Portable Scores was founded one year ago, and in that year quite a bit has happened. Here are some of the highlights of the last year:
- February 9, 2012, Incorporated. What started as a hobby project became an official business, and got serious. After a year of mixing contracting with development of the scoreboard, Bob decided to pursue it full time and made it official.
- February 29-June 1, China. Accepted into a hardware startup accelerator, Portable Scores traveled with 10 other companies to be in Shenzhen, China, for three months to develop their products and make manufacturing connections. See the blog Bob maintained for lots of stories about manufacturing in China.
- June 15-June 30, Depressing. After a failed launch on Kickstarter due to a lack of press, some regrouping was necessary. China took its toll, and the aftermath was both overwhelming and underwhelming. We learned how important it is to have a team, and that a single person can’t do everything in a company.
- July-August, Recovering. Perry Sieber joined the team as head of business development. We considered going back to Kickstarter and relaunching but decided not to rush things again. We got a pre-order, with a check, for more than a dozen units to support the Ultimate Frisbee College Nationals in 2013.
- August 10-11, VentureDraft. A conference for Venture Capitalists, startups, and athletes to get together and do cool things. We met Daymond John. During the pitch panel they asked us to leave the scoreboard on stage and time the other speakers. This did not please the other speakers.
- September, Mentors and Legal help. The University of Wisconsin pulled through and we got free legal help through the Law & Entrepreneurship Clinic to develop an operating agreement and do a patent search. Merlin Mentors accepted us and we got two awesome mentors to help us develop our product and business.
- September 22, BuildMadison. We spent 24 hours building an Android interval training app for a local fitness trainer that integrated with the scoreboard.
- October-December, refining and improving and learning. After several iterations of wireless technologies and FCC regulations issues, we’ve arrived at Bluetooth Low Energy and are happily moving forward with a pretty cool technology. The main scoreboard circuit board is on major revision 5. We started touring factories in Wisconsin. We talked with some professional engineering firms to validate the design. We spent a lot of time interviewing people and working on distribution channels, target markets, and funding options. We are regularly loaning out some of our units to people for feedback.
- January, plowing ahead. This is the year! We hired Katie, our branding genius and community builder to help us develop our brand and get publicity. We are actively pursuing funding sources (will you be one?), and lining up all the components and factories and distribution channels. We are making final revisions of the design and ordering parts for verification that it all fits together and works right. We started designing and building the test rigs that will automatically test parts as they come off the assembly line to verify quality.
At the beginning of the year, this is what we had:
Now it’s this:
Besides looking better, it’s more rugged, smaller (digits are the same size, though), more versatile, has better features, is brighter with longer battery life, and is easier to assemble.and test.
So what’s happening in 2013? This year we take the product to market. We start by raising the funds for the first batch, then go to all our factories and tell them to do their thing, then we work on our distribution channels and get the product out there, and we market the heck out of it.Then we do a larger batch of units as the demand starts coming in. And we keep growing and developing the product and getting out there to see it in use. We have a lot going for us in the new year, and we’re excited to get past the development stage and get this product out there! Expect to see a lot more news and updates on our progress as we take this company big.
We’ll be starting with a crowdfunding campaign within a few weeks, so be prepared to get the word out about Portable Scores.
Many of the people who read this have been involved in the company in some way, helping make connections, offering advice, even telling their friends and the people they know about us. We’re extremely thankful to all of you and hope you feel that in some way, Portable Scores is partly due to you.