BetaKit’s recent feature on Toronto-based startup Wattage was filled with excitement. Not only for the company’s pedigree, which featured former members of Teehan + Lax, but its promise: the democratization of hardware manufacturing.
Today, Wattage co-founder and CEO Jeremy Bell announced that the company had shut down. Citing a lack of funding, Bell took to Medium to explain what went wrong for the edification of fellow entrepreneurs. Bell goes into great detail in the article on the numerous factors at play, but we’ve provided excerpts below on two of the most important: traction and funding.
“We were attempting to create an entirely new market for mass-customized electronics, which we originally viewed as something positive (as we felt we could create and own this new market). But from a fundraising standpoint, it was the opposite. Why would investors put large sums of money into a company going after an unproven market? (Hint: they don’t.)
“Being a hardware company, we focused on building prototypes to validate that our vision was technically feasible. In retrospect, this was a mistake.Instead, we should have released something far more lightweight, and as quickly as possible. Our efforts should have been focused on validating interest in our product and generating traction. We did realize this, and we were moving to launch a beta as a means of validating interest. The problem is we realized too late, and ultimately didn’t want to launch a beta that we couldn’t afford to support.”
“Having previously raised $250,000 from friends & family, we had set out to raise a $2M seed round. I spent the better part of 6 months meeting with VCs in San Fransisco, Silicon Valley, New York, and Toronto. In the Valley, I was told we were raising too little. In Canada, we were raising too much. In retrospect, it looks like we attempted to raise too much, too soon. Instead of raising a large pre-launch seed round, we should have raised a smaller amount from angel investors. Raise a smaller amount, and release a smaller product. If we started generating traction, we could have then raised more.”
Bell was clear that the Wattage team is now looking for work (contact information can be found in the Medium article), but also left the door open for Wattage to be reborn in some new form down the road. Here’s hoping.