TechCrunch Live hosted a special in-person event at CES, featuring a lengthy conversation with Ecobee CEO and Founder Stuart Lombard. This will be our first TechCrunch Live and we look forward to more. We talked a lot about how startups can make the most of his CES and develop compelling products, hardware, and how his startups raise money.
Nest loomed large for part of this interview. Lombard and Ecobee claim to have created his first web-connected thermostat, but Ecobee’s Nest, launched four years after him, defined the standard. After Nest came out of his 2011 stealth state, Ecobee was forced to smartly modify his thermostat. As Lombard admits, Nest changed the trajectory of his Ecobee. “[The Nest thermostat] It taught me the difference between wanting to be good and actually being good.
And early Ecobee products weren’t great. “We made a lot of compromises along the way,” said Lombard, showing off Ecobee’s first product on the TechCrunch Live camera. The difference between the first Ecobee and the first Nest is striking. The Nest is made of smooth metal and shiny glass, while the Ecobee is all plastic. It worked well, but it wasn’t as engaging as the original Nest. In short, as a startup, customers need to love your company and your product, he says.
We hear statements like this all the time on TechCrunch Live. Great products are appreciated in amazing ways. If Ecobee offered similar functionality, Lombard admits it wasn’t until Nest hit the market that Ecobee developed his experience and design for world-class users.
We hope that you will take the time to watch the program. Embedded below, it’s a must-listen for any hardware startup. Believe me, this is one of the best TechCrunch Live events.
Watch the entire show here.
- What is it like for a hardware startup to attend CES?
- What should hardware startups aim to achieve at CES?
Founding Ecobee: Developing Market Segments and Competing with Nest:
- How can a home goal be transformed into a company?
- How does Stuart feel Nest has changed Ecobee, and how can founders make the most of the competition, especially in marketing?
- How does it feel when your company finally finds product market fit?
Why Ecobee Keeps Winning:
- Why is it difficult for hardware companies to raise capital?
- Why did Ecobee invest so much from Amazon, and what advice does Stuart have for founders talking to Amazon?
- How is Ecobee responding to changing consumer expectations?
- Why Stuart advises startups to look at their customer list for investment opportunities.
- Why companies should aim for longevity in fundraising
- This is why the easiest time to pitch a VC is before you sell anything.
- Why Ecobee tried to go public through SPAC in 2020.