We are excited to announce our investment in Melon. Three weeks ago, their Kickstarter campaign launched and eclipsed their $100,000 goal in less than 3 days. It’s still going strong, and they just passed their stretch goal of $250,000 (ps there are 3 days left to preorder if you haven’t already!).
Wearable tech and health informatics are currently of great interest to investors, entrepreneurs, and consumers. David Lee of SV Angel recently identified “Health Informatics,” the intersection of software and biology, as a “megatrend” his firm will be investing in heavily. When we met the founders of Melon in early February, we were immediately interested in their business.
Melon is an EEG (electroencephalography) powered headband with an accompanying mobile app which allows wearers to measure, understand, and improve their mental focus. It’s rare we meet companies with such an ambitious goal, and it’s even more rare we come across young founders who are already uniquely positioned and prepared to tackle the challenge they are going after. Here’s what the Melon team has done right, and why we believe the excitement around their launch is more than justified:
Founders – Arye and Laura met while studying cognitive science and computer science at Pomona College. They quickly recognized that EEG technology, while readily available and heavily used in research labs and medical settings, had never been brought to consumers. Seeing its power first-hand in aiding and understanding the human brain, they dropped out of college with one year left to pursue their passion and make this technology more accessible.
Team – One of the strongest signals we can pick up on is when a founding team is able to put together a team of talented people who are willing to work for less than market rate because they’re passionate about what the company is building. Arye and Laura quickly assembled a team of experienced hardware engineers and an artificial intelligence expert to to fill the gaps where they lacked experience.
Manufacturing – Chris Dixon recently wrote about the emergence of hardware startups and the challenges that still exist.
“Many hardware startups stumble when they try to go from prototype to large-scale manufacturing. There is no AWS-equivalent for hardware. To get manufacturing right, entrepreneurs often end up living in China for months and even years.”
Arye and Laura both moved to China for 6 months to figure this out before coming to Launchpad.
Big Vision – It’s been surprising to see the walled-garden approach that several of the first movers in the wearable tech space have adopted. Only recently have some opened up an API for third-party applications, and most of them limited in doing so. From the beginning, Arye and Laura have stood by the idea that the real power of what they’re building is the opportunity to see what other people want to build for it.
Design / Branding – As several others (Tom Tunguz, Jason Calacanis, etc.) have written about, a beautiful product and branding are no longer a feature, they are a prerequisite. We have been consistently impressed by their creative instincts and talent on both the software and hardware aspects of their business.
Validation – Within any trending sector of a market there will be some products that consumers latch onto and some they don’t. With very little data and history on a consumer product that measures brainwaves and focus it is hard to predict what the future holds for Melon. But with such an amazing team, product, and overwhelming demand on Kickstarter, we are hopeful that Melon will revolutionize the way people understand themselves and their brains.