Wearables are arguably the most talked-about tech of 2015. Apple is dominating the recent conversation with its Apple Watch announcements, but there are countless other companies making fitness trackers, body cameras, sleep monitors, and more. Yet while the utility of these gadgets can’t be denied, companies are still struggling to make them hip and stylish.
Enter Evalise, a new Seattle startup launching this week with a line of “wearables for the working woman.”
The company’s flagship product is the eGenie, a tote bag insert with a charging station, additional ports, audio and touch commands, and LED lights. The insert works in conjunction with the Evalise app, which can open pockets and restock a user’s favorite products.
“Our goal is to create high quality and innovative wearable technology solutions that solve age-old frustrations in an intuitive way,” said Evalise CEO Rashmi Joshi.
We caught up with Joshi for our latest installment of Startup Spotlight, a regular GeekWire feature.
Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: “We create ‘smart’ bag inserts that allow any standard-sized tote to organize itself, power your devices on the go, have hands-free communication capabilities, and automate ordering for your most beloved items.”
Inspiration hit us when “We started conceptualizing. The conceptualization phase was the most fun, where everything and anything was initially possible. From there, we zeroed in on exactly which features to implement first and how.”
VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “Bootstrap until now. We wanted to flesh out the concept and validate it adequately before seeking funding. We will be opening a round in the next few months.”
Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “Our contextualization. We re-appropriate existing technology into a new context in a way that creates value.”
The smartest move we’ve made so far: “Switching from a mostly B2C model to a mostly B2B model — less inherent risk, less upfront costs, more focus on our core value proposition.”
The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “Hiring people who were interested, but not committed. We wasted time waiting on people who loved the conceptualization phase, but when it came to getting the job done, weren’t in. Moving forward, we will be more stringent about the interview process and outlining specific objectives in writing.”
Would you rather have Gates, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “Bezos — his thought processes are unbound by social stigmas and he understands trends and positioning like no other. He’s also incredibly transparent, which is something we value and strive to be, especially when solving problems.”
Our favorite team-building activity is: “Beer & Brainstorming — we each grab a beer, and chat freely about any and every aspect of the company and product set, including the market as a whole or related products. This allows us to piggyback off each other’s ideas and come up with things we would never have been able to conceive on our own. It also allows us to chat without an agenda and still be productive, while building on our inside jokes and having fun in the process.”
The biggest thing we look for when hiring is: “A person who is secure within him/herself and unafraid to be creative in solving problems. When people are insecure, they can hurt themselves and others by behaving irrationally to shield themselves from the reality of who they are. We look for people who are strong internally, and are passionate about our vision for the right reasons. Internally secure people will take on challenges and won’t be afraid to deviate from the norm to find creative solutions.
In our industry, it is incredibly important to find people who are unafraid of the unknown, and in fact see it as an opportunity to create. There’s no room for insecurities in a startup. Insecurities hinder your decision making abilities and taint your bias.”
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “Learn about yourself first, reach into your internal compass. Ask yourself ‘why?’ constantly. Question why you make the decisions you make, and question why others behave in a certain way. It can help you identify red flags in advance and avoid problems in the future. People are going to tell you what to do constantly, and push you to make something ‘cool.’ Don’t get enamored by titles, money, and trends. Listen to yourself (and others), but do what makes sense.”