James Park is the co-founder of Fitbit.This startup was created in 2006 pitched at theTechCrunch50 conference, where it caused quite a stir. At the time, it was one of the first connected devices aimed at the general public and related to health. Back then, Fitbit was “nothing more than” a 3D wireless pedometer enhanced with a sleep and activity tracking system, priced at US$ 99. Anyone could use it to work out their level of physical activity and calorie intake. The elegant little device, which can be clipped on to any item of clothing, was then backed to the tune of US$ 2 million by True Ventures and SoftTech VC, as well as a few other business angels.
Today, James Park reveals that he has raised over US$ 23.5 million. He looks back on that period, and talks about the difficulty of convincing skeptical investors about the startup’s potential. “A platform like KickStarter would certainly have made things easier”, he says (Kickstarter is a financing platform for creative projects).
Other difficulties were encountered during this entrepreneurial adventure, in addition to the raising of funds. More specifically, these were related to design and production. A poor design can have catastrophic repercussions on costs and timeframes. James Park had planned to release his first product after 8 months, but this was ultimately delayed by a year.