Last December I decided to pick up electronics again after years of not soldering. I bought an Arduino and within days I was adding displays and sensors. After reading about Botanicalls (a device that let’s your plants tweet when they need water), I decided to make something similar but better suited for my needs:
- Wireless, since I don’t want to have Ethernet cables running around my house,
- Add light and temperature sensors and
- Store and chart the measured data, so that I can see trends and get insight into the growing conditions
So on a cold Saturday evening, I started designing and prototyping the device. First on a breadboard with wires going all places, then when that worked designing the printed circuit boards for the Internet gateway and the sensor node itself. Long story short: After a couple of weeks and two revisions, I had a well working system that was running around the clock and recording the growing conditions of tow plants on my windowsill.
How can I market?
Now came a challenge: Can I actually sell a few? I mean: If I think this is a neat and useful thing to have, wouldn’t other people also not? So I decided to set up an Adwords account and spend 50$ on ads. Result of this: Hardly any visitors without the Content network, quite a few (mainly from China) and 50$ gone with the Content network enabled. And by the way: No sales at all.
Next try: I regularly go to the Amsterdam Internet of Things meetup (now Sensemakers) sponsored by Cosm (back then Pachube), where I meet many really interesting people. So I send an email to the organiser (Ed), with a question if he could write a small post on their company blog about my product. He told me he would do it and asked to set up a webpage and have some way of getting paid. After having read about Shopify, I registered and set up a simple shop in an afternoon. Then I heard nothing for a while…
Then came Monday morning March 26th: My email was full of spam, tens of messages with more or less the same titles. Upon a second look I noticed some of the titles were: “Payment has been received”. Turns out that Ed sent out an email to the cosm mailing list announcing my product and in a matter of 8 hours, thousands of people had gone to my site and ordered GrowGuard kits. In addition, orders kept coming in and after a few days I had to temporarily close the shop, since I was out of components.
After this, I got quite a few people who reached out to say how nice it was that I had developed such a product and that it was time such a thing was offered. In addition, also other companies reached out and bought more. These days I still sell starter kits though the shop, although not in such a rush anymore. So all in all not bad for one email!
So my take away from the story: If you have a product and it complements some other product or company (in this case cosm.com), you might be able to have a really good marketing channel.Discuss (your stories, experiences and questions) on the fantastic Hacker News