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The Wolves Summit was first held in 2014 so naturally our expectations were modest as the event was still relatively new. Although,
a promising point was that the event had a big focus on wearables and fashion (where we are trying to grow a blue ocean market). In addition to this, we got the chance to showcase (and sell) our products to the visitors and pow
er their devices at our charging station so it was a great opportunity for us to get more media exposure and new contacts.
Our purpose at the Wolves Summit was to exhibit and give a seminar about wearables & the future trends/ technologies Finland is set to offer. The event proved to be an exciting challenge and it did not harm
that it was held in a city where food is fantastic. Definitely a win-win!
So off we went. Departing from Finland to Warsaw by car, as the blessings of running a hardware company (that was bootstrapping) dictates that plane tickets for 4 people with lots of products would not be the cheapest nor practical to say the least.
Throughout the seminar imparted by our team, we were thrilled by the acceptance and interest from experts in the field. We had Kasia Gola, Chief Editor and writer at Geek Goes Chic (a site that seriously follows wearable tech and technology in general) who collaborates with the Google campus in Warsaw. Yep, Google has a campus in Warsaw (we did not know either)!
We were minding our own business and pitching away when we were approached by two guys probably in the midst of their 30’s. They showed honest interest by asking questions about the products, company valuation, sales projections and other stuff that the usual young people would not ask at an event. The two individuals happened to be the representatives of Arkley VC fund, a fund that is specialized in hardware, which additionally have an extensive network and mentoring services throughout Europe and Silicon Valley. Maciej Frankowicz and Agnieszka Poznańska were thrilled by our knowledge in wearables and we were equally surprised at the fact that we did not need to explain about the industry of wearables (trust me, that’s quite an achievement for an investor). They knew about hardware; how difficult is to scale as such and that bootstrapping as a hardware company deserves a recognition, so we were very happy to share our ideas and concept (plus Agnieszka spoke Spanish with a Latino accent so we were sold!).
Talking to them and explaining about our business was not a hassle like with most VC’s or investors; investors do not typically understand that wearables are a new type of science/field rather than a combination of disciplines. If we had a Euro for every time we pitched to investors and heard “you need to focus! Are you doing solar panels or are you doing backpacks?”, we would probably have Uber’s fund already. We usually respond to these dinosaur investors with a question: “Is Fitbit or Pebble doing watches or are they doing computers? They are creating a new product and trend called Smartwatches, something that cannot be categorized in a traditional field. We are not doing backpacks nor solar panels, this is the first iteration of what Smartpacks will be in the future, when we implement IoT and other energy generation solutions (kinetics, heath, wind). “
Arkley, however, was more interested in the vision and the team of the company rather than in sales and projections (this of course matters but it was nice to talk with a VC fund that cared about the “bigger picture” and the plans we would have). They were more American than European in that sense and we really appreciated their approach.
After the event we sealed an investment deal of €200K (€300K if needed) with a fair initial valuation and compromises from both sides. Arkley VC not only promised and delivered to date all their offerings to a point where they sent us their own growth hacker (thanks Derk!) to help us in our office with what we were lacking in the beginning. They also offered continuous help in sales insights, connections, expertise and also to support throughout Neal’s experience while our CEO is in Silicon Valley (so they are hands on and not a bunch of pen pushers).
The manager of the fund himself (Piotr Wasowski) is supporting our business development closely and talking with us on a weekly basis in order to see where he can add value (not breathing in our necks).
We have never heard of a VC fund that knows the inside out of their start-ups to a point where one of the VC managers even publicly pitched one of their start-ups in their portfolio in a competition and won a prize! Arkley VC just did that. Well that is what we call commitment and definitely something we always looked for in our investors (a hands on approach).
What does this investment mean for Tespack?
Tespack will be expanding its product range and reach, improve our technology, designs and start with big collaborations in Finland with companies such as VTT and Celltech.
We are in the process of headhunting our next CTO and are developing a patent for a new product in the area of smart clothing.
These are exciting times for us and we are grateful for all the people who believed in what we are doing from the beginning; working 25 hours a day has definitely paid off and the founders of Tespack are working even harder now that we have the resources in order to scale faster.
The Smartpacks was only a fragment of what we can create. The Tespack brand is just starting, stay tuned and see how we reshape the wearable market together with our customers and ambassadors.