Hardware startups are having a Renaissance right now, and along with them, companies that support hardware development.
Fresh launched its social product testing and review platform today that connects young hardware companies with people to review their products.
For a long time, hardware was out of fashion. Now, due to developments in design and manufacturing technology, crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter, and the rise of trends such as the Quantified Self movement and the Internet of Things, it is back in style. It seems like cool and connected gadgets are infiltrating every part of our existence, whether it is to fix posture, protect your home, or play video games, or sous vide a pork chop.
Product reviews are a key part of the consumer electronic industry. Retailers, journalists, and expert reviewers test out new products and share their feedback as a reference tool. However, community-generated reviews are growing in popularity as people begin to doubt the veracity of ‘expert’ recommendations (CNET). Amidst all these changes, fresh founder Stephan Svajian saw an opportunity.
“We are disrupting the way traditional companies launch physical products,” he said in an interview with VentureBeat. “Changes in the manufacturing process make it easier to produce hardware, but it is risky for these companies to go to market without customer reviews. In order to cross this chasm, we need a much broader signal about the quality of the products.”
Fresh partners with hardware startups that are interested in putting their products in the hands of product reviewers. People interested in working as a reviewer sign up and receive a notification if they are invited to test out a product. Testers must be verified through their Facebook profiles and can move up in the line by digital referring their friends. Manufactures send their products to the people at the front of the line. They then take the products for a test drive and provide their feedback.
The most popular products featured on the site now include highly buzzed items like Pebble, Lytro, Leap, Lockitron, Fitbit Flex, LUMOback, and OUYA gaming console. Users can “be the first kid on the block” to access hot new gadgets and hardware startups get the benefit of direct user feedback and exposure. After just three months, the company already has 36 products on the platform and the financial backing of Yammer’s CEO and CPO, David Sacks and James Patterson.
There is no business model on the horizon. Rather, Svajian and cofounder Geroge Truong are committed to bringing as many “amazing products” on the platform to add ensure that the popularity of hardware startups isn’t just a passing fad, but rather an established and thriving corner of the tech world.