Varun Boriah of Lully
It's #ThrowbackThursday, which means it's time to check in with a Highway1 alum and see what's been going on since graduation.
Today we’re talking to Lully‘s Varun Boriah.
What’ve you and your team been up to since Demo Day?
After wrapping up in June, we launched our first product in July through our own website and got it onto Amazon in August, so those’ve been the two big milestones for us on the commercial side.
Shipping product a year after founding the company was a big success for us, especially for a hardware startup; I’m pretty proud of having been able to do that with only three people.
We’ve also spent a lot of time building out the rest of the team, growing to a total of five people after adding a hardware engineer and digital marketer.
To what do you attribute that early success?
I think it’s a combination of being very focused on the problem we’re trying to solve and developing a need-based product versus a nice-to-have one. It gives a lot of clarity and direction in what we’re trying to do, and also allows us to launch early and iterate on the market as opposed having to have a perfect product before launching.
What’s your next milestone?
We’re going to grow the company. Aside from revenue and sales, customer support and customer success become a big part of what we’re trying to do, so we want to make sure people who are buying our product are seeing the outcome they’d like to see and are happy with it.
What’s your biggest surprise been since Demo Day?
I think it was probably that last mile between the two points where we were pretty close to being done with manufacturing and being able to ship a product; how much work is still involved between those two events was surprising.
It’s not talked about a lot; everyone talks about DFM and getting your product manufactured and shipped, but there’s a lot between those last two parts that gets glossed over. That was a little unexpected, and a lot more work than I initially imagined it would be, but we were able to get through it given the timeframe we had.
What’s your biggest challenge been?
I think our biggest challenge right now is to understand the customer we’re trying to market and sell to and getting more sophisticated with how we go about it.
We could target all parents, or parents with kids who have sleep problems, or parents with kids who have sleep problems who sit within specific demographics; we could target them on Facebook or Adwords, etc. The more sophisticated we can get with that process, the better off we’ll be as a business.
Having a product out in the field is also a factor. There’s a lot of design intent that went behind the product, but ultimately that’s based on a small sample size of early adopters, and now that more and more people are using it, we’re learning new behaviors, new features they’d like to see, and new ways of using the product that we didn’t initially anticipate.
We’re constantly looking at the feedback coming from our customers, and iterating and improving on the experience of the product itself.
Has anything about your company’s vision shifted since Demo Day?
No. I think between founding the company and Demo Day it evolved a lot, but since then it hasn’t.
What are you most looking forward to next?
Being able to give as many families as we can a good night’s rest. That’s why we started the company; we found a pain point that hadn’t been addressed at all, and a lot of families were finding workarounds or just dealing with sleep deprivation and anxiety about their child’s well-being. We’ve been promising we could help those families, and now we can actually do it.
What would you say your biggest takeaway from Highway1 was?
That I’m glad we have a simple hardware device. In our cohort there were a lot of companies that had a lot of fairly complex, involved hardware; getting a simple hardware product like ours to market was itself a lot of work, and I can only imagine how large the effort is when you’re building something really complex.
Got any advice for new hardware startups?
Stay focused. You can gain focus in one of two ways: either by developing a need-based product (which inherently forces you to focus) or making sure you understand the persona of the person you’re trying to deliver a solution to.