Investing in The Dash

The Dash is the name of a new product that is being developed by a startup named Bragi, with a crowd funding campaign on kickstarter.com. The basic idea is that these will be wireless headphones that do a lot more than today’s headphones are capable of, while looking very cool, and doing it all wirelessly.  The functionality is really summarized in this image below, describing how this is an All-in-one device.

The amazing thing about this isn’t just that it will replace all these devices that we are using, it’s that it offers so much opportunity for innovation in the ‘wearables’ space..  The concept is so cool, they have managed to get pledges on kickstarter that are roughly ten times more than what they asked for. Now that is an impressive start.. imagine going to an angel investor asking for $250,000 and instead getting $2,500,000!  This has enabled them to pledge all the way up to their second stretch goal (they have 2 more left, if they reach $3,333,333).

Current heart rate monitoring options are quite cumbersome, and the industry overall has a problem with fragmentation, where one needs 3 different devices, none of which talk to one another, to keep track of their activities. For example, fitbit will track your steps, optionally meals, and your sleep using motion (which isn’t very accurate but gives a decent estimate). There are other heart rate monitors that you have to wear as a belt around your waist. And if you want to also wear a smart watch with apps and notifications, this gets a bit much. None of the apps talk to one another. So if you can replace them all with a headphone, wouldn’t that be wonderful? This will be especially valuable to athletes who already have to wear headphones, but at least now they won’t have to worry about where they place their phone on their bodies (such as on those awful arm straps), or about getting headphone wires tangled.

I think that the company’s approach is brilliant. They ddn’t spend money on advertising in expensive media.. instead, they got the tech news to write about them and arouse interest, with those articles all about how awesome this device is going viral. Then they followed this up by offering an ‘early adopter’ discount, as much as 50% off, which really made it much more tempting to buy. Getting this project off the ground like that was a very smart move, because the more people that invest in it, the more others feel like it’s a safe bet and are more tempted to join in. Building this momentum is not easy, but Bragi has done it brilliantly.  I now wish I had joined the early adopters to get a pair of these headphones for $99 instead of $199.

On a personal level, I am drawn to the heart rate monitoring that is easy and not cumbersome, coupled with wireless technology that means I can stop worrying about headphone cables catching on my treadmill and causing me to drop my phone. My hesitation that caused me to miss this opportunity was caused by doubting the feasibility of the technology, since I’ve had a bad experience with a similarly-cool device on kickstarter that has yet to be delivered (over a year late now) due to technological challenges.

 

References:

http://www.engadget.com/2014/02/13/the-dash-smart-headphones/?utm_source=Feed_Classic_Full&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Engadget&%3Fncid=rss_full&utm_reader=feedly

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/hellobragi/the-dash-wireless-smart-in-ear-headphones

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