When celebrity Regis Philbin talked up the benefits of Zeo’s sleep tracking device on his TV show last June, the Newton, MA-based startup sold more than 1,000 units within three days, says Dave Dickinson, the firm’s CEO.
Zeo, founded as Axon Labs in 2003 by three Brown University students, is nearly a year into marketing a system for consumers that detects brain waves to record the length and quality of their sleep. Sleep-deprived journalists like The New York Times‘ David Pogue gobbled up the story last year, sending early adopters to what was the only place to buy Zeo’s Personal Sleep Coach, the Internet. Yet the firm faces the same hurdles that have tripped other consumer tech makers trying to navigate between an initial publicity bump and commercial success.
This month Zeo’s first infomercials aired, providing the startup a new means of enticing the masses to buy. In June, the firm plans to release its first iPhone app, which gives users of the system a new way to view their sleep data. (Users are already able to upload their sleep information to their personal accounts on the firm’s website.) The jury is still out, however, about whether the product is destined for lasting stardom. Dickinson says that so far the company has sold thousands of its products, but he and other executives refused to provide exact sales figures.
Colin Angle, co-founder and CEO of iRobot, has been advising the team at Zeo since 2005 and is a director of the startup. Angle came to the aid of Zeo in 2005 after his Burlington, MA-based robotics firm had made millions of dollars with the Roomba, a robotic vacuum cleaner for the consumer market. He says that the adoption of Zeo’s product hasn’t been … Next Page »