Swiss Economic Forum

The founders of the Swiss Economic Forum reached out to me and invited me to the event. As the number one economics event, SEF has a serious density of great entrepreneurs and thinkers. It's an event where you meet people like Steve Forbes, Arianna Huffington, Alain Chuard and Erik Brynjolfsson. Due to some upfront talks with the SEF founders I got the impression that I could potentially be asked to go on stage. This was of course an exciting thought but I didn’t want to get too excited in case my gut feel was wrong. I enjoyed very inspiring speeches and there was also a great music act. It was a traditional Swiss choir that was an beautiful contrast to the future thinking conference. Somehow it touched me very much and I had a total goosebumps moment listening to that soulful music. Just after that the moderators introduced the Niesen Entrepreneur Award for the very first time. From now on this award will be given away every year at the Swiss Economic Forum to an entrepreneur to honour risk taking, persistence, endurance and other important entrepreneurial values. The winner is selected by the SEF founders themselves. Holy cow was I flashed when I saw images of myself up there on that gigantic screen when they announced the winner. Double goosebumps. I sort of ran to the stage to collect that (very heavy) award from the awesome SEF founders. 

Very, very thankful!

Very, very thankful!

Just like YOU and everyone in the team - they took risk themselves by betting on NEEO and me. it’s still a young company and we have not shipped yet (as you all know :)) and they expose themselves a lot with us. I love this risk taking spirit and I will not disappoint them at all. Stefan & Peter - Thank you so much. As I said on stage in German: “Ihr seit krasse Siechen” which roughly translates to “you are some crazy dudes!” In that moment I did not even realise that I’m live on national TV and hundreds of thousand of people are watching...I could not be more thankful. This award is for all of you. Everyone who was crazy enough betting on us! 

Kevin, Michael, Sandro and Jessica watching SEF live and celebrating 

Kevin, Michael, Sandro and Jessica watching SEF live and celebrating 

We are hiring

If you want to join this team (not only for the beer) and if you are a super-awesome engineer who fits one of the profiles below let’s talk.

Currently we looking for talents for following positions:

JS Full Stack Developer

https://www.linkedin.com/jobs/cap/view/322584220/?pathWildcard=322584220&trk=mcm

Embedded Systems Engineer

https://www.linkedin.com/jobs/cap/view/322585268/?pathWildcard=322585268&trk=mcm

Head of Operations

This job description is not yet posted online but here is the executive summary for now: 

Our company is growing fast and we will soon need a super-talented Head of Operations with the potential to becoming our COO in Switzerland. If you (or someone around you) meets the following criteria let us know: 1. You are a “rocket” when it comes to complex production planning and business planning in general, 2. You have a senior profile in the financial and business operations side of things 3. You have worked in production (ideally with tier 1 manufactures in the CE space) 4. You speak fluent English 5. Travelling is not an issue, you will be spending the majority of the time in Switzerland but also China and California

Please contact jobs@neeo.com or directly via Linkedin.

June Update

Friends,

I’m in the airplane to China. It’s very bumpy up here in the air so typing is a bit of a challenge. >This shall not be an upfront excuse for the typos though 😉 

I’m going to China with a ton of work to do. But there is also one big thing I will do for pleasure: I will whiteness the birth of your NEEOs. Production of several thousand units already started and our awesome operators build about 100 to 200 new units everyday. Each of the circuit boards (PCBs) for those units go through hundreds of automated tests (like described in earlier blog posts). During and after assembly there are again over a hundred tests performed with every single unit. Now getting into higher volumes we wanted to be absolutely sure the quality is granted. The testing for every single unit will always be kept at that very detailed level. Our super-talented and precise working China team and the fact that we hired one of the world largest contract manufacturer, give me the good feeling that we will be able to keep quality extremely high at any quantities. I will say hello to your unit and I will wish it save travels to you...! 

I just thought this loos pretty and wanted to share. It's some fixtures for one of the steps of diaply assembly.

I just thought this loos pretty and wanted to share. It's some fixtures for one of the steps of diaply assembly.

 

Price

This is just FYI: Soon we sill start offering NEEO Combos at the final MSRP of $399.00. If you have a friend or so who wants to benefit from a special offer - now is the time. The current preorder special of 339.00 is only going last for a short time.  

 

Patent “fun"

We fought another serious legal battle during the lasts months. I’m happy to let you know that it’s now all settled and good. Just in time. I can tell you such legal battles are not exactly what you wish for as an entrepreneur. The energy and time this takes is just insane. Anyways with the help of one very powerful lawfirm we got to the result we were fighting for. Sorry I cannot mention the specifics of the case here -  I just wanted to let you know it’s all good and over.

 

Certification

We got the final approval from FCC and others. Those who want to have a quick look at the highly technical documents are welcome to check out: https://fccid.io/2AKK7 Getting the final approval is what we expected because we passed all measurements a while ago so this is no surprise. Great to have it fully official now though. Just in time for shipping…

 

Your address?

This is the LAST CHANCE to change your shipping address. We will close the survey in a couple of days. If you have not yet done so please check whether  your address is up to date. Follow the instructions here: https://neeo.com/blog/2017/5/14/kickstarters-update-your-shipping-address

 

Timeline:

The timeline becomes more and more simple.

  • June/July/August - Production of the Kickstarter and early Pre-order units
  • July/August - You will get to know a new planet (sorry still cryptic)

Of course the units will not all arrive the exact same day for everyone as they are distributed to multiple continents. You will get your unit forwarded as soon as they arrive at the hub for your region. Stay tuned.

So - whilst I’m not able to tell you the exact delivery date, you see it’s ultra-ultra close now. And one thing I can already tell you is that the next update is going to be the best one ever for all of us…  

Quick update on the software

The general release versions of the apps are now ready, the first general release version of the firmware too. It’s currently being flashed onto all units that are being manufactured. The firmware is called "The Hound" (Release 0.40.7) - Roughly by next week the BETA team will already be messing with some 0.42.0 release which should be tested and released until you get your unit. So - you can already expect a first update to be available when you unbox your NEEO.

So - whilst I’m not able to tell you the exact delivery date, you see it’s ultra-ultra close now. And one thing I can already tell you is that the next update is going to be the best one ever for all of us…  

Little side note & challenge

Possibly there might be some easter eggs hidden in the product. The BETA team is already doing a great job hunting them ;) If you want to start hunting - even if you don’t have the product yet - you eventually can. Go back to the last month update to the section where I have (intentionally) hurt someones privacy and find the reference to 3 awesome movies right there. If you get all 3 movie titles right send us an e-mail to beta@neeo.com - The earliest who sends us the right answers will get a BETA unit fedexed to him tomorrow!! Happy hunting.

Follow me on twitter. I will publish some cool unique stuff there over the next weeks: https://twitter.com/Raphael_NEEO

Awesome. Awesome!

Hope you are all doing well. I absolutely have to share some stuff with you. 

A lot of the cool stuff which is currently happening is a little bit behind-the-scenes-stuff and not yet visible to everyone. It’s all preparation for June and July. I will try to share it without spoiler. 

  • The units from the last batch were shipped to testers and test labs all around the globe. As expected - the units are doing a great job - no new findings so large batch manufacturing starts now! I mean NOW. yes. NOW! Isn’t this awesome?
  • The team will fly over to China, the improvements to the test-stations-software were successfully tested in Switzerland (Mainly efficiency improvements) Kevin and team will upgrade all China stations immediately when he arrives so daily high volume production can begin 
  • The BETA team is very, very active. Tons of daily interactions, bug reports and fast fixes. All members of the BETA team - chosen members and NEEO staff - who are participating are just awesome. I check the activities daily and love the way things go and the way you guys help each other. Thank you for being awesome! Special thanks for the guys who have spontaneously donated for this month coffee!
  • Finally I met a community manager who I trust to be the perfect fit. You will all get to know Patrick in June/July. He is... a.w.e.s.o.m.e!
  • At the same time you will also get to know a new planet. Less cryptic (and more) info on this will follow.
  • More exciting stuff: 3 weeks ago the NEEO SDK was published for coders who have a BETA unit. Amazing things like devices implementations, samples and documentations started to appear just hours after the coders got access to it. This is going to be extremely powerful. And it is ready today - which means from day one when you guys get your units, the coders among you will by able to create and connect all sort of things. 
  • Software is improving very fast, thanks to the hard working developers and the BETA team. Version 37.2 was published and improved things nicely. The next major update is planned for this week. I have tested several in-between-versions and it’s promising. New, more advanced NEEO Link with encryption updates, lot’s of bug fixes, UX improvements, stability improvements and even better black level for the display. 
  • We have just secured a significant amount of additional working capital - ramping up into very high numbers of units needs a lot of cash and securing funds is always a challenge for a young company. This is a bit off-topic but I just wanted to share so you know I’m working too 😉 It’s not directly linked to your reward or so but of course everyone benefits from a overall healthy development of the company. 

10 additional BETA slots this week

By the end of the year we want to grow the BETA team roughly by another 50 BETA team members. To get this started we will open another 10 slots by the end of this week. If you had previously applied to be a tester but you didn’t make it you don’t need to re-send you application. All “old” applications will go through the same process as new ones and have the equal chances.     

Please only apply if you are willing to actively report on each firmware version. The most active BETA members will stay in the program for a long period of time and get nice gear from us. 

Generally everyone who wants to join the BETA team please be aware of the following:

  • We really care about having active testers, make sure you have some time available to play with the product and to provide feedback. 
  • We care about testing a big variety of setups. We therefore include testers based on the gear they have
  • You will get the weekly BETA releases. Sometimes they are not stable. If you (or your family) prefers to have a stable setup at all time - you better don’t get into BETA firmware or the testing of it 
  • You might test some yet secret functions - make sure you are happy to keep the surprises for you as long as the function is not announced
  • NEEO will provide you hardware for those tests, over time the most active testers will get even more NEEO stuff to mess with 

To apply for the beta program please reach out to support@neeo.com. Send us an e-mail with a short list of the equipment you will test NEEO with. The new testers will be chosen and be informed in about a week from today. 

Many of you will be invited to remain part of the BETA team for many month, even years. Potentially also for future products.

Kickstarters - update your shipping address

An important one for our crowdfunding backers:

Update your shipping address!

Most of you have completed the survey quite some time ago but about 150 backers have either an incomplete or missing address in there. Please make sure yours is correct. Also - if you have moved, it’s your change to update your address.

  1. Login to kickstarter
  2. Go to “backed projects” 
  3. Choose "NEEO - The Thinking Remote" from the list
  4. Click onto the “SURVEY" tap
  5. Check and update your address
  6. Done

You need to make sure you have a valid phone number added so the courier can reach you if needed.

Please make sure to change the address in the SURVEY section, this is the address that counts. 

Speed of light contest

Light is fast. Very fast. 
Now, YOU need to be fast. Very fast. 

Here is the question that you need to answer (approximately) right: 

What’s the speed of light in a vacuum?

Simply send us an e-mail with the answer to support@neeo.com The 3 fastest correct entries win some lights. As a winner you will be able to chose between a set of HUE bulbs, LiFX bulbs or Z-Wave dimmers. 

China rocks!

Units ready for the IFST and AFTS (final system tests)

Units ready for the IFST and AFTS (final system tests)

How was China?

When I came back from the factory in China two weeks ago people asked me how it went. With a smile on my face and a ton of enthusiasm I would give the short answer: Very very very good! 

And of course, there is also the detailed answer which I want to share with you. 

Actually, let me walk you through the factory:

Before getting onto the assembly floor we usually meet in out small office that we have inside the factory. We usually first get through a quick planning session on the white board and then everyone gets ready with the "very fashionable” ESD clothing - from shoes (sort of Birkenstocks) to cap (sort of a baker’s cap). You of see some of that on the picture of Jessica and David below. 

When you arrive at the entrance of the production floor you would maybe be a little bit surprised about the high level of security. You can roughly compare it to inernational airport security - apart from the important difference that in our factory’s case you are not allowed to bring in (or out) anything just like that. On this level that type of security is pretty standard especially though given the fact that some of the largest brands in the world manufacture just next to us in the same facility.

Imagine a hall the size of a target supermarket. When you walk in you see hundreds of white pick n’place machines and reflow ovens. For those of you who are not familiar with such machines - it looks a bit similar to the x-ray machines at airports -just much bigger. The noice level in the hall is not particularly high but you will notice a lot of beeping signals from all the machines. These machines are the place where the PCB boards get assembled - or more precisely - where all components get placed and soldered onto the bare PCBs. Anyways - first time visitors might gaze at another type of machine even more: There are about a dozen of self driving vehicles that are driving raw parts and products from one end of the hall to its destination. It’s fun to watch those little vehicles which look like sort of a wheeled robot version of a turtle. Those so called “AGVs" are even sort of friendly, if you stand in their way they will stop, talk to you in Chinese and just wait until you step aside.   

I saw this a couple of times now but still -everyday I think it’s special to arrive in such a different world. You can really dive into it as you are pretty isolated from the outside world as you don’t even have your smart phone with you. 

To get to the coolest spots in the hall, you walk down maybe 200ft to our reflow line and then you follow it all the way to the other end of the hall. In between you get to the assembly line of one famous product that I like very much. I have to admit I can never resist to walk by without quickly looking at what’s going on at their line and sometimes I watch a couple of units being made. The craftsmanship of manufacturing is something beautiful. If you continue to walk for about 300ft you arrive at the NEEO assembly line which is itself about 100ft long. Look, maybe I’m strange. As a kid I loved seeing documentaries of things being manufactured. I was (and still am) especially fascinated by human and machine working together harmoniously. 

The moment when I arrived at our assembly line now seeing all the adapters and fixtures in place and a big team working on them was unbelievable. Seeing dozens of awesome operators running every test with every single unit and also seeing raw parts on one side of the line and final products going into the gift box on the other side is a crazy feeling that is hard to explain. I’m extremely proud of everyone who is involved to make this possible. Thousands and thousands of thoughts and work-hours went into the development of such a well working manufacturing line.   

During my time in China I worked on most of the stations myself to get a better feel and idea of how well things work for the operators. The operators laughed sometimes when they saw me being not even half as fast as them, but hey - I tried! ;) We optimised quite a list of things with them to improve their daily work environment. We made sure everyone gets the best conditions like better table height or we improved things like the visual feedback during tests so the guys could read it easier and from distance. I was impressed how well everyone there understands the specific manufacturing details of our product. They also clearly all aim for the same high quality standard. There is quite some manufacturing knowledge - especially in the field of mobile devices -  that you find exclusively in China today. Let me tell this very clearly: I’m so thankful to have those guys being part of this. I believe we have a much stronger than usual link to the entire manufacturing team over there. Most of us don’t speak Chinese but with the help of translators and body language we got to know everyone better and also during lunches and sometimes dinner we had fun and beautiful moments beside work. We all worked hard but we also laughed a lot and I’m pretty sure everyone agrees this is not “just a job”. I was pretty touched when one of the operators told me (via a translator) that they will miss me very much when I leave. 

I look forward seeing them again soon! But - I had some good reasons to travel back: I brought the official serial #1 NEEO back home!   
 

So - What’s next?

Toward the end of this month we plan to start making higher volumes. Here is the updated list.

Points form last month:

  • Manufacturing another badge of ~300 units DONE
  • Mid to late March: Running one last reliability and durability testing round with these latest units DONE
  • Mid to late March: Approving slightly changed docking station top lids (we scrapped the last batch of 10K units that I mention in the last update as they did not fully meet quality standard)  DONE
  • Mid to late March: Full round of quality checks on the 300 units DONE

Next steps:

  • Late April/ Early May: Getting into production of thousands of units 
  • Getting the golden master version of the firmware ready and install it onto the flash stations in China
  • Optimize some production tests (won’t cause a delay) 

Remaining challenges:

  • We currently see no bigger challenges remaining

 

Jessica & David welcoming the official Serial #000001

Jessica & David welcoming the official Serial #000001