Startup Spotlight: Pavlok
Startup Spotlight: Pavlok
This week we spoke to Maneesh Sethi, founder/CEO of Pavlok. Pavlok is a wearable device that breaks bad habits.
GH: What is Pavlok?
Pavlok is a wearable device that breaks bad habits. Based on over 80 years of clinical research, Pavlok can beep, vibrate, or administer a mild electric stimulus to help users reduce cravings and permanently break bad habits.
GH: What was your Eureka moment: how did Pavlok get started?
A few years ago, I hired this girl whose job is to follow me around and make sure I got my work done. And if I didn’t, she’d slap me in the face. I had her sit down to me for several days, and my productivity sky rocketed when she was sitting next to me. Pavlok was created to make that accountability — negative reinforcement scalable.
GH: How did you build your team?
I applied and was accepted by Bolt.io, a hardware incubator in Boston. They gave me Pavlok’s initial capital, access to a hardware lab, and introduced me to hardware people who would later become a part of my team.
GH: What is your company philosophy driving your company culture?
Help our customers break their bad habits and make them become a better version of themselves.
GH: Startup life is full of failures and ‘make it work’ moments – can you identify how you bounced back from one of yours?
We have built this amazing engineering team, but no matter how hard we worked, we still end up with just a “good enough” release. It took a long time before I realized that we never got a UI/UX designer. And so the engineers never knew what to draw and so I finally got a UX designer and since then our company has been really working .
GH: What did you learn from your first customers?
Aversion therapy works. It works even better if customers doesn’t have to place too much thought into using it. Intuitiveness and good design does make a huge difference in customer satisfaction and their continued use.
GH: What has the Boston ecosystem provided you?
Boston is great for hardware startups. Bolt.io has been critical to our organization. Without them, I doubt that I would have created a prototype.
GH: What is the Boston ecosystem lacking from your perspective?
One major challenge is manufacturing. Right now, even small companies like us are so dependent on China. It would be a dream if a manufacturing company is present somewhere near. Having access to such would remove so many variables caused by your inventory coming from literally the other side of the planet.
GH: What’s the best/worst piece of advice you were given along the way?
The quality of press is much more important than the quantity of eyeballs. Last May, Pavlok was featured in SharkTank. We thought that since it’s a mainstream show watched by millions, that we better pile up in inventory and we would sell out. We didn’t. Fortunately, The New York Times also published an article about us around the same time. That obscure article managed to generate tens of thousands of sales because of its positive messaging about Pavlok, which was not present in the SharkTank show we appeared in.
GH: What was the best thing that happened to you last year?
We won the Necker Island Contest which was a contest of Shopify. We won it because we generated the most revenue of any Shopify user companies in our category (tech wearables). So I get to spend 5 days on Necker Island, with Richard Branson, Seth Godin, Tim Ferris, and Daymond John.
GH: What does the future hold for Pavlok?
If we’re able to generate enough sales, I’m finally going to be able to bring its price down. My goal is to bring Pavlok’s price down to less than $40. That would only happen if we order in bulk orders much much bigger in scale than the quantity we’re ordering them now from manufacturers.