Testing the Good Night Lamp

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As the summer approaches we’re slowly preparing to test one of our latest prototypes of the Good Night Lamp and looking for beta testers. We’re going to applying for a little funding to try out 50 sets of the Good Night Lamp for people in the UK who want to give it to an elderly parent over 65. These will be a little different than the final product and will use GSM! (exotic right!). If we get the funding you’d get the lamps for free and all you’d have to do is answer some questions in return. We’re trying to understand how best to design the Good Night Lamp for customers with an older friend or relative and we want to get it right!

Want to help?

Sign up here and we’ll get in touch if you’ve been selected. You would need to be in the UK for this as well as the person you’re giving a lamp to.

Week 61: A new recruit & talking to real people

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Almost 2 months and we’ve been super busy showcasing the Good Night Lamp, talking to people who can help us make it and meeting “real people”! By that I mean I spent a week with the lovely Georgina Terrana & Rachel Rayns in Birmingham last month showing the Good Night Lamp as part of the “Future Tech” section of the Gadget Show Live. The experience is really overwhelming actually compared to CES which is why there was 3 of us. The Gadget Show is placed during Easter holidays, so it’s the perfect time for Dad’s to show off to their sons and families to have fun together. This isn’t a trade show in a traditional sense, it’s more like a fun thing to do for families living around the area. This means they’re also brutal about their feedback as they have paid money to come and don’t need to be nice to us.

We had some really great comments, 90% of which were positive and most of which were “Oh can it also do…”. This means the product is compelling initially because it’s cute and totally different from its plastic competitors but also because people wanted more from it. Some of the new uses included switching lights on in kids bedrooms remotely, to people who wanted to connect to their loved ones in the army. The usecase of using the Good Night Lamp to keep tabs on an elderly parent really resonated with people who also highlighted to us the need for moving beyond wifi to GSM which makes experimenting with the latest Telefonica/BlueVia Arduino shield really interesting.

In order to try to dig into all these different scenarios, we’ve brought in Jeremy Masmondet who is a student at the International School of Commerce in Dijon where he’s been studying marketing. His background was initially computer science and his dad works in import/export, all of which is a pretty perfect combination for our team. He’s starting on Monday and will be working with us from our London office for 2 months as a Marketing Researcher.

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Adrian has been hard at work too, showcasing the Good Night Lamp at Internet World Expo in Earl’s Court (at the same time I was presenting it on stage at NEXT 13)

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Next up, we’ve made the cut for 2 startup competitions: one at Thinking Digital and the other at LeWeb London. I’ll be doing both, so wish us luck!

Week 54: The importance of sharing (or not)

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I’ve been thinking about broadcasting and signals at the moment so you’ll excuse a more esoteric blogpost. Of course we’ve assumed owners of the Good Night Lamp will give Little Lamps to friends and family, but what if Justin Bieber had a Big Lamp and Little Lamps were sold to all his fans (we can dream right?). Would he use it to say “i’m up!” and would the 14 year olds swoon at the thought? Probably, but it would probably be his assistant anyway right?

The nice thing about turning on a light is that context is everything. Where the lamp is, who lives in that home, what time it is back home, etc. Wherever there’s a connection, it’s only as meaningful as you’d like it to be. You can decide to use GNL just to say to your folks in another country that you’re ready for a chat, or just use it in an ambient way. Either way, you’ll have to share that mixed use of a platform with the people you share a connection with. Just like Twitter takes on the utility you want, GNL becomes as clear or obscure as you’d like it to be, because sometimes, you might not want to talk to your mother-in-law. Reversely the connection may or may not be understood in the right way “oh i thought you were around”, “are you ok, you’ve been in and out of home a lot today” are situations that will happen. Just like when someone on twitter has been a bit quiet, you might reach out. Things are always tenuous in human relationships and hopefully we can design products and services that get people to reach out and connect and say “Goodnight Justin!”

Happy weekend everyone.

Week 51: The Social Life of Lamps at Launch Festival

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One of the important things about the Good Night Lamp is that it’s connected online. This means that from the beginning, we thought about the interactions that a user might want to have with his network of lamps. We’re in San Francisco for the Launch Festival as part of the Demo Pit and we’re extremely happy to share our latest work: the Good Night Lamp Dashboard. It’s early days but we’re excited.

1. Little Lamps.

When you buy from us, we invite you to set yourself up with an account. The first page will show you the Little Lamps you have collected from friends, the names you will have chosen for them, how long ago they were switched on or off as well as location. This is the location of the Big Lamp which you edit, and it populates the pages of the Little Lamps of your friends. You can change the colour of a roof, to make it memorable too.
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2. Big Lamps + your network

When you click on the Big Lamp tab, you see both the Big Lamp you have at home, and the network of Little Lamps you’ve given away. This lets you see your whole network and do things like remotely turn the Big Lamp on and off. This is handy when you’re travelling.

You can also unlink Little Lamps. This is really because the Good Night Lamp is built on relationships between people which can get complicated sometimes :) So being able to remotely decide not to share your Big Lamp status anymore is pretty important.

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3. Growing your network

Finally, what happens when you start to collect many Little Lamps? You can start putting them into groups. What happens when you have a Big Lamp connected to Little Lamps for friends, and a Big Lamp used to keep an eye on whether your colleagues are around or not. Well, each Big Lamp and its network has its own tab which you can rename too.

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This is just the beginning for us, but this Dashboard will be available to our customers only starting on September 2nd, so pre-order your Good Night Lamp now!

Week 47: Our store is live!

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This month has been incredible really. We went to Vegas, launched a Kickstarter and then today launched a store for the first batch of Good Night Lamps.

Everyone has been extremely supportive: our backers first and lovely people like Dan and John who wrote about us for Forbes and ComputerWorld documenting a decision we made a few weeks ago when we saw that we might be unsuccessful in our Kickstarter campaign. The feedback we’re getting online and when we present it is overwhelmingly positive so we really weren’t about to get low on the basis of 30 days of campaigning!

Yes we were asking for a rather large amount, but that was also part of our plan. To talk frankly about the cost of these types of products on Kickstarter is new. Most people just want to have a successful campaign, no matter what the implications are in terms of delivery. We didn’t want to disappoint. We’d rather try to do things a bit differently and engage people by showing our numbers so that in the future other campaigns can be asked the same transparency.

We’ve been getting some awesome feedback from people about our little store, and we’ll adjust things accordingly, so keep it coming!

Week 45: Half time for Kickstarter campaign

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So we’re half way through our Kickstarter campaign and I thought I’d share some of the data we’ve gathered and some of what we’ve learnt.

1. Geographies of care
At CES, we asked people to fill in a postcard answering 2 simple questions: who would you give a Little Lamp to and where do they live. Out of 163 responses, 52% of people said they’d like to offer this to a special woman in their life ( written as a mom, sister, daughter, grandmother or a woman’s name). This is really interesting to use and might inform how we talk about the product in the future or even package it.


View Good Night Lamp: Where Little Lamps go in a larger map

Also, within 163 responses, we managed to cover large parts of the US and a lot of countries around the world proving either that:

– CES is really an international event with a bias towards California
– People have family around the world
which either way is super interesting.

2. Data!
In other news, I thought I’d share a little Kickstarter data as well as we make a slow advance towards the finish line. There’s plenty of time, so the game is still to be played and we’re reaching out to local and international press. But the traffic sources is super interesting to us as we discover more and more coverage in blogs around the world and get requests from Italy, China, Russia, Austria and the US. It’s a global game the internet of things.

Week 43: We’re now on Kickstarter

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After many a conversations with our advisors, investors and others like Ed Borden who had experience with the Air Quality Egg, we decided to take the leap and start a 30 day Kickstarter campaign which we’re launching at CES tomorrow. This was carefully considered and we decided to go ahead because it would allow us to:

Determine within 30 days if we had something that people genuinely found interesting. “What is the size of your market?” is a question we’ve had to face many times in the last few months and with something a little different like the Good Night Lamp, that gets tricky.

Give us a next harsh deadline. I booked the booth for CES before we had new designs or even a team. This pushed us to deliver when it seemed impossible but we made it happen as I write this from Las Vegas after spending 2 days setting up our booth with John. This campaign, if we’re successful, will push us forward and give us that next deadline to hit.

And at every point, and whatever happens, we will remember the words of our friend Russell Davies: it’s less crowded up front.

Want one? Buy it now!