In all the talk about Samsung’s debut of the new Galaxy Gear smart watch, as well as offerings by Nokia and others, you can be forgiven for forgetting about the Pebble smart watch. As it turns out though, it may be the most innovative offering in the field. This isn’t because it has the strongest battery or the prettiest screen, although those are both fine. It has to do more with what it’s designed for.
Eric Migicovsky, founder of Pebble, says the big companies pushing out smartphones because they are the latest craze, are missing some important points. In his conversation with TechCrunch at the Disrupt conference Wednesday, he said Samsung, Nokia and others are essentially building computers for your wrist, when it may be the case that people don’t want or need that. “A product has to be useful. It has to solve a problem in your everyday life. It shouldn’t force you to change your life, but rather just kind of meshes,” he said.
Migicovsky says Pebble might best be a platform for what he called “micro-interactions.” A smart watch may not be the best place for surfing the internet, he said. Rather, it might best be used for heart rate monitoring or finding a nearby bike through a city bike share program. This idea that the smart watch doesn’t need to replicate what a computer or smart phone does already is something that the big companies may not have been quick to understand.
One of the things that has also caused Pebble to catch on quickly is that it doesn’t force a “one size fits all” watch style on its users. “When we designed the phone, we knew that not everyone has the same style for watches,'” Migicovsky said. “So we made it so there were several ‘looks’ people could download.”
Perhaps Pebble’s claim to fame is that it vaulted to prominence originally through Kickstarter, where it raised hundreds of thousands of dollars through its rabid supporters. The company is now transitioning from shipping more than 85 thousand units to those supporters, to a new deal with Best Buy, where it’s selling briskly. It employs around 30 people currently and is located in Palo Alto.
So what advice would Migicovsky give to all those entrepreneurs who want to grow their company with the help of the online crowdfunding platform?
“The real value is that it is a simplified single landing page for your company” he said. “If you can tell the story and explain why people should back you, there’s just a simple green button to the right. If they click it, then the conversion is done. Also, you have to be able to explain what you’re doing in a concise manner. It all comes back to that. If you can explain three things that your company does that no one else does, eloquently, then traction may follow.”