December 20, 2014

EXCLUSIVE: Interview With Omate TrueSmart Cofounder, Nick N.M. Yap

 

Omate, is an active player in the Smartwatch Wars of 2013, with a unique product. The startup is behind the TrueSmart watch, a water resistant smartwatch with many advanced features, which has been hailed as a formidable contender against smartwatches created by giants, such as Samsung’s Galaxy Gear.  I caught up with one of the founders of Omate, Nick N.M. Yap, and got some insight on their ongoing TrueSmart product.  Their revolutionary water resistant TrueSmart watch, broke records when it launched on Kickstarter and reached its $100,000 goal in a matter of hours. The startup was one of the first to actually introduce the concept of water resistance to a smart device, and they have been featured on tech sites such as TechCrunch and a few of my pieces here on Rightstartups.

 

I covered their campaign during it’s inception, and checked back this week to find that they had reached $600,000+ in pledges. Currently the campaign stands at $764,445 with 3,443 backers and 6 days to go. Time of reading September 13, 2013 | 3:53 P.M. Check out what he had to say:

When you realized that the goal had been met on the Kickstarter campaign in record time, did you know you were onto something big with your smartwatch?

We were very excited by the fantastic response from the consumers. While we have always been confident that we have a great product, no one could have anticipated this rocket kickstart. This was the first sign that we have created something beyond great.
The second sign also came on our first day on Kickstarter, with two of the world’s largest carriers (in terms of subscriber base) contacting us. We only had a short discussion because it was very clear that they had done their research and were ready with a smartwatch market plan, waiting for an amazing product like TrueSmart to hit the market – these people had seriously done their homework.

The third sign came with announcements of Smartwatch products from two major technology companies, which looked like an incremental update of the old generation Smartwatch 1.0, rather than ground breaking leap into Smartwatch 2.0, like what we’re doing at Omate that everyone else was anticipating.  The 3 signs clearly tell us that we are onto something big with our vision for TrueSmart to define  Smartwatch 2.0, and for now there’s no one else coming close.

I like to call this particular era, the time of the Smartwatch Wars; who do you think could be TrueSmart’s biggest competitor, and how do you think the TrueSmart will differ and succeed? Examples: Samsung’s Galaxy Gear, Kreyos

We used to think that the Smartwatch war would be just simply about the product. But now when you look at how similar the other Smartwatch products are, and how the Omate TrueSmart is in a class of its own, the war doesn’t seem to be about products anymore.  It almost seems like other companies lost interest in advancing their products and technologies, making the Smartwatch Wars a David vs Goliath battle. A better product which is more in-tune with user demands like the TrueSmart vs big Goliaths with their media machines.
Smartwatch is not a product that came top-down defined by big brands (Eg. Blu-ray, 3D TV).  Smartwatch is a product that grew bottom-up from user demand. Add  diversity of user scenarios to that, and it is not a surprise that the Goliaths are struggling to understand what a Smartwatch is and what it should  do. We have proven that Omate is right on target with the TrueSmart. Our focus on engaging users and community, crowd-supported development – these are the things that keeps Omate in tune with its users and gives Omate the edge. Knowledge is power – we know what we are making and we know who we are making it for. Many of the others are still figuring that out.

 

The first shipments of the TrueSmart will occur in October, and those will be SDK models for developers; with the user models shipping in November?

 

Indeed. The first shipment goes out to the Developers in October.  In terms of hardware, they are exactly the same as the ones that will ship to users in November. We want the developers to get their hands on the Omate TrueSmart first, as many developers as possible. It’s not only important that developers can see and feel their apps on the wrist, it’s even more important that when they are living the TrueSmart life. They can create even newer apps and new uses that no one has thought of before. That’s the way forward. Apps changed smartphones, and Apps will change smartwatch.

Your TrueSmart watch is launching for users in November; a hot month for Christmas launches, including video games and such. Are the November shipments for pre-orders only, or will you have inventory available for non-preorder purchases of the TrueSmart?

 

We have absolutely good capacity to meet the ever-rising user demand, a great contract with our manufacturing partners. They and the component suppliers have been very supportive – they too, like everyone are very psyched watching the Kickstarter pledge tick up by the minute too.  Our first and most important inventory and delivery commitment is to our supporters on Kickstarter. We have already booked material and production capacity that ensures that every pledge will be delivered. We are committed and have the inventory planned to cater to every single pledge even in a scenario where there should be a massive surge as we head into the final week. Once all the Kickstarter pledges are shipped, we will also start shipping immediately to channel partners who have already signed up and committed their orders. There will be flooding of inventory, but there will be no drought  – first priority does go to every single Kickstarter backer – they’ve made all these possible.

 

Do you currently have any projections that would indicate how much revenue Omate will make from their November launch for the Christmas season?

We are not working on any projections but we do have a hot product to bring to the market and all efforts are put into doing that. The revenue numbers will speak for themselves.

With every hardware startup comes risks of delivery delays. How confident would you say the team is in being able to deliver the product on time?

We have carefully planned the implementation of production before we launched the Kickstarter, and the luxury of executing that plan from Day #2, thanks to the Day #1 rocket start securing us the funding.  All delivery delay risks are at minimal levels now.

How many team members does Omate currently have for the TrueSmart project? How many do you plan on having total in the next 6 months?

We have about 30 on the team now and some contracted experts. Our CEO, Laurent Le Pen is already engaging industry leaders and building up a solid team to transform this rocket start-up into a full fledge battle-ready warship. There’s a very strong future for Omate’s position in the market as a global forward thinking wearable technology company.

Are there any other products in the works for Omate?

Certainly. Omate is positioned as a wearable technology company with a forward-thinking vision. TrueSmart was chosen to launch Omate because among wearable technology products, Smartwatch has the biggest demand. The miniaturized technology platform that Omate has developed can be applied to more wearable products. At this moment, we have put those products on hold to ensure a smooth launch of the TrueSmart. Once that is done, we will be picking up the other wearable products we have in the works. You’ll hear from us again very soon.

Read Related Articles:

Omate Breaks Record Crowdfunding Amount On Kickstarter In Hours, For Their Flagship Product The TrueSmart Smartwatch; Review Included

Omate’s TrueSmart Kickstarter Campaign Has Reached $698,000 With 8 Days Left

Catch up with Omate on any one of their pages and stay connected on TrueSmart’s progress.

Omate’s Kickstarter redirection page
Direct link to TrueSmart on Kickstarter
All FAQS for Omate created by our fans
Omate TrueSmart for the press
Press contact: Press@Omate.com
Omate on Google+
Omate TrueSmart Developers on Google+

 

    A startup is a company designed to grow fast. Being newly founded does not in itself make a company a startup. Nor is it necessary for a startup to work on technology, or take venture funding, or have some sort of "exit". The only essential thing is growth. Everything else we associate with startups follows from growth. Paul Graham, Y-Combinator