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at work, you can’t always do much about it, which Palley finds “depressing.” But workers stuck in front of their computers can still take a few minutes to meditate, figure out what habits lead to their most focused, productive time, or find a way to reorganize their work to make it less stressful. According to Palley, during their pilot program at LinkedIn, employees reported feeling significantly more focused when they used Spire.
Though many hardware startups have gone the crowdfunding route to prove there’s a market for their devices, Spire chose not to. Instead, they waited until they had bridged the gap between a prototype and their final engineering orders before they started taking direct preorders today. “Maybe it’s a little old school, but we didn’t want to sell a product when we weren’t clear on when we could deliver,” he says. Conveniently, Palley had also lived in China for seven years. He speaks Chinese, and was familiar with the manufacturing process, so the 11-person team—about half of which is on the ground in China—was able to leverage local networks. “I’ve been in tons and tons of factories,” he says. “I really understand the huge gap between making a prototype and something you can mass product in a factory,” he says.
Spire had already shown prototypes to potential angel investors, and “they got it immediately,” he says. “So that was a very clear validation point.” To date, Spire has raised around $1.5 million from investors including Rock Health, Stanford StartX, and angel investors.
When the company first started creating the device, design was really important. Palley didn’t want to make something that looked like just another piece of hardware, and above all, he didn’t want to have to plug it in. “More cables just feel like more clutter in our lives,” he says. To that end, the stone-shaped tracker refuels by sitting on top of a wireless charger partially made of cork. Together, both devices will cost $149.99. The company expects to ship in September.
Though Palley says no one else is doing exactly what Spire is—after all, the company’s patent on wearable respiration sensing is pending—the crowded space does offer a lot of competition. Plus, he says, marketing materials for other devices are making claims like an app can track food intake, when really, users have to input all the data themselves. “I think that’s one of the biggest challenges,” he says. “We have a very legitimate product that creates a far more engaging experience out there, but there’s a lot of money being invested in marketing that is mixing what is self-reported and what is passive data. The winning experience is not sitting there and taking pictures or inputting what you eat or pressing a button when you go to sleep. We strongly believe in passive tracking.”
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