Last week there was this news of Teewe raising $1.75 million from Sequoia & IndiaQuotient. So happy to know our Startup ecosystem has started accepting and realizing the potential of Hardware Startups. Now that we are at the cusp of IOT, hope this is the start and many exciting things are around the corner.Teewe-HDMI-Dongle

As many of you know even we have a small connection with hardware products. Our startup took off by building a Hardware Product – an Android based smart TV box way back in 2011-2012. We called it SAGA. We have come a long way since then. I remember there was a time when investors wouldn’t even care to know what the product did when they heard it was a hardware product.

The first reply to most emails were “we don’t fund Hardware Startups”. Many were kind enough to attribute the reasons. It went from Indian markets not being ready, competition from biggies, Notion Ink fiasco, etc the list went on. They were not wrong. India was just gearing up to smartphone revolution (i.e being more tech savvy), unlimited Broadband and decent Internet speeds had lot of catching up to do and Ecommerce was just about to explode on the scenes (important delivery mechanisms).

In absence of all the above, educating the market from scratch and delivery models by cracking deals with retail stores were very capital intensive. Somehow SAGA didn’t work out for us. We still retained the website (http://nityaalabs.com/saga).

Maybe we were too ahead of our times. Maybe we were naive and unprepared. Or maybe it’s too easy to bury your mistake under excuses. But we did learn a lot while building SAGA, and it was fun while it lasted. Product was awesome and we received decent reviews from everyone who saw it. However past is past. Now we are completely focused on AirStream and really excited for some of our new releases this week.

The important thing is that we have come of age and now the market is ripe for disruption in HW space. Maybe someday even SAGA will emerge from the ashes like a Phoenix. I look forward to that day.. till then we have other battles to win.

This is startup smile emoticon ?#?KuchBhiHoSakthaHai? ?#?AnythingCanHappen?

PS:
1. We had pitched to Sequoia in 2012 and did two meetings (they were one of the few investors who took great interest in SAGA). They have been very helpful and it was they who clearly highlighted the challenges we might face with HW and advised us to explore the software route. What they said made sense then.

2. Notion ink fiasco: This was a term used by one investor and not something which we agree with. We looked up to Notion Ink as our inspiration, they had some very original ideas. Their first product Adam started off with much fanfare but didn’t work out as per people’s expectations. Now they are making a decent come back with Cain. I have had several email exchanges with Notion Ink’s founder Rohan Shravan and I admire his perseverance a lot.

3. AirStream was originally a app we developed for SAGA, which we later customized for smartphones. I will be honest here, my first love is still SAGA smile emoticon.

[Guest piece by Jitin Pillai, founder of Airstream]