Stephen is a 23-year-old engineering graduate from Imperial College London who co-founded emit, a watch that uses the psychology of scarcity to help people manage their time more effectively. The watch shows a countdown of their most important responsibilities, occasions, and goals, and the CEO is in charge of everything from creating the watch’s design and production to building a community of Kickstarter backers. They discovered that traditional clocks are ineffective at showing how to spend their time, so they set out to build a simple and effective solution.
In response to their procrastination and lack of time problems, Thushaan and Stephen launched emit, a wristwatch that aims to boost productivity by showing countdowns. Through Kickstarted, they were able to raise an additional $17,000, which was 330% of their goal. They are currently growing their company and bringing on new customers.
What is your background and what are you concentrating on right now?
I’m a 23-year-old engineering graduate from Imperial College London, and in June 2018 my friend Thushaan and I co-founded emit. With the help of the psychology of scarcity, the emit watch can help you manage your time more effectively. emit, sometimes known as time reverse, shows a countdown of your most important responsibilities, occasions, and goals. I am the CEO of emit, and as a young company, we are in charge of everything from creating the watch’s design and production to building a community of Kickstarter backers.
What is your background, and how did you come up with this idea?
Thushaan, my co-founder, and I would often complain on our way home from university that we never had enough time to accomplish what we wanted to. In our quest to solve this issue as technologists, we discovered that traditional clocks are ineffective at showing you how to spend your time. To change our viewpoint on productivity and time, we set out to build a simple and effective solution.
Procrastination hindered our days as students and resulted in unmet goals. A regular reminder of our top priorities and what we should be doing with our time was something we wanted.
A joke about building a deathwatch that would count down to your passing gave rise to the idea. The psychology of scarcity, however, would be tremendously exciting to use in order to persuade our minds of the worth and irreversibility of time. We made the decision to use technology to help change behavior. We wanted to provide something fresh to the watch business, which is either saturated with smartwatches that do the same duties or regular timepieces that merely show the current time, so we kept the concept as simple as possible. It is our responsibility to persuade others that there is a better way to see time and to alter their experience of it.
How were you able to create emit?
We started developing emit in January 2018 by determining on the key elements for a wristwatch that would enable users to increase their time management and productivity. We also created a storyboard of the watch’s user interface. To keep the design straightforward, we went with a black-and-white color palette. Then, to create our first prototype, we created an Android software that duplicated the required characteristics and transferred it to a Motorola wristwatch. With the help of this minimal viable product, we were able to evaluate the usability of the watch and show it to other users.
We, as engineering students, took a strictly functional approach to the design, trying to make the product as uncomplicated and clean as we could. Instead of just adding additional features, our goal is to leverage technology to change your viewpoint and behavior.
We next produced a 3D model of our case, harness, screen, and internal components using computer-aided design at our institution (Imperial College), which we forwarded to multiple Chinese manufacturers. We asked for sample prototypes after choosing the manufacturer with the best manufacturing requirements, shipping costs, and price. Then we developed a phone that would be utilized to synchronize the user’s countdowns with the watch.
In order to convince people to first interpret time in a radically different (backwards) way than had been done for millennia, we had to overcome challenges. It also became clear that we are trying to attract consumers who no longer wear watches since they can check the time on their smartphones and do not see the necessity to carry a piece of equipment that merely shows the time. We needed to locate the subset of people who were looking for a comparable solution in order to contextualize time for each individual.
In order to collect money and gauge market interest, we decided to debut on Kickstarter because it was the best venue for connecting investors and customers. We were happy to be able to create Kickstarter tiers at $99, $119, and $139 depending on when you buy them since we wanted to price as competitively as we could. This ensures that we can compete with both smartwatches and traditional timepieces because it is still less than half the retail price of smartwatches.
What marketing techniques did you use to grow your company?
For marketing objectives, we have grown a social media following on Facebook and Instagram. We’ve made videos for our campaign that outline the emanating philosophy and our goal of a timely revolution. We’ve developed a group of people who want to improve their lives and self by managing time rather than accepting it as inevitable.
To begin, we compiled an email list of potential funders who were enthusiastic about emit and desired updates on our development and Kickstarter launch. We also employed Facebook targeted ads, which we later found needed a bigger budget for metric optimization and were too expensive to run on a tight budget. Then, we started utilizing Reddit to build popularity on the subreddits for inspiration, productivity, and discipline. We’ve come to the conclusion that getting the film in front of the right people is the hardest part since, once the idea is presented, most people are interested. We feel as like we’ve produced something worthwhile when individuals contact us with questions regarding emit and when they are successful in getting one.
Instagram may not yet be the ideal medium for luring contributors to Kickstarter projects, but it may be a terrific method to communicate your brand’s narrative. In spreading the news to the larger student body and linking us with other Kickstarter projects, our institution has done an outstanding job.
What were the biggest challenges you faced, and how did you get beyond them?
The challenge with growing emit is that our manufacturers’ minimum order number is 1,000 pieces, which is not a lot for them, but we need to fund about $45,000 via Kickstarter, which is a significant sum for a concept with little market demand. Much of the marketing, public relations, and consumer outreach, as well as the development of creative assets for exhibits, had to be self-financed. We discover new things every day, and we have to have the ability to move quickly and decisively while yet being deliberate in our choices.
The push to choose a standard corporate profession with big names and good beginning pay is ongoing for fresh graduates. It can be challenging to describe your vision for a company at first, especially if income has not yet started to flow.
Our biggest challenge to date has been raising money because we have used up all of our friends and relatives as potential supporters. It takes a lot of time since you have to actively call them, and there are a lot of unpleasant talks and regrettable relationships that are ruined as a result. You are now under more pressure to present a successful product to the close personal contacts who do support you since your reputation is on the line. However, this encourages us to put forth even more effort to make emission a success.
What are your biggest flaws, exactly?
Being a hardware startup is the biggest drawback we have. It is true that the adage “hardware is difficult” applies. While lacking a sizable production site and being located in the United Kingdom, working with Chinese and American partners may be thrilling as well as demanding.
We compete with both conventional methods and technological innovations. We must persuade people that emit can be used to reflect an innovative and forward-thinking element of their personalities, even if we do not provide the social media and music features of smartwatches to retain emit’s focus on timekeeping.
The first criticism we get from people is that this can’t be an app for a smartphone or wristwatch, which we know won’t work. Similar to a wedding band, emit’s function is to act as a tangible reminder of the importance of your time and goals. It wouldn’t work since your productivity would suffer as a result of it getting drowned out by other distractions like social media and messaging. To make sure you are not using Emission as a minute-by-minute planner but rather as a general reference of timings for the most crucial events in your life, we have restricted the countdowns to 10 events and goals.
What were the biggest mistakes you made when building and expanding emit?
We started by asking our manufacturers what now seem to be quite simple questions concerning production in terms of faults. Up to this point, the learning curve for the procedure has been quite steep. In addition, we learned that investing in Facebook adverts needs to be backed by much more precise measurements; otherwise, you risk being financially irresponsible in your efforts to acquire customers. We now know how to decide on a set cost for acquiring customers and distribute it across the various customer acquisition tactics.
With every piece of material we post, the quality of our media assets and outreach efforts likewise improves. We now have a greater feeling of duty and are more certain about our commitment to produce solely material that benefits the community rather than advertising. In addition, we have improved our ability to prioritize goals and milestones rather than striving to multitask while putting out mediocre effort.
The watch was originally simply going to show countdowns, but after user input, we quickly added regular time, heart rate monitoring, and step tracking. We made this decision in an effort to achieve a balance between a just time-keeping device and the essential features needed to persuade a user to wear an emit. Although this was perhaps our biggest change, we continue to be loyal to our aim of influencing user behavior with time by always showing time in some way.
What actions would you do differently if you had the chance?
Yes, hindsight truly is 20/20. We could only determine what they were in hindsight, but we would have made many different decisions, moved more rapidly, and avoided doing things that weren’t necessary for our survival and immediate success. It would have been really helpful to do some background research on watchmaking and crowdfunding before starting work on emission. We need to have spent more time developing a community to support emit rather than concentrating only on the product and then spreading the word. We were first worried that our idea would be imitated, but we quickly understood that execution is far more important than the idea itself. Due to the longer-term nature of competition and the fact that we feel we have an advantage in community development, we no longer fear it.
What additional learning tools besides mistakes would you suggest for new business owners?
We have personally found a number of really helpful books on entrepreneurship, including The Hard Thing about Hard Things, Lean Startup, Zero to One, and Creativity Inc. In my opinion, knowing exactly what you want to study is far more important than merely browsing widely regarded good literature.
The totality of YCombinator’s Start-up School video on YouTube, as well as Paul Graham’s writings, are both incredibly helpful for shedding light on typical problems faced by firms and recommending effective solutions.
Another great resource for finding comparable Kickstarter projects with thorough financing plans that are almost step-by-step is Medium. We’ve learned that the best teacher is still personal experience after doing as much research as we could on other businesses, founders, and initiatives, as well as continuing to learn as much as we could from others’ experience.
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