Later today, Pebble founder and CEO, Eric Migicovsky, will take the stage at the University of Waterloo’s Humanities Theatre to tell the story of his path from the university’s Velocity program to building one of the world’s most successful wearables companies. If, for some reason, you cannot attend the event, don’t worry. To get the ball rolling, the Velocity team has already asked Migicovsky some primer questions, which they have graciously decided to share with us. Enjoy!
What does it feel like to see a Kickstarter hit eight digits?
We have so much gratitude for our community and the support they’ve given us to reach these amazing results — from the first Pebble Kickstarter campaign to today. We continue to be inspired by the backers who believe in us.
How does getting that kind of response effect the Pebble team?
The strong, heartfelt response from our supporters, eager to have the first taste of what we’ve been working so hard on is immensely motivating. Pebblers are very passionate, and they keep in touch with us constantly about what they love and what they want to see next. We wouldn’t have it any other way—we’re building a platform and products hand-in-hand with a community. Billie Jean King always says “pressure is a privilege,” and we believe that.
The ecosystem for Pebble continues to grow – how much focus do you have to put on the tools and ecosystem to create that interest? What is the roadmap like for the Pebble tools?
Giving people the tools they need to build amazing things around Pebble is definitely a top priority. We have a Developer Experience team devoted to growing the ecosystem. Right now we’re focused on two tracks: continuing to build and grow the software tools/SDK for amazing apps and watchfaces, and opening up access to our hardware—starting with Pebble Time and Pebble Time Steel—for makers and builders to introduce smartstraps that extend Pebble’s capabilities.
You have pioneered a market that some big players are wading into. What’s the Pebble difference? What are the moments of delight that you offer that are unique to Pebble?
We think Pebble has been successful because it’s a device that changes to accommodate the user—too many gadgets go the other way and force the user to accommodate the device—Pebble meshes with your life. It’s simple and is truly created for busy people to help manage their busy lives.
What are some of the biggest lessons you learned as a startup?
Making decisions and choosing a path require much more thought and discipline than trying to please everyone. Throwing in everything plus the kitchen sink in an attempt to do the latter isn’t the way to go. You can see that in our approach to our products themselves. Pebble is focused technology to help people get things done efficiently and delightfully. We’re making something that does a core set of things really well instead of trying to do everything “just okay.”
What do you hope people take away from your talk this week?
To be wary of anyone that tries to present themselves as having it all figured out. Doing something like starting a business, or executing on an idea is all about experimentation, trial-and-error, and taking the small steps needed to achieve a big goal. Ideas are cheap, you’ve got to actually try and make them real to have an impact. Don’t be afraid to lose some battles along the way, those situations are great learning experiences for doing even better moving forward.
What was the Velocity Residence like? What were a couple of highlights from your time there?
I’m sure it’s grown and evolved since my time there eight years ago, but Velocity will always be a great place to nurture your entrepreneurial spirit. You get to meet and live with driven, talented people who want to do great things—it’s super motivating. It helped me realise how much can be accomplished when you team up with each other to create something you couldn’t ever have done on your own. Visits and talks from past Velocitizens were a great inspiration, too. You get to learn from real people who are making awesome things happen after their time at Velocity.
What excites you most about the wearable market today?
That it’s still the early days of this next phase of computing, and Pebble gets to help pioneer the future for it. People are starting to pay attention to wearables and smartwatches, and giving thought to the best ways to interact with technology when it’s sitting on your body. It’s not just about putting a laptop or smartphone on your wrist. The best things to come will start fresh and really give thought to how wearables should perform and interact with you.
Anything you’d like to add?
Make the most of your time here. Your coursework is important, but don’t live in a bubble. Take time to go on trips, meet people, enjoy your hobbies, or get out of your comfort zone. You never know where inspiration will come from, so try not to close yourself off.