Party over! So what were the lessons learned from 42 days of HAX Boost ?
Up to now, crowdfunding has been the end of the runway for many B2C startups post HAX, or other accelerator program. Boost set out to partner with big box retail to get real innovation into customers hands, without killing the innovators in the process, and was surprisingly well received by all involved.
Retail buyers are keen followers of Kickstarter cool, but somewhat restricted in their ability to take on one product wonder startups. Barriers range from basic trading account set up costs, unresponsive merchandising processes, to a raft of tough terms & conditions, leaving all the risk with the startups.
Amazon has focused the established retailer mind, and Boost participants met and mostly signed up with Amazon Launchpad within days of its opening. Lesson here? Sell on Amazon, probably using the FBA service to keep things simple.
As in pharma and fintech, so now in retail, the establishment is losing revenue to young startups who promote pre-ordering and direct on-line selling, and so simply HAVE to find a way to avoid becoming expensive showrooms.
Target has its Open House skunkworks in San Francisco. Lowe’s is a member at Singularity University. Westfield Shopping Centres has the Bespoke “popup” retail space, and Best Buy, Brookstone, and Walmart are all actively engaged with Boost looking at new ways to marry startups with full scale retail. Lesson here ? We’re all heading in the same direction; there IS a way.
Another option is a global e-commerce solution like DHL; also active with Boost teams. With a taste for packages under 1lb, shipping direct from China factories to US consumer homes has never been easier. Lesson here? If the product fits the requirements, go DHL from Day 1.
As well as distributors and retailers, providers of sales/marketing tools such as Salesforce, Sendgrid, Zendesk, Datahug & Flexport have mentored Boost teams. Hugely practical and necessary, and goes well beyond the education provided in the original accelerators which focus on product market fit. Boost has definitely been about product RETAIL fit. Lesson here? Need even more practical sessions with these providers to ensure great revenue generating habits.
A final category of mentorship, after “retailers/distributors” & “tool providers” are the “local heroes” – retail battlefield survivors, like Charles Huang from Guitar Hero. Boost participants heard several stories of tactics used when the original strategy meets its 1st actual customer head on. Lesson here? Every new product launch is unique. There is no recipe. Focus on cashflow.
In conclusion ? Boost 2 kicks off Feb 2016 with these lessons to be applied. Applications are now open! Thanks to the inaugural 10 teams for putting heart and soul into accelerating their growth. Here they are, in no particular order:
Alpine Labs: The Radian is a simple and yet powerful device for panning and tilting motion time lapse photography. 3rd product from a successful photographic team.
Fitfox: Reinvents the skipping rope. with a companion app that combines the data from your smartphone with the data from Sophia to create a personalized workout
Flexbot: DIY kit copter, with open source and 3D printed customizable parts from the home of the Bamboo Dragonfly.
Giroptic: Beyond most VR, the Giroptic 360cam delivers easy real time streaming video over WiFi, recorded video, and still photos in the palm of your hand.
H2OPal: The world’s 1st hydration tracker. Keeps you on track for personalized daily hydration requirements. Compatible with most standard water bottles, and syncs with iPhone and iWatch.
Helios: Helios Bars turns any bike into a smart bike. with the world’s first integrated headlight & blinker system, and more.
Makeblock: Lego for robotics. Makeblock is a robust robotics construction platform with a bespoke open source drag n drop programing language for young makers.
Smart Shades: Part of the connected home, Smart Shades is a small device that makes any roller type of shades a whole lot smarter. Takes under 5 minutes to set up, and costs under $100.
Structur3d: Makes it possible to 3D print in almost any material, including Nutella. The Discov3ry offers printing enthusiasts a simple, ingenious and affordable hardware add-on solution compatible with over 80% of existing printers.