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The Product Is the Platform

By Ann Crady Weiss, March 4, 2023

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Hi all! Our team asked if I’d share some of what we’ve been up to at Hatch and what wisdom I have to share with other founders right now, so here we go!

If you’re not familiar, I’m the co-founder of Hatch, and we make products that help people of all ages sleep better. I’ve been thinking lately about the power of platform and hardware’s role in the customer experience as it’s evolved over the past decade.

Right now at Hatch, we’re really focused on our latest sunrise alarm Restore 2, recently named one of the best products from CES for 2023 by The New York Times.

The world wants to call this “sleep tech,” but we actually find that to be a misnomer. There’s not much about sleep that requires technology at all – in fact, tech is the big problem in our bedrooms that keeps us buzzing long after we should be de-escalating from our days. Instead, we built Hatch to try to be allies to the unrested, a strategic message we firmly stand behind.

What’s going on with consumer hardware right now and what wisdom could I bestow on other founders building this technology? Well, a few things.

For one, consumer hardware is not “hot” right now in the grand scope. That’s because hardware development takes a very, very long time and the whole category tends to take a hit for that, in terms of fundraising for sure. The fun part is when consumer hardware is backed by a robust software platform, or rather, the core of your company is the software platform and the hardware is just the delivery mechanism.

The innovation is the software. The hardware itself is the conduit to the customer. When you reframe what you’re building in that way, your North Star for moving forward and scaling your company (in the right direction) becomes much more clear, albeit in the distance.

And while the hardware itself can be overshadowed by the actual innovation you’re building, forget not that hardware devices are a powerful physical and visual reminder of the service and technology you offer. Each night, three million customers sleep next to one of our devices. To earn that place in their homes is a privilege we don’t take for granted.

Whatever you’re building, think about how special it is that you’ve earned a place in someone’s life, on the regular. And think about how both frequency of use and appearing in someone’s space where they can see your brand IRL can create a wealth of moments for incredible engagement. (For us, once we’re in a home, that customer tends to keep us there. A whopping 80 percent of our customers who have owned one of our products for more than five years are still active weekly users.)

Recently, we had our first organic TikTok feature by a fitness influencer who posted about Restore. She posted one video and we saw higher sales than on Black Friday! So we’ve gifted devices to others who align with our brand or have shown interest in our products to see where it goes.

The power of this organic growth has thrilled our entire team, as has the power of beautiful design. WIRED called us “unbearably pretty…” Who said consumer hardware can’t (still) sit in the spotlight?

This article was first published in the True Ventures newsletter. Subscribe here for monthly insights.