Founder Friday

Catherine Liao of Blumio

Welcome to Founder Friday, where we learn about the people behind the Highway1 startups.

Today we talk toCatherine Liao, co-founder and CEO of Blumio.

Tell us a little bit about your background.
I started my career running 24×7 operations for dotcoms. It led me to an opportunity to look after the web infrastructure for the World Health Organization, where I met my co-founder Oliver Shay. At WHO, I had the privilege of being part of the team that had to scale WHO’s web site to support a 24X increase in demand during the SARS epidemic. After WHO, I joined a tech startup that was acquired by Cisco, where I got to work with Fortune 500 companies on their technology initiatives. At Cisco, I found myself progressively moving into more business- and customer-centric roles. More recently I led a marketing group at Riverbed, a $1B technology firm here in San Francisco.

Where did the idea for Blumio come from?
Oliver started exploring sensors to monitor vital signs after an aging relative, who lives alone, experienced a stroke in 2010. We started the company to create sensors and systems that give insights on our well-being and improve our health and wellness.

blumio ff gallery 01

How did you find out about Highway1?
In researching electronic manufacturing services (EMS) firms we learned about PCH and found that they had an accelerator program purely focused on hardware. We felt that Highway1 could really accelerate our progress by opening the door into the manufacturing and industrial design side of the world.

What is your biggest learning at Highway1?
MVP for software is very different than MVP for hardware. MVP for software means writing just enough code to demonstrate the concept so that you can begin iterating. MVP for hardware is very different due to the need to balance electrical, mechanical, and software engineering PLUS industrial design. There are lots of balls to juggle and align just right.

What are your goals at Highway1?
We have two goals. The first is to deliver a functional prototype that we can use to benchmark against traditional blood pressure monitors. Second is to work with Whipsaw, our industrial design partner, to deliver a looks like/works like prototype that we’ll go to market with.

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Highway1, a division of PCH, is the premier hardware startup accelerator, located in San Francisco. We look for great hardware startups, with an exciting business idea and a compelling prototype. We help you design products that deliver real value to customers, that are delightful to use and that can be manufactured at scale.
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