Our Alumni - 2013
Ringly believes technology can be more discreetly integrated into our lives, placing fashion and simplicity first to create a new line of smart jewelry and accessories.
Ringly’s inaugural product is a ring that connects to a smartphone and notifies the wearer about incoming messages or calls via vibration and subtle light.
HOW THEY WORKED WITH HIGHWAY1
“You now have a network of people you can call up if you need them.”
“We’d already raised our seed round before joining Highway1,” Ringly’s Christina Mercando recalls. “That’s actually how we came to it; one of our investors introduced us to Brady and Liam, and we thought it was a great program and decided to join.”
Having funding is always great, but Mercando knew what she and her three-person team really needed was the expertise to take what she describes as “a duct-tape-looking prototype” to a fully-realized, mass-manufacturable product.
The trip to China, she says, was a huge part of it: “There were things that we just had no idea went on, and learning how complicated everything is — how much work actually goes into making something — was fascinating.” Having an excellent mentor was also key: “We met with Elan Lee on a consistent basis. He was really able to understand where we were coming from and helped us craft our story, including our final pitch for Demo Day, which was great.”
But it’s the Highway1 community that may have been the most valuable thing, Mercando thinks. “Hardware is so difficult to begin with,” she muses, “it was great to be around a lot of other teams, especially teams in the same stage as we were.
Each team had different skillsets we were able to tap into when we needed to, which was really valuable. Some of the other teams were using the same chipset as us, so we were able to bounce ideas back and forth, but we were also able to talk about battery problems, materials problems — it was really great to have that group.
We’ve stayed really close post-program since we’re all sort of in the same stage, just a couple months off from each other; I’m able to call someone up if I have a question o launching, manufacturing, or anything related to building a hardware company. That’s something else the program provides: you now have a network of people you can call up if you need them.”