Welcome Kurt Dammermann to Highway1
A conversation with Highway1's new Vice President
We are excited to announce that Kurt Dammerman, co-founder of PCH sister division PCH Lime Lab, will be taking over leadership of Highway1 for Brady Forrest in December, 2016. Brady, who is co-founder of Highway1 with PCH CEO Liam Casey, will stay involved with Highway1 as a special advisor.
“These past three years have been enormously fulfilling, helping hundreds of entrepreneurs go from prototype to product and from teams to companies,” said Brady. “I’m looking forward to focusing on Ignite and other endeavors, while continuing to advise Highway1.”
We want to thank Brady and recognize him for everything he’s done to help startups and to build Highway1’s international reputation.
So who is Kurt Dammermann?
HWY1: Can you tell us about your background?
KD: I spent the past 20 years developing and manufacturing products for companies large and small, including founding two companies of my own. I first came out to the Bay Area to study product design at Stanford, where I received my masters degree. That led to product development jobs at IDEO, Apple, Astro Gaming, and eventually co-founding PCH Lime Lab. I worked with dozens of startups over that time, and it’s something I truly love.
What are some of your favorite products you’ve help ship over the years?
For me, there are very few things as satisfying as bringing a well-designed, high-quality product to market. I’m inspired by unique products that answer a need in the world and build a brand. I’m incredibly excited to work with passionate and determined startups, and to build on what Brady and the team have created over the past three years.
Early in my career, the iPod really changed who I was as an engineer. It was something I was really proud of, and I was incredibly excited about seeing them out in the wild — people I didn’t know were buying them, and that was really something.
Working with LightSurf was another life changer. We were pioneering digital image sharing, making cameras that would work with cellphones and share images in real time. We take this for granted now, but at the time we did a lot of work figuring out how to make that possible — doing the things my daughter now does without thinking on her phone.
I’m also super proud of the Astro A30. We worked hard on the fit and function of it without compromising the industrial design, and all on a shoestring budget, and that was remarkably satisfying to see through to the end.
I’m proud of the development work we’ve done for startups with PCH Lime Lab as well. Recently, we’ve worked with Nebia, a shower much more efficient than what we see in homes today, and with Tristan Walker to deliver the Bevel Trimmer. We’re working typically on a dozen products at the same time in our studio, many of which are confidential — sorry no details.
What will be your main focus as VP of Highway1?
Finding great startups! It’ll involve a lot of travel, looking for companies with vision, outstanding teams, and technological know-how to make it happen. Once we have them in the program, it’s all about introducing them to the resources they need to make it to launch.
What makes a good startup?
Successful companies are built on a great brand, defined by great products, and deliver a great customer experience. Focus your efforts on these three things if you want to build a lasting company.
What advice do you have for a hardware startup?
Choose a manufacturing partner that suits your current needs. Don’t go to a high volume contract manufacturer (CM) if you aren’t ready to make hundreds of thousands of units.
Don’t underestimate your CM and supply chain input. You can’t expect a CM to build the exact product you want if they’ve never seen it before. Engage the manufacturer at the design process phase as much as possible, without compromising the core of your vision and design. This will ensure all of the components can be sourced, and that the manufacturing process you need is available to make your product within your budget and timeframe.
Furthermore, a lot of startups try to reinvent the wheel, even though there are already solutions in the market. Highway1 alum Lully is a great example of how a startup can take advantage of readily available technology with an OEM to get to market quicker.