All posts by Marc Barros

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  • Evolution Controllers Wants To Be The Gaming Controller Platform

    Evolution Controller

    Evolution Controllers, makers of the new Drone controller, want to be the game controller you use for all of your mobile video game needs. Their smart controller are designed for the mobile gamer in mind.

    I had the chance to catch-up with one of the co-founders, Mathew Hefferon, to learn more about their product and their recently launched Kickstarter campaign.

    What is Drone and why did you start it?
    If you’re like me, you love playing games on our smart device. The only problem is as games keep getting more immersive the on screen touch buttons and virtual joysticks get in the way of gameplay and don’t give you that physical tactile control you need. So we created the Drone, a portable open source game controller you can use with your smartphone, tablet, PC etc.

    I was working in the software industry but really wanted to create a hardware product. Something tangible, something someone could use and hold. I had been thinking of product idea’s and just wanted to build something people would love. People love to play games and the mobile industry is growing like crazy. It’s an awesome industry and I wanted to be apart of it and create an awesome product for it.

    Tell us about your team and is this your first hardware product?
    I have an awesome team. Ren Livingston is my co-founder who has prior experience bringing a product to market. James Wall is a Electrical designer and software engineer. Even Chen is our manufacture in Shenzhen.

    This is my my first hardware product and what an undertaking. PCB, firmware, tooling, regulatory testing, manufacturing. There has been many sleepless nights but I wouldn’t change it for anything. I love what I’m doing.

    How long have you been working on this product?
    I founded the company January 2012 and been working on this product ever since. We spent a little over a year in development and then manufactured beta units. We had great feedback from from our customers and have incorporated that feedback and now working on raising capital to complete our first production retail product run. We are live on Kickstarter and we’re blown away with how well the campaign is going.

    We had no idea what to expect when we put the product up on Kickstarter. We are humbled by how positive the response has been. We definitely need the community help us make this product a reality.

    What are the three biggest lessons you have learned so far?

    1. Believe in your dreams and never give up.
    You fail before you succeed. I’ve been run over, chewed up and spit out. Believe in yourself, work hard and focus on making the best product you can.

    2. Bringing a hardware product to market isn’t easy
    I was working on many software projects and thought it would be easy to jump into making hardware products. I quickly learned the opposite and learned hardware startups have many obstacles and challenges involved.

    3. Focus on making a quality product and get user feedback early.
    This lesson saved us. We started the project making a quality game controller but a focus on emulators. It had one joystick and no triggers. When shared with the community we quickly found out that they wanted a full button layout. They helped mold the Drone into a better product and a product more people wanted.

  • Creating The Right Messaging for Your Hardware Startup


    marc_barrosAbout the Author: Marc Barros is the co-founder and former CEO of Contour Cameras. He started the company, without any hardware experience, out of a garage as an undergraduate student and lead it to a multi-million dollar business with product sold in over 40 countries and at retailers such as Apple and Best Buy.

    This post is part of a series about How To Define and Create Your Hardware Brand. 

     Words matter.

    An important part of executing your brand, building great messaging is like learning how to date. Inspire someone by catching their eye, then explain who you are, and finally connect with them in hundreds of small ways. You don’t start a new relationship with your key features, so don’t be in a rush to shove product details down people’s throat.

    Harder than it looks, here is a framework you can use to help you craft the rights messages.

    Your inspire level of messaging includes your name, a memorable tag line, and powerful imagery. The words you choose should be concise, emotional, and simple.

    • Nike: Just Do IT
    • Apple: Think Different
    • M&M’s: Melts In Your Mouth, Not In Your Hand
    • Kit Kat: Give Me A Break
    • BMW: Ultimate Driving Machine
    • Milk: Got Milk?
    • Avis: We Try Harder

    You will notice that none of these explain the product or what you do. They are meant to inspire. Inviting, you want to find an emotional message that is rooted in why people should participate with your brand. Once you find something, don’t change it.

    Along with the words you want an image to go with it. Beyond your logo, you want to find a visual way for people to remember your message.

    • Apple: famous TV commercial
    • GoPro: a picture from within the action
    • BMW: their car driving
    • Milk: a white mustache

    It will take a few tries to get this right, but once you have it, don’t change it. Drive the same message and imagery home, year after year after year.

    The next level of messaging is to explain what you do. Using everyday words, you want to make it easy to understand what your company does, the products you offer, and how they work.

    Always supporting the ‘inspire’ level, you will use the ‘explain’ level of messaging across several touch points including your PR, point of purchase, packaging, website, sales materials, etc.

    To help, answer these questions:

    • What does your company do? (single sentence)
    • What is your product? (single sentence)
    • How does it work? (explain the parts of the system)

    Think about explaining your company the same way you would explain yourself on a first date. You start with what’s important and keep it simple.

    The final level of messaging is where you can worry about all the details. Writing this as needed, you can think about the specs, steps required to purchase, ways to support your customer, etc.

    For example:

    • Purchasing the product: features, specs, colors, sizes, shipping details, how to pay, etc.
    • Out of Box Experience: everything they need to get started and keep using your product.
    • Support: directions, FAQ’s, getting help, etc.
    • Marketing Engagement: details about how they can get involved in your contest, social media, etc.
    • Influencers: from press to celebrities, details on how they can use your product and support the cause.

    Most brands are really great at explaining what they do and then inundating customers with the details. That’s great, but customers don’t remember the details.

    It’s important to remember that your biggest challenge is trying to inspire millions of customers you don’t have today, to become engaged with your brand. Which means the words you choose and the order you present them, matters.

    Image Credit: Jose Pires via Creative Commons