Silicon Valley marketer Vijay Chattha and his VSC marketing communications firm has formed Wareness.io, a new marketing studio focused on helping hardware startups pitch hardware, wearables, and software directly to consumers.
The San Francisco and New York-based studio will help hardware startups with every aspect of the marketing process, including providing strategic marketing communications, pre-sales consulting, and funding from a $6 million fund. The company is latching onto the new category of hardware companies that are pitching wearables and other devices directly to consumers in launches that are often too big for crowdsourcing methods.
“We’ve spent the last 11 years pitching our clients, and today we are pitching ourselves,” said Chattha in an interview with VentureBeat. “We are launching this studio for the era of connected devices. We’re at a point where everything from our sunglasses to our shoes are getting smarter.”
The funding comes from VSC, which has been in business for 11 years, and from Silicon Valley angels. Rivals for Wareness.io include Kickstarter and Indiegogo, the crowdfunding sites that bring both attention and donors to big projects. Chattha said Wareness.io will package and pitch hardware startups the way that a record label packages and promotes music artists.
Chattha said that campaigns on those platforms can generate a lot of awareness, but not for a long time. They might generate enough money for small manufacturing runs, but they aren’t as good for hardware companies that are so hot they’re going to build millions of units.
“We’ll offer the ability to control your own destiny,” Chattha said.
According to ABI Research, the wearable hardware market is expected to grow to 485 million annual device shipments by 2018. Wareness.io wants to provide this industry with seasoned counsel, strategic connections, and go-to-market advice.
“We’ve developed some critical expertise and process in this space that we believe can give startups the edge to have the best possible outcome,” said Chattha. “Hardware marketing is evolving at an electric pace, and Wareness.io is perfectly positioned to provide the right tools at the most critical times in a product’s life cycle.”
The name Wareness.io has a double meaning, referring to both hardware and to awareness. The studio was born from VSC’s recent successes with the startups Coin, which makes a card that takes the place of your credit cards, and Tile, which makes a Bluetooth-enabled digital finder. Coin raised $50,000 on Kickstarter in the first 40 minutes of a 30-day campaign.
“I know the secret to a successful launch,” says Kanishk Parashar, CEO of Coin. “Build a great product and hire the Wareness.io team.”
Tile raised $2.6 million in pre-sale orders within a month. Now Wareness.io plans on bypassing Kickstarter and Indiegogo.
“Vijay and his team have been absolutely vital to the launch of our product,” said Nick Evans, CEO of Tile. “These guys played a huge role in the launch of Tile, and I’d highly recommend them to hardware startups looking for a way to break out.”
Wareness.io will invest in increments of $25,000 to $150,000. It will offer go-to-market counseling, including campaign design, product positioning, launch strategy, and pre-commerce recommendations. It will offer advertising and video production services through its partners.
Wareness.io will also offer influencer marketing, analyst relations, planning, and outreach. The VSC team has more than 100 PR awards and a team of 35 professionals.
“We are trying to go one level up beyond the hobbyists, and we’re approaching the launch of these startups the way anyone else would do it, with a seasoned and professional team,” Chattha said.
In 2009, Chattha previously launched AppLaunchPR, a division that was dedicated to helping app developers get discovered. That division has over 2 billion downloads to date among its clients. VSC is staffing up to handle the new division’s work.