A survival guide for a wearable tech start-up -product longevity
I have seen a lot of companies fail, thrive and survive. A sea of wearables and emerging technologies have come and gone. I’ve noted those that survive have a very specific formula: they juggle and maintain 5 groups of users successfully! Each one of these is a key ingredient for not only making it, but for surviving in a crowded market so who are they? Let’s dig in!
They are the ones who have enough capital, interest and knowledge to order your product early, to hype it up to their friends and family or thousands of followers on social media. They WILL get the town buzzing about your product AND company. They can be of all ages, you can find them all over the world and they are easy to persuade to try what ever hardware you’re trying to push.
You need them, they don’t need you!
HOWEVER: They are also the ones that will forget you the easiest. They won’t be the loyal base of customers you need to survive year after year, product after product because they move on to the next thing, and most likely to your competitor.
Adjusting your whole company to impress and please the Techooos will leave you bankrupt before you even start.
The scientist follow the Techooos, they let them do the exploring and pick and choose based on what the status quo of the techosphere is. You need them for credibility. If a research group chooses to join you and explore your product, that lends you heaps of credibility towards the next group, The Family.
It also ensures that at least 5 years ahead other scientists will purchase your products. Replicability is an economy in academia.
They are creatures of habit, and if you become a part of that, you’re set!
20 years in to my longitudinal study and we are still using the same brand of MRI machines because everyone is afraid of changing the protocol, despite having the choice of purchasing a competitors hardware that is far better.
I say family because it encompasses everyone; mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, kids, cousins etc. The people who are looking for something that will solve a specific problem. They might be patients in an outpatient clinic for mental health, they might be diabetics managing their own symptoms or realised they need support changing or maintaining their lifestyle. What ever the reason, they won’t come looking for your product but will rely that the Techooos have done their job, and that the scientists have verified it’s money worth spending. You need them to stay afloat.
They are where your revenue comes from, they will get your product as a gift to each other, they will remember your name, even when you’re not on a stage holding a TED talk.
This is your core audience. They are the ones that won’t move on too fast. That will stay if you have;
A Price worthy product
Avoid a bunch of b.s. regarding your product
If you keep up with their needs
However: They won’t get you investors or on the cover of magazines because they have places to be and things to do. They don’t have time to be your fanboys and will complain about your product as soon as it strays or changes messaging.
Even if your product was not made for well-being, the chances of it ending up in health care are very high. Everyone has a body, everyone gets sick, and at some point hacking tech or biology crosses every caregivers mind. The same goes for people working in HR, the military, as teachers, as entertainers etc.
Without a doubt, your product will be used in ways you never intended it to be used and it will be the single most important thing for your company’s survival.
Product development comes from problem solving: either in the product itself or its use. And if your audience, on its own, finds a whole new market for your hardware, oh boy, YOU HIT THE JACKPOT.
And once professionals find a use-case for your product, it will expand your business model. Perhaps even ensure a procurement!
However: they will require you to adapt your certifications, your CE marking etc to their needs. This is a costly process. They will also require you collaborate with scientist to validate their use, better get going and recruiting those scientists.
The self trackers
As someone who has worked in geriatrics for 10 years, this groups has a lot of people over 65. And if you’re doubting me, just watch the brilliant show “Halt and Catch Fire” and you will quickly realise that the people who are 80 today, BUILT our IT infrastructure. Their love of self-tracking, IT, tech and discovery is very much alive and well even after they retire. They could also be kids, adults with a chronic disease or people with a functional variation. Unlike Techooos, self-trackers are more careful with what they spend their time and money on because once they commit to a hardware, they will subscribe to your services and buy your upgraded hardware. They like consistency and and you need to provide it.
If you listen to them, you will effectively meet the needs of all the other categories, and let’s face it, they provide the one thing that you need…..Continuous DATA!
However: They usually have limited funding, so you have to treat them like the VIP that they are and offer them discounts, free software and lots of support. If you can’t do that, Don’t falsely advertise that you can, you will loose their trust.
- Realise that your target audience is wide, your product will find a life of its own and be open minded towards the path your company takes.
- Don’t make a promise you can’t keep. Start small, and grow, build a community instead of trying to please one.
- You don’t have to be flashy, be consistent
- Good design trumps extensive content every time
- Content diversity trumps flashy content every time
- Be patient
All images are rendered via DALL-E (OpenAI)