About the Company
Team Piolock has five team members: Ivy, Jeein, Jerry, Jim, and Sophie. They decided to make a smart pillow optimized for student-use as each of the team members has sleeping issues. Some have experienced quarreling with roommates in regards to large alarm sounds, and others are heavy sleepers who have a hard time waking up in the morning by themselves. Based on their personal experience, they strongly desired to create a pillow that will take care of all these sleeping issues. Hence, they developed Piolock.
Piolock seeks to be the leading company in the field of youth’s sleeping health and to sell their product to students in need internationally. They’ve developed a novel smart pillow that employs inflation and ascending vibration technology to help heavy sleepers wake up without disturbing alarm noise and sit up with high efficiency.
Testing: After the first prototype, the team developed a second prototype and did user testing plus interviews and wechat surveys. In total, they received 7 interviews and 42 survey responses. 55 percent of the survey respondents priced Piolock at 70 dollars at a reasonable and likely purchase price. The majority of respondents value the features of being able to sit up easily and the reading light functions more than alarm clock vibration.
Metrics: The team’s short term metric is a score of ‘wake up experience’ from the user testing, and the long term metric will be the sales per month; with a goal of 30 per month, 100 per season. They plan to raise $2500 on a Kickstarter within two months and plan to formally partner with material suppliers within the month.
Iteration: Based on user testings, some areas of improvement for the next round of prototyping are printed circuit boards, a larger air pump to fasten the inflation process, better container boxes for visuals, and reduction of vibration sounds.
Real Paying Customers: As of the end of the program at the beginning of August, the team had 13 real paying customers. These customers signed their consumer contract and left their personal contact info, promising to buy Piolock once it’s out.
Fit the Product to the Team: Instead of letting team members adapt to the “ideal” product, it is better to design another product that fits every members’ skills and expertise.
Done is Better than Perfect: Bert Seither, our lead instructor, reminded us of this often. We initially wanted to make our first prototype fully functional and aesthetically pleasing, but after hearing advice from our lead instructor as well as in different electives, we decided to focus on making and finishing the prototype. You can always make iterations afterwards!
You have to Work at Being a ‘Dream Team’: No team can start off as a “dream team”; it is each and every single team member’s duty and responsibility to invest time, make compromises and be responsive and open-minded. No one succeeds as an individual; build your own dream team with your teammates.
Advice for New Entrepreneurs
Do Your Market Research: Never assume that you know your customers' needs and their willingness to support your product until you have talked to many of them.
Be Your Own Critic: Don’t be overconfident in your product and its potential. Have doubts and try your best to always tackle potential problems. Do not ever ignore the problems and focus on what you achieved.
Leverage Your Team: Understand the strengths and weaknesses of your team: find value in you and your teammates’ strengths and leverage those strengths; foresee potential obstacles and devise plans to mitigate them. Always keep an open mind for advice.
We are confident that this startup has a bright future ahead and look forward to their growth!