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Interview with Eric Migicovsky, founder of Pebble and Beeper
Learn the secrets of launching a successful startup and what you need to know to keep on growing.
In our third episode of Atoms & Bits, we’re beyond excited to welcome Eric Migicovsky, who launched and helmed Pebble Technology (acquired by Fitbit in 2016) after graduating from the University of Waterloo in 2008. Pebble became the most successful crowdfunded project in Kickstarter's then-history (and at time of publish, remains its 2nd most successful campaign), selling over 2M e-paper smart watches and raising a record $20M. In 2014, Eric was recognized in Forbes 30 Under 30 list.
After selling Pebble in 2016, Eric became a partner at Y Combinator. For four years, he lived and breathed the unparalleled startup insight that only YC can provide, advising dozens if not hundreds of start-ups, and learning what makes some start-ups succeed and others fail.
Today, Eric’s back in the founder game with Beeper, a flexible, universal communication network, connecting you to 10+ different chat apps. While it may look like he’s out of the hardware game, it seems he can’t keep his hands off of PCBs and electronics.
If you’d prefer to listen rather than watch, we’re now publishing Atoms and Bits interviews as a podcast. Here’s this episode:
In this interview, Eric shared his perspectives on what he has learned from his experience founding Pebble and then advising start-ups at Y Combinator. While the best insights will come from watching the video or listening to the podcast audio, here’s a quick summary of the major takeaways:
Speed is the key to survival. Most [hardware] companies operate too slowly, and it’s a universal truth that the market moves, and fast. You’ll need to iterate, fail, learn, move on, repeat, over and over again. In Eric’s words: "build it this week and ship it next". Migicovsky cautions on the excuses of waiting (on inventory, on outside decisions, on perfection), and urges founders to take action themselves to keep momentum. If what you’re building is truly transformative, it will outweigh the inevitable obstacles and errors.
You can differentiate founders from the rest of the world based on the love for what they do. In Eric's words, it's the "ridiculous fact that they won't give up" that defines founders. If you listen to the people saying your project is bound to fail, you’ll never get started.The key is building something you need, want and can start using right away- as you are the first to test it you are able to fall in love with it and communicate that passion to your first group of believers. Do not forget to never stop defining a vision for the future of your product and company.
You’ll always go farther with a team. Seek outside expertise, forget your assumptions of business as usual. Embrace Silicon Valley as a mindset, not a geography, and you’ll find those who share your enthusiasm, urgency, and belief that everything is possible. Do not miss Migicovsky’s advice for a successful application to Y Combinator. Among other things, he stresses the point of succinctly articulating what your product is, why it’s important, and why you’re the right person to bring it forward. Oh — and make sure you can clearly illustrate the impact you’ll have on the world.
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