MEMI is a chic iPhone-compatible smart bracelet created by Leslie and Margaux that discreetly vibrates when you receive important phone calls, text messages and calendar alerts. You can pre-order your own soon, since these two entrepreneurs surpassed their Kickstarter goal.
The idea for MEMI was born out of co-founder Leslie’s frustration over not having a convenient place to store her iPhone. She routinely missed phone calls because she didn’t hear her phone ringing or feel it vibrating in her purse. She resorted to having her phone out in meetings or on the dinner table because she could not afford to miss a call from her family. Feeling rude, anxious, and distracted all of the time, Leslie decided there had to be a way to solve this problem!
What have been your 3 biggest challenges in starting a business?
1. Timing. “Leslie had this idea over two years ago and worked with engineers to develop a bracelet with the standard Bluetooth technology at that time. [This] resulted in a very large, bulky cuff. After talking with several advisors, we decided we needed to use the then-newly-released Bluetooth 4.0. Up until this September, however, iPhone software did not ‘talk’ to Bluetooth 4.0. The MEMI team had to have faith that Apple would adapt with the release of its iPhone software this fall. Thankfully, Apple did choose to support Bluetooth 4.0, making MEMI a reality.”
2. Manufacturing. ”There are a plethora of manufacturers who excel at electronics as well as those that create jewelry. However, these manufacturing firms do not overlap. The ones that make beautiful jewelry for Kate Spade, Marc Jacobs and Alexis Bittar are not embedding electrical components in their work. And manufacturers producing phones, headsets, and Bluetooth accessories are not experienced with plating, polishing and finishing jewelry. The MEMI team has had to bring two worlds together.”
3. Keeping focus. ”Jewelry in the wearable technology space is so new and such an open field. Every day we have ideas for new finishes, new functionality and new products that we would love to add to MEMI. But we feel it’s critical to keep a laser-focus on executing the MEMI Classic first. There is so much to learn from the first product launch and to accomplish before expanding.”
What have been your 3 greatest successes so far?
1. Achieving the mostly-metal aesthetics. “When we met with engineering firms, they nodded and smiled when we told them what functionality we wanted. When we told them the size we wanted and the metal finish we wanted, then we heard silence. Did we understand Bluetooth antenna design? (The answer was “no.”) Did we know how the curvature of the bracelet limited space? (The answer was “yes.”) With a variety of perspectives and people at the table, the team was able to find creative solutions at every turn.”
2. Knowing when to course correct. “Several months ago, we were faced with a difficult decision: settle for a design we were not truly happy with or start over from scratch. Needless to say, the decision was not easy. Starting over meant walking away from almost a year’s worth of work to embark on finding a new team who could better support our dream of making MEMI truly stylish. Ultimately, starting over was one of the best decisions we made as a team. We were able to apply everything we had learned over the past year and deliver a product we are immensely proud of.”
3. Maintaining a sense of humor. “Despite the inevitable ups and downs of running a startup, we still manage to laugh almost every day. We try to find the humor in everything and never take small victories for granted. We remind ourselves that, fundamentally, we are MEMI’s #1 cheerleaders—and good cheerleaders never put their pom-poms down during the game! They keep them up, with a smile on their face, no matter what’s going on on the field. Positive energy is contagious and critical when faced with unexpected challenges. It has been an essential ingredient for us in building a team who is genuinely committed to MEMI’s success.”
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