Coffee morning 6

Hardware-ish coffee morning was awesome today! Thank you for coming this HUGE CROWD of people: Tom T, Kirsty, Daniel, Gavin, Karey, Siri, Anna, Maximilian, Oliver, Sam, Tom W, Basil, Utku, Grace, Matt C-W, Aly, Mark, Mike, Reetta, Alex and Ben.

Here's a photo.

Lots of prototypes too... Fedelis which is like a physical key for smartphone touch screens, Radio Music which is a sample player that performs like an old-school radio, Ben's flood sensor for the Oxford Flood Network which is 1/100th the cost of existing ways of doing river sensing, and a sneak preview of Fabulous Beasts which is Alex's new game.

Phew! /breathes out

I had about a trillion conversations; my notebook is a blimmin mess.

Mark asked why are people interested in hardware at all? which I thought showed a certain casualness with tact given the gathering and besides, the hardware company he himself started is now eight years old and he's done a ton more too. Anyway, Marc Andreessen's essay Why Software Is Eating The World is probably a decent starting point on that topic, with Internet of Things technologies making much of the physical world tractable to the same software-based transformation. Grace said that maybe it didn't matter why, just the itch that founders have to chase hardware down is enough to make it interesting and worthwhile.

Then a good chat with Grace on the usual challenge: Any hardware company has to lock up a bunch of capital between the factory and the consumer's hands... inventory on shop shelves, stock, parts, pre-orders, factory tooling... and a startup has to pump prime that pipeline with cash. Working capital is a poor use of equity financing. Kickstarter's pretty good, but my feeling is that you should cut margin to the bone with crowdfunding: Using Kickstarter to build a buying community is infinitely more valuable. So are there other pump priming financing options? Don't know. Would like to think of some.

Oddest chat of the morning:

Karey revealed that the portfolio on her website offers Party Mode. Click the button at the bottom of the page, and mouse over the various projects -- the page becomes an instrument, it's like a synth! And then, I swear I heard this right, when you use Party Mode, there's an Arduino in her studio that plays the music.

ALL OF WHICH LED US TO the idea that all websites should have their live stats played like ambient electronica in offices. And that somehow got recorded in my notes as what if Brian Eno cosplayed Google Analytics.


Oh yes, congratulations to Karey who is starting a new job with an Internet of Things company next week, bringing her funemployment to an end. And congratulations also to Sam who has just started with Little Riot who make Pillow Talk.

Next time

Coffee morning 7 will (probably) be three weeks from now, Thursday 19 March.

Join the coffee morning announce list for a reminder.

Thanks for coming everyone! Super good.