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How to Survive as a Hardware Tech Startup

Have you just developed a new tech product? Do you want to find out how to pitch your idea and get funding? Are you ready to put your product in the market? Read the story of Hardware Tech Startup Ray IoT Solutions and how they developed and marketed their product ‘ RayBaby’.

Ranjana Nair, Co-Founder & CEO at Ray IoT Solutions started the company in 2015. Along with her team, she has developed ‘ Raybaby’,  the world’s first and only non -contact sleep and breathing tracker that safely monitors vitals, breathing rates and sleeping habits all from a ‘Smart Journal’ app. Ray IoT Solutions is the first Indian StartUp to receive investment from a hardware startup investor, HAX, of Rs. 1.07 crore and to receive support from the multinational Johnson and Johnson. She shares her startup journey with us.

Ranjana Nair and the team of Ray IoT Solutions

Ranjana Nair and the team of Ray IoT Solutions

1.How did the idea of Raybaby strike you?

The idea for Raybaby came after visiting a friend’s baby in an NICU facility, where we saw that the respiration rate was still tracked by placing a hand on the baby’s chest or cumbersome chest bands that compromise accuracy and comfort. In today’s technologically advanced society, we thought there had to be a better way to measure the most important vital sign used to predict and monitor illnesses in babies. Raybaby was developed as a device to bring peace of mind to parents.

2. What were some of the problems you faced during the development and also while pitching the idea to investors?

There are startups and then there are hardware tech startups. A working prototype is not enough for an investor. The investor needs to see it being used by real people and it’s impossible to do that when your prototype is all PCB boards and scary looking wires. And hardware prototypes also get stage fright, you will be trying to do a demo and it won’t just work when its supposed to work. And you lose your investor.

We must have approached at least a 100 investors for angel funding in India and just one investor outside India, and that one investor outside India is what worked for us. When we look back we realized we achieved the impossible. Getting angel funding for a hardware startup when the economy was not at its best

3. What tips would you give to fellow startups to get a jump start in the tech industry?

If you’re a hardware startup, you’re a hero already.

You are heroes if you are already in the hardware startup scene. We as a team had failed in multiple hardware based projects for more than 5 years before Raybaby happened. We need more brave men and women to embark on a highly dynamic field that is hardware. We have to do it for India 🙂

Some of the benefits of 'Raybaby'

Some of the benefits of ‘Raybaby’

  • Get the money and find a co-founder– Find that rich uncle or emotionally blackmail your mother into putting the money to get a jumpstart (don’t invest all your savings, few people last that type of journey) and use that money to create your first prototype. Find a coworking space, working together allows you to meet like-minded people, and it’s much cheaper than getting your own office space!
  • Build users – Find your fans and if possible find a fan who is a celebrity. Celebrities/ Influencers have better connections with prominent personalities, and one of them might be interested in your product. Create a quirky hashtag and make as many videos as possible with your fans. Promote these videos on all your social network sites – let everyone know what you’ve created.
  • Don’t say no to any meeting – Attend every meeting, talk to everyone (that boring uncle who lives next door might have been bench mates with Narayan Murthy). We got our first angel funding after we spoke to a man who looked supremely bored at the end of a long, tiring conference. We got HAX funding through the TechInAsia Conference.
  • Find a mentor – Try and find mentors who encourage you through your journey, supportive advice can be really motivating. We got lucky with some of the sweetest and the most resourceful mentors who helped us get to where we are. Stay away from negative people who discourage your idea.
  • Create a strong support system – Build your hardware community and user community. Keep in touch with friends and family. Find more friends. All this will take you a long way in getting things done.

And finally ask your mother to pray!

4. What are your plans for the company in 2017 and beyond?

We achieved our first objective when we created a “Non-Wearable” to track baby vitals. We were able to send out a message that battery-operated devices on a baby is not safe and never accurate. We were successful when our crowdfunding campaign saw more than 700 parents buying Raybaby in a span of 5 days.

Our second objective is to make a ‘Smart baby Monitor’ Just imagine Raybaby being able to automatically adjust the thermostat in your home to suit your baby’s sleep. There will be 24 billion Internet connected devices installed on Earth by 2020,  that is more than 4 devices for every human on earth. We will be able to connect Raybaby to various IoT platforms in the future.

5. What are Raybaby’s plans for the future?

Raybaby is striving to become the ultimate babysitter in your home that has a medical degree. A smarter baby monitor that will connect with the rest of the devices in your homes. It has the best of both video/audio monitors and vital monitors at a retail price of $250. You can pre-order it for $149. We will hit the retail stores in September.

Do you have an interesting startup story to share? Please write to us @ [email protected]

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