Ep25: How A Robotics Company Quickly Sold Over 500,000 Units & Secured $30M In Funding In A Short Time Period. And What It Plans To Do Next… With Adam Wilson

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Today we’re talking with Sphero Founder and and Chief Software Architect Adam Wilson. Adam grew up with a healthy obsession for robots, but with a software focus. After getting involved with a NASA project working with Internet controlled robotics, Sphero Co-founder Ian Bernstein got in touch and he and Adam got rolling with TechStars to pursue their passion. Sick of huge robotic consoles, Ian and Adam had an epiphany to control robots from your cell phone.

 

Key Takeaways:

  • Why Adam went from working on a Phd to pursuing a mission to change the world of robotics.
  • How a clunky, oversized robotic controller gave Adam and his C0-founder an epiphany for a fun robotic ball controlled from your smartphone.
  • What Adam and Ian did to combat their weakness on the business-side, and figuring out how to monetize their product against their strengths of building a great product.
  • Shares how an idea at 3am lead to making a quick, crappy prototype and putting it out on YouTube to amass 60,000 views the same day.
  • Discloses rough sales toppling 250,000 products sold, and the company’s novel ability to track how many of their “toys” come online and are used.
  • How accessories like robotic ball covers made by 3rd parties offer extra margins for the company.
  • Why Sphero isn’t just a product, but building a new experience complete with a narrated story about the ball.
  • Explains how the robotic ball is easy to make, but the complex secret sauce inside requires a team of brilliant engineers to make it balance, drive, and crash.
  • Talks about how the ball isn’t just for fun, and is also used in 100 different schools teaching geometry and science applications, complete with drag and drop basic commands even kids can program.
  • How the company looks ahead by piggybacking on existing technology instead of reinventing the wheel.
  • Why a hardware start-up is an agile business model, and how Sphero 3-D printed their prototype in just a few months.
  • How Adam and his Co-Founder leveraged TechStars to get connected with VC superstars like Brad Feld.
  • Offers insight on how making hardware and software feel less disconnected is the future of technology.
  • Shares how getting Sphero’s first 100 customers was nothing except posting a video, but tapping into CES to get their first big 5 retail customers was key.
  • How being a small company with big retail clients can mean effective, meaningful relationship building.
  • Refreshingly fun productivity hacks involving scheduling fun into the start of the day complete with driving robots around and honoring Hack Fridays.

Definitions:

  • TechStars – Provides seed funding from over 75 top venture capital firms and angel investors who are vested in the success of your startup, as well as intense .
  • API – Application programming interfaceI and how software components interact with each other.
  • Accelerometers – A device that measures the vibration, or acceleration of motion of a structure.
  • SDK – SDK are software development tools that help create applications for various development platforms including hardware platforms, computer systems, video game consoles, and other operating systems.

Adam’s Recommended Resources:

Transcript:

Eric: Hi everyone. Welcome to this week’s edition of Growth Everywhere where we interview entrepreneurs on personal and business growth tips. Today we have Adam Wilson who is the co-founder and chief software architect, is that correct?…

Adam: Yeah.

Eric: …of Orbotix. Adam. How’re we doing today?

Adam: Doing great. How are you doing Eric?

Eric: Doing well. Thanks for coming on the show. So, why don’t you give us a little background on yourself first and then we can start talking about the company.

Adam: Sure. So, like you said, my name is Adam. I’m the co-founder of Orbotix. I went to school for math and physics and have my undergrad in…I have a bachelors in math and in physics. Was planning on going to my PhD. when I met my co-founder Ian Bernstein. He was working at a robot company. I’d always been addicted to robotics and building crazy things and he had this idea that; this was right before cellphones kind of blew up, and he was like, “I want my cellphone to control all these robots” because he was sick of the huge [ph][fetado 0:00:59.8] controllers. And I kind of made a life decision to, instead of pursue my PhD. to stop and just join up with Ian and try to change the world of robotics and the way that they’re controlled and that kind of set up a chain event of where we are today. And I can go into the history of Orbotix too.

Eric: Yeah. Let’s talk about Orbotix and what you guys are all about.

Adam: Sure. So, again when we met up our goal was to kind of to change the way robots are. In the past they were like these walking humanoid robots that had big controllers and they were just kind of bulky weird things that had; I mean, either they’re very utilitarian like the robot that cleans your floor, or a robot that puts together stuff, or there was like these, kind of like “robosapien”; they’re kind of for fighting or driving around in and showing off, but they didn’t really have anything else that they did.

And so we kind of wanted to change the world of what robots were because the world of smart phones were coming out and we thought that if the smart phone was the brain it connects them in a different way than what was possible before. And so that’s kind of our premise. Ian and I started together. We got into a seed incubator called Techstars. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with that. It’s an incubator here in Boulder. We got into that of the summer of 2010 on the premise of we were really just going to make…we were going to make a physical device controls from a smart phone. We didn’t know exactly what it was at that time.

And so when we went through the program we had proven that we were really good at doing this. We’re good at robots. We’re good at communication protocols. We’re good at the backend part of this. We’re not the best at the business side of this. So figuring out where we’re going to sell it, or how, or what.

So, that’s when we teamed up with our mentor in Techstars, Paul Berberian. So, he was a mentor of ours and he was really excited. He had a lot of experience in like manufacturing world. So, it was kind of the perfect fit. And after Techstars we created…In Techstars we created this Sphero. So, Ian and I are sitting around the table at three in the morning trying to figure out what to make. We made cars, we made planes, we made helicopters, and all kinds of weird objects. And we couldn’t figure out what to make, and we were like, “We need to make something unique and really cool and it’s like a casual game.” That’s when we came up with the robot bubble. We didn’t think it was that powerful, but we just made a video of one. Right?

We’re like, “Let’s make a crappy one out of some stuff and put it out on the internet.” And it got like sixty-thousand views that same day that we put it out. Like they caught on to it and it got on Reddit. People were like, “Whoa, this is pretty cool.” because it was from a smart phone. And so we were kind of like, “Holy crap! That’s the thing we’re going to make. Like, obviously people want a robot ball.” And so we raised a million dollars on that premise from Foundry Group and Highway Twelve Ventures and a few others; Angels. And that’s kind of where we started. We made the robot. We made a Sphero. We proved ourselves with that million dollars. We got distribution. We raised five more to kind of really blow the market out, meaning go to…we went to Brookstone, we went to Apple, we went to all these cooler retailer distributions and then we raised…After that we raised a few more, so we’re up to seventeen million dollars raised now and going on our second product and doing really, really well.

Eric: Nice. Alright. So, how many…[crosstalk]. No that’s super helpful. The audience…I think that’s adds a lot of context. I guess my question is, how many…Sphero’s your main product and we’ll talk about that in a second, but how many have you sold to date?

Adam: So, we’re not super public with the exact numbers but we’re rounding a quarter million right now, which is…that’s what we’ve done so far. We’re actually…We track them, which is a really cool thing in the toy world or connected toy space, is we know how many come on line, and we know where they’re going, and what’s happening, and how much they’re being played with. We’re kind of tracking them.

You can download this from the app obviously but; we track a lot. And the coolest part about that is that we can track how many come on today from last year and kind of base our predictions of how many we should order on that and we’re tracking three to four X what we did last year now.

Eric: Wow!

Adam: So, we’re really…it’s really kind of exploding because we’re just now scratching the surface of our international distribution. We’ve done most of that, what’s here in America. And so as we move to Germany, and Japan, and China, and Australia, I mean there are just so many brand new markets for this kind of a gadget. It’s really just kind of exciting to see how much growth we can go to.

Eric: That’s insane growth. And you know what, that thought just popped into my head it’s like; what if they all become self-aware one day and it’s like Terminator where you just have these balls attacking you….That just randomly came up in my head.

Adam: I don’t know if you’re a Think geek. I’m sure you’re aware of that site. They have these cups, these mugs that say Cyberdyne Systems from Terminator and we have almost like twenty of them in our cabinet just because there’s a joke that, like that’s the coffee mug everybody uses in Cyberdyne Systems, because we’re planning…we’re making connected robot toys that are eventually as they grow up and get cameras and get more articulated, it’s like…

Ours are very, very smart, they’re the most performable robot I’ve ever seen for this price. I don’t know if that’s…If you know very much about the SVK and how much programmability it has, but that’s actually what its selling feature is. It has an SVK and IOS, or Android, or Ruby, or whatever you could possibly want.

Eric: Wow! Okay. So, it sounds like it’s much more than just like…more than just a ball that you can roll around. I mean, what…Can you tell the audience how it’s like much more than that?

Adam: Sure.

Eric: How we can think of it as more than just a toy?

Adam: Sure. And that’s…We struggled a lot with that with Sphero at first. At first it looks like, “Well, it’s a cool RC ball” and that’s true. It is a really beautifully driven RC ball. But the cool part about Sphero is; yes, there’s a low level API so developers have actually written all these SVKs for us. They can play with it on IOS or Android, make their own hacks. So, we’ve actually shown them by proving it out and we made thirty-five [inaudible 0:07:29.3] applications.

Eric: Wow!

Adam: So, when you grab a Sphero, I’ve got one right here, and actually here’s a cover, right? This is Sphero and it has a little cover on it. That’s an accessory. Great margins and cool…and the actually cool part about this accessory is that this is a third party company. It’s like an iPhone case or something. We didn’t make this. Somebody else. Right?

Eric: [Laugh]

Adam: So, here’s the ball. Well, when you’re holding it we have all the accelerometers. People use it to play games where you like…Like actually we’re about to release a game called “Flappy Ball”. You go like this [moves ball up and down] and you can use it as a controller and when you look at the ball through your camera; so say you have your iPad and you’re looking at the ball through the camera of the iPad we can identify the ball on the screen and we actually get a lot of information from it.

We know where the ground is. We have an accelerometer, gyroscope, we know the distance from the ball, all the backend cool robot information and we overlay a captor on top of the ball, so we make like this augmented reality characters that can drive around in your living room. So, for instance, if you were going to record a video of a cat, right?

You record the video of the cat and you wanted to record a video of a 3D dragon chasing it, something like that, I’m just putting…To do that afterwards is really hard, right? You’re [inaudible 0:08:47.3] and put it in and like the shadows and where it is. But with this ball, as you drive it around, the character’s kind of trapped there, like there’s a moving track [ph][producial] so we’re able to put awesome 3D characters that interact with your animals. You can kind of…It’s a whole different world than just a robot ball.

Eric: Yup.

Adam: But you have to be able to discover it. When you get the ball, there’s a main app called Sphero. That’s the name of the product; you get the main app, and it kind of guides you through this. So we built this…we’re kind of building a new experience. So, you get the ball and there’s a story. There’s an awesome story narrated by Ashly [ph][Princefiener 0:09:25.8] from Star Trek. He’s a Star Trek [inaudible 0:09:29.6] He narrates the story of this ball leaving it’s planet because something bad is happening on it, finding him getting transformed over to our planet, and how you have to save him, and so you go through these missions.

So, you level him up from a level 0 Sphero with very few tricks and speed and colors to a level 20 with full tricks and speed and colors and it can do all kinds of…at the end you get twerk dance so the robot can do this twerking dance. So, actually you level it up and that’s kind of a new experience for people. It’s a lot more than just getting a static toy like they used to in the world.

Eric: Got it. Okay. You talked about developers being able to make apps for this. What is the ultimate goal? What are you guys looking for? I know it’s much more than doing Sphero. What are you guys trying to accomplish?

Adam: I mean if you ask both me and my co-founder Ian what the end goal really is I think it’s something similar…well, maybe not the end goal. The end goal is like, I don’t know. I don’t know if you play [inaudible 0:10:35.3] Ball or anything, but like being the hand of the corporation that owns intergalactic robotics or something, but in the short time the goal would be first person shooter robots.

So, we really want something with a camera and it can really feel like you’re in the robot like you’re some sort of mech unit and you’re driving around and if there’s nobody here to play with you play with these artificial robots that are coming at you, and you’re shooting, and you’re in your house, and eventually you have Oculus Rift on, and if feels really… That’s really our goal, but the technology sucks that’s there right now. The camera technology to overall streaming; the robotic, it’s not there yet.

It’s kind of like getting there and smart phones are making it possible for us to get accelerometers in for fifty cents [inaudible 0:11:17.9] eighty cents or whatever the price is now to get these parts that iPhone and Android have really kind of pushed. As the technology and smart phones and other devices grow; our ability to source those parts grow, and it actually makes it feasible. Because this robot ball, five or ten years ago, would have been five hundred to a thousand dollars because there’s no [inaudible 0:11:43.6] smart phones have really pushed technology and our pricing.

Eric: Got it. So it sounds like it’s just a timing thing right now. It’s the perfect time to control balls through our smart phone in any eventually you’re going to have the technology to Oculus Rift it, have better cameras, better conduction as well, right? Cool.

Adam: That’s kind of…No go ahead.

Eric: No, you go ahead.

Adam: I was going to say that’s kind of like part of our goal is; like we built everything in blocks so we have our mechanics. Like the ball is easy to make, in our opinion. The actual physical ball; that’s easy to make. The control system on top of that ball is the secret sauce. That’s the part that you need extremely brilliant engineers to make a robot ball that can balance, and drive, and crash, and still know where it is. So, that’s the brilliant part.

So you have mechanics and then the electronics and then the smarts. But then we built that SVK and that part is another brick that we kind of get to come along with us. Because in the ball, you can program it and in there’s a bunch of little kid programming languages as well.

So, this ball’s for fun, but it’s also being used in a hundred different schools right now to teach kids geometry and other science applications because you can program it just like, with like dragon drop type application, like ‘go forward’, ‘go right’, ‘stop’, ‘turn red’, and we teach them to do squares or to ‘come back’ or ‘hit this wall, come back and stop in this circle.’; and you have a fourth or fifth grader doing that, learning programming, learning in-line syntax, kind of interesting stuff, and it can grow up with them. That block comes with us when we build another product. So, all that interesting programming language, the SVKs, all this stuff that’s been made; when we make our next product, which it’s named Ollie, it’s this product [holds up product], well this is a prototype.

Eric: Uhhuh.

Adam: And actually the noise you here is the IOTA prototype, like curb-camera hack thing on it. I don’t know if you can see it.

Eric: Yeah, I see it yeah. That’s awesome.

Adam: Like Ollie and his little camera. So, we have Sphero’s that have cameras in them too, but we’re not public with it just because it’s not the experience we want. So, we’re waiting until cameras get better and the latency technology that we we’re building is pretty cool. But, like I was saying, all the programming, all the apps, all this stuff that we built in Sphero, these building blocks come with it. So, when we build the Ollie we don’t have to build all that. It’s all free. Like we get free programming languages, we get free everything that we’ve ever built and that’s really powerful as we build our next products to not have to start over. That’s an innovative business idea. In the gadget toy world it’s a whole new project.

Eric: Mmhmm…

Adam: And we’re able to piggyback and make it more modular internally so that we just kind of like our products are easier to create and cheaper.

Eric: Got it. Okay. So, question for you. How does someone get into robotics because most people are so focused on software as a service, you have to deal with something like, “We’re going way into the future”, and you have to deal with manufacturing too. I guess, what are some struggles that you guys face kind of starting up?

Adam: I think the working capital’s a really scary thing to deal with. A million dollars goes so far with a software company and for us that’s seriously just parts that you have to order eight months in advance. You don’t even get a choice. So, the capital, the amount of investment that it takes to actually start is a lot more scary and a lot more risky. There are lot fewer venture capitalists that invest in hardware startups and so it kind of narrows you, but it also; in that narrowing process you can become a much bigger fish.

In the software world you’re facing against a lot of humungous people. In a hardware start up we’re so agile. Nobody can create a…Nobody’s going to be able to create what we create as fast as we create it because we just move so quick. We don’t have the huge row boat of the big corporation behind us. We just can 3D print right now, so we’re at the pinnacle of all the new cool technology where they’re still slow boating and doing their old ways and we’re like, “We 3D printed the proto-type of Ollie and we made it. In two months we’ll make the new one.

Eric: Wow!

Adam: So, we’re a lot faster than what a normal company can do.

Eric:  Got it. Okay. And you bring up, I mean, to get a VC like Brad Felt, how did you guys…how did that all happen? Because typically he’s well known for putting into software as a service type business.

Eric: Alright, welcome back.

Adam: Sorry, we actually had a power outage here in Colorado.

Eric: Oh no. That’s not supposed to happen.

Adam: And actually we have UPS on almost everything accept for the router that I’m on. So, my computer and everything else is on.

Eric: [Laugh] Nice.

Adam: [inaudible 0:16:43.1] what’s happening?

Eric: [Laugh] Cool. Well, glad to have you back. So, I think we left off with…Let’s talk about Brad Felt. And oh, by the way after we hop off this I’ll talk to you for two to five minutes. I might have some interesting things for you. But anyway, let’s talk about Brad Felt. He’s obviously a very popular venture capitalist. What got him so interested in this to put money into?

Adam: Um, I mean, Paul Berberian, our CEO friend and mentor that we have, he always says that Brad Felt…it took quite a bit of balls to invest in a company like ours, quite literally, because it’s a hardware company and who knows where we were going to go. It wasn’t really like a defined thing at that time. We didn’t really think that we were going to try to become connected play, but like we were going to change the world to help people play with toys and robots.

We were just making a single gadget at that time. But I think he saw past that and we also had the great pleasure of having somebody like Paul Berberian as our CEO. He’s very trusted. He’s very to-do. Who know what…You guys can make a lot of amazing stuff, but Paul Berberian is like a, he’s never had another job but being a CEO. He’s exited, He’s IPO’d. I think he’s like seriously the real deal of CEOs. So I think with bringing him on just showed a lot of, I don’t know, it showed a lot of integrity of what our company is about to do. Brad Feld specifically trusted us a lot more having somebody that he could trust, that he could really trust in there.

So, I think that’s part of it. But also he’s in that space. We kind of knew that too. That’s part of our reason for applying to Techstars in the first place is, he was in the human controller interface world. I don’t know if you know of his investments, but things like Oblong, where it’s like a Minority Report or something, I don’t know if you’d seen that, but they kind of like move the screens with their hands. It’s really cool. He’s in some other companies that are hardware companies that are going to change the way people interact with hardware; so like software and hardware interactions. And we’re right at the pinnacle of that. That’s what we’re best at. If somebody asked me what you’re best at, that’s what we’re best at is that interaction between hardware and software making it feel less disconnected.

Eric: Got it.

Adam: He was interested in that field so we kind of… I mean, we pick him out. It wasn’t random like, “Oh that’s so lucky that Brad Feld is right here.” We’re like, “This is our shot so maybe get involved with somebody who’s interested in this space”. We…There’re some other people out in the Bay area and that was our very next choice to try to go get…You’ve got to prove yourself. Go show them how really desperate, not desperate, but how dedicated you are, like “I’m really going to go after this until I get it.” and they like that.

Eric: Wow! Okay. It’s fortunate because Brad he’s in Colorado too, right?

Adam: He’s in Boulder Techstars. We work in Boulder. Ian and I were actually in Colorado, but Northern Colorado and moved her just to be closer.

Eric: Got it

Adam: It’s kind of the old adage. If you want a job and if you just send your resume amongst the people, but if you show up and you’re like I’m going to work outside of your building and you’re kind of like this person who wants to really work there eventually you’ll get a job there. And that’s kind of what we did here. We’re, “We really want to be at Techstars. We want to change the way it is.” It’s not just software. It could be hardware. And that’s changed right? Techstars has done a few hardware companies now, which is cool.

Eric: I love it. Cool. So, in terms of, I always ask this question to people, how did you guys acquire your first hundred customers?

Adam: Super easy, just the YouTube video probably. Put up a “Reserve Now” on the YouTube video. The bigger question is: how did we get our first five retail partners?

Eric: Let’s do that.

Adam: Apple and Brookstone and how did you get that? That was actually from CES. So the Consumer Electronic Show; it’s vital to a company like ours or a company that’s trying to be in retail. Because all the buyers from Best Buy and Target, and everywhere, they’re all in one place. And to do a good showing there.

To show, to make them believe that you’re going to…their store will be better with your product in it. And so that’s what we did. We showed up to CES and on a whim, we had one or two proto-type balls, it was very sketchy and dangerous kind of, you know, you’re going to show the buyer of Best Buy and he’s either going to hate it or love it. And that makes…so…and you have to wait till next year to talk to him or something. So, CES is a huge deal for a company like ours.

Eric: Got it. So how big were those…how big do those five partnerships really mean to you guys?

Adam: They’re quite huge. I would say that forty percent of our business is probably from the top five people. So you have like Brookstone, Apple, there’s actually some other stores internationally now that are really powerful, Marvels, a few companies like that. I’d say they do fifty to forty percent of our business, so enormous.

Eric: Got it.

Adam: It’s also really cool to be an impact on their business. Being in Brookstone, they’re a lot more open than Apple is. Apple is kind of; you either sell the product or you don’t, but Brookstone kind of interacts with you on how to do it better or how to display it better.

Eric: I’ve seen it. They have them rolling around all over Santa Monica.

Adam: Yeah, I mean they work with you. They…And we’ve built a relationship and being a small company we, I think we do that better than a big company. It’s just we seem…we’re young and we’re ready to go and we’re, “We’ll make all the tracks for you. We’ll come out personally…” or whatever and doing that it’s built a great relationship so.

Eric: Cool. So forty percent of your business comes from those partnerships, the big guys. How else are you guys marketing it today? How are you guys growing?

Adam: Well, like I said international’s a huge area. We’ve opened up in Japan, and Singapore, and China, and Hong Kong, and some of those markets and just opening up…just barely prying under the lid of that; opening it up we see this enormous influx because it’s a new product there. They’ve never even seen it. They don’t even…It’s not like…Here Sphero is kind of like old news now. It’s been around for three years or so.

We’re making more new products and it’s cool, but they’ve been around, people know what it is. And when you open in a brand new market there’s always those early adopters who love it. They’re “I want to be the first guy to have a robot ball that’s controlled from his smart phone in Japan”, and they are. Pretty cool. I mean, just small partnerships too. Maybe not small, but Radio Shack’s redoing themselves. They want to go more maker DIY and so we’ll probably put our product in there and see how that goes.

Because they’re willing to do the assisted selling, where they kind of put a track out like Brookstone. This product is hard to sell if you see it on a shelf, but if you it driving and you see, especially if you see a child playing with it, it’s easy for a parent to buy it, because it’s like, “Well, my kid could learn programming and the main apps helps you learn that.” And there’s a lot of cool reasons when you see it working, when you see someone playing with it, but not when you see it on a shelf.

Eric: Got it. You know that new prototype that you showed us, what’s going to be new about that? What are the big features, I guess?

Adam: This one…I don’t want to give away too many secrets of what’s going to come out because it is kind of secretive of what the software will do, but this one has this little snap on thing. This one has a Gopro, but the other ones have infrared shooters so you can shoot at each other so eventually you can build like this multi-player tag games.

Eric: Oh, that’s crazy.

Adam: Right. Shooting each other and driving. They drift, so specifically…I’ll give it away a little bit. This is very much like a skateboard so we’ve figured out how to drift…we’ve figure out how…Its name is Ollie, so we figure out how to hop, and jump, and rail slide, and we’ve actually figured it all out, how to computer assist it. So, it’ makes the user feel like this amazing…I’m like…when it goes off the jump we identify the curve of the jump, and we’re like, “Do you want to do a 360 degree?” and will perfectly time it out for you so you feel like this [inaudible 0:25:37.8], you can almost wall ride, you’re just like this awesome skateboarder robot guy. And so then we’re building ramps and different accessories.

It’s also Bluetooth low energy so it communicates in a different way, so that it can have really interesting accessories. So, I told you about the shooting. You can also have these little pods that can go around on the ground and as you pass them they’re kind of like the question marks from Mario Kart. So you pass them and you get something to shoot at the other guys or to drop there or poison it.

There’s a lot more fun game plays that can go wrong. And plus, like I said it goes about six meters a second so it’s super quick at its top speed. So, it’s a six minute mile or less. That’s quick. So, it’s really fun. You can…That’s our whole point. Like I said, we can track the analytics of Sphero, we track every button click. We track everything that we’re allowed to track. And we figure out what they want most and we’ve gotten rid of what they don’t want and put what they do want in Ollie.

Eric: Got it. Can you reveal how much that’s going to retail for?

Adam: Yup. It’s going to be ninety-nine dollars.

Eric: Wow! And Sphero’s ninety-nine right now too, right?

Adam: Sphero is actually one-twenty-nine MSR. So it gets down to ninety-nine when it’s discounted and you have to plan for that as a business. If we made Sphero ninety-nine, guess what? On Christmas they want a seventy-nine dollar deal, but that’s not going to work especially not as a small startup. When you know how much retail takes and how much it costs to ship one, you build it all in you have to think about the plan for Christmas.

Eric: Right.

Adam: That’s why we want to go international is to be less Christmas focused.

Eric: Got it. Okay. Cool. So, three more questions here. If you could go back and change one thing about growing this business what would it be?

Adam: That’s a hard question. I guess I think that we would have been a little bit more agile and added social in the app. Like when we started we didn’t have social very well built in and I think that we lost a lot of potential word of mouth sales because we didn’t have the ability for that to happen and we released before we had that ability and then we added it in later, but by the time we added it in there we already lost a pretty large percentage of our initial customer base that could’ve shared it. So, I think we failed on the social aspect of our application and not…and you know, releasing early.

We pushed it out as fast as we could and we probably could have waited and made it a little smarter to capitalize. You want to build an economy now. I told you, you level the balls up, well there’s these cords and if you’re lazy and you want all the tricks you can buy the cords just like any other app, you know, using the app, the tested scientific app economy hardware product, but you lose it if you don’t have it out there the first day. Very few people are going to update after they’ve already got; pulled the ball out, update and try it. You’ve got to…we launched early and that was a mistake, I think.

Eric: Got it. Okay. Alright. What’s one must read book for entrepreneurs?

Adam: I would say not just one must read book but the Foundry Group actually started their own press so they’re like a publisher now and they did a bunch of books. I think one of my favorites is “The Startup Community” is one. It’s just like; how did it get involved with the community, in the startup community, like where did you find them and he kind of lists them all over the country.

So, I think those Foundry Group Press books are incredible. It’s starts with a phone call, “Do More Bester” which is from David Collin and Brad Feld which is just kind of a business book about…I’m not a business guy so I wasn’t very familiar with the business side of what we were doing, but I learned enough through those books to know what a term sheet should look like and how…just very important stuff that matter to me. What does it mean when I’m going to take this money from an investor?

Eric: Got it. Okay. So…

Adam: Those books were important.

Eric: And what’s one productivity hack you can share with the audience?

Adam: Productivity hack?

Eric: Yup.

Adam: Spend the very beginning of your day having fun first. And that’s what we do here at the office. We have like a breakfast and we drive robots at a little skate park to have fun; and I think if you start your day with fun. And do a half day, even if you think it’s going to distract you from what you’re doing just do half Friday.

Eric: Okay.

Adam: That’s what today is for us so we’re going to make some random thing that has nothing to do with our product, but it’ll usually define what our product is in the future.

Eric: Is that like Google’s old twenty percent time?

Adam: Yeah. I mean I think we do it a little more fun because you have you have to present it on Friday so…

Eric: Got it.

Adam: Alright. One day.

Eric: Cool. And the fun time in the morning how long do those last for?

Adam: It depends. Most people are just driving them around in. Sometimes you can’t do it, but in the mornings, twenty-minutes.

Eric: Alright. Got it. Cool.

Adam: Play with a robot. Buy a Sphero and drive it around. That’s what we do.

Eric: I’m going to buy one right now after this; or I’m going to wait for the new one. But anyway thanks so much for doing this. To the audience, this is Adam Wilson from Orbotixs and we hope you’ll join us on the show again sometime soon.

Adam: Well, thanks again.

Eric: Alright. Thank you.

 

 

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