Elite Daily recently posted an article about the crazy things Chinese students do to stay awake while studying. We basically got an idea of the wacky (and sketchy) ways they keep their heads up while fighting the good fight against fatigue.
Well here in the U.S., we have our own way to stay awake that’s safer and looks way cooler. Maybe you aren’t a coffee/energy drink/adderall kind of person; maybe they don’t even work for you anymore. A new startup Vigo now has an alternative to all that- a device that knows when you are sleepy and how to wake you up. College students, this may just become your best friend.
Vigo is a wearable device that keeps you awake when you need to be by tracking how tired you are; when you start to doze off, Vigo “nudges” you to stay alert. It’s really quite smart and here’s why. The second you put Vigo on, it tracks how your body moves and your blinking pattern. “With an infrared sensor, an accelerometer, and a clever algorithm, Vigo knows you’re drowsy before you do.” If you connect your Vigo to your phone, you can customize how and when the device will nudge you awake, for example through a vibrating pulse or playing a favorite song to get you going. It also logs the parts of the day you are most active and fatigued and even recommends different activities for you to stay awake during down times from getting coffee, stretching or going for a jog. Oh yeah, it also doubles as a Bluetooth Low Energy receiver too so you’ll never miss phone calls either. What else could we ask for?
Like most startups creating awesome gadgets, Vigo is crowdfunding their product. As of this article, Vigo’s Kickstarter campaign has raised $42,151 of their $50,000 goal with 11 days left to go.
We had the pleasure of catching up with Vigo Co-founder Jason through email where he shares what it’s like to build a startup in college and the most important lesson he learned about balancing a team.
How did you and the other co-founders meet?
We met as students at the University of Pennsylvania. We worked on multiple engineering projects together previously and picked each other to work on our senior Capstone project. Vigo was born out of our senior Capstone when we all decided we wanted to build something that could help us stay alert in boring engineering lectures and thus the idea for Vigo came about.
Tell us a little about your background and when you decided you wanted to be an entrepreneur.
I was also fascinated about bridging technology and business. I saw too many engineers who didn’t know how to bring a product to market and too many business-minded people who didn’t know how to build a product. That’s why I chose to study a dual degree in engineering and business in college. I got myself a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Engineering School at the University of Pennsylvania and a degree in Marketing and Operations Management from the Wharton School so I could both learn how to build a real physical product and how to build a business.
Why is your product called Vigo?
Vigo comes from the word vigor or invigorate- we wanted to build a product that could get you back into the zone when you were drowsy.
Tell us what is the very first thing you guys did when you solidified the idea for Vigo.
We did experiments- we knew that drowsiness in class and at the wheel was a problem for us but we didn’t know the best way to solve it. We brainstormed and tested different methods- I always fell asleep in class, so I got a friend to poke me in different places every time I fell asleep, then tried getting slapped, then tried sound. Eventually we found that a vibration worked well for me, and hearing a sound, especially my own name, worked too.
What is the long-term vision for where you want Vigo to be?
We see drowsiness as a huge problem for not just students and office professionals but also truck and taxi drivers, security guards and machinery operators. We envision Vigo being built into other form factors and devices, from embedding into glasses to glasses clip-ons to helmets and safety goggles, depending on the industries we are targeting.
Lastly, what is the most important lesson you’ve learned so far as an entrepreneur?
Learning to delegate tasks to people who could perform them better was an important lesson. At Vigo I headed the technical development- from circuit design to soldering PCBs to writing firmware to app and web development. I quickly found that I could only handle so many tasks and we were slower at some of the tasks I wasn’t so skilled in. A huge lesson was learning to hire people to work for us- originally I didn’t like to hire because we were low on cash and I felt I could do things myself if I had enough time to figure them out. Then I learned that even though it cost a little more to hire someone, even though I could figure something out in three days if left to myself, for someone with experience it might take them just half a day to do it, and in the two and a half days I saved, I could produce so much more value in doing things I was good at than the cost of hiring someone to do it. So we gradually learned to hire and outsourced manufacturing HR services and we became very efficient and quick at development.
Check out Vigo’s Kickstarter here.