Every startup has a dream. And most times, this is centered on improving lives and satisfying a need.
Yet there are challenges along the way, from having a decent product or service to earning the customer's trust. There is also the difficulty of having enough funding to see through the process of creation, marketing and distribution.
I spoke with Jonas Gyalokay, CEO and co-founder of Airtame, about how a company can actualize a dream regardless of the odds. The startup made headlines a few years ago, after raising $1.3 million on Indiegogo in 60 days. Edited excerpts follow below.
Tell us what Airtame is all about?
Jonas Gyalokay: Product-wise, Airtame is a palm-sized wireless HDMI device that plugs into the HDMI port of any screen or projector. Nothing is plugged into your computer or smartphone. You download our app and stream your content to the screen from any major computer platform, tablet, or smartphone.
Team-wise, we are around 35 Gen Y bees-in-a-bottle working our asses off, while having a good time killing cables and redefining a wireless future for meeting- and classrooms.
We are just coming out of a 10-day hackathon that will finish with a big demo day where we have invited our investors, family members and significant others to celebrate everything we achieved.
What has been your growth so far and how have people responded to your product?
It's now been just a bit more than two years since we were funded on Indiegogo and we have designed, developed, produced and shipped almost 30,000 Airtames to more than 100 countries around the world. In all humbleness, this is an achievement we are proud of.
However, when we initially hit the market in June of 2015, we did take well-deserved heat from some customers. The product was not quite what could be expected based on the promises we made in the initial Indiegogo campaign. Luckily, that's history now. Our team's iron will and hard work has made our product better and better.
As a startup, what were your initial setbacks and how were you able to overcome that?
In January of 2014, we became the most funded campaign on Indiegogo ever. Suddenly, we had gathered more than 10 times the amount of funding that we initially planned. The hype was massive and the pressure to develop the product was immense. In some ways, we launched too early, but it also connected us to the most valuable feedback mechanism that a company can have: it's customers.
It feels like an understatement to say, but we have learned a lot since our product launch. Dedication, hard work, and continuous prioritization of tasks have been some of the keywords in our overall strategy.
Your company encourages team spirit and collaboration. You find this in many tech firms, but what is your philosophy behind this?
Our back is against the wall. We are taking on some of the biggest tech companies in the world. If this was simply a matter of size and financial power, we would not stand a chance.
Our strategy is to employ young bright, tech-savvy minds from all over the world. We make sure all new hires are as hungry as the current team members, while also considering the cultural fit and their ability to have a good time when they are not at work. It's only by aligning all these stars that we stand a chance.
Can you tell us what the your "workation" is about?
Our "workation" is basically a 10-day hackathon where our team cracks down hard to make a big developmental jump forward on our cloud platform.
We rented a big cottage outside of Copenhagen where we could eat, sleep, work, and have fun together. It was both about doing some team bonding, while also getting super focused on our upcoming projects.
To some people, being stuck in a house with your colleagues for 10 days might sound like a nightmare. But we feel so lucky that our team members all share the same desire to move our company forward and that we all think our work is fun. The Airtame culture is something else.
Why do you think Airtame will be a product that stays for a while?
Our desire and hunger to continuously improve our product is always there. We obsess about the experience our customers have with us. We offer the best of both worlds, really.
We are a cheaper and better alternative than our competitors within the B2B market in that we put all our effort into learning what our users really need. And good luck trying to call Apple or Google's tech support. At Airtame, Tom will pick up the phone and stay with you until your problem is solved.